WFH is comfy, but is it a career killer?

The World Health Organization declared the pandemic over, and companies are calling employees back to the office. While it’s understandable why people aren’t happy about getting off the couch and back into a cubicle, it could be crucial to career growth.

Driving the news: IBM CEO Arvind Krishna has joined the chorus of business leaders warning that too much remote work could be bad for careers.

  • “In the short term, you probably can be equally productive, but your career does suffer,” IBM CEO Arvind Krishna told Bloomberg
  • One survey of over 3,000 Canadians found that 63% of people believe being physically present in-office is better for career advancement, with 36% believing that being present will lead to a promotion faster than remote workers.

Why it’s happening: Proximity bias, the unconscious tendency to give preferential treatment to those you’re more familiar with, might be more critical to your professional development than productivity or performance.

  • Going into the office helps you build your professional network, which is vital if you want to grow. Showing face keeps you in people’s minds, making it easier to get recognition or a recommendation for a promotion. 

  • A study by WFH Research found that workers who go into the office spend 25% more time mentoring colleagues, formal training, and career development than their remote counterparts. 

Why it matters: There’s lots of evidence that working from home can increase performance, but taking the next step in your career isn’t always about being the most efficient—fairly or not, it’s often about how others perceive your contributions and remote workers may not get as much recognition as their in-home colleagues.

  • To paraphrase Jeffries CEO Rich Handler’s Instagram comment: If you want a job, stay at home, but if you want a career, get your butt to the office.

Bottom line: Many Canadian employers are mandating office days, but few are demanding five days a week. We won’t tell you how to do your job, but trying a new hybrid model could benefit your career, even if you’re sad to leave your sweats at home alone all day.