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Employees Who Work at Home May Pay the Price in Raises and Promotions

Posted Jul 17, 2012 8:05 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Sometimes you have to be seen to be well-received.

Employees who work from home may get to work in their pajamas, but they pay a price in raises and promotions, the Careerist reports, citing a report in MIT Sloan Management Review. According to business professors Kimberly Elsbach and Daniel Cable, work-at-home employees often "end up getting lower performance evaluations, smaller raises, and fewer promotions than their colleagues in the office—even if they work just as hard and just as long."

Work-at-home employees are judged differently because of a lack of “passive face time”—being observed at work, Elsbach and Cable say. The problem is a particular problem in white-collar settings, where the absence of face time can influence evaluations for leadership positions.

Face time during normal business hours leads to inferences that employees are responsible and dependable, according to the professors. Face time outside of normal business hours leads to conclusions that employees are “committed” and “dedicated.”

The authors say the bias against home workers may be unconscious. “To avoid such unfair perceptions, managers who implement telecommuting and flexible hours should revise their performance appraisals to measure mostly objective outputs, such as number and type of projects completed or expert evaluations of project quality,” they write.

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