Some employees find they’re paying a price for continuing to work remotely

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Question: Pre-pandemic, I was on the fast track upward in my company. I received a promotion every twelve to fourteen months and even dreamed of one day running the company. When the pandemic ended, and many professionals hopscotched from one job and employer to another, I stayed with my company out of loyalty. I expected that loyalty to be returned.

Eighteen months ago, our upper management urged us to return to onsite work, but said doing so was voluntary. I took them at their word. Then I lost out on two promotions. Both went to employees less skilled than me.

When I asked my manager about it, he said the executive committee had promoted employees who showed they had “skin in the game.” When I asked what that meant, I learned that my working remotely four days a week counted against me. This was never explained to me and seems patently unfair. How do I protest this discriminatory practice? I regularly log more than 40 hours a week and am more productive working from home, where I can concentrate and focus. I’m furious with my employer for changing the rules on me and even madder at myself for mistakenly believing my loyalty would be returned. What do you suggest?

Answer: Drop your anger at yourself. You stayed with your current employer because you had reason to believe you would continue your upward career trajectory.

Next, you’re not alone. Many remote employees now pay the price for working off-site. A recent Wall Street Journal article cited research on 2 million white collar workers documenting that remote employees received 31% fewer promotions than those who returned on-site. As just one example, Amazon blocks promotions for any employees who don’t comply with the company’s rule requiring they be in the office three days a week.

When the professional services firm KPMG surveyed four hundred CEOs, they learned that 90% of the CEOs felt more inclined to give in-person employees raises, promotions and optimum assignments. Follow-up research documented that the average remote employee lost an estimated $9,800 in denied and delayed promotions.

Here’s what you might do. When you exceed expectations and attain stellar results, document it. Your performance can speak volumes, but only if it’s seen and heard. Schedule regular meetings with your manager and other senior managers so you stay on their radar as an employee they want to both retain and reward.


Finally, here’s what you need to understand. Employees who goofed off when working remotely burned employers. Too many remote workers greeted their supervisor’s phone calls with “let me turn down the television” or other comments that let supervisors know the employees weren’t fully concentrating on work. When the Society for Human Resource Management surveyed 817 supervisors of remote workers, 67% of the supervisors reported it took more time and effort to supervise remote employees than those working onsite, and 72% of them wanted all subordinates to work on-site.

Your “it’s discriminatory” argument will likely go down in defeat if you try to make the case to managers who work on-site, or those who worry about the equity between employees able to work remotely and other employees whose jobs require they work in person. Instead, share the 2023 Resume Builder survey that reports that half of all in-person employees plan to hunt for new jobs within the year compared with only one-third of remote employees, .

Finally, you might look for an employer more attuned to managing remote employees. Alternatively, you may decide you love remote work enough to accept the trade off and pay the career price for the benefits involved in working remotely. What you can’t do is remain furious — angry employees rarely win promotions.

Lynne Curry | Alaska Workplace

Lynne Curry writes a weekly column on workplace issues. She is author of “Navigating Conflict,” “Managing for Accountability,” “Beating the Workplace Bully" and “Solutions,” and Submit questions at or follow her on, or @lynnecurry10 on X/Twitter.