[Workplace Whiz, ep. 06] Should Office Workers Get Paid And Promoted More Than Remote Employees?

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The Wall Street Journal reports that last year, people working from home in the US were 31% less likely to be promoted than office workers. They were also less likely to receive mentoring.

To make matters worse, almost 90% of CEOs admitted that they were more likely to give preference to office workers when it comes to career-advancing projects, raises or promotions.

Still, the allure of remote work persists. 

Remote workers report that they feel engaged in their job and find it easier to do focused work, manage stress, avoid distractions, and have boundaries between work and private life.

What do the leaders have to say about it, though?

We have recorded an insightful podcast episode on the topic, where our host Cosmin Patlageanu talks to Kristie Jones (a seasoned sales leader in the SaaS space) and Kyriakos Sidiropoulos (an IT professional with over two decades of experience in digital transformation). Listen to it on Spotify and Apple Podcasts or tune in on Youtube:


We also wanted to involve more workplace leaders in the discussion, so we asked them what they really think about their remote workforce and, in particular, the debate about remote workers’ pay and career growth. Here’s what we found:


  • The disparity in raises and promotions between office and remote workers is due to deep-rooted biases, such as the assumption that physical presence equates to higher engagement and productivity. 
  • While someone's location can determine their career and financial success, remote workers often perform just as well or better and use their autonomy and self-discipline to excel in their role.
  • As remote working and hybrid models continue to evolve, organizations need to rethink traditional notions of engagement and productivity… Or do they?

What Contributes to the Disparity in Promotions & Raises Between Office-Based Workers and Remote Workers?

We found that visibility, relationship building and perception of effort (more on this later) are the main reasons why office workers seem to get ahead of their remote colleagues on the corporate track.

“Visibility and perceived availability. Office workers may have more face-to-face interaction with management, potentially leading to a biased view of their productivity and dedication. In contrast, remote workers, despite possibly delivering equal or superior work, might not be as 'visible'.”

Darryl Stevens, Founder & CEO of DIGITECH Web Design

“The main factors for disparity come from the perception of effort and relationship building. […] It is often said it is not what you can do but whom you know, and this will possibly always play a role in a professional environment. It’s much easier to build a relationship face-to-face.”

Ryan Carrigan, CEO & Co-Founder of MoveBuddha.com

“The 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality can come into play. This is not a failure of remote employees, but a challenge for better management and assessment strategies. The future of work is dynamic and flexible, and companies need to ensure they're promoting based on merit, irrespective of work location.”

– Yulia Saf, Founder of Miss Tourist

“The main difference stems from whether their manager/supervisor is an office worker themselves. […] The age of the supervisor/manager is also important. Younger managers are more flexible and treat both types of employees equally, whereas older supervisors favor in-office employees.”

– Tommy Mello, CEO & founder of A1 Garage Door Service

“Office-based workers have it easier when it comes to showing what they do. In the remote workspace it often happens that you don't notice some employees for weeks. In the office, you can see them interacting with others, the speed of their work, their work ethic and their personality.”

– Michal Kierul, CEO of INTechHouse

“Both groups can contribute equally to the success of an organization, and their compensation and career advancement should be based on their performance, skills, and overall impact, rather than their physical presence in an office.”

George Baron, Payment Processing Expert at eMerchant Authority

“It's not simply a matter of physical presence versus virtual presence. Instead, factors such as productivity, quality of work, and contribution to team goals should be considered. While being in the office might offer more visibility, remote workers often exhibit traits such as autonomy and self-discipline, which are equally valuable.”

Vit Koval, Co-founder at Globy

“If you have an office that allows for both, there's a good reason somebody chooses to work from home. […] An employee shouldn't be punished for preferring to work remotely.”

– Daivat Dholakia, VP of Operations at Essenvia

"I find claims that remote workers don't ACTUALLY work extremely unfair. As a person in the position to take care of our employee's wellbeing, I can clearly observe that remote workers often overwork themselves and put in extra effort into their tasks. This phenomenon usually goes hand in hand with the Impostor Syndrome. Many remote workers feel the need to prove their worth, feeling as if they are not noticed when they are not in the office. It is also more difficult to walk away from work, when your office is your home. 

All remotely working employees at Delante have been consistently doing more overtime than in-office workers for the last two years. Remote workers deserve to be rewarded for their efforts. Definitely not less than the in-office workers. On the contrary, they should be rewarded more in my opinion." 

- Karolina Gorska, Senior HR Coordinator at Delante


How Do Perceptions of Effort, Visibility and Relationship-Building in the Workplace Affect the Chances of Promotions & Raises for Remote Workers?

A study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 67% of managers feel remote workers were “more easily replaceable”, 72% would prefer all their employees to work in the office, and 42% would sometimes forget about remote workers when assigning tasks!

What’s going on?

“In many traditional workplaces, there exists a common belief that physical presence equates to higher dedication and productivity. This misconception can unfairly disadvantage remote workers who may be just as, if not more, committed and efficient in their roles."

– Jonathan Rosenfeld, Lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers

“When you work remotely, you often find yourself constantly trying to prove to your superiors how much you work and show them what you do with your time. […]. If a company offers remote work as an option, the position should offer the same benefits, time off, pay opportunities, and promotions.”

– Will Hatton, Founder & CEO of TheBrokeBackpacker.com

“People can easily think that those working from home aren't working as hard as those who go into the office. However, the majority of them put in just as much effort, if not more, than those in the office. […] Sometimes, office workers are able to skate under the radar and get away with not working as hard.”

– Dustin Sitar, CEO of The Groom Club

Some make no distinction between their on-site and remote employees:

“There's a perception that being in the office, being seen working late hours, or having immediate access to management equates to more productivity. However, this isn't always the case. Remote workers often produce the same, if not more, output due to fewer distractions and a personalized work environment.”

Remon Elsayea, President of TechTrone IT Services

“A promotion granted on the premise that you are present in the office is biased, and not based on performance. […] There is no difference between a remote and in-office workforce and both should be treated equally when it comes to promotions. It is the manager's responsibility to schedule regular check-ins and to build relationships.“

– Michael Sawyer, Operations Director at UltimateKilimanjaro.com

“If employees are making efforts to build relationships and go above & beyond to achieve the company’s objectives, they are bound to get pay raises and promotions. […] It’s just a matter of time before you get a good boss who values their team members irrespective of their workplace.”

Sofia Perez, Content Manager & Owner of Character Counter

Others admit that they are more biased when it comes to it:

“The perceptions of effort, visibility and relationship-building absolutely affects your chances of promotion! And it's much easier in the office. […] Sometimes the most random situations at work can help you advance in your career. You can't do the same online.“

– Michal Kierul, CEO of INTechHouse

“Employers are only human. There are some employees you see every day in the office, and you have a chance to really get to know them. They are more present in your daily life, so it’s natural that they would be the first people to spring to mind when an opportunity comes up.”

Jan Brandrup, CEO of Neurogan

“Let’s face it, putting in face time with the boss and working remotely foster two different sets of feelings for many managers: one employee is in the office working with me and I can see what they’re doing, and the other employee corresponds with me, but I don’t have as many conversations or as much oversight as I have with an in-person employee. This causes more of an emotional disparity.”

Martin Gasparian, Owner/Attorney at Maison Law


What Are the Potential Downsides of Remote Work in Terms of Career Advancement and Financial Gain?

“Remote workers may face challenges in building relationships and accessing the same opportunities for mentorship and career development as office-based counterparts. They may miss out on informal networking opportunities that often occur in office settings, which can impact their career trajectory.”

Vit Koval, Co-founder at Globy

“One significant disadvantage is the risk of being overlooked for promotions or raises due to reduced visibility and limited opportunities for spontaneous interactions with supervisors and colleagues.”

– Indie Basi, Founder of Wade

“Remote workers may face challenges in negotiating salary increases or promotions due to perceptions of decreased commitment or engagement compared to their office-based counterparts.”

– Max Williams, Founder & CEO of herobot.app

“Less face-to-face engagement may reduce firm network exposure. Absence from work may indicate laziness. […] Remote workers must actively seek networking and collaboration opportunities to overcome these obstacles and demonstrate their dedication.”

George Yang, Founder & Chief Designer of Yanre Fitness

“Remote workers do suffer because working remotely is the ultimate luxury that makes them lose out on huge opportunities. Not only can they suffer financially because they are offered fewer pay rises and growth opportunities, but […] since there are discussions every day between the offline team members, they may develop new ways among themselves and not include the remote workers in the mix.”

Sofia Perez, Content Manager & Owner of Character Counter

So… what can be done about it?

“While remote work provides flexibility and autonomy, it also presents barriers to career growth and financial success. Remote workers must pay more attention to networking, mentorship opportunities, and essential workplace dynamics that usually result in promotions and raises.”

– Laviet Joaquin, Marketing Head at TP-Link

“We prioritize regular check-ins and performance reviews that focus on specific achievements and contributions, making the process as transparent as possible. This approach has helped us to identify and promote talent effectively, irrespective of their physical work location."

Remon Elsayea, President of TechTrone IT Services

How Do Company Policies (Such as Dell’s) Reflect the Overall Trend Toward Remote Work and Its Impact on Career Advancement?

Here’s a little context:

Dell used to be "committed to allow team members around the globe to choose the work style that best fits their lifestyle”. However, the new restrictions on fully remote workers can be interpreted as Dell discouraging people from working from home.

"For remote team members, it is important to understand the trade-offs: Career advancement, including applying to new roles in the company, will require a team member to reclassify as hybrid onsite," Dell’s memo to workers says.

How do other organizations feel about this move?

“Company policies, such as Dell's decision to limit promotions for remote workers, reflect broader trends and attitudes toward remote work. […] While such policies may be well-intentioned, they risk perpetuating inequities and stifling the potential of remote work as a viable option for career advancement.”

– Jonathan Rosenfeld, Lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers

“While the advantages of remote work are indisputable, companies must find a way to balance flexibility with the need to maintain a unified organizational culture. Restrictions on promotions for remote employees may be a smart move to ensure equal opportunities for everyone.”

– Laviet Joaquin, Marketing Head at TP-Link

“Policies that limit the advancement of remote workers are short-sighted. Companies need to adjust to the trend of remote work and leverage it to their advantage.“

– Yulia Saf, Founder of Miss Tourist

“Looking specifically at Dell’s policy limiting promotions for remote workers can be extremely discouraging. Top-tier candidates will not willingly throw in their hats for a company with a perception that remote work can be detrimental to their professional growth.“

Ryan Carrigan, CEO & Co-Founder of MoveBuddha.com

“Policies like Dell's may stem from concerns about maintaining company culture and ensuring effective supervision. However, they may also reflect a traditional view of work that undervalues the productivity and contribution of remote employees, and potentially discourage talent seeking flexibility.”

Darryl Stevens, Founder & CEO of DIGITECH Web Design

“As an employer, you agreed to their working remotely, so you can’t penalize them for something you’ve okayed.”

– Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love

“No matter what, an employee should receive a promotion based on merit, not on their working in the office or remotely.”

– Dustin Lemick, CEO of BriteCo Jewelry Insurance


What Strategies Can Remote Workers Use to Increase Their Chances of Receiving Promotions & Raises?

Working remotely doesn’t mean you’ll never get a raise or promotion – but you may need to find more ways to increase your visibility, presence and impact. How, you ask? 

We wondered the same thing – here’s what we got:

”As a remote employee, document all of your work, all of your projects, and all of your hours. That way you’re prepared to challenge a promotion if an employer cites that an in-office employee does more work.”

Martin Gasparian, Owner/Attorney at Maison Law

“The onus is on you to convince your managers that you are worthy of a raise. Apart from upgrading your skills and academic qualifications, you must see to it that your work is top-notch to the effect of making your manager feel that you have the highest value in the job market.”

– Mathias Ahlgren, CEO & Founder of Website Rating

“Regularly seeking feedback and performance evaluations can help remote workers identify areas for improvement and showcase their commitment to professional growth and development.”

– Max Williams, Founder & CEO of herobot.app

“I recommend over-communicating and sharing regular updates on project statuses and achievements, actively participating in virtual meetings and team-building activities, and seeking out opportunities for cross-functional collaboration and visibility across the organization.”

George Baron, Payment Processing Expert at eMerchant Authority

“Good professional relationships are the backbone of any workplace, whether that’s remote, hybrid, or in-person. My advice to people who are working would be to go the extra mile to build connections with your colleagues. And my advice to employers would be to facilitate this.”

Jan Brandrup, CEO of Neurogan

And… can it work? It absolutely can!

“We have a system that checks tasks and deadlines for each worker the same way, so working from the office is no different from working from home. A system based on results is much more fair than a contest of likeability.”

– Michał Sadowski, Founder & CEO of Brand24

“We've developed a few simple guidelines when it comes to compensation and promotion for our workers. […] They are based entirely on merit, regardless of where a person works or how often they come to the office."

– Nick Valentino, VP of Market Operations of Bellhop Atlanta Movers

Wrapping Up 

The debate about whether office workers should receive more pay and promotions than their colleagues in the field is complex and nuanced.

But the data points to a worrying trend: Remote workers struggle with visibility, relationship building and perception of effort, which hinders their career advancement.

Some leaders are aware of this and are actively fighting against it; others continue to underestimate remote workers and their contribution.

Ultimately, the key question is: should we continue to favor office workers when it comes to promotions and raises, or is it time to move to a more equitable approach based on merit and performance alone?

We’re curious to know which side you’re on!

Topics: Hybrid & remote work, Podcast

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