Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

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Tester83
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Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Tester83 »

Like many companies, my company (~5000 employees in U.S.) shifted to virtually all-remote during the pandemic. Eventually, employees will return to the office. However, it is allowing employees to choose a primarily work-from-home schedule, where they can WFH 3-4 days a week. I believe this offer extends to, at minimum, individual contributors, front-line managers, and middle managers (I'm not saying it hasn't been offered to senior management / C-Suite; I just don't know if it was).

I am an individual contributor offered this chance, and looking forward to permanent WFH 4 days a week, ideally. However, I have aspirations of moving into management. Would my decision to opt into permanent WFH affect my chances, even subtly, of landing a management role in the near future (say, within the next five years)?

I'm asking in general, rather than in terms of my specific situation. As in, "How would HR / hiring managers for companies, in general, view the prospects of a management candidate who WFM 3-4 days a week versus another candidate who WFH 0-2 days a week, all other things equal? Would this difference matter?"
awval999
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by awval999 »

It's very company dependent.

I think the most obvious answer would be, the position that you're aspiring to, is it WFH or is it on-site?

Just like they always say--- "dress for the job you want, not for the job you have."
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8foot7
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportun

Post by 8foot7 »

Should it? No. Could it? You betcha.
Afty
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Afty »

I’d have to guess that yes, it could negatively affect your chances. It might not, but there’s a decent chance it would at least in some small way. A large part of being a manager is knowing people throughout the company, making connections for your team, and getting support for your and your team's ideas both from your peers and from your management chain. It’s hard to build those relationships without some face time.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by slyfox1357 »

We have to guess because this is essentially a new paradigm shift. Given what historically has been inputs to moving up in the company, promotions, in my opinion, a lot of that is who you know and how you interact with coworkers, management, etc... So, guessing, I would think it might, to some degree. So, with options, to hedge somewhat against (but still enjoy WFH arrangement), maybe work 3 home, 2 in and consciously focus on relationship-building the two days in the office. Also, perhaps look to go in the office for one-offs / special occasions that are optional.
Beachey
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Beachey »

This is one of the really open questions post-pandemic. I believe a lot of companies who successfully shifted to a 100% WFH model were largely relying on established relationships. How does this work going forward when more and more of a team has never interacted in person. There are companies even before the pandemic that made a fully remote model work. However, I think the skillset for a successful manager in an office is going to vary from a successful remote manager. Whenever there is a cultural/economic shift this also creates an opportunity for those who can adapt quicker than others.

So you have to ask yourself, do I want to an in-person manager or a remote manager and how do I develop my skills to set myself up for success?
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by 123 »

If you are primarily WFH you have much less visibility and presence than someone who is on-site every day. Assuming there is nothing about your on-site presence that detracts from your professional creditability you are far better competitor for promotional opportunities when you have been on-site.

WFH/off-site employees are easier to ignore, bypass, and fire.
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fortunefavored
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by fortunefavored »

Unless something shifts in the expectations of middle management (politicking, managing your 'visibility' to other execs, relationship building, * kissing, rumor mongering, etc.) - I'd say absolutely.

Maybe the expectations of middle management (at large companies) will change... but I think it more likely it will simply go away.

Think long and hard about going into management if you're good at your IC job.
Firemenot
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Firemenot »

Without a doubt yes. I’ve been told I can’t go up unless I move to headquarters. I’m 100 percent remote.
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Tester83
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Tester83 »

awval999 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 2:49 pm It's very company dependent.

I think the most obvious answer would be, the position that you're aspiring to, is it WFH or is it on-site?
Let's say I'm aspiring to reach senior management / C-Suite (Is it silly to "aspire" to become middle management?). As mentioned, I'm not sure if this is offered to folks at that level. But it is offered to the lower level managers, which I presumably must work my way through to reach the upper levels.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Normchad »

Yes, it will. Ultimately, these decisions are made by humans, with human emotion and human biases.

“Out of sight, out of mind” applies here.

Also, people don’t like to give each other bad news. If your boss has to pick between a remote worker, and one he sees everyday, he might just pick the local guy. He doesn’t want to give him bad news and put up with seeing him everyday. And it’s a lot easier to give you bad news remotely, then walk away and forget about it.

Doesn’t make it right. And some people wouldn’t have these foibles. But a lot of people do.

A lot of people still believe in “butts in seats”, and “if I can’t see you, you’re probably goofing off”.

Does your boss go to the office everyday? If so, that’s your unambiguous answer.
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Go Blue 99
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Go Blue 99 »

How competitive is it at your company to land one of those management jobs you desire? If it's pretty competitive, then I'd say you are very likely hurting yourself by choosing the heavy WFH option.

One exception would be if you work at a smaller satellite office, and not at your main headquarters. If you're at a smaller office, then it may not matter if you WFH more, since the higher-ups aren't seeing you either way.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by awval999 »

Normchad wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:41 pm Does your boss go to the office everyday? If so, that’s your unambiguous answer.
/thread.
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Nate79
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Nate79 »

Yes, the risk of missing advancement is much much high by WFH. This was the situation I was in. WFH for 8 years and I had to work extremely hard to maintain my contacts and work upward. 2 years ago I moved back to an office job, mostly thru a job shift to managerial role.

What you are proposing is high risk to your goal.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by HomerJ »

Tester83 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 2:45 pmI am an individual contributor offered this chance, and looking forward to permanent WFH 4 days a week, ideally. However, I have aspirations of moving into management. Would my decision to opt into permanent WFH affect my chances, even subtly, of landing a management role in the near future (say, within the next five years)?
4 days a week WFH? You're odds of being promoted to management are slim to none. It would affect it immensely...

And if you did become management, you'd have to stop working from home 4 days a week.

Unless your entire company is mostly remote.

But you could probably still be promoted up the individual contributor chain working primarily from home.

For management, you better be in the office at least 3 days a week.

Just another reason to avoid the management track.
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Tester83
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Tester83 »

awval999 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:46 pm
Normchad wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:41 pm Does your boss go to the office everyday? If so, that’s your unambiguous answer.
/thread.
My immediate boss plans to elect permanent WFH (but I don't know how many days/week).
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Tester83
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Tester83 »

Nate79 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:46 pm Yes, the risk of missing advancement is much much high by WFH. This was the situation I was in. WFH for 8 years and I had to work extremely hard to maintain my contacts and work upward. 2 years ago I moved back to an office job, mostly thru a job shift to managerial role.

What you are proposing is high risk to your goal.
I agree there is some risk here. I don't mind working harder from home to maintain my professional connections and relationships (which I've already been doing during the pandemic).

But was those 8 years of WFH worth it?
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Tester83
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Tester83 »

123 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:25 pm If you are primarily WFH you have much less visibility and presence than someone who is on-site every day. Assuming there is nothing about your on-site presence that detracts from your professional creditability you are far better competitor for promotional opportunities when you have been on-site.

WFH/off-site employees are easier to ignore, bypass, and fire.
My thought was, if my colleagues WFH, and my boss plans to do so, then will I really have "visibility" by primarily going into the office?

I'm thinking of stacking my 1-day per week with my tasks and work that require or promote my "visibility" to other departments/managers.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Firemenot »

Tester83 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:40 pm
awval999 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 2:49 pm It's very company dependent.

I think the most obvious answer would be, the position that you're aspiring to, is it WFH or is it on-site?
Let's say I'm aspiring to reach senior management / C-Suite (Is it silly to "aspire" to become middle management?). As mentioned, I'm not sure if this is offered to folks at that level. But it is offered to the lower level managers, which I presumably must work my way through to reach the upper levels.
If you want to be C-suite then you won’t do WFH.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by PowderDay9 »

It's going to be really interesting to see what the office is like after the pandemic. If your company has a lot of higher ups choose WFH, then there won't be much benefit to going in 5 days a week.

I've seen C-suite be hired into WFH while other execs are at headquarters. You might have to travel in once a month but it can be done. This was pre-pandemic. I think it'll be even more common and easier to WFH and get promoted after the pandemic. It all depends on your company culture though.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Tingting1013 »

Firemenot wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 6:05 pm
Tester83 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:40 pm
awval999 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 2:49 pm It's very company dependent.

I think the most obvious answer would be, the position that you're aspiring to, is it WFH or is it on-site?
Let's say I'm aspiring to reach senior management / C-Suite (Is it silly to "aspire" to become middle management?). As mentioned, I'm not sure if this is offered to folks at that level. But it is offered to the lower level managers, which I presumably must work my way through to reach the upper levels.
If you want to be C-suite then you won’t do WFH.
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Tester83
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Tester83 »

I've seen hints that, culture wise, my company understands the value of WFH and that remote supervision (even at the higher levels) can work. The obvious sign is that, after slightly over a year of WFH, my company will make it a permanent fixture.

Putting that aside, during the pre-pandemic days, many of my companies' managers remotely supervise a good portion of their direct reports. In fact, the second-in-command of my department doesn't live or work in the same city as his supervisor or anyone down her reporting chain (which has been the situation for about five years).

Plus, I'm going into the office at least once a week. I'm not adverse to going in additional days every now and then (such as special projects or all-hands meetings), or traveling for work.

Ideally, I'd like to take advantage of WFH while climbing up the management chain. And, if moving further up means switching back to a primarily in-the-office presence, I can make the decision then. I feel it's a significant sacrifice to give up the benefits of WFH for the next several years just for the chance of landing an upper-level management position somewhere down the line. I really have to think about it.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by jmw »

There is a nice dividend for staying as an individual contributor forever, which is the additional WFH. That would get me to give up the ladder as long as I get the WFH in exchange.

At my company, you won't be going to management as an individual contributor working primarily WFH.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by rascott »

This is tough to answer without knowing your company culture, type of work, etc.

The future may or may not look like the past. I have family members facing this situation..... they didn't want to move and go 100% remote for the same career worries. Then their company completely folded up their physical office space this year, the boss moved out of state..... so what was the point of staying in a HCOL area. So they are now moving too
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by AnEngineer »

I think a lot of comments in this thread miss that WFH no longer means that your coworkers no longer see you. If everyone is on Zoom for meetings, then you can still be seen.

But it depends on what your boss and competition are doing. If you're the one that is never in the office, maybe that's a detriment unless you work on maintaining good relationships. Even going into the office, some people keep to themselves and can be missed. But if your WFH habits are normal to the company, I don't see how that could impact you negatively.

Also, ask. If reality doesn't match their promises, maybe you should find a better employer.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by ClevrChico »

WFH isn't exactly a new thing. When someone has wanted a promotion, they have relocated so they can work onsite, and then gain visibility and grind towards that promotion. That's how the game has been played.

If 50%+ workers are wfh now, that might change things. Then again, a lot of companies are bringing people mostly back onsite, so you'll need to be onsite to climb the ladder there.
Last edited by ClevrChico on Mon Apr 19, 2021 8:25 am, edited 2 times in total.
as9
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by as9 »

This will depend entirely on the company. My company already had a strong remote culture pre-pandemic and I can definitively say it doesn't matter where you're located and whether or not that's near an office.

But I would guess for most companies it will continue to matter, particularly for those saying you choose to WFH a certain number of days a week (as opposed to those saying we are now a fully distributed, remote-first org).
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Pikel »

In the industry I'm familiar with, there is opportunity at all levels -- even officers -- for remote work. "We go to the talent," is a phrase I have heard many times.

That said, there are still companies within the field that are not willing to do this, or are just beginning to experiment with it, so you still have to use your judgment.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by humblecoder »

I think the answer will depend upon your company culture, the industry that you are in, and your own personality/circumstance.

In software development/IT where I am, for years, we've had to collaborate across geographic locations and timezones. A good portion of our work is done by vendors who are not only off-site, but in different countries. So we are used to this situation to a certain extent.

During my career, I've reported to managers who have been in different geographic locations. I've had people report to me who have been in geographic locations. We were using Zoom prior to the pandemic.. before it was a household name!

Perhaps IT is ahead of the remote work curve, but none of the above has been an impediment to anyone's career from what I can tell. However, your industry's mileage may vary.

That said, there are some best practices that I have found helpful to keep in touch.

1. Use your video camera to help simulate that in-person experience

2. Keep in contact with your manager. Some ideas are to have a quick Head-to-Head either at the start or end of the day OR put together a daily status email.

3. With remote work, you have to be more intentional in your communications. You can't just walk around and have random conversations. You might make a point of checking in with people on some periodic basis just to say "hi". However, don't just barge in, so to speak. Random interruptions can be productivity killers. When you are in the office, it is easier to see if somebody is heads down, so you know to avoid interrupting them. However, when remote, you lose that context. Either schedule the time at the start or end of the day, or send an email/instant message/text saying to ping you when they are free, not urgent.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by HomerJ »

Tester83 wrote: Mon Apr 19, 2021 12:26 am Putting that aside, during the pre-pandemic days, many of my companies' managers remotely supervise a good portion of their direct reports. In fact, the second-in-command of my department doesn't live or work in the same city as his supervisor or anyone down her reporting chain (which has been the situation for about five years)
Well, your company appears to be very different from most other companies, so you should be fine.

Weird question to ask, to be honest...

If your company has been this way for years and years even before the pandemic, then it looks like you'll be fine WFH.

For the rest of us answering your question, working from home the majority of time is new, and new to our companies.

This appears to have been normal operating procedure for your company.

I have no idea why you asked the question.
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Tester83
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by Tester83 »

HomerJ wrote: Mon Apr 19, 2021 12:45 pm
Tester83 wrote: Mon Apr 19, 2021 12:26 am Putting that aside, during the pre-pandemic days, many of my companies' managers remotely supervise a good portion of their direct reports. In fact, the second-in-command of my department doesn't live or work in the same city as his supervisor or anyone down her reporting chain (which has been the situation for about five years)
Well, your company appears to be very different from most other companies, so you should be fine.

Weird question to ask, to be honest...

If your company has been this way for years and years even before the pandemic, then it looks like you'll be fine WFH.

For the rest of us answering your question, working from home the majority of time is new, and new to our companies.

This appears to have been normal operating procedure for your company.

I have no idea why you asked the question.
It's normal for folks to remotely supervise, or be remotely supervised, while still going into the office everyday (and be in the physical presence of colleagues, other higher-up superiors, and folks from different departments which we frequently collaborate).

It's not normal for folks to WFH 3-4 days per week, physically away from all the aforementioned folks on a regular basis.

For purposes of determining the viability of candidates for promotion, isn't there a huge difference between the two situations? I'd think so.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by PVW »

Tester83 wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 2:45 pm I have aspirations of moving into management
If you are good at managment and your company recognizes this, WFH won't matter.

If you or your company relies on seniority, the old boys' club, networking, etc., then WFH will harm your career in management.
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Re: Would a Shift to Primarily WFH Affect Promotion Opportunity?

Post by flyingcows »

It wouldn’t matter at the companies I’ve worked at in the past 10 years. Even if I actually went into a local office, the people I worked with would not be in the same building/city/country, so I am not sure what kind of edge there would be sitting in a random office building vs my home office while collaborating with each other using software based tools

However if you worked at a smaller company, where people you interact with all worked in the same building, then it probably matters. I can’t say I’ve been in this situation personally, but that is my guess. That said, in that situation, why not just sync the WFH days with everyone you interact with?
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