Maxwell Stephens

Are remote workers more at risk?

With the global economic environment in such a turbulent state, it seems a lot of organizations are starting to tighten their belts. Unfortunately for many, one of the most common ways businesses do this is to cut down their workforce. Recent news has highlighted some of the world’s biggest tech companies doing this very thing –following the purchase by Elon Musk, Twitter are apparently getting rid of half it’s workforce; Meta are reportedly going through a cull off around 13% of it’s global workforce, and Amazon recently announced a corporate hiring freeze. The case of Elon Musk with Twitter is particularly noteworthy due to his clear stance on working from home – following similar policies as implemented with Tesla, Musk has stated that ‘Remote work is no longer allowed, unless you have a specific exception’. This got us thinking about the attitudes towards working from home and whether there are more risks to remote workers in their careers than their office-dwelling colleagues.

Out of sight, out of mind

Disadvantages associated with remote working may be attributed to the simple fact that people who work from home are not seen often, and by extension often overlooked or forgotten about. According to research carried out by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), nearly half of supervisors stated that they ‘sometimes forget about remote workers when assigning tasks’. As much as leaders may try to actively curb this office-based favouritism, it’s human nature to focus on what we can see and hear, and just by being in the physical presence of superiors will provide an advantage when it comes to being assigned to tasks/projects, as well as making it more likely to become the ‘go-to’ employee that bosses turn to. It’s easy to see how this could have a significant impact on career trajectory.

Employer Attitudes

Although the number of people working from home has exploded in recent years (for obvious reasons), significant amounts of research and commentary on the subject suggest that many employers may not feel quite as positive about the shift towards remote working as their employees do. According to the SHRM, 72% or managers who supervise remote workers would prefer all of their subordinates to be in the office. This supports a common employer perception that remote works may not be as committed as their colleagues who work in the office.


As highlighted in numerous global surveys, one of the main disadvantages to remote working is that it considerably hinders the development of professional relationships and networks, and in turn an employee’s ability to learn from their colleagues. Being in the same physical workspace as your fellow professionals provides significantly more opportunities to develop knowledge and experience from others, as well as allow much more fluid and sponmtaneous communication and collaboration.

Mental Health

When we consider the potential risks associated with remote working, it’s not all about how it can affect your professional life. Research suggests that prolonged remote working can potentially have a detrimental affect on an individual’s personal life and their mental health. For many people, a shared workplace is one of their main places to socialize, and cutting this out completely can severely impact morale and productivity. Most of us develop strong friendships with those we work with, with relationships with colleagues often being cited as one of the bet things about a workplace.

Studies also suggest that working from home can start to blur the boundaries between work and home, with many remote workers feeling they don’t have a clear work/life separation and may feel like they are ‘always on the clock’ when their workplace and home are one and the same.

Obviously offering pay rises before they are demanded is an enviable position that not many organisations find themselves in, so at the very least employers should foster a culture of openness and honesty when it comes to salary negotiation, it shouldn’t be some taboo subject that employees feel awkward about discussing, as they have that discussion elsewhere.

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