The Status of Remote Work: Pros, Cons, and What It Means for Career Advancement

The Status of Remote Work: Pros, Cons, and What It Means for Career Advancement

For the past few years, executives have debated the longevity of remote work. Some say the market is finally shifting back to the office, while others insist that remote and hybrid models are here to stay.

Just 4% of companies—such as Goldman Sachs—are requiring employees to return to the office full-time. Meanwhile, about 90% of employers (including Apple, Google, and Microsoft) have adopted a hybrid environment. Rather than moving employees back to the office, Yelp announced it will close its offices in Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., citing the success of its remote work model, record revenue of over $1 billion, and a <2% usage of office space.

Remote and hybrid job listings aren’t slowing down—and neither are the applications. Forbes anticipates that 25% of professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022, with that number rising into 2023. Earlier this year, for the first time, remote jobs posted on LinkedIn received 50% of all applications.

The Great Resignation has contributed to this shift, impacting hiring across all fields (including industrial and white-collar work). Companies are operating in a candidate’s market, giving employees the upper hand in negotiating for remote or hybrid assignments.

With no end in sight to remote and hybrid employment options, what are the pros and cons of remote work—for both employers and workers? And how can remote employees make sure they aren’t left behind?

Advantages of Remote Work for Businesses and Employees

Remote work brings benefits for both employers and workers, including:

  • A greater candidate pool to hire from
  • Financial incentives
  • Employee wellness and work-life balance
  • Increased productivity and retention

A Greater Candidate Pool

Businesses are struggling to hire qualified workers in the current market. A remote work model offers employers a larger candidate pool, giving them a wider range of top talent to draw from.

Remote positions allow employers to receive applicants from anywhere in the country, enabling them to find the right candidate for the job despite their location.

Financial Incentives

With rising costs and wages, it can be difficult for businesses to remain competitive during the hiring process. Remote work brings financial benefits to both employers and workers. During the recruitment process, offering remote or hybrid work can be a persuasive perk without costing the company extra funds.

Remote work also helps keep costs in check for employees; without the commute, workers can keep gas prices down and reside in a location with a lower cost of living. This makes career opportunities more accessible to employees living outside of urban areas, too.

Employee Wellness and Work-Life Balance

One of the biggest draws of remote work is the work-life balance that comes with it. This is especially attractive to employees who are parents or other caregivers.

Plus, employees have extra personal time when they aren’t commuting—time that can be spent with family, self-care, or hobbies.

Ultimately, employee well-being is a key factor in determining whether an applicant accepts a job offer, with 60% of employees saying well-being is a top priority in their decision-making.

Increased Productivity and Retention

Employee well-being benefits employers, too; it increases retention and productivity while reducing absenteeism.

Employee turnover is costly. According to Indeed, employers spend about 33% of an employee’s annual salary finding and hiring a replacement. With the flexibility that remote work brings, both employers and workers benefit from the increased retention rates that come with remote work opportunities; 74% of employees say remote work options make them less likely to leave their current company.

Roadblocks of Remote Work

Despite the benefits of working remotely, it may not be the right path for everyone. 

Many employees report feeling more isolated in a remote environment, missing the human interaction that comes from an office. This is especially true of employees under 35 without family obligations.

Some studies have also shown that remote work increases productivity but also leads to employees working longer hours and experiencing a larger amount of stress.

It can also be difficult for employees to advance their careers when working remotely. Due to proximity bias, remote or hybrid employees can be less likely to receive new opportunities in the workplace. This can manifest in remote employees being excluded from meetings, receiving less visibility for their accomplishments, and being passed over for promotions. To reduce proximity bias, workplaces must train managers in managing successful hybrid teams, which will involve regular communication and opportunities for collaboration.

Career Advancement for Remote Employees

Despite the pitfalls of remote and hybrid work, employees can take steps towards creating opportunities for advancement.

Set measurable goals

No matter your work modality, setting measurable goals allows you to hold yourself accountable, stay productive, and take steps towards the advancement opportunities you want. This can also give you concrete talking points to share with your manager, helping you to make your progress more visible.

Log your accomplishments

Depending on how many opportunities you have to collaborate with others and showcase your work, it can be difficult to make your accomplishments visible when working remotely. Receive positive feedback from a client? Successfully complete a big project? Solve a complex problem? Document it. Keeping a log of your accomplishments can help during 1-1 meetings with your manager or your yearly review.

Cultivate relationships

Remote employees can reduce the sense of isolation by intentionally connecting with colleagues. To ensure you are still building your network and getting that crucial face-to-face time, it’s up to you to cultivate relationships with others in your company.

Track down opportunities to connect with colleagues over chat or video messaging, whether it’s participating in an informal chat channel, collaborating on projects, or joining a virtual social event.

Can’t find existing spaces to connect? Try hosting a Zoom work session or create a virtual happy hour. 

Make yourself visible

If you are a remote employee but your colleagues are in-person, they may get more face-to-face time with upper management. As a remote employee, you don’t have the benefit of connecting with colleagues at the coffee machine in the morning or trading weekend stories at the water cooler.

If you aren’t already meeting regularly with your manager, request more frequent one-on-one contact. Use this time to discuss your professional development and highlight your accomplishments. What questions do you have? What were your wins for the week? What roadblocks are you facing? Be sure to share in your next meeting how you overcame that roadblock, too.

Finally, make sure you are responsive and present. Respond promptly to emails and chat messages, and challenge yourself to contribute at least once during a meeting.

Is Remote Work the Right Fit?

Remote and hybrid work is likely here to stay. It’s up to each employee and business to decide whether a remote model is right for them. Businesses can take measures to cultivate an inclusive remote work environment. Likewise, employees can take measures to ensure their success in a remote environment and continue propelling their careers forward.

The best way to stay on top of market trends? and join a diverse community of business professionals.

Albers Schools of Business and Economics

February 14, 2023