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Will I be penalized for working from home? : NPR

Nitin Budhiraja discovered during the pandemic that he enjoyed working from home. He now works entirely remotely.

Nitin Budhiraja


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Nitin Budhiraja


Nitin Budhiraja discovered during the pandemic that he enjoyed working from home. He now works entirely remotely.

Nitin Budhiraja

Jenn Ramirez Robson has been working remotely since the pandemic began.

Now, as more people return to the office or are offered the choice of working from home, she is still working remotely. But every once in a while, she worries about being left behind at work.

“All of my meetings are still on Zoom or Teams, but I feel like I should be in the office at least once a week,” says Ramirez Robson, who works at the Northwest Center, a nonprofit for people with disabilities. .

In the “new normal” hybrid workplace, will remote and in-person workers be treated the same? It’s a hot topic of debate right now, with many workers like Ramirez Robson wondering if they’d sacrifice promotions if they chose not to come to the office. One of Wall Street’s top CEOs jumped right into this conversation.

“If you want a job, stay away all the time,” says Rich Handler, CEO of investment banking firm Jefferies. “If you want a career, engage with the rest of us in the office… No judgment on who you choose, but don’t be surprised or disappointed by some results.”

Handler was responding to an Instagram post from widely followed account @wallstreetconfessions, which said layoffs at investment banks were coming and managers would soon have to judge who was worth keeping. “Now is the time to have visible added value – and showing up to the office every day is a big part of that,” the post said. It received over 130 comments, and Handler’s own comment generated another 40 responses.

It’s a hot topic that’s starting to generate a lot of anxiety. The pandemic has upended traditional work structures and hybrid options are much more common than before. According to Indeed’s Hiring Lab, about 10% of jobs posted on its site in May this year were advertised as remote, more than three times the amount before the pandemic.

“My career is not the most important thing right now… I want a life”

Several CEOs, including Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon and Tesla boss Elon Musk, say stepping into the office is key to learning, being part of a culture and level of performance higher. Both want their employees to be in the office five days a week.

Most career experts agree that there are distinct benefits to spending more face-to-face time and collaborating with colleagues. But some people are willing to give that up for other benefits they get from working remotely, according to Anita Bruzzese, who writes a workplace and career column.

“There will be people who will think the compromise is worth it, who will say that my career is not the most important thing right now,” Bruzzese said. “I want to travel, I want a life, I want to train for a marathon, I want to raise my family – so I’m willing to make that trade-off.”

Others say, why should I be penalized for working from home?

However, some say people shouldn’t be penalized for choosing to work from home. Bloomberg Campus Recruitment Intern Fatimata Cham works five days a week in the New York office. His internship did not offer a distance or hybrid option.

“I think there are a lot of benefits to being in person early in my career because I can figure out if it’s something I really want to do,” she says. “If I’m ready to come in five days for this, it must be something I’m passionate about.”

Fatimata Cham likes to come to the Bloomberg office five days a week. But she might want to take a remote job one day.

Fatimata Cham


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Fatimata Cham


Fatimata Cham likes to come to the Bloomberg office five days a week. But she might want to take a remote job one day.

Fatimata Cham

Still, Cham says she would be willing to accept remote work later on and her career shouldn’t suffer. She thinks the pandemic has forced a shift in people’s priorities to focus more on wellness. And she doesn’t think remote work is going away.

It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to hybrid working. Many advocates say it depends on the industry they’re in. Allen Ishibashi works in real estate for a state park district in California. He started working remotely when the pandemic started and found it “fantastic”.

“For the nature of the job, what I do – which is probably 90% paperwork in the office and 10% out in the field looking for properties – it’s worked really well for me,” he says.

Ishibashi is back in the office three days a week, and he doesn’t think it should be any harder for him — or any remote worker — to advance in his career.

Penalties can pose a problem in promoting a more diverse workplace

With the spread of remote work during the pandemic, there is no doubt that in some areas it has led to greater flexibility and even more opportunity. People can find jobs outside of their city, and companies can actually increase diversity if they look beyond the pool of people who live where the office is. Studies show that a variety of voices leads to a stronger organization.

Allen Ishibashi works in a regional parks department in California. He started working remotely during the pandemic and really liked it.

Allen Ishibashi


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Allen Ishibashi


Allen Ishibashi works in a regional parks department in California. He started working remotely during the pandemic and really liked it.

Allen Ishibashi

But there are concerns that hybrid policies could hamper corporate diversity efforts.

Young people are more likely to want more in-person time than their older colleagues. Women, people of color and working parents are more likely to want to work from home or in a hybrid format, according to research from January this year. Disability advocates, like Ramirez Robson, warn that people with disabilities can also be left behind in a hybrid workplace.

Jenn Ramirez Robson is working from home with her office mate, Dickens.

Kevin Ramirez


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Kevin Ramirez


Jenn Ramirez Robson is working from home with her office mate, Dickens.

Kevin Ramirez

“If there’s already a bias in remote work — there’s a demographic pattern — we want to be very aware” of the dynamics that can be reinforced by any bias for in-person workers, says Heidi Brooks, who teaches at Yale’s School of Management.

For some people like Cham, who are early in their careers, working remotely can feel isolating. They prefer to work in the office so they can easily learn the ins and outs of their role.

However, people who have established careers and already learned the ropes tend to find remote work more appealing. This raises the question of whether the careers of these individuals might stagnate at a time when they are ready to take on more leadership roles.

“Hybrid guilt” is one thing

Darren Murph, head of remote management at open-source software company GitLab, believes the key to mitigating these disparities is having everyone or no one in the office. This way, people who work in person don’t have a chance to have better access to information and meetings while remote workers are left out. It also removes what Murph calls “hybrid guilt,” where remote workers feel like they should go to the office.

Nitin Budhiraja felt this at his last job, where he wondered if he should come in, even though he was a remote worker. He worked at an ad agency that supported remote work. But there was some tension when he discovered that one of his senior staff was often in the office.

“It often made me wonder, should I go to the office? Should I come in?” said Budhiraja.

Sometimes people working in the office made decisions that he and other distant co-workers found out about later. Budhiraja said it was unintentional and the discomfort did not cause him major problems at work.

Yet when the opportunity arose to move into a company where everyone was working remotely, he jumped at the chance. He says working remotely has improved the quality of his work and given him more time to focus on himself and his family.

GitLab’s Murph says the conversation focuses too much on where workers are physically located, not how they are best suited to work. He says the question to ask now is not “Where do people work”, but “How does work get done?”

As for the Instagram account @wallstreetconfessions, it is managed by Ri Sharma, who works at the fintech start-up Allio Finance. People in the financial industry send anonymous messages and she chooses what to post on the account, which has 134,000 followers.

Sharma says she directly messaged the CEO of Jefferies after his message about considering working from home versus the office as a choice between a job and a career. She says she understands his point of view as someone who runs a large institution, but she is on the side of people who want to work from home: “I am personally the most productive when I have the option.”

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