Updated: Aug 7, 2020
Extensive telecommuting may penalize your career earnings, especially when you are a part of an organization with low telecommuting culture.
The COVID-19 is driving people in droves to telecommute, and while telecommuting is effective in stopping the spread of virus, you may want to consider how it affects your employment. If your employer rarely practices telecommuting and salary is a high priority, you may experience lower salary growth than peers with face-to-face contact.
Recent research shows extensive telecommuting and salary growth may be at odds with each other (see Golden & Eddleston, 2020). Extensive telecommuters are promoted equally, but may experience lower salary growth than occasional telecommuters or face-to-face employees. Supervisors tend to view telecommuting as self-serving with little dedication to organization and work. Extensive telecommuters are considered to dedicate more time to care for themselves and their family, thus oftentimes, they are perceived to have low work devotion. Additionally, their reduced work presence makes it harder to collaborate, which leads supervisors to infer and attribute lack of work concern.
"Supervisors tend to view telecommuting as self-serving, with little to no dedication to the organization. ”
Unlike previous research suggesting that telecommuting is an inherently negative employee attribute, Golden and Eddleston’s (2020) research shows that extent of telecommuting is the discrepancy and the key to career success. The salaries of extensive telecommuters are lower than occasional or proxy work workers, while no significant difference exists in promotions. This challenges the notion of competency. It is only natural to infer that promotion is proof of competency. So, it is possible that telecommuting is a penalizing tool for working from home. Of course, results are not generalizable across all organizations, but results show that organizations with a low culture of telecommuting probably tend to penalize their employees monetarily when applying telecommuting capabilities extensively.
The opposite is also true. Extensive telecommuters in organizations that encourage telecommuting experience the same salary and promotion growth compared to proxy employees or occasional telecommuters. This may indicate that organizations need to adequately foster a culture of telecommuting before applying it as a practice. It may help reduce bias among employees and increase morale without penalizing competency.
While extensive telecommuting may be helpful for self and family care, it may carry financial penalties for your career. This is particularly true in organizations that do not foster a culture of telecommuting. Instead, consider telecommuting occasionally and make yourself available as much as possible to avoid perception of lack of work concern from others. Next time you think about telecommuting, you may want to contextualize how it will affect your career objectives.
Golden, T. D., & Eddleston, K. A. (2020). Is there a price telecommuters pay? Examining the relationship between telecommuting and objective career success. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 116, 103348. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2019.103348