Imagine missing out on a promotion simply because you work remote while your counterpart works in the office with your manager. In this blog, we share four ways to help prevent proximity bias.
For some associates, this is their fear. The phenomenon is known as proximity bias – when leaders display favoritism to associates who are physically closer because they’re at the office in a hybrid work environment.
In our previous blog post, we discussed how leaders may unintentionally show proximity bias and what they can do to prevent it from affecting their employees and workplace. However, despite their best efforts, you may still see your managers playing favorites to their in-office employees.
You may notice your on-premise coworkers receive more opportunities for:
- New or stretched assignments
- Increase in pay or bonus
If you work remotely, proximity bias could hinder your professional career. Although you can’t control all forms of bias, there are four steps you can take to level the playing field.
Four Ways to Fight Proximity Bias
1. Increase Communication
As a remote worker, you’re at a disadvantage because you don’t see your manager or other leaders as often as those working in the physical office. Communication for those in the office is more organic and can occur spontaneously. As a remote associate, informal communication is lacking. And you have to schedule any formal communication.
It’s up to you to keep your boss informed about everything you do. Consciously try to increase communication with your manager. For example, use instant messaging to engage in more informal communication throughout the day. Even small effort notes to “Have a good weekend!” or “Looking forward to our one-on-one meeting later today” keeps you on your manager’s mind.
During planned communication, make sure you have a well-thought-out agenda, so that your manager knows what you’re working on, what you’ve accomplished, as well as thoughts from recent meetings, presentations or team discussions.
2. Create Mini-Chat Sessions with Your Manager
Create time to catch up with your manager. You could schedule time over lunch for 15 minutes or a quick, virtual coffee break. And you don’t always have to talk about work. Make connections by asking about their day or week. Personal conversations are the best way to create connections.
Some managers might be too busy for casual meetings. If that’s the case, schedule the chats as an ongoing meeting in advance. A 15-minute chat can feel short, but it’s meaningful if you’re building trust and creating connections.
3. Maintain a Strong Work Ethic
Some believe remote workers have more time to slack off because you can’t see them every day – your manager may hold that belief. Prove them wrong. Keep producing excellent work, and make sure you up your manager about all projects. Create a routine for work and share that often with your manager. You may have to get creative for them to notice you, but it’ll be worth the effort.
4. Stay Encouraged
Proximity bias may not be an issue for you. But if you feel it is, have an honest conversation with your manager. Don’t occupy your mind with concern for the next promotion. Discouragement over proximity bias can lead to a lack of motivation or productivity. It’s critical to remember that proximity bias is a subconscious bias. It is out of your control. So, focus on things you can control. Focus on doing the best work you can do on a project. Focus on keeping your boss in the know about your work.
Overcoming Proximity Bias
Ultimately, your manager makes the decisions concerning promotions, new assignments and pay structure. Proximity bias could influence their decision. But, you can stand out to your manager and teammates.