A fifth of UK workers feel they get less recognition within their career as a direct result of working remotely despite working harder, research has found.
The poll of 1,085 employees, conducted by Ezra, found 20 per cent felt they received less recognition from their workplace since they started working remotely, while 72 per cent said they received about the same. Just 8 per cent reported they received more recognition.
This is despite 55 per cent saying they were more likely to work additional hours since working remotely.
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Dr John Moriarty, lecturer at the Queen’s University Belfast, School of Social Science, Education and Social Work, said the figures were a reminder of the importance of the informal interactions that often happen in a physical workplace.
“Mixing at coffee docks and on the office floor gives an opportunity for personal thanks and praise and encouragement. Even when management does remember to thank their staff, I imagine this could feel impersonal to someone receiving this thanks on a video call with hundreds of colleagues,” he added.
Gemma Dale, lecturer at Liverpool Business School, added that many employees – particularly frontline workers – have been working particularly hard this year. She said: “Organisations need to remember the importance of recognition for employee engagement and motivation, now more than ever.
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“Working remotely does not mean that people cannot be recognised effectively, whether that’s peer-to-peer recognition or from the wider organisation through more formal schemes.”
Dale suggested that businesses consider sharing stories of their staff’s efforts as a way of acknowledging significant contributions.
The figures also pointed towards the issue of presenteeism, said Heejung Chung, reader in sociology and social policy at the University of Kent. “The idea of face time, that you get recognised by being visible, is prevalent in organisations,” she said, warning that many businesses still had a culture where long hours were equated to performance and commitment.
“It’s a signal for HR managers to be more proactive in changing the culture and narrative to move away from just hours worked in an office, and figure out exactly how we can measure these new forms of productivity or commitment,” explained Chung.
She added that studies have shown workers who work from home tend to get less compensation for overtime simply because they were not visible to the manager. Going forward, organisations that adopt a hybrid model of working will need to be careful and avoid creating a “two-tiered” system where those working from home have to work harder.
“Managers need to be really aware of the possible negative outcomes of this. Where you have workers who need to work from home, they might end up feeling like they need to perform even more, which ends up being negative for performance and wellbeing,” Chung warned.