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THE PERFORMANCE BIAS: HOME VS. OFFICE

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by Jana Timm
Candidate , Candidates , Clients , Trends , Future , Tech Industry , Technology , IT & Technology , Unconscious Biases , Biases , Workplace , Culture , Tech Recruitment , Working from home , remote working , Productivity , Performance
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According to a recent Gartner survey, 64% of managers believe that office workers are higher performers than remote workers, and in turn are likely to give in-office workers a higher raise than those who work from home.

Yet data from a poll we ran on LinkedIn recently, showed that a whopping 49% of tech professionals feel more productive when working from home. And they are not alone. The Harvard Business Review collected data from both 2019 (pre-pandemic) and 2020 (during the pandemic) that clearly showed: Full-time remote workers are 5% more likely to be high performers than those who work full-time from the office.

So why do managers maintain this bias in favour of in-office workers?

The answer lies deeply rooted in a lot of corporate cultures but also in how we subconsciously perceive people based on physical face time with them. Shifting to a full-time remote working model was a change businesses and organisations across the world had to adapt to. For some of them, this change came a lot quicker than planned, and with it the loss of perceived control over their employees' productivity.

With a lot of businesses adopting or planning to adopt a hybrid workforce even after the pandemic ends, remote working isn’t going away any time soon. In December 2020, PwC found that 83% of employers felt the shift to remote working was a success, compared to 73% in June. What’s more, 52% of executives now report that employees are more productive than they were before the pandemic, up from 44% in the earlier survey.

Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey revealed that only 36% of employees were high performers at organizations with a standard 40-hour workweek. Organizations that offer employees flexibility over when, where and how much they work, see 55% of their workforce as high performers. Beyond 2021, we can expect to see a shift in employees being measured by their output, as opposed to an agreed set of hours.

During the pandemic 1 in 4 companies purchased technology to track and monitor their employees. According to Gartner research, less than 50% of employees trust their employer with their data with 44% not receiving any information on how their data is being used by their employer. In the near future, we expect to see new regulations that will limit what employers can track and how they can do it.


What does this bias mean for the gender pay gap?

Surveys show that men are more likely to return to the workplace while women are more likely to continue working from home which could be a contributing factor to the gender pay gap widening at a time the pandemic has already disproportionately impacted women.

How can companies get the best out of remote teams?

According to Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey, employers that support employees with their life experience see a 23% increase in the number of employees reporting better mental health and a 17% increase in the number of employees reporting better physical health.

There is also a real benefit to employers, who see a 21% increase in the number of high performers compared to organizations that don’t provide the same degree of support to their employees.

Remote work options can help break down barriers enabling talent acquisition to cast a wider net to reach underrepresented talent. It can also be a powerful way to support diversity and inclusion efforts and helps to attract, support, and retain great talent from all backgrounds. 


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