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This has been something that’s been bugging me for awhile, and I wanted to get your guys’ opinion on it. Now that we are living in the post-COVID world (or hopefully soon once Omicron is done) with a lot of remote or hybrid work, I wanted to understand if working remotely (even partially) will hurt my career progression in the long term.

Ultimately, I want to be able to move to a more senior level role in the next several years, but I am concerned that if I want to WFH at least 2x a week that I may be hurting myself. Typically, my bosses are going to someone in senior leadership, and typically, those individuals are going to be older and value face-to-face time over others.

My company does allow WFH, but I am worried that they or potentially other companies that I could work for in the future, may hold it against me (subconsciously at least) or value others that are in the office 5x a week more. I was talking about this to an old boss of mine from another company. He mentioned that the “old” standard was “if you weren’t in the office, you weren’t working”.

Has this perception changed in the last couple years for company not in tech, or is the new WFH flexibility more of a function of employee-demands in a employees-job market (vs companies actually wanting to allow it)?

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I have worked from home and employed people working from home since long before the pandemic.

As a general observation, there is a crucial difference between people you don't see and those you do. The ones you don't see you don't care about. You won't lose sleep over sacking them or show up at their wedding with gifts. You don't stop and have a chat and get to know them on a personal level.

So a work from home employee is at a disadvantage in many ways.

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    Visibilty is key - Though this could be achieved when WFH via lots of meetings, calls and mails, it's still doesn't have the same 'impact' as when someone are physically present..
    – iLuvLogix
    Jan 25 at 12:46
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As with any realistic answer - it depends.

First, recognize that in most parts of the world we have not yet reached the post-COVID stage. It's not yet clear when that might happen. Companies are still in the process of dealing with the immediate concerns while thinking of the future, so things will continue to evolve.

Eventually, some companies will have a work from home culture that extends upward through all levels of management. Some will not.

Your best bet is to take your cues from those above you. If you aspire to get into senior leadership, look to their actions and model your behavior after them. If they are always in the office, it makes sense for you to be there. If they are mostly from home, then learn how they manage and direct their teams while not being physically present.

Some will eventually choose their jobs partly based on their desire to work from home or not work from home. So if you find that your company expects management to work in the office but you would rather not, you might choose to find a company with different expectations of management.

For now, keep your eyes open and learn based on what you see.

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A lot depends on the actual hard facts of "work-from-home" in your industry and country.

In tech, the companies I know have embraced work-from-home because they have seen that it can actually raise productivity or at least keep it level and make employees happier. I think it's a given that raising employee morale by saving money on real estate costs is a win-win every company is happy to take.

And then... the is "work-from-home". Where employees were sent home and just did not work. I have friends in completely non-tech functions that said "the laptop they issued me is so slow it really sucks and I have a kid at home anyway, so I don't work on the days they made me work from home". It doesn't take scientific studies to know that their productivity plummeted.

When COVID is over, work from home will have to be redefined. Because it's meaning will reach from "productive work from a different office chair" to "lazy idiot that didn't lift a finger all day". And you will be judged by someone who has never seen you work from home. Your predecessors will influence how your performance will be seen. Whether the boss rolls their eyes and mentally dumps you into the non-hire bucket when work from home comes up or whether they just shrug and say they don't care as long as the output is good.

So, lets just assume you end up in an industry and company, where work from home actually means work from home and where it is seen as positive or at least non-negative.

Face-time is still important. First and foremost bosses need to trust their company hierarchy. Everybody has weaknesses, but with trust you can work around all of them. And humans build trust by interacting on a somewhat personal level. So networking is still king. Get to know the people in power. Keep contact.

With no water cooler and no way to just come early to a meeting or chat about another topic after, you might have to find new ways. Showing your face still has high value, so you need to put your face out there. If you can find those opportunities in your company because all people use the work from home video software, than that is great. If you cannot, because the old school bosses still hang out in the real brick and mortar building and avoid video conferences as much as possible, that is where you will have to go for promotions. But you will still need to show your face. Nobody is going to promote that faceless dude that people only know from emails and occasional problems with their camera software. They want to know who they will be working with.

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It's very difficult to give a concrete answer regarding a general perspective. I suspect this pandemic has either alleviated or confirmed fears for those that were initially wary of WFM.

But I certainly wonder to what degree potential employers will care about working twice from home in the past. If you've gotten good results, and glowing endorsements, I think that's all that will matter.

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