Face Time

An academic study has revealed that the growing trend towards remote working may harm employee's prospects of promotion.

The study suggests that the passive face time that is received when working in an office based environment and seeing your management from day to day is a necessary occurrence if you wish to be kept in mind for that promotion.

Passive face time is not just important so that you are remembered however, its importance is linked with the fact that over ninety seven per cent of communication is non-verbal. Seeing you in motion allows your management to assess your leadership skills and dependability. The report comes from two professors at London Business School and the University of California. They recognised two types of passive face time.

The first type of passive face time is 'expected' face time and the second is termed 'extra-curricular' face time. As the names suggest, the former is when an employee is seen during normal business hours and the latter is when an employee stays late after work or comes in on an extra day. They are seen as going the extra mile in terms of the hours they are putting in. Put this way it is easy to see the importance of face time, especially the extra-curricular. If you work from home a manager will not see that you started work early or indeed that even after having had your supper you continued to work despite already having put in your contracted hours.

The study's findings came from a number of interviews. Staff who came to work during their normal hours were described using words such as 'dependable' and 'responsible', this was without any regard to whether or not they performed exceptionally well whilst in attendance. This shows the great importance of being in sight and therefore in mind and the positive thoughts that can be placed in the minds of management merely by your physical presence. It's an interesting idea given the rise in working from home either to cut down on commuting times or to help with working mothers and increase flexibility. It is bound therefore, to raise some questions as to whether it is women who will suffer most from not being promoted given that there is a large number of women who prefer for childcare reasons to work from home. The Olympic games have also been responsible for an increase in working from home. Many employers chose to allow staff to work more flexibly and were pleased with the results, so much so that some have maintained their flexible working policies, which include remote working.

Those employees seen putting in the extra hours were described as 'committed' and 'dedicated'. Although these are the assumptions that were found in the study, most of the managers taking part did not realise that they were making them based so heavily on face time alone. However, the study identified methods of using technology to show an employee's dedication. For example, sending an email either late or early on in the day shows that you are committed and dedicated and are putting in the hours. Voice-mails have the same effect. The study also advises managers against the use of trait-based evaluations, which would take into account face time. It is better for managers to use objective methods such as an assessment of output. Assessing individuals in this way will help to avoid a negative impact creeping in merely because they haven't seen them around the office for a while.

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