Proving MIT Wrong: Companies DO Promote Remote Workers

If you don’t trot into the office and sit in a dreary little cubicle with glaring overhead fluorescent lighting, you won’t get a promotion. Or so the brainiacs at MIT Sloan Management Review would have you believe.

In a much-publicized study, the MIT researchers claim that you won’t get promoted based on merit, achievements, intelligence or productivity, but rather based on how many minutes per day you show your face at the office.

The study postulates that the more minutes you spend in the office—both during and after regular working hours—the greater the chance you have of moving up that corporate ladder.

Really, MIT?

I am beginning to wonder just how often the folks at Massachusetts Institute of Technology let their researchers out of their human filing cabinets (office buildings) and anthropomorphic in-boxes (cubicles) to poke their heads out into the real world of business.

Companies DO promote remote workers!

Over the course of the past several years I have with a myriad of companies that not only encouraged remote work arrangements, but actively promoted telecommuters up the ranks of management. Case in point: a kidney dialysis company that I currently work with made five remote-worker-only promotions in the past three months:

1. A specialist was promoted to supervisor
2. A writer/designer was also promoted to supervisor
3. A supervisor was promoted to manager
4. Two managers were promoted to senior management positions within the company

To be clear: each of these professionals works 100% from their homes. They have no office face time. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. And most of the office workforce at this company is remote.

Companies actively HIRE remote-only top-level managers. Okay, sure, the previous example is just one company that promotes its telecommute workers. But, I have more examples. Many more. Let’s look at something else that demonstrates how companies are embracing telecommute-only managers: hiring trends. Not only are companies promoting remote workers to management positions, they are looking to specifically hire top-level remote managers.

Today I did a quick search for telecommute managerial jobs through Virtual Vocations. These jobs were advertised in various online job forums over the past thirty days. Here are the numbers and types of managerial telecommute positions that companies were looking to fill in the past month:

• 6 work-from-home C-suite executives (one chief executive officer, two chief financial officers, two chief technical officers and one chief marketing officer)
• 1 telecommute general manager
• 3 remote-working executive directors
• 11 telecommute vice presidents
• 32 home-based senior managers
• Unknown number of work-from-home mid-level managers. There were simply too many to count. I stopped counting after I found 50 ads.

So pardon me, MIT, but telecommuting isn’t just for worker-bee types with no aspirations for advancement anymore. Companies DO hire remote managers and promote remote workers to managerial positions.

How to find companies that promote remote workers. To be fair, not all companies that allow telecommuting promote members of their remote workforces. I’m sure many organizations do use “she’s just a telecommuter” as an excuse not to promote some people. But, as a talented and experienced telecommuting professional, you don’t want to work for those dinosaur companies. Find forward-thinking companies that value bottom-line results over face-time.

How do you find those most-desirable companies?

1. Look for companies that have the highest percentage of telecommute workers. One place to find that information is Fortune Magazines list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Look under “perks” and then “telecommuting” to find what percentage of employees telecommute at these top companies. Businesses that have a higher percentage of remote workers often promote those workers to higher positions within the company.

2. Search companies in industries or business sectors with the highest percentage of telecommuting jobs. Some of these industries include: business services, financial services, government and defense, healthcare and pharmaceutical, media and publishing, technology, and travel. The more telecommute workers there are in an industry, the higher the likelihood that companies in those sectors will promote their remote workers to retain top talent.

3. Identify cities that are noted as the best for telecommuting. Look for companies in those cities. Sperling rated Washington, D.C. as the top telecommuting city, while a Microsoft study gave the top telecommuting nod to Boston. Yet another study by CNN and Money Magazine rated San Francisco as the most remote worker-friendly. But those aren’t the only metropolises that are meccas for the work-from-home professional. Cities with universities or strong research centers (Raleigh-Durham, for example), abundant and easily-accessible technology (think Seattle), or cities with high commute times and a lot of traffic (Los Angeles, Chicago, New York) congestion are also perfect for telecommuting. Cities with a high percentage of telecommuters means companies have to offer more perks to their remote workers—including promotions—to keep them from being poached by other companies in that same geographic area.

4. Scan job boards that are dedicated to remote workers. We couldn’t resist a shameless plug here. The fine folks at Virtual Vocations scour job boards to find jobs targeted toward remote workers. When perusing these job boards, though, look for jobs that are “full telecommute” as opposed to “partial telecommute.” Most positions listed as “partial telecommute” are by companies that are experimenting with remote working conditions, and have not fully bought into 100% telecommute positions. Chances are companies with “partial telecommute” positions are among those that will promote based on face-time, not competency.

So forget those gloom-and-doom projections about remote workers getting passed over for promotions! Start finding your dream telecommute position at a company where you can use your skills, talents, intelligence, and experience while working from the comfort of your own home.

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About Vicki Kunkel 17 Articles
Vicki Kunkel is a mediapreneur, educator, and journalist who gave up the clock-punching nine-to-five life 18 years ago to start her own digital content business. She is a prolific writer and commercially-published book author. Vicki started writing for Virtual Vocations in May, 2012.

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