Some employees believe remote work hindered career growth, study finds

A new survey found that 48% of employees in the U.S. and the United Kingdom believe remote working and lack of in-person meetings with their bosses over the past year hindered promotions and the ability to learn on the job.

The survey was conducted by Beamery, a talent operating company. The results were released in the company’s quarterly "Talent Index" after collecting answers from 5,000 workers between August 19, 2021, and September 1, 2021. 

Results also showed that the lack of support and progression has 53% of workers considering leaving their jobs within the next year. Additionally, 31% of workers said getting more mental health support is a top priority for returning to in-person office work, according to the research. 

Researchers found the issue more prominent among Generation Z workers, where 66% of workers said remote work has slowed their career progression. Forty-one percent of 18- to 24-year-olds said their work-life balance was better before the pandemic, suggesting they preferred office life. Seventy-three percent of 18- to 24-year-olds are considering leaving their job in the next year.

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Other highlights from the survey include 63% of employees saying their career paths and goals have changed during the pandemic.

The survey also noted a difference between U.S. and UK workers. 

In the UK, 34% of survey respondents felt very happy with their employer's return to office policy, versus 41% of U.S. survey respondents. Researchers said the number could be higher in the U.S. because 56% of U.S. workers said their employers prioritized mental health versus about 45% in the UK.

Researchers said companies need to take a look at an office-home hybrid work model especially to ensure Generation Z workers feel more supported in their development and their progression. They added it could also help companies avoid losing talent in what has been dubbed the 'Great Resignation'.

The survey also found that 30% of employees stated that their company's approach to working from home has left them feeling both isolated and undervalued.

"While many have enjoyed the flexibility that comes with remote working, younger workers' careers appear to be suffering through a lack of training, a lack of development through observing experienced colleagues and a lack of recognition owing to less physical human interaction with their peers and managers," Abakar Saidov, Co-Founder and CEO at Beamery said.

"It is crucial that employers consider how their employees feel about the way they work, consider a more balanced hybrid approach, and ensure adequate human contact time to enable progression, training, personal connection and mental health services as they focus on motivating employees about future opportunities, and getting career paths back on track," he continued. 

It’s a question occupying the minds of millions of employees who have worked from home the past year: Will they still be allowed to work remotely — at least some days — once the pandemic has faded?

One of America’s corporate titans, Ford Motor Co., supplied its own answer: It told about 30,000 of its employees worldwide who have worked from home that they can continue to do so indefinitely, with flexible hours approved by their managers. Their schedules will become a work-office "hybrid": They’ll commute to work mainly for group meetings and projects best-suited for face-to-face interaction.

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Salesforce, Facebook, Google and other tech firms have said they’ll continue work-from-home policies indefinitely. Target Corp. will leave one of four downtown Minneapolis office locations because it’s moving to a hybrid model for 3,500 workers. It will keep other downtown offices.

A March 2021 report from the employment website Indeed says postings for jobs that mention "remote work" have more than doubled since the pandemic began. Such job postings are still increasing even while vaccinations are accelerating and the pace of new confirmed COVID cases is declining.

Company executives overwhelmingly report that remote work has succeeded during the pandemic, according to research by consulting firm PwC. About 55% said they envision allowing continued remote work, according to the survey of 133 executives of mostly large companies. Just 17% said they wanted employees back in the office as soon as possible. An additional 26% said they preferred only limited remote work but recognized that it’s become popular with employees.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.