Wed. May 31st, 2023

From today’s New York Times:

At least 10 times a day, Erika Becker, who works as a sales development manager at a technology company called Verkada, turns to her boss with questions. “Did I handle that correctly?” she asks. “What could I have done better?”

Ms. Becker, 28, comes into her office in San Mateo, Calif., five days a week, along with all her colleagues. The routine is a stark departure from her previous role at Yelp, where she worked from home and often spoke with her boss by phone just once in a day. Ms. Becker has rediscovered an upside of the office: feedback. Lots of it.

“It’s like if there’s something in my teeth, I want you to tell me,” she said. “Because I want to move up in my career.”

Since the start of the pandemic, sweeping workplace changes have arrived far faster than the research examining their effects. More than 50 million Americans, largely in white-collar jobs, began working from home at least part of the time. Many of them, especially working parents, became fiercely attached to the flexibility. In recent months, as large employers — including Amazon, Disney and Starbucks — have tried to call workers back to the office, thousands of employees have objected, pointing to a track record of productivity at home.

But remote workers may be paying a hidden professional penalty for that flexibility, according to a working paper from economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the University of Iowa and Harvard. The research is among the first major studies to demonstrate the professional downside of remote work.

The economists — Natalia Emanuel, Emma Harrington and Amanda Pallais — studied engineers at a large technology company. They found that remote work enhanced the productivity of senior engineers, but it also reduced the amount of feedback that junior engineers received (in the form of comments on their code), and some of the junior engineers were more likely to quit the firm. The effects of remote work, in terms of declining feedback, were especially pronounced for female engineers.

“We find a now-versus-later trade-off associated with remote work,” said Ms. Harrington, an economist at the University of Iowa. “Particularly for junior engineers who are new to this particular firm, and younger engineers, they receive less feedback from their senior colleagues when they’re remote.”

Read the complete story here.

By Editor