Research has established that telecommuting – or working from home (WFH) – may be linked to higher job performance, particularly among employees with cognitively complex jobs. However, more recent data suggests that telecommuting may in some instances be associated with less advantageous career outcomes.
According to a study by Timothy Golden at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Kimerly Eddleston at Northeastern University, the proportion of the working week spent working from home was negatively related to both promotion and salary growth. In other words, employees who worked from home more tended to achieve fewer promotions and experienced slower salary growth.
Telecommuting may be associated with less advantageous career outcomes
However, the general acceptability of WFH within different organisations played a key factor in outcomes. Employees who telecommuted a great deal were mostly protected from the career-harming effects of WFH when it was fairly normal for employees within their organisations to work from home. In contrast, frequent telecommuters were more likely to experience career-limiting effects when it was less commonplace for employees within their organisations to work from home.
Putting it another way, it matters greatly what your colleagues are doing. Like many people, you may feel that you get more done at home. However, you may wish to protect your future prospects and salary growth by following the working patterns most common among your colleagues.