Could Working From Home Hurt Your Career?

by Maurie Backman | Published on Aug. 23, 2021

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A person flips through papers at a home desk with a phone and laptop.

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If you're being given the option to work remotely on a long-term basis, you may not want to take it.

Many people have been working remotely since March of 2020. But at this point in the pandemic, some companies are finally starting to call their employees back to the office.

If your employer decides to reopen, you may be asked to show up to work in person, but you may also get the opportunity to continue working from home. Some companies recognize that remote setups work reasonably well and are allowing employees to stay home even with office buildings reopening.

Continuing to work remotely certainly has its benefits. Not only might you enjoy a more flexible schedule, but you'll also have the opportunity to save money on commuting costs. And, if you have kids, you may be able to save some money on childcare expenses. For example, you may need fewer daycare hours if you're not spending time commuting, which could result in lower fees.

But working from home on a long-term basis could do some damage to your career. Before you make that call, make sure to consider the drawbacks involved.

The downside of working from home long-term

Working from home might allow you to spend less and pad your savings. But it might also impede your career growth.

For one thing, if you continue working remotely, you might miss out on the opportunity to learn from others. Sometimes, you pick things up on the job simply by observing others, but if you continue to work in isolation, you might lose that chance.

Similarly, if you keep working remotely, you might miss out on the chance to network with other people in your company. You never know when getting to know people in different departments might lead to a better job opportunity within the company. But if you're not around, you won't be able to develop those relationships.

Finally, some people simply work better in an office environment. If you're one of them but you continue to work from home, you may be less productive, which could hurt your chances of getting a raise or a promotion.

What's the right solution for you?

If you enjoy working from home and prefer it to reporting to an office, then you may want to stick with it. Just be sure you understand what you might lose out on by going this route.

Another option to consider is a hybrid setup -- one where you work from home a few days a week but come into the office the rest of the week -- if your company allows for it. If your employer is willing to be flexible, a hybrid schedule might really give you the best of both worlds. That way, you can be home some days, which could lead to a better work-life balance. At the same time, you'll still get a chance to show your face, engage with your colleagues, and learn from those around you.

And who knows? You may even find that you appreciate the social aspect of showing up to an office more so than anything else, and there's nothing wrong with that.

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