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PASSIVE FACE TIME: Why working from home maybe working against you
Employees are more likely to be considered 'committed' and 'hard working' if seen in the office often—even if nobody knows what you are doing at your desk, a new survey finds.
July 8, 2012 5:09 by Eva Fernandes
Kipp likes the idea of working from home. Apart from enjoying being able to work in our PJs, we love the flexibility working remotely affords. In fact, we feel a lot more productive when we work from home. If we had it our way, we would probably step into the office only once a month (to collect our pay check). But even if such an arrangement was feasible or possible would it be working against us?
A recent study found those employees who work from home or remotely are more likely to get small raises and lower performance evaluation-even if they produced work of the same quality as those who go to the office every day.
Why? Passive face time matters. Researchers at MIT’s Sloan Management Review found people tended to positively judge those who were consistently in the office, regardless of whether they knew what the employee was actually doing. Pretty terrible, isn’t it?
According to the study there are two kinds of face time which are considered important. There is expected face time (normal business hours) and extracurricular face time (after/before business hours). The study found managers were more likely to label those employees who put in expected face time as ‘responsible’ and ‘dependable; and those who put in extracurricular face time were considered ‘committed’ and ‘dedicated.’
What spooks Kipp out, is the fact that managers’ positive assessments of passive face time tend to be unintentional — even unconscious. Which means when it comes to performance appraisals, your boss may not even know the reason why he ranks you over your colleague is simply because your colleague stays later and NOT because of the quality of the work: “Managers were 9% more likely to unconsciously attribute the traits “dependable” and “responsible” to people who put in expected face time and 25% more likely to unconsciously attribute the traits “committed” and “dedicated” to people who put in extracurricular face time.”
To the seasoned worker bee these findings may not be ‘game-changing.’ Yet, to Kipp it is a little disheartening. After all, as the nature of working arrangements evolve it seems an awful waste of energy and productivity to put in ‘passive face time’ just because your manager has a rather old-fashioned philosophy of what working should look like.