Hybrid work has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years. Lack of space and other restrictions have pushed our creativity levels. Many businesses adapted to a new reality, keeping only necessary staff at physical locations and enabling the rest to work from home.
There were advantages. Many employees appreciated the opportunity to forgo a long, exhausting commute. They valued minimizing their physical interactions as they rode out the pandemic from the safety of their homes.
Hybrid Work & Proximity Bias
However, an uneven playing field has been created for some in-office and remote employees in areas of career development and promotion. Many leaders are unprepared for the effect of proximity bias. It leads us to perceive people we see daily as more capable and influential than those we see less often. As a result, when a manager considers to whom they would like to delegate a project or responsibility, they think first about those team members they see often in the office. This can lead to unequal work distribution. There may also be fewer chances for remote workers to develop additional skills, show off their abilities, and achieve recognition.
In the hybrid working environment, leaders who seek to delegate specific responsibilities and tasks need to intentionally mitigate the impact of proximity bias when reviewing candidates.
Overcoming Proximity Bias
Consider these four steps:
1. Leaders need to become aware when it is happening. As with any other cognitive bias, we don’t have control over it. We can’t claim that we are immune to it. All we can do is ensure we consider its effect while making decisions.
2. Before deciding to whom to delegate the project, it is good practice to compile a complete list of your employees to ensure that no one has slipped your mind.
3. When analyzing the level of skills and preparedness required for a new responsibility, ensure you base your opinion on factual data and metrics rather than biased impressions.
4. After delegating a task to a remote employee, establish the frequency and the format for checkpoints. You won’t have casual opportunities to chat and ask how things are going. Employees still need to feel supported and recognized for their efforts in order for the delegation process to work effectively.
Remote or hybrid work may be here to stay and adjusting your mindset about delegation can affect employees’ experience, their motivation, and willingness to work longer for your company.
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