Remote work may be popular among employees, but IBM CEO Arvind Krishna warns that it can harm an employee’s career.
- Though Krishna is not forcing his employees to return to the office full-time, he does warn that remote workers may not have as many opportunities as in-person employees.
- Those looking to be promoted to managerial positions are less likely to get noticed if they are not in the office full-time, Bloomberg reports.
- While Krishna is not pushing for a complete return to pre-pandemic work expectations, he points out some downsides of remote work, including difficulty managing people and connecting with workers.
Why it’s news
Krishna is far from the only CEO to point out the benefits employees miss out on by working from home. Some suggest that younger staff must be on-site for training and mentoring opportunities. Office-based staff tend to spend more time in career development than their remote counterparts, Bloomberg reports.
Opportunities for promotion may not be as common among remote employees. Krishna points out that it is difficult for a remote employee to manage his subordinates effectively.
“Being a people manager when you’re remote is just tough because if you’re managing people, you need to be able to see them once in a while,” he says. “It doesn’t need to be every minute. You don’t need to function under those old ‘Everybody’s under my eye’ kind of rules, but at least sometimes.”
For now, IBM encourages its employees to come in three days a week, but Krishna’s comments indicate that the suggestion is a strong one.
“We encourage you to come in, we expect you to come in, we want you to come in,” he says.
Hybrid work arrangements are prevalent among U.S. companies. Around half of all remote workers in the U.S. have a hybrid system in place, Bloomberg reports. Remote work is relatively common among tech companies like IBM, but employers are encouraging employees to return to the office as more layoffs shake the industry.
Around 80% of IBM’s employees work from home at least part of the week. Krishna says this arrangement works well in certain roles, such as customer service or software programmers. Krishna admits that these employees can be just as productive as in-person workers, but their careers will suffer without face-to-face office time.
“Moving from there to another role is probably less likely because nobody’s observing them in another context. It will be tougher. Not impossible, but probably a lot tougher,” he says.