Ed. note: This blog was originally written for us by research intern Tristin Young.
Since the pandemic, many have grown accustomed to having remote and hybrid work. I personally love the flexibility of remote work, but there are subtle pitfalls. A recent article from the Harvard Business Review identifies three types of gender bias that are pervasive in hybrid work culture:
- Experience bias – the tendency to place particular value on tasks we better understand because they are easier to define. Those that work on more highly visible tasks are perceived as being better workers. Often women are assigned less visible roles which makes it more difficult for them to be recognized for their hard work.
- Proximity bias – the tendency to believe that those you physically encounter more often in your workspace do the most important work. This type of bias is especially prevalent in hybrid-work environments where men are more likely to come into the office and women are more likely to work from home due to caregiving or childcare responsibilities.
- In-group/out-group bias – preferential treatment given to groups the evaluator identifies with. Employees working remotely are often placed into the “out-group” because of their lack of physical proximity. Those in office are more likely to be considered in the “in-group” and receive positive evaluations and promotions.
Managers must be attentive and adaptive to achieve equity, especially in remote and hybrid environments. Recognizing bias is the first step to reducing them. Data acquisition and analysis can be used to identify areas where bias may be present so your organization can build awareness and move toward equity. Just because the office working environment has changed doesn’t mean old habits/biases go away. This is even more important now as DEI initiatives and work from home (WFH) programs are both under scrutiny at the moment.