How to Spot and Handle Working-from-Home discrimination

Here is how to handle working-from-home discrimination

Working from home has become a popular trend in recent years, with many companies transitioning to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in its aftermath. However, as more employees work remotely, it’s essential to know the potential for working-from-home discrimination. 

The term “working-from-home discrimination” refers to unfair treatment or prejudice directed at employees who are working remotely. It can take many forms, such as denial of promotions, exclusion from team meetings, and even pay disparities.

In this blog post, I will delve deeper into the different types of discrimination that remote workers may experience, including lack of access to resources and support, lack of visibility, communication challenges, lack of inclusion, stereotyping, bias against remote work, limited opportunities for advancement, inequality in pay and benefits, isolation and lack of support, and difficulties with work-life balance. Just to name a few…

But I will also address how you and your employer can avoid the working-from-home discrimination and move on from it. 

Types of Discrimination of Remote-Working employees

Working-from-home discrimination, also known as remote work discrimination, is the unfair treatment or prejudice directed at employees who work remotely. If you work from home a lot or in a hybrid function, you may have experienced this. 

This type of discrimination can manifest in various forms, including denial of promotions, exclusion from team meetings, and pay disparities. To protect your rights as a remote worker, it is crucial for you to be able to spot it when it is happening.

Here are some examples of discrimination that remote workers may experience compared to in-office workers:

  • Limited access to resources and support such as equipment, technology, and colleagues or management assistance.
  • Lack of visibility to colleagues and management, resulting in missed opportunities for promotions or other advancements.
  • Difficulty with communication, leading to misunderstandings and exclusion from important meetings.
  • Feeling excluded from company culture and social events, leading to a sense of isolation.
  • Stereotyping or stigmatization of remote work as less desirable or professional.
  • Bias against remote work, leading to missed opportunities or unfair treatment.
  • Limited opportunities for advancement and inequality in pay and benefits.
  • Isolation and lack of support lead to burnout and discrimination.
  • Difficulty in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Have you ever experienced some of the above? If you feel bad about working from home, it may be due to one or more of these types of discrimination. 

It’s important to note that these forms of discrimination can occur in any work environment, not just remote work. However, the unique challenges of remote work may make it easier for discrimination to go unnoticed and for remote workers to feel disadvantaged. 

Feeling left out is common when facing working from home-discrimination
Feeling left out is common when facing working from home-discrimination

What Causes working-from-home discrimination in the first place?

With the shift towards remote work becoming increasingly prevalent, it’s important to understand the causes of discrimination against those who choose to work from home. There are several potential causes of discrimination against remote workers, including:

  • Perception of decreased productivity: Some employers may view remote work as less productive than in-office work, leading to discrimination in the form of denied promotions or limited opportunities for remote employees. If you don’t show up in your pajamas at every online meeting or show up laying on the couch, your employer should not think of you like that. 
  • Lack of understanding or awareness: Some employers may not fully understand the unique challenges that remote workers face, such as difficulties with communication and isolation, leading to discrimination in the form of unequal treatment or lack of support. This can be really hard to deal with if your employer simply doesn’t understand what you are going through.
  • Lack of clear policies and guidelines: Without clear policies in place, it can be easier for discrimination to go unchecked, leading to remote workers feeling disadvantaged and unfairly treated. Set some clear guidelines and rules for your remote role.
  • Bias against remote work: Some employers may have a bias against remote work, viewing it as less reliable or less productive, leading to discrimination in the form of being passed over for opportunities or unfair treatment.
  • Challenges with work-life balance: Remote work can also present challenges for balancing work and personal life, leading to feelings of burnout which is not obvious to your manager and may not be taken seriously enough. 

To prevent discrimination against remote workers, it’s important for you to be aware of these potential causes and to implement clear policies and guidelines, provide support and resources, and address biases against remote work.

Your employer has a huge responsibility in this, yes. But you as a remote worker share that responsibility as well. Say it out loud if you feel either discriminated or seeing a risk of it. 

Effects and Consequences of Working-from-Home discrimination

Treating an employee differently because they work outside of an office, can have a detrimental impact on both the individual and the organization. Really, it is so important to highlight how “not okay” this is. 

Discriminatory practices such as exclusion from important projects, lack of feedback, and reduced opportunities for career advancement can leave remote workers feeling isolated, demotivated, and with a lack of job satisfaction.

The effects of discrimination against remote workers can lead to severe mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and a decrease in productivity, which ultimately affects the performance of the individual. This can ultimately lead to them quitting or breaking down. 

On the other hand, high turnover rates and lack of retention of remote workers can lead to increased recruitment and training costs for the organization, as well as a negative impact on company culture. Furthermore, discrimination can harm the company’s reputation and make it difficult to attract and retain top talent.

Working-from-home discrimination has far-reaching and significant consequences for both the individual and the organization. Employers must recognize and prevent discrimination against remote workers by creating an inclusive and supportive work environment, regardless of location. By fostering a positive and productive culture, organizations can ensure the well-being and success of all their employees.

Prevention is key when it comes to discrimination of people who work from home
Prevention is key when it comes to discrimination of people who work from home

How to Prevent Working-from-Home discrimination

Discrimination against remote workers can show itself in various forms as mentioned earlier in the article. To prevent discrimination against remote workers, organizations can take several steps such as:

  • Developing clear policies and guidelines for remote work: Having a clear policy on remote work and what constitutes as unfair treatment can help to prevent misunderstandings and provide a framework for addressing any issues or concerns.

  • Providing resources and support: Ensuring that remote workers have access to the necessary resources and support can help to level the playing field and prevent discrimination. This may include providing the necessary equipment and technology, as well as offering training and support to help remote workers succeed.

  • Fostering a sense of community and inclusion: Remote work can be isolating, so it’s important to find ways to foster a sense of community and inclusion among remote workers. This may include hosting virtual social events, providing opportunities for remote workers to connect with their colleagues, and encouraging open communication and collaboration.

  • Promoting diversity and inclusion: Organizations should make a concerted effort to promote diversity and inclusion in their hiring and promotion practices. This may include implementing diversity training, setting diversity goals, and actively seeking out candidates from underrepresented groups.

  • Encouraging open communication: Encouraging open communication and creating channels for feedback can help to prevent discrimination and create a more supportive work environment. This may include hosting regular check-ins or setting up anonymous reporting systems to allow employees to voice any concerns they may have.

  • Leaders lead by example. The leaders or managers need to lead by example by reaching out proactively to remote workers and making sure everyone is doing well. Regularly. 

By taking these steps, organizations can prevent discrimination against remote workers and create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for all employees, regardless of their location.

Conclusion: Awareness is Key in Order to Avoid Discrimination

As remote work becomes increasingly prevalent, the issue of working-from-home discrimination is one that employers and employees must be aware of. That is simply a consequence of our “new world” post-pandemic. 

It’s crucial for employers to understand what constitutes discrimination and to take steps to prevent it from occurring in the workplace.

In conclusion, working-from-home discrimination is a serious issue that employers and employees must be aware of. By taking steps to prevent discrimination, such as developing clear policies and guidelines, providing resources and support, fostering a sense of community and inclusion, promoting diversity and inclusion, and encouraging open communication, organizations can create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for remote workers.

However, it is important to remember that awareness is key to preventing working-from-home discrimination, and it is up to both employers and employees to be proactive in addressing any issues that may arise.

If you have experienced being discriminated against because you work from home you need to act on it. See your leader and make sure things will be changing soon.