Is Remote Work Killing Your Chances of Promotion?

Advancing your technology career was tricky enough before the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of remote work. You had to figure out a career track, research everything from average salaries to most-desired skills, and then negotiate with your managers for a promotion or raise. Doing all of these things while everyone’s working from home just adds to the overall complexity—but it’s still very possible to climb your career ladder. 

When it comes to your career, your relationship with your manager is key. And according to the latest analysis from Blind, which anonymously surveys technologists about the most pressing workplace issues of the moment, many technologists at some of the nation’s largest tech companies are experiencing some relationship difficulties with their managers while working from home. Check out the chart: 

Moreover, a sizable percentage of technologists of every rank—from entry-level all the way up to the C-suite—are reporting this same deterioration in their relationship with their manager. The consistency, in fact, is somewhat startling:

Right now, technologists are dealing with a number of issues related to working from home. A significant number report feeling burned-out and overworked, with problems balancing their personal and professional lives. In light of that, perhaps it’s natural that a sizable percentage of technologists have experienced a bit of friction with their manager. 

However, that friction might be impacting technologists’ chances of landing a promotion, at least in the short term. Check out this other chart that Blind generated, which breaks down technologists’ (self-reported) likelihood of being promoted: 

Granted, these huge technology companies aren’t necessarily representative of the whole tech industry (much less technologists’ experiences in other industries, such as medicine). But they’re worrisome indicators nonetheless—especially when you break down promotion likelihood by corporate rank:

Fortunately, there are ways to boost your likelihood of a promotion—or the job interview, or the conversation about a raise. Research and preparation ahead of time is key. As we discussed in an earlier piece, take some time to evaluate your company’s internal landscape, especially since everyone’s now working from home—have the dynamics and teams changed? Is there a vacant space within your company’s org chart, and do you have the skills to fill it? 

At some companies, there’s simply no budget for raises, and no open slots for ambitious technologists. In that case, you might have to wait until the market improves. However, you can still build (or rebuild) your relationship with your manager: Schedule check-ins so you can update them on your accomplishments. Make sure to solicit their advice and feedback, and keep them in the loop as you progress on your projects.

Of course, it’s also important for managers to keep up their end of the relationship, and take proactive steps to help technologists on the team who are struggling with remote work. The key, as with so many things during a very odd 2020, is as much two-way communication as possible.