US professionals who work from the office, rather than from home or in a hybrid arrangement, spend 25% more time on career-development activities, according to data from a US-based team that has been studying work-from-home patterns since the pandemic began.
Those who came to the office “devoted about 40 more minutes a week to mentoring others, nearly 25 more in formal training and about 15 additional minutes each week doing professional development and learning activities,” reports Bloomberg, citing a report from WFH Research, a group of American economists.
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The survey covered about 2,400 adults in the US, and the findings seem to bear out the observations made by a number of high-profile CEOs, like JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon and Morgan Stanley’s James Gorman, who have said that people need to be at the office more, especially younger workers, so that they can benefit from experienced colleagues. Most employees, however, prefer the flexibility of working from home.
The study’s authors, however, are pitching their findings as proof that hybrid arrangements are the future of work rather than insisting that all workers turn up at the office for eight hours, five days a week. The new figures support the shift to hybrid work schedules, as workers “need a few days each week to mentor and be mentored,” said Jose Maria Barrero, a member of the research group from Mexico’s ITAM business school told Bloomberg.
Until now, most bosses talked about the need for networking, sharing, mentoring and forging personal connections for team building as reasons to bring people back to the office full time, but their words were backed by little more than anecdotes. The WFH data now backs up these claims. Bloomberg cites two other research papers as making a similar case for working from the office. The Power of Proximity from economists Natalia Emanuel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Emma Harrington of the University of Iowa and Harvard University’s Amanda Pallais note that working in the same building “has an outsized effect on workers’ on-the-job training,” with the effect being more significant for younger workers. “Older workers not coming back to the office may depress younger workers’ skill accumulation,” they wrote.
The second paper cited by Bloomberg is from Harvard Business School’s Zoe Cullen and Richard Perez-Truglia of the University of California at Berkeley. They found that employees get promoted faster when they meet managers face-to-face. “Employees’ social interactions with their managers can be advantageous for their careers,” the authors wrote, and suggest that this could explain a third of the gender gap in promotions at the large financial firm they studied.
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