Proximity bias and the hybrid world of work

Proximity bias is the idea that employees with close physical proximity to their team and company leaders will be perceived as better workers and ultimately find more success in the workplace than their remote counterparts.

The insidious thing is proximity bias is largely unconscious so you need to lift your own awareness and that of your leadership team... Remote employees are less likely to openly share their fear of proximity bias with other colleagues


Managers can:

  • Create a list of all your team members

  • Every time you have an interaction be it phone, video, face to face discussion, text conversation etc. put a mark next to their name.

  • Review this on a regular basis. What patterns do you see?

  • Adjust your behavior appropriately


Other techniques to try include:


Instead or relying on eye contact deliberately call on people by name in hybrid (video participants and in person attendees mixed) meetings. I keep a written list and mark off who has contributed to makes sure I get a balanced participant between remote and n person team members. Oh and make sure your tech supports hybrid meetings too often is doesn't...


Alternately, avoid hybrid meetings altogether: ‘remote-only, or office-only, meetings remove the inequality of experience.


Make going to the office a networking opportunity: suggest schedules such as team days, intra team days or project days for your workforce, so you’re in-person when it truly matters. Or have a 100% attendance day every other week so everyone sees everyone somewhat regularly

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