Does Working Remote Successfully Combat Ageism Within Organizations?
As the years progress, and as technology gets better, the argument for remote work grows. Remote work is a fantastic way to lower ageism within organizations, but only if certain measures are taken.
Remote work offers the opportunity for employees to interact in ways that are less likely to call out physical attributes, like those that appear as we age. While video chatting is on the rise, it is often easier in many organizations to hide behind a screen while working from home.
So, what causes issues while remotely working? Stereotypes. It’s hard for us as humans to avoid immediate stereotyping, and the only thing that saves many of us is that stereotypes can be broken in the minds of others, but often only after spending a significant amount of time getting to know each other.
The act of spending time together may be a breeze in-office, for co-workers who attend meetings in the same conference room, or eat in the same cafeteria. Stereotypes assumed upon a first meeting can fall away as new bits of information are encountered via multiple run-ins in office. That’s not so easy with remote work.
When working remotely, each encounter is very much the same – a voice over the phone, a face on the screen, or worse, a quick email. There is no argument here that often work gets accomplished more quickly for those who work from home. Instead, the argument is that immediate stereotypes developed on an initial phone call meeting with a fellow co-worker have far too much time to simmer, and no outlet to be changed.
We argue for a mix. A mix of being able to stay out of the office limelight often, and work within a situation where the task at hand is not overshadowed by judgements about age attributes, but also the opportunity to embrace situations that alter stereotypes – like multiple in-person meetings.
The trend of the current year is flexible work arrangements. Employees at many companies are urged to work as they find best-fitting. Often this means employees split their time between working from home, and taking important meetings in-office. For ageism, this is a healthy balance.