How to Combat Proximity Bias in a Hybrid Workplace | National


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid work environments have grown in popularity and seem to be here to stay. In January 2022, 58% of employees worked in hybrid models, according to a Future Forum survey of more than 10,000 knowledge workers. Of those surveyed, 95% say they want the kind of work-time flexibility that a hybrid model can provide.

Overall, hybrid work seems to be perceived positively by workers. In a survey conducted by Gallup, employees said they preferred hybrid work models because of less commute times, personal well-being and flexibility. However, while this may be the preferred new normal, there is a natural challenge that employees face: proximity bias.

According to the BBC, proximity bias can be described as the “unconscious tendency…to give preferential treatment to those in our general vicinity”. It can manifest itself in several ways, including favoring the work of on-site employees over remote employees, more often giving projects or assignments that offer opportunities for advancement to on-site employees and discouraging remote employees from participating in important meetings. Proximity bias is evident in the workspace when employees who work outside the office are treated differently than those in person. The potential inequity between remote and in-office employees is, in fact, a top concern for leaders.

As a result, proximity bias is known to lead to exclusion of employees in the workplace. As this is a significant concern and challenge for any hybrid work environment, Firmspace has compiled a list of five tips to help workplaces combat proximity bias using research from a variety of sources including Gallup, Owl Labs, etc.


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