What Workers Miss Due to Remote Work—and How You Can Help 

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, more than 50 million workers have left the office environment to work remotely—and many of them don’t want to go back to an in-person work arrangement. Workers cite flexibility in how they spend their time, where they live and in their work location as the biggest benefits to remote work. However, as many employees have marked their third anniversary of working from home, some negatives to the solitary arrangement have started to emerge. 

Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York outlined one downside to remote work in a research paper, titled “The Power of Proximity to Coworkers.” The report followed engineers at a large technology company. During the study, researchers found that lack of feedback and collaboration in remote environments put junior employees at a disadvantage, even causing them to leave their jobs earlier than expected.

The study indicated that remote work enhanced productivity for senior employees, but it reduced the amount of feedback junior employees received, potentially stalling early career growth and limiting young workers’ ability to build a professional network in the office. 

The research paper is a narrow sampling, but experts think it could point to broader issues in remote work arrangements—including difficulties with training, onboarding processes and the career growth of young employees.

However, employers can’t solve this problem simply by implementing an in-person or hybrid work arrangement. In a survey from FlexJobs, 60% of women and 52% of men who work from home indicated that they would consider looking for a different job if they could no longer work remotely. 

That leaves many employers with the challenge of facilitating better collaboration and growth opportunities in remote or hybrid environments—despite potential downsides. Here are three ways your workplace can prioritize a remote work environment that supports employees at all levels of their career: 

  1. Create a personal onboarding approach. A thorough onboarding experience improves the chance that your workers will be able to succeed on your team. While new employees need to be set up with appropriate technology, learn about company policies and attend virtual meetings, an onboarding experience that lacks a personal connection will leave new hires feeling disconnected. Prioritize in-person brainstorming meetings, coffee and lunch dates, 1:1 check-ins or other ways for new employees to connect with people in your department. It is also helpful to assign a buddy to new hires to answer questions and give immediate feedback during their first few months of employment. 

  1. Set regular in-person workdays. Even if your company operates on a hybrid schedule, oftentimes your entire team isn’t present in the same place at the same time. The “Power of Proximity” research paper found that the benefits of in-person work only apply when the entire team is physically together. Even if the majority of your team is meeting in person, the few people who attend meetings remotely will miss out on vital collaboration and growth opportunities.  

  1. Support career growth. Help young employees grow their in-office network by assigning mentors, setting up regular one-on-one meetings where they can hear feedback and helping them identify skills they want to develop. Where possible, allocate funds for continuing education, seminars or new certifications that could help them advance in their field. 

For other remote work tips, read these Employer insights blog posts: 



Prioritize in-person brainstorming meetings coffee and lunch dates, 1:1 check-ins or other ways for new employees to connect with people in your department.