Remote work may have become a status symbol for those at the top

Once upon a time those people working remotely were pretty low down in terms of the career ladder, almost considered second-class citizens.  They were less likely to be considered for upcoming promotions or for salary increases and were more often discriminated against for working from home. When the Covid 19 pandemic hit, it turned the accepted traditional office hierarchy on its head, as practically everyone was now working from home.

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Today hopefully we are at the tail end of the pandemic and offices are beginning to reopen.  However, it seems that working remotely has become somewhat of a status symbol again only this time around for workers with the most bargaining power.

The remote work divide

Remote work is being offered to some employees as a perk, like some who receive Grande Vegas no deposit bonus codes. This situation could well create more inequality in the workplace, fostering resentment from workers who are not given the opportunity of working from the comfort of their homes but are forced to return to the office.

It is likely that managers will begin to understand that the whole idea of returning/not returning to work, is going to create real conflict.  The “remote work status” situation represents inter-office discord and causes conflict to occur when people are separated into groups.

Studies have shown that when distinctions are made between people, that is even randomly placing them in separate groups leads to an “us verses them” mentality.   Within each group differences in status quickly emerge with some members being seen to deserve more respect than others. That is the case with the “Remote verses office” work difference and because of the physical separation it becomes even more acute.

Expanding the status pie

Managers need to be thinking ahead of the game before any real conflict gets entrenched. The ideal situation is for leaders to be willing and ready to make the remote work pie more expansive.  Meaning that more employees will be offered the opportunity to work off-site and not just those favored few.   It is crucial that companies don’t just throw out one-off perks without taking into account the possible consequences of doing this and how it may create differences and intergroup status responses.

It could be that sometimes offering these perks is unavoidable but then it becomes even more important that the “status pie” be extended. This term means expanding the amount of respect within a particular group. When negotiating, win-win agreements are those that increase the resources of the pie.   This happens when those involved in the negotiations have different first choices.

By one group conceding on something that is of low value to them but is something of high value to the second group, the first group actually gets more of what it desires and so does the second group.   This also applies in the case of status.   For example, in the case of a basketball coach who may loudly praise the specific contributions of each and every player.

The same is true for leaders or managers who can also point out the unique qualities of each member of their group of workers. When it comes to the situation of remote employees, managers and leaders need to ensure that contributions of both remote and in-office staff get highlighted. In this way they show that both are equally as important to the overall success of the team.

Expanding the status pie may actually mean that some managers will have to share with others some of the perks that up until now only they have enjoyed. Managers are leaders and need to set a good example.  It is not only their job to be good role models; they are in charge of the design and structure of the workplace and the way in which the workplace functions.


In light of this, it is essential that leaders look very carefully at the way in which their policy concerning remote work is put together in order that it doesn’t become a divisive issue.  Therefore, leaders and managers will need to be prepared to travel into the office to be with their in-office staff and in this way show solidarity with them. They will need to forgo the more comfortable schedule that they could have and the more pleasant remote time in order to spend more time with their team.

There are also some more simple steps that leaders and managers can take that will reduce the chance of divisiveness occurring between the two groups, the remote and the in-office workers. One step could be to request that all workers, including those present in the same office space, to participate in virtual calls.  And, during those calls, to make sure that all workers use “standardized backgrounds” in these virtual meetings and in this way reduce the possibility of “conspicuous, jealousy inducing status symbol of working from a more desirable location”.

At the point when the respect pie expands, there is lots more to go around. When everyone feels respected, it creates more unity and ultimately a better work product.

If we want to see a positive, rather than a negative outcome from the increase in remote working, it is vital that companies need to expand the status and the remote work pies. In this way they can be more generous to more employees and more of them can get a slice of the pie, rather than giving it to only a small number.

By leaders and managers pointing out the contributions made right across the remote work divide, they can really impact the way people in which people feel respected and appreciated and there will be less reason for people to feel resentment.  Expanding the status pie is the only way forward.

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