Blog
International

How to Avoid Proximity Bias in the Workplace: 7 Solutions

It’s not surprising that proximity bias – or viewing coworkers you see in the office more often as more favorable – is becoming a challenge for remote and hybrid companies. Here’s a look at how proximity bias hinders remote workers, as well as what steps employers can take to mitigate its negative effects.

Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson
Feb 20, 20243 minutes
Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson

Janelle Watson provides content marketing for the international team at Justworks. With a background in higher education and journalism, Janelle helps tell stories that make international expansion and EOR accessible.

64 postsAuthor's posts
69 1920x1080 proximity-bias

In the past, a company’s sense of community, identity, and culture were developed through working in the office. For co-workers living in the same city, spending time together at happy hours, sporting games, and other activities can be a huge part of the employee experience. But giving favorable treatment to in-office employees is not only poor management, it’s toxic for a business as a whole. Keep reading to learn how to identify and eliminate proximity bias. 

International

Taking your business global?

An EOR offers flexibility, scalability, and peace of mind to businesses venturing into international markets. Learn more about hiring easily and compliantly across borders.

Download now

What is proximity bias?

Proximity bias is the unconscious preferential treatment to workers due to their physical location being closer to the immediate vicinity of management and leadership. Today, this tendency can negatively impact remote employees looking to build their careers without being in-office everyday.

Proximity bias and management

It’s not uncommon for managers or leadership members to view employees who work in the office more favorably than remote team members. 

Some assume remote workers aren’t as productive as the employees they see in office,which simply is untrue. A recent study suggested that remote work Others just assume that everyone is more productive in an office setting, even when employee visibility in the office doesn’t necessarily correlate with productivity or performance.

What are the negative effects of proximity bias?

Small everyday interactions add up, especially when your workforce is distributed. Without even realizing it, proximity bias can ruin a company’s vision, leading to lower retention, high burnout, less strategic decisions, and less overall competence in the workforce. You don’t want your in office team’s remote counterparts to feel less valued because they work from home.

Proximity bias examples

Proximity bias tends to happen subconsciously. In other words, management and leadership don’t always realize they favor employees just because they work alongside one another in the office.

  • Offering special projects to people working in the office

  • Giving a raise or promotion to an employee because they work in-person

  • Continuing a conversation in the office after a Zoom meeting ends

Why proximity bias is a diversity and inclusion issue

For employees that need accommodations, remote work has been revolutionary. For example, parents can better navigate childcare and immunocompromised folks can avoid unnecessary public gatherings.

As hybrid teams map out their approach to remote work, it’s important to ensure that businesses are developing policies that don’t punish employees who are not able to commute into the office.

Solutions to proximity bias

The remote work revolution has made it easier than ever for businesses to recruit and retain top talent. However, you will want to implement measures or programs that help mitigate the negative impacts of proximity bias. Here’s what executive leaders and other managers can do to mitigate proximity bias.

  1. Setting benchmarks for raises and promotions. . Raises and promotions should be determined by results and objective criteria, not familiarity. Promotions for each role should follow a merit-based system, based on data and success.

  2. Making in-person attendance optional for all employees. Businesses need guidelines that prevent proximity bias from negatively impacting their teams. Requiring some employees to work in the office can create an unhealthy balance, for instance. 

  3. Creating a space for informal events and check-ins. Rather than putting time on the calendar for only work-related events, find ways to get to know your employees through virtual mixers, game nights, or holiday parties.

  4. Writing everything down online. Make sure that information is communicated via Slack/Teams  channel or in a timely email. 

  5. Remembering your employees are human. Whatever you do, don’t let “out of sight, out of mind” become your company policy.

Why it’s worth it to address proximity bias

For employers that can successfully acknowledge proximity bias and propose solutions to mitigate its negative effects, the results can be astounding. Bringing together employees from different cities, or even countries, can help companies develop superior products and deliver better services.

Justworks Can Help Manage International Hiring

Choosing the right EOR to help you expand your business internationally can be a game changer. Justworks’ global EOR services enables small businesses to hire international employees quickly, pay them in the local currency, and provide local benefits. It’s hard to know where to start and what to put in place abroad to protect business and your employees. At Justworks, we have in-country legal teams and entities set up to ensure that your payroll is protected and that you’re remaining compliant abroad. 

From access to top talent pools around the world to streamlined international hiring processes, the advantages of working with an EOR (and using Justworks) are undeniable. Get started today

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
Discover more of what you like
PEOHealth InsuranceBenefits & PerksPayroll & TaxesExpenses & FinanceEmployment LawsInternational

Check out our newsletter

Monthly tips on running a business in your inbox.

Check out our newsletter

Monthly tips on running a business in your inbox.
Written By
Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson
Feb 20, 20243 minutes

Janelle Watson provides content marketing for the international team at Justworks. With a background in higher education and journalism, Janelle helps tell stories that make international expansion and EOR accessible.

Learn more with Justworks’ Resources

Scale your business and build your team — no matter which way it grows. Access the tools, perks, and resources to help you stay compliant and grow in all 50 states.