Proximity bias is a type of bias that occurs when someone is perceived as more valuable or hardworking because of their physical closeness to a person or group of people. This can often occur in a hybrid working environment where some employees are remote and others are on-site employees.
Proximity bias is an unconscious bias, but can often lead to favoritism, unfair advantages for the on-site worker, and preferential treatment.
There are a few factors that can contribute to proximity bias. The first could be a general belief that in-office workers are more productive. Another factor could be that office workers have more opportunities to organically socialize with leaders who are also in-person office attendees.
One example of this could be a manager who constantly promotes direct reports who are in-office, while all the remote employees are passed over for advancement. This may not be something this manager does consciously, but they may perceive that the in-office workers are more productive and ready for more responsibilities.
Helping to increase access, communication, and development opportunities for remote workers in your organization can help reduce the impact of proximity bias. Discussing proximity bias with managers and providing training in this area can also help them proactively challenge this unconscious bias.
Disclaimer: This article and all information in it is provided for general informational purposes only. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or tax advice. You should consult with a qualified legal or tax professional for advice regarding any legal or tax matter and prior to acting (or refraining from acting) on the basis of any information provided on this website.