Seven Ways To Combat Proximity Bias

Proximity bias is the tendency to favor those closest to you. If you work fully remote or you follow a hybrid schedule, this can work against you. Your boss may unconsciously view those who are physically present in the office as more productive. Your in-office peers may get more time with leadership or get invited to more high-level meetings. Whether you’re in the office a few days a week or not at all, you may feel excluded or forgotten.

Fortunately, there are some ways you can push back against proximity bias. Julie Winkle Giulioni, an author and leadership speaker, says that remote or hybrid employees must take responsibility to ensure they aren’t out of sight and out of mind.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Giulioni’s seven strategies for preventing proximity bias from interfering with your career.

1. Make contributions that count. You don’t have to be sitting in the office to add value—you just have to contribute in meaningful ways. Giulioni suggests remote workers ask for more responsibility or volunteer to lead new initiatives. Also, look for ways to grow your skills so that you can continue to contribute in new ways.

2. Call attention to your contributions. It can feel uncomfortable shining the spotlight on yourself, but it’s necessary when you’re not in the office every day. By spotlighting your work, you help your boss and colleagues understand your efforts and commitment. Giulioni recommends communicating often and reporting frequently on accomplishments and progress.

3. Show up at meetings. This doesn’t mean merely logging on—it means planning in advance how you can add value. Think about what you want to say and generate some thought-provoking questions, says Giulioni. This helps ensure a vibrant presence during virtual calls that reminds others of the important role you play.

4. Focus on relationship-building. According to Giulioni, the most successful remote and hybrid workers proactively build relationships with their boss and co-workers. They take the initiative to schedule meetings. They also offer support, ask for help when needed and celebrate others’ successes. When you’re not physically present in the office, these tactics can help you stay top of mind.

5. Make sure you understand expectations. Another way to combat proximity bias is to ensure you know exactly what your boss requires of you. Giulioni says it’s important to have measurable objectives that can serve as a yardstick to evaluate results.

6. Know the technology. If you’re going to work remotely, you have to ensure you can work seamlessly. This means having strong Wi-Fi and understanding how to use various tools, including Slack, Zoom and any other platforms that allow you to communicate virtually.

7. Be available. One of the easiest ways to avoid proximity bias is to simply be there. Don’t make your boss or colleagues wait for you to respond to an email or message. If you’re consistently late getting back to them, they may wonder if you’re really working or catching up on housework. Don’t let them go there, says Giulioni. Bend over backward to make yourself accessible.

Proximity bias is real and can impact how others view you. Consider the tips above to tackle this bias in your workplace. From proactively reaching out to colleagues to mastering online tools, there are many ways you can show that you’re a valuable part of the team, regardless of where you work.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Julie Winkle Giulioni has been named one of Inc. magazine’s top 100 leadership speakers. She’s eco-authored of the international bestseller, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want.


filed under September 2021
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