‘You can be productive but…’: IBM CEO says work from home can derail promotions
IBM CEO Arvind Krishna has cautioned that employees who work from home may struggle to get promotions due to their careers suffering from a lack of visibility in the office.
“In the short term, you probably can be equally productive, but your career does suffer. Moving from there to another role is probably less likely because nobody’s observing them in another context,” Krishna said in an interview with Bloomberg. “It will be tougher. Not impossible, but probably a lot tougher.”
The CEO also highlighted the fact that remote workers do not have the opportunity to learn skills that are normally acquired in person, such as dealing with difficult clients. His remarks come after he encouraged the IBM employees to return to the office for three days a week, while also acknowledging that he was not forcing anyone to do so.
IBM, which has most of its employees co-located near one of its offices or clients, has previously stated that most employees would return to the office part-time after the pandemic.
Krishna’s comments also follow IBM’s recent announcement that it plans to slow or suspend hiring for back-office roles that artificial intelligence (AI) could replace. While the company denies a blanket hiring pause, it plans on replacing 7,800 roles with AI.
The IBM CEO’s announcement comes at a time when companies are grappling with the future of work and how to balance the benefits of remote work with the potential drawbacks. While many employees have enjoyed the flexibility of working from home during the pandemic, there are concerns that remote work could lead to decreased collaboration, isolation, and career stagnation.