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The Proximity Bias
What is the impact of proximity bias in a Remote-First company? Here's what remote leaders need to know about identifying and mitigating proximity bias's implications.
The human brain has a quirk:
Favor people and ideas which are familiar over those which are unfamiliar.
It can lead to remote workers or anyone not working standard hours at HQ.
As a result, such people can be included and recognized less.
This Saturday, I will discuss how to prevent the risk of treating your teammates in different ways because of proximity.
What is Proximity Bias?
Proximity bias is the phenomenon in which those closest to company leaders enjoy outsized influence and opportunities compared to those who aren't.
Some examples of proximity-biased advantages:
Early access to information
Opportunity to work on better projects
Better salary raises
This is a normal consequence of the relationship built through in-person interaction.
As a manager, the proximity bias has a significant impact on opportunities you are likely missing out on:
Unleash the potential of all your teammates
Give priority to outcomes
Promoting the right people
To ensure everyone has access to the same opportunities, you should start with two simple points:
Spot the existence of the proximity bias in your company
Work to mitigate it because, as humans, we can't cancel it.
How to mitigate the Proximity Bias
Here, the principles of a Remote-First culture make the difference.
No matter if your company is a full-remote, hybrid, or entirely on-site.
1) Create a writing-based culture
No writing-based culture = no mitigation.
Establish the core of communications in platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams.
Reduce Meetings (how? check this past TSR issue).
Document the company procedures and knowledge base in platforms like Notion or Confluence.
2) Measure and monitor
Remote workers are often less visible to managers.
Establish a process where you'll evaluate the performances of all your teammates, together with them, every six months.
Ensure you can perform a quantitative (not qualitative) assessment with metrics during evaluation.
Allow everyone to leave feedback (also anonymously) about everyone else (founders included).
3) Create in-person interaction
There will never be any remote activity that can come close to the effect of an in-person one.
Focus your company on working remotely.
Have fun together on-site whenever possible.