How “Face Time” May Help Your Career
Clubhouse attendants for baseball’s New York Yankees used to be told to immediately signal the players and coaches if they saw owner George Steinbrenner approaching the clubhouse. The late multimillionaire absolutely hated any of his employees not being present and busy when he came by. Organize your bats, shuffle papers on your desk, clean your shoes – everyone knew to do something productive-looking or risk Steinbrenner’s wrath.
For better or worse, many workplaces operate in this same manner. Studies show that “passive face time” – meaning merely being seen in the workplace -- can lead to better employee evaluations. “To be credited with passive face time you need only be observed at work; no information is required about what you are doing or how well you are doing it.”
Studies set up to judge management’s perceptions found that words such as “responsible” and “dependable” frequently were given to employees who were around consistently during their expected work hours – even without providing any information about what the workers actually did. Likewise, words such as “committed” and “dedicated” were associated with employees who were seen before or after standard hours.
Researchers speculate that bosses may find it comforting simply to know that workers are around to attend to matters that might arise. Similarly, they may become especially irritated if a crisis comes up and the necessary person isn’t there to resolve.
This news may spell trouble for telecommuters. Even if they work just as hard as their in-house counterparts, it is possible that they may not be given as much credit. Encouraging your employer to set up measurable goals for raises and promotions can help, but it also might not hurt to send a few emails at off hours just to make sure that out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind.