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Will telecommuting make it harder for someone to be promoted?

To my knowledge, there isn't any research or study on the relationship between telecommuting and promotions or career progress. However, here's what I have observed over the years, and what I have heard from many, many managers:

There is absolutely not a shred of evidence supporting the notion that "out of sight" means "out of mind." This has long been speculated but never proven.

In fact, just the opposite seems to be true. I consistenly hear managers saying that their telecommuters are more promotable than their peers - because the telecommuters have to use more individual judgment, solve more problems, make more decisions, and otherwise do the kinds of things that make people promotable.

What sometimes happens is that a talented, promotable telecommuter is offered a promotion or transfer, but turns it down because he/she doesn't want to give up the flexibility of telecommuting (if, in fact, the new position requires the telecommuter to go back into the office). That may appear to co-workers like this person is being passed over for the job, but in reality the telecommuter has made a very conscious and deliberate decision that the telecommuting option is worth more than the new position.

Having said all that, I always tell prospective telecommuters that if they are very concerned about their promotion and progress, and are worried about the possibility that telecommuting might hurt their progress, then they will be better off if they don't telecommute. If they do, they will spend more time worrying and obsessing about what might be going on in the office, about not rubbing elbows with the Vice President in the cafeteria line, etc. than they will actually doing their work.

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