At least, you're wrong in stating your opinion so forcefully in the second two paragraphs after a (to me) flippant caveat in the first.
The important question isn't whether there're 10% scenarios where company cultures are actually meritocratic, but how much the proportion changes over time.
I'll submit my anecdotal evidence that it is growing. And my career continues to grow. In fact, I would say that the work culture at my company is why my career progression has grown. I'm invested and happy with my situation and therefore work smarter by not overextending myself in the ambition of being there at least 50% of the time just to be there so I can fit in.
In fact, I work remote most of the time and so do I good portion of my colleagues.
That is the reason why working remote is helping you. Since most of your colleagues are working remotely too.
In Rome, behave like a Roman.
I'd submit that remote work is neither helping me nor hurting me. Because the company culture recognizes the value of intrinsically motivated employees, we ensure that employees are happy. Working remote is one of the manifestations of that focus.
Specifically, working remote is orthogonal to my success in my career specifically but fundamental to my happiness and willingness to work towards a successful career in the first place. Does that clarify where I'm coming from?