Gender differences in remote work are not often discussed. However, recent studies by Eurofound have shown some interesting findings, particularly following the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. Outlined below are some of these:
- Fewer women than men remote worked, pre-covid. This is now reversed. Pre-outbreak, 18% of women worked from home, compared to 21% of men. Following the pandemic, 41% of women are wanting to work from home, compared to only 37% of men. This may in part be related to childcare at home, which makes it a very important statistic to consider: women are more likely to face the ‘double burden’ of having to care for children as well as work full-time. This leads to increased risk of work-related stress and burnout, when the boundaries between home and work become blurred. In this case, return to the office may be seen as a resumption of a healthy norm, and more women than men may wish to leave remote work after the pandemic.
- However, women have more teleworkable jobs than men. Women are more often in positions which are office-based, secretarial or administrative in nature, with a lower share of physical handling tasks. As a result, 45% of women are in positions which could move to telework, compared to only 30% of men. Even in managerial position, more women than men are in teleworkable roles. As previously mentioned, however – pre-pandemic more men than women worked remotely. This is important to consider: Covid has temporarily equalised access to telework, if the appropriate policies are in place, this can continue.
If organisations see benefits to increasing their flexible/remote workforce in the long term, then organisational policy needs to focus on making it easier for remote employees to build boundaries between work and home. This could be as simply as by sponsoring coworking memberships, or enforcing the ‘right to disconnect’ after work hours. These simple changes would already have a positive impact, particularly in the case of working mothers, allowing gender equality to prevail in the remote workplace.
The potential of remote work is wide-reaching. To ensure you build equality into your workplace, a well-thought out strategy can be the difference between keeping or losing your place in the labour marketplace. Make sure you don’t lose the talent – invest in a good remote strategy.
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