Research suggests that women prefer remote work at a higher rate to men ― but it hasn’t done much to further equality in the workplace
In the early days of the pandemic lockdown there was a noted interest in the way men and women were experiencing their work lives very differently.
It broke down in a lot of different ways: men were more eager to get back to the office in general, while women were generally juggling more of the childcare duties. “About 18 per cent of men said it has hindered their career development, compared to just 12 per cent of women,” a study in The Business Journal found earlier this year.
To make a sweeping generalization, women have taken to remote work. Recent polls tend to show that more women work remotely full-time than men do.
But some see women as being at a disadvantage in the new hybrid work world, too ― especially if they are full-time remote workers working alongside in-person colleagues. “There are pretty compelling reasons to be less optimistic about how women will fare in a fixed hybrid system, where they work remotely full-time while at least some of their colleagues are co-located,” wrote Martine Haas in the Harvard Business Review. “Hybrid work arrangements often create power differences between those who are in and out of the office.”
One way that women have been responding is through the creation of more robust professional networks. Many of them started as 2020-era digital networks that have persisted into 2023, reports the Financial Times. They point to The Stack World, a group for “women feeling neglected, stuck at home,” which has now grown to over 14,000 members. “Other female members’ clubs are experiencing a similar trend,” they wrote. “Remote work patterns that have come into force during the pandemic have encouraged women to network outside of the office, often as a way to increase their visibility.”
Those kinds of groups, Haas noted, are a great counterbalance. “[Women] should push themselves to step forward and take — for example, by asking for the resources they need, including mentoring, and increasing their efforts to be visible by finding ways to demonstrate commitment and opportunities to speak up and be heard,” she wrote.
“At the same time, it’s critical that the burden should not fall solely on the shoulders of those women,” she continued. “Their colleagues who work in the office also have a responsibility to step back and give — to offer resources to those working remotely, create opportunities for them to be visible and so on.”
Content written by Kieran Delamont for Worklife, a partnership between Ahria Consulting and London Inc. To view this content in newsletter form, click here.