Permanent shift to work from home could disadvantage women and lead to more gender inequalities in the office, experts warn

  • Experts say women are more likely to choose to work from home than their male colleagues
  • Charity warns those who work from home will appear “less engaged” in their work
  • It comes as the government is considering making working from home the default option

A permanent shift to an increase in working from home after the pandemic could lead to more gender inequalities, experts have warned.

As the end of Covid restrictions approaches, bosses are debating whether to bring back full-time employees or move forward with a hybrid model that would see employees split their time between office and home.

But employment experts have warned that a hybrid model could impact gender equality

A permanent shift to an increase in working from home after the pandemic could lead to increased gender inequalities, as women could be more likely to work from home, experts have warned

Alliance Manchester Business School psychologist Professor Cary Cooper said: “Employers now see that employees don’t have to show their time.

“The big question we don’t have an answer to is, during this 15 month period, have enough men told themselves that life isn’t all about work. Have they started to re-prioritize and understand how important family is? “

Cooper told the Guardian that if men choose to accept the offer to return to the office while women use the hybrid model, that would be problematic, adding: “Women will mainly work from home and men will be away more days a week than women, which will negatively affect their careers.”

It comes as millions of office workers could be granted a “default” right to work from home under ministers’ post-pandemic plans.

The proposals would amend the law to prevent employers from insisting that staff come to the workplace unless they can prove it is essential.

The government will consult on the plan – as part of a campaign to promote flexible working – over the summer, ahead of possible legislation later this year.

An employment expert said if men don't realize the value of family and choose to return to the office full-time, the hybrid work model could inadvertently impact gender equality.

An employment expert said if men don’t realize the value of family and choose to return to the office full-time, the hybrid work model could inadvertently impact gender equality.

The plans are cause for concern for Joeli Brearly, founder of the Pregnant Then Screwed charity, who said people with family responsibilities would choose to share their time in the office and at home.

She said those who choose to work from home will not have such a good relationship with their managers and may appear “less engaged” in their work.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove suggested last week that a hybrid model including working from home is likely to become the norm for many, adding: “We will not go back to the status quo.”

This could effectively allow the millions of office workers who worked from home during the pandemic to continue to do so for all or part of the week, indefinitely.

A presentation leaked by the Cabinet Office on the post-Covid ‘new normal’ yesterday revealed ministers were told they should not encourage workers to return to their desks even though all social distancing measures are lifted July 19.

The ministers were told that the government “is now actively looking for ways to help people continue to work from home if it is not necessary for them to be in an office.” Formal consultation on granting workers the legal right to work from home, however, goes further.

Ministers were also told that face masks would likely be needed “in certain contexts”, potentially for months or even years. And there was a warning that restrictions on overseas travel may have to remain in place for a “significant period.”

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