Will Remote Work Help or Hinder the Pursuit of Equality?

Tides aren’t just changing when it comes to the status-quo of working styles. As we edge out of post-Covid lockdowns, organisations are at crosscurrents when it comes to whether or not they’ll return to — or how they’ll balance the blend of — remote working. 

For employees, 52% of are somewhat or extremely likely to prefer hybrid working (from a recent survey by Microsoft). This is, however, sits against the backdrop that says that working from home resulted in increased burnout and disconnection for minorities.

So, how could the stronghold of remote work help or hinder workplace equality? A new piece of research from Gender and the Economy looks at just that: examining how this long-term labour transformation may impact different minority groups.

A key part of this, is looking at how intangible elements have a part to play in remote work-induced inequality, sharing that “many of these disadvantages come about not because of anything inherent about remote work but because of bias, stereotypes, and social norms surrounding paid and unpaid work.” 

The report has outlined several key findings and recommendations to keep remote work an equal playing field:

  • Remote work policies must be matched by public and organisational policies that address gendered structures.
  • Public policies such as affordable childcare, adequate paid family leave, and a range of options for flexible work can facilitate more egalitarian relationships and households.
  • Policies that remove stigma of remote work are encouraged to be offered a regular basis and ensure that they are accessible for everyone.
  • Office workspaces and work design can be transformed to facilitate different forms of work. This can include ensuring information is accessible online, and creating team-building opportunities for hybrid-and remote-working employees.
  • It also suggests the environmental implications: saying that remote work needs will not have a major impact on the climate crisis unless accompanied by other policy measures, such as ensuring widespread availability of quality public and other low-carbon transportation and affordable housing in urban areas. 

Read the full report on Gender and the Economy online here