Women are more likely than men to embrace the flexibility of remote working during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to a global survey by FlexJobs.
The survey, which polled more than 2,000 people between March and April 2021, found 68 per cent of women respondents said they prefer working remotely, compared to 57 per cent of men. In fact, 41 per cent of men said they prefer a hybrid work arrangement, while about a third (30 per cent) of women expressed this preference. Just two per cent of men and women said they’d prefer to work full time in the office.
Indeed, if they’re not allowed to continue working from home post-pandemic, 60 per cent of women said they’ll look for a new job, compared to 52 per cent of men. And a majority (80 per cent) of women — compared to 69 per cent of men — said remote working options are among the most important factors to consider when evaluating a new job.
“Both men and women of all ages have now experienced first-hand the benefits of remote work and they’re not likely to part ways with it very easily in a post-pandemic world,” said Kathy Gardner, senior director of public relations and media at FlexJobs, in an email to Benefits Canada. “In fact, many say they would quit their jobs if they’re not allowed to continue working from home to some degree. Companies that ignore this reality will lose talent and struggle to attract new talent.”
The survey also found that less than a third of men said their professional skills have suffered during the pandemic, while only 17 per cent of women said the same. More than a third (39 per cent) of men found their ability to collaborate suffered while working from home, while only 30 per cent of women said they’ve experienced this. In addition, more men (25 per cent) found effective real-time communication more challenging compared to women (17 per cent). And they both found managing relationships with co-workers more difficult (21 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively).
As well, 20 per cent of men said they believe working remotely has hurt their chances of a promotion or advancement compared to only 13 per cent of women. And an almost equal number of men (65 per cent) and women (69 per cent) agreed that increased remote working policies will improve gender equality for women in the workplace.
Both women and men cited the same top five benefits of working from home — no commute (87 per cent and 74 per cent, respectively), cost-savings (79 per cent and 70 per cent), avoiding exposure to the virus (77 per cent and 66 per cent), not having to wear more formal work attire (70 per cent and 57 per cent) and time savings (70 per cent and 67 per cent).
Both groups’ had similar levels of concern around returning to work in the post-pandemic environment, including concerns about adhering to health and safety measures (19 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men), exposure to the coronavirus (48 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively), less flexibility (48 per cent and 42 per cent), less work-life balance (44 per cent and 40 per cent) and the return of office politics and distractions (35 per cent and 30 per cent).
“Concerns around returning to the office include the threat of COVID-19, . . . losing access to more flexible schedules and potentially disrupting future work-life balance,” said Gardner. “Smart employers will recognize the high value that workers are placing on remote work arrangements and [will] be very intentional moving forward about creating a workplace that honours that preference.”