Flexible working mothers often resented by colleagues and worry about career

TightropeWorking women who are offered flexibility to help them balance their jobs and childcare are often resented by their colleagues, according to a new report from  campaign group Opportunity Now. The survey of 25,000 working women aged between 28 and 40 found that two thirds of those surveyed believe they are expected to work longer hours than mothers. Conversely, working mothers are often perceived by their colleagues as less committed according to around half of respondents and there was a general feeling across all those surveyed that flexible working can be detrimental to careers. The report is the latest which highlights the problems many people encounter in working flexibly as a way of achieving a work-life balance.

Helena Morrissey, chairman of Opportunity Now said: ‘The survey responses show an uneasy tension between women who don’t have children and those who do.‘ Two-thirds of non-parents feel they are expected to work longer hours than those with children – while at the same time, there’s a widespread view that those who work flexibly will progress less quickly than their peers, even if their contribution is similar. These findings suggest that flexible working isn’t working. One group feels resentment, the other feels less valued. Overcoming this tension is entirely possible – but companies need to measure output, not hours worked, and radically reassess working practices.’