April 20, 2022
Women working from home regularly are less positive about their career prospects than men are, new research suggests. They are also less optimistic about getting recognition for good work and being included in important consultations when compared to men who often work from home, the study found. The research, presented at the British Sociological Association’s online annual conference today [Wednesday, 20 April 2022], comes at a time when employers and staff are deciding how much they will work from home as pandemic restrictions are removed.
Agnieszka Kasperska analysed data on 23,000 people in the UK and 28 other European countries to see how people working from home feel about their jobs. The data seems to show that 39 percent of men who never worked from home thought they had good job prospects, rising to 52 percent of men who worked from home often – at least twice a week. The figures for women were 34 percent for those who never worked from home, and 41 percent for those who often did. Ms Kasperska then adjusted the data to control for factors including occupation, age, education level, and type of employment so that the effect of working from home could be studied in isolation.
She will tell the conference that women who worked from home often were 10 percent less likely to feel they had good career prospects than men who did so.
Women who often worked from home were 10 percent less likely than men who did so to feel they received the recognition they deserved for their work, and 10 percent less likely to feel they were consulted before work objectives were set than men.
She also found that mothers who often worked from home were 5 percent less likely than those who did not work from home to feel they received the recognition they deserved for their work than fathers who did so. Mothers who often worked from home were 10 percent less likely than fathers to feel they were consulted before work objectives were set.
Ms Kasperska, who carried out the research for her PhD at the University of Warsaw, said: “For women especially, remote work can be a sign of prioritising personal and family concerns above work, regardless of the employee’s actual motives. This means that women who engage in remote work risk being at odds with the image of an ‘ideal worker’, a person who is fully devoted to their job, always available to take on more responsibility and free from other obligations. This can then lead to substantial career development penalties.
“Physical visibility at work is one of the most obvious ways of signalling engagement, commitment as well as quality and quantity of work. Home-based workers risk being less visible at work due to their diminished physical presence in the workplace. Although the survey was carried out before the pandemic began, its lessons are important to bear in mind as some people go back to their offices and factories and others continue to work from home.”