Working from home boosts career progress, say half of British women

September 28, 2021
Elena Gorman jumped at the chance to work from home after struggling to find childcare for her son.
Elena Gorman jumped at the chance to work from home after struggling to find childcare for her son.

LONDON -- When Elena Gorman got the opportunity to switch jobs and work from home, she jumped at the chance.

Her former employer couldn't give her the flexibility she needed after her child was born, she says.

Elena, who is based in Durham, is now in a job that she loves at another organisation.

"My new role is brilliant, I had to follow my heart," she told the BBC.

"My take on working from home is really positive. I can't find childcare for my six-year-old son, so I need to work from home to take him to school and back most days.

"Without this, I'm not sure if I could have gone back to work after maternity leave."

According to a survey for the BBC, just over half (56%) of women said they thought working from home would help them progress at work, as childcare and caring duties become less of a hindrance to working full-time.

In all, 65% of managers felt that working from home helps advance women's careers.

However, a quarter of the women polled by YouGov said homeworking was unlikely to advance their careers.

And Elena reveals that she is paid less in her new, flexible role than she was in her previous job.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed women were carrying out on average two-thirds more of the childcare duties per day than men during the first pandemic lockdown.

Between 13 January and 7 February 2021, women with a school-aged child (67%) were more likely than men (52%) to say they had personally home-schooled a child in their home in the past week.

Of the 1,684 women polled by YouGov, the greatest believers in the career benefits of homeworking were those aged between 18 and 24 (65%) and women in London (61%). Fewer than half of the women polled in Scotland agreed (49%).

Meanwhile, slightly more women (57%) in the ABC1 demographic - which equates to those with middle-class or "white collar" jobs - believed working from home would help their career prospects as opposed to 53% in the lower socio-economic, C2DE group.

The highest rates of homeworking during the pandemic have been among those with professional occupations. According to the ONS, jobs requiring higher qualifications and more experience have been more likely to provide homeworking opportunities than manual occupations.

In September, the government announced proposals to allow all UK employees to request a flexible working arrangement from their first day at a new employer.

Claire McCartney, senior policy advisor at human resources body the CIPD, said there could be "real advantages" to working from home.

"I think there are real benefits for women who often take on more childcare and caring responsibilities," she said.

"It's important that those working from home and working flexibly are not disadvantaged because they are not in the physical workplace.

"It needs to be normalised for all employees, regardless of gender," she added.

September 28, 2021
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