Women less likely to want a full-time office position following COVID-19

In the UK, female employees are looking for a flexible working model

Less than a quarter of British women would choose to work from home full-time once lockdown ends; however, more men (16%) than women (9%) want to return to the office full-time after the pandemic, suggesting that women crave more flexibility from their roles.

The new global research from Totaljobs and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that 67% of women wanted to split their time between working from home and the office compared to 54% of men.

In the UK, the report found that only 24% of women would follow a remote working model full time, while the number of men that said they would was higher (30%). This statistic could be due to the pressures working mothers faced during the pandemic. They were tasked with remote working, homeschooling, and other caregiving responsibilities that caused a significant number to leave the workforce.

Whilst the desire for full-time office working among women is low, working remotely full time is also unpopular among many workers globally, said the report, which could be due to the mental health and work/life balance challenges many faced from working remotely during the pandemic.

The research found that 89% of people worldwide said their first preference was a role that allowed them to work from home “at least occasionally.” However, “most people prefer a hybrid model, with two or three days a week from home and the rest in the office.”

On the other hand, fully remote work was particularly unpopular across the European countries, including Denmark (7%) and Switzerland and France (8%). In the UK, preferences for fully remote work were considerably higher at 28%, where those working in “IT, digitalisation, media, and law most likely to want to work entirely remotely.”

Jon Wilson, CEO of Totaljobs, said: “Our research highlights the importance of having policies in place that support flexible working, particularly given the distinction between men and women’s working preferences. As we look ahead to when restrictions are eased, it is vital that employers consider the needs and preferences of different demographics within their workforce. Choices companies make now will play a crucial role in retaining talent for the long term, and flexibility should be a key factor in these decisions.”

Here’s what employers need to remember about flexible working:

  • Flexible working hours could enable working mothers with childcare obligations (such as school runs) to remain in an organisation
  • A hybrid model (set days in the office vs homeworking) could encourage a more diverse body of candidates to apply for roles, including those that live further away
  • Allowing staff to choose from three work-style options (full-time office, full -time remote or hybrid) means they feel empowered to make choices that suit them, meaning you won’t lose staff to another organisation that offers them more flexible terms
  • Flexible working options (including flexi hours) can benefit those with disabilities who may need time out in the day to attend medical appointments, or who may feel safer and more comfortable working from home
  • Consider retaining digital meetings so that all staff can feel included and can make a contribution to important agendas
  • Remote and flexible working could benefit LGBT+ employees, especially those who are transitioning or struggling with personal or mental health issues, as they won’t be pressured to navigate an office environment
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