It is true that remote jobs allow for a better work/life balance. But by taking women away from the company, won't they contribute to reinforcing the inequalities they are already victims of in the work sphere?
Are remote jobs, above all, a matter for women? In any case, it seems that they are more in demand, as a survey (2021) by the specialized website Flexjobs tends to show. According to the survey, 68% of women would prefer to work remotely once the pandemic is over, compared to 57% of men. Better still, 80% of women rank remote work as one of the main advantages of a job, compared to only 69% of male respondents.
A more recent study (April 2022), originated by the Virtual Vocations website, also considered remote jobs. A majority of women (67.75%) responded, compared to 29.96% of men and 3% who preferred not to define themselves. 70% of respondents (all categories included) favored a full remote organization, 15.43% favored a dominant but partial form of remote work and only 8.76% preferred a hybrid model with a significant on-site presence.
Whether partial or total, remote work seems to be well and truly demanded by women. A choice that also reveals the constraints they continue to face. By making it easier to combine professional and private life, remote work could represent “a breath of fresh air” for women, who still suffer from the unequal distribution of domestic and parental tasks between men and women. A situation that years of feminist struggle has still not allowed to correct.
A risk: worsening inequalities
But beyond an organizational effect that would allow women to better manage the tension between private and professional life, won't remote jobs, at the same time, reinforce the deep-rooted causes that fuel discrimination against them?
Let's look at the hybrid model which, in the near future, seems to be the one most likely to prevail. This model mixes face-to-face and distance working to varying degrees.
In such a configuration, the employees working mostly remotely have a major fear: that of being the victims of a proximity bias on the part of managers favoring employees who are more (or totally) present on site.
For example, 48% of the 5,000 workers in the Beamery Talent Index recently felt that having significantly reduced the amount of time they spent with their managers had hindered their career trajectory.
The issue is even more acute for women, who already suffer from a series of discriminations in the traditional ways of organizing work. These are materialized, for example, by the differences in salary for equal positions or by a lesser presence in positions of responsibility in companies. If women move away from the vital centers of organizations, won't this contribute to perpetuating and even reinforcing these inequalities?
This subject must be fully integrated by the managers. More than ever, we need to standardize performance evaluation methods so that performance is measured as objectively as possible.
At a time when remote jobs have become the new reality, it is imperative that they contribute to the creation of a win-win model. Both for men and women.