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Remote work and equality

How to make access to remote work more equal

Access to remote work is not equal. The ability to telecommute disproportionately belongs to higher-income, white-collar workers who are predominantly white and male. Those with poor access to housing and high-speed internet or who experience unsafe situations such as domestic violence cannot readily work remotely, Institute for Gender and the Economy at University of Toronto says in report The Future of Work examining if remote work will help or hinder equality.

“The way that people perceive and experience work has changed drastically over the last two years. What types of work design will best facilitate equity, well-being, and opportunity for workers moving forward?”

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The report states that many disadvantages of remote and hybrid work come about because of bias, stereotypes and social norms surrounding paid and unpaid work. 

“Remote work has mixed effects on well-being. It can reduce stress and exposure to microaggressions, increase motivation and job satisfaction, and allow for more time spent with family. However, it may also contribute to increased exhaustion, feelings of loneliness and isolation, and other mental health challenges, particularly during crises such as the pandemic, and especially for people with caregiving responsibilities.” 


  • Remote work policies must be matched by public and organizational policies that address gendered structures. Such structures contribute to increased work-life conflict and mental health issues for caregiving women while working from home. Public policies such as affordable childcare, adequate paid family leave, and a range of options for flexible work can facilitate more egalitarian relationships and households.
  • Both workers and organizations benefit from policies that remove stigma of remote work because it increases worker motivation and job performance. Organizations can offer these options on a regular basis and ensure that they are accessible for everyone and universally appealing to people of all genders and backgrounds.
  • Office workspaces and work design can be transformed to facilitate different forms of work. Studies indicate that some forms of work practices and routines (i.e., more traditionally bureaucratic arrangements) facilitate the use of remote work and flexible work policies more than others. Flexible work stigma can also be reduced by ensuring information is accessible online, and creating team-building opportunities for hybrid- and remote-working employees.
  • Organizational initiatives can decrease work-family conflict, such as by ensuring reliable and consistent communication to all employees, establishing that workers know they do not have to work longer hours at home, and eliminating employee monitoring.

A recent survey by Microsoft of 31,000 workers in 31 countries suggests that 52% of employees are somewhat or extremely likely to prefer hybrid or remote work in the year ahead, and 53% of employees are more likely to prioritize their wellbeing over work than before the pandemic. 

Read Also:  Meta accepting staff working only remote


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