Home vs Office: Bridging work's gender divide
The Agenda


Studies have shown that more than 90 percent of people currently working from home during the pandemic are keen to continue to do so at least some of the time when it ends.

But if that's to work there are issues which both employers and employees are going to have to solve, most notably a perceived gender divide that men are better at working from home than women.

The good news though, as the University of Kent's Heejung Chung joins The Agenda with Stephen Cole and explains that her data shows some of those issues are nearing a solution.


Heejung Chung is a reader in sociology and social policy at the University of Kent, and leader of that university's project on working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Her key research is concerned with issues of cross-national comparative analysis of welfare states and their labour markets.


"A lot of the hesitations managers had prior to the pandemic about whether or not workers can work efficiently at home have disappeared," says Chung, "largely due to the fact that despite the pandemic, workers have been showing huge levels of productivity and efficiency."

There are also positives to be taken by those who have questioned the role of women working from home. "Employers thought that women, when they work from home, don't really work, that they prioritize housework and child care" – which has in the past meant more men than women have been given the chance to do so. 

That's changed during lockdown, as an increasing number of women have been able to work from home and prove any doubters wrong.


Chung's research suggests that while it may be a little early to tell whether ingrained attitudes about working from home have been removed by the pandemic, there's no doubt the move towards more flexible working practices on a more permanent basis is unstoppable.

And there's another potential benefit here too – for the unemployed. "If companies decide that working from home is going to be the norm, it really increases the geographic opportunities for a job search for many unemployed people. And I think that would be a really good positive impact."


• Global Workplace Analytics president Kate Lister explains how working from home, pandemic or no pandemic, can save employees three of their most precious commodities – their time, their money and their (mental) health.

• Yasuhiro Kotera, academic lead in counseling, psychotherapy and psychology at the University of Derby, considers how employees and employers will have to work together to ensure the transition out of pandemic working practices is good for everyone.

What about the flexible co-working space? Mathieu Proust, WeWork's general manager for the UK, Ireland and emerging markets, discusses this underused halfway house between the office and our homes.

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