The homeworking revolution since the start of the pandemic has given rise to fears of an impending “she-cession” and the disproportionate economic impact on women. As the number of women working from home continues to increase, some have raised concerns of a leadership proximity bias where senior business figures may favour those they see in person more often.
In November last year, Catherine Mann from the Bank of England warned that women who primarily worked from home were risking their career prospects as certain aspects of office life were difficult to replace online.
A survey conducted by the leadership advisory company Egon Zehnder also found that seven-in-ten C-suite leaders believe remote or flexible workers might be passed over for leadership positions as they had “less physical visibility than those working on site”.
However, recent surveys suggest the majority of women believe that hybrid working represents the ideal arrangement for their careers.
A survey conducted by Gartner on how women view the benefits of a hybrid work model found that a majority believed that there was no discernible difference in most office activities. Establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships with colleagues was the only aspect where a majority believed that onsite working had its benefits.
The majority of women in the US, UK, Canada, and Mexico believe that a hybrid model is the best working arrangement for minority groups to advance in their careers, according to a survey by HP published today. Women in India were the anomaly in the survey, with 40% saying that onsite working arrangements would be the most beneficial for their career progression.
Meanwhile, rather than harming women's careers, the majority of business decision-makers believe that homeworking will help women advance. A survey conducted by YouGov last year found that a majority believe home-working arrangements would actually favour women’s career advancement, as "childcare and caring duties become less of a hindrance to working full-time".
The majority of UK businesses have adopted hybrid working, according to a recent poll by the Chartered Institute for Managers, with most having done so as a result of the pandemic. But many senior leaders are pushing for employees to return to the office, the survey also found. In doing so, they should consider the broader impact on female employees - and their ability to attract the best talent in future.