As people begin to anticipate what life after the COVID-19 pandemic will look like, one area of concern for millions of Americans is the future of remote work. Many employees experienced firsthand what it was like to work from home, and now they're unwilling to return to the status quo.
In a recent survey, job search company FlexJobs found clear differences in the remote work experience for men and women, which in turn, affect their concerns and preferences for their post-pandemic work environment.
More women indicated that they preferred exclusively remote work (68% versus 57%), while men preferred hybrid work instead (41% versus 30%) instead. One thing is clear, though: The vast majority of telecommuters do not want a return to full-time, in-person work, as only 2% each of men and women chose this option.
Challenges and perks of remote work differ for men and women
Interestingly, women reported more benefits of remote work at greater rates than men did, which may explain why more women prefer remote-only work moving forward. The top benefits reported by women included:
- No commute
- Cost savings for expenses like gas and dry cleaning
- Lower risk of exposure to the coronavirus
- No formal dress code
- Time savings
- Better work-life balance
- Control and flexibility over work schedule
On the other hand, men had a greater appreciation for the more efficient way remote team meetings were run. Very few (2%) reported no benefits from remote work at all — which may potentially explain why men prefer a hybrid arrangement over fully remote work.
The FlexJobs survey also painted a picture of the challenges that affected remote workers the most. For example, men reported more interpersonal and communication-focused challenges, such as:
- Collaborating with others
- Communicating effectively in real-time
- Managing relationships with co-workers virtually
Meanwhile, women had greater difficulty troubleshooting technology problems.
The challenges and benefits associated with remote work may also differ between age groups, as another survey from MetLife found that the remote work experience for Gen Z and millennial employees differed from that of baby boomer workers.
Concerns about work in a post-pandemic era
Similar to the advantages and disadvantages of remote work, FlexJobs also found deviations in the concerns women and men had about returning to the workplace.
For instance, men showed greater concern over requirements to adhere to health and safety measures as well as possible COVID-19 exposure or infection. Women worried more about less flexibility and work-life balance as well as the return of office politics and distractions.
As a result, many respondents prioritized remote-work options moving forward.
In fact, 60% of women and 52% of men stated they would leave their job if they couldn't continue to work remotely in their current position. This lines up with findings from a different FlexJobs survey showing that 58% of remote workers would "absolutely" look for a new job if their current position didn't offer a telecommute option after the pandemic.
Furthermore, 69% of men and 80% of women ranked the ability to work remotely as an important consideration when assessing a new job opportunity.
Methodology: Between March and April 2021, FlexJobs polled 2,150 people who either worked or were still working remotely during the pandemic. Of these respondents, 550 were men and 1,600 were women.