As Americans anticipate what life after the COVID-19 pandemic will look like, one concern for millions is the future of remote work. Many employees have experienced firsthand what it's like to work from home, and 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. That, in turn, affected their concerns and preferences for their post-pandemic work environment.
More women said they preferred exclusively remote work (68% versus 57%), while men preferred hybrid work (41% versus 30%). One thing is clear, though: The vast majority of telecommuters do not want to return to full-time, in-person work. Only 2% each of men and women chose this option.
Challenges and perks of remote work are different for men and women
Interestingly, women reported more benefits of remote work than men did. This 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 tended not to prefer remote work. But very few (2%) reported no benefits from remote work at all. That may explain why men prefer a hybrid arrangement.
The FlexJobs survey also painted a picture of the challenges that affected remote workers the most. For example, men reported more interpersonal and communication challenges, such as:
- Collaborating with others
- Communicating effectively in real time
- Managing relationships with coworkers virtually
Meanwhile, women had greater difficulty troubleshooting technology problems.
The challenges and benefits associated with remote work may also depend on age group. Another survey, from MetLife, found that the remote work experience for Gen Z and millennial employees was different from baby boomers.
Concerns about work in a post-pandemic era
As with the advantages and disadvantages of remote work, FlexJobs also found differences in the concerns women and men had about returning to the workplace.
For instance, men showed greater concern over having to adhere to health and safety measures, as well as possibly being exposed to COVID-19. Women worried more about less flexibility and work-life balance and also 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 said 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. It showed 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.
In fact, 69% of men and 80% of women ranked the ability to work remotely as important when considering a new job opportunity.
Methodology: Between March and April 2021, FlexJobs polled 2,150 people who either had worked or were still working remotely during the pandemic. Of these respondents, 550 were men and 1,600 were women.