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A woman’s place is in the office

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Men are more likely to work at home or on the move than women, according to new research released on Tuesday by Compaq. The research, conducted by MORI, reveals that one third of male managers already work from home and have more freedom of movement than their female colleagues. Nearly half of women managers surveyed are completely office-bound with no opportunity to engage in mobile working.

Commenting on the differing attitudes of men and women to mobile working, Sandi Mann, work psychologist, University of Central Lancashire, explains: “It is easy to understand why women might be put off working from home. Having struggled for so long to break into the male-dominated office world, women are reluctant to give it up. Women still view the home as their domestic domain and not a working one, besides which, women enjoy the sociability of the office and the interaction with colleagues. It is encouraging to see men swapping their traditional working environment and finding new and effective ways of working that suit their individual needs.”

The results form part of a wider study conducted on behalf of Compaq, examining the attitudes of workers and managers to working at home or on the move. The findings reveal that male workers and their managers have very different views of the benefits and opportunities of working on the move to those of their female colleagues. While men seem more comfortable striking out and embracing new methods of working, female workers are yet to be given the opportunity to do so.

The results of the research reveal that male employees are more likely to cite improved productivity (21 per cent) as a benefit of working outside the normal office than women (14 per cent). Women are more likely than men to miss their office colleagues if they were to forgo the traditional office environment.

Simon Nelson, head of wireless and mobile solutions, Compaq, says: “This research is novel in that it not only explores employee attitudes to mobile working, but those of managers too. The gender differences are surprising, and suggest that companies need to introduce some guidelines in order to support individuals making the transition to new ways of working. UK businesses need to understand the benefits of empowering employees by giving them easy access to the technology and information needed to work from any location. The technology now exists to place business critical information in the hands of those who need it most, regardless of where they are located.”

Gender differences are further highlighted by managers’ attitudes to running a mobile workforce. Female managers are much less open-minded about where their employees work. Some 41 per cent of male managers state that they do not care where their staff work as long as the work gets done, yet only 22 per cent of female managers share this relaxed view.

Male managers are far more enthusiastic about the benefits of introducing a mobile working culture than their female counterparts. Only 24 per cent of female managers believe a more flexible approach to working would result in improved job satisfaction compared to 40 per cent of men and twice as many male managers think mobile working will help staff recruitment.

There may be clues to the reasons why women are wary of home or remote working in analysing the results of the perceived distractions. Topping the list of distractions for female managers would be their children and family or friends, with over 50 per cent saying that they would be the biggest distractions.

Dealing with household matters also received high recognition from female managers, 46 per cent citing it as a key distraction. Other key distractions cited by female managers include the television, (36 per cent), poor technology (20 per cent) their pets (15 per cent) and online shopping or personal use of the internet (13 per cent).

Sandi Mann concludes: “It could well be that women go to the office to get away from the house and all its distractions.”

One Response

  1. What about human interaction?
    A much more positive possibility about the gender split would be greater importance that women might place on interaction and face to face relationships. This has been my previous concern as a manager trying to find some way of escaping the commute into London – team working and all that sort of stuff surely is fundamentally hit by major amounts of remote working?!

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