The recent BBC report on the pay of its top earners laid bare the disparities between men and women’s earnings. But it should come as no surprise. The gender pay gap has been stubbornly stagnant over the past decade. According to the EU (which calculates the gap based on hourly pay differences between men and women), men earn around 20% more. And the UK’s official statistics group, which calculates the pay gap of full-time earnings, men earn an average of about 10% more than women.
One core reason for this difference is the tendency for women to drop out of the labour market or move into (bad and low-paid) part-time jobs after having children. Employment data makes this clear.
Interviews with fathers who have children under school age have shown that almost two thirds feel that their work pattern does not suit their needs. A quarter say they are unhappy with their work-life balance.
Half these fathers, who represent a range of sectors and seniority levels, suggested that remote working or flexitime would help their situation. However, a similar proportion were afraid to ask for flexible working as it would demonstrate a lack of commitment. 42% felt that it would affect their career progression.
The downsides of email now outweigh the benefits as they promote unmanageable workloads and supplant face-to-face discussions. Moreover, these negative impacts extend beyond the workplace and into workers’ homes. New technology encourages checking and replying to email while not at work, with consequences for individuals’ quality of life.
Employers have a role to play in helping employees manage email and encourage use that doesn’t negative affect work-life balance. Guidelines should discourage email use while not working, avoid unnecessarily including too many people in group emails, and to prefer face-to-face meetings between colleagues in the same building.
Katharine Zaleski reflects on how her own attitudes to childcare and women the workplace has altered since having a child.
While previously she had accepted cultural norms that suggest mother’s cannot be fully committed to work, her views have altered. Particular, she notes that news kinds of flexible working, particularly remote working, can help mothers remain engaged with work while also taking care of a child – and even become more productive as a result.
Interestingly she also notes that there may need to be limits on flexible working. She notes that expectations that people will be available for last minute meetings that run outside office hours, or for after-work drinks to network and discuss projects, are examples where flexibility negatively effects work-life balance and encourages the blurring of boundaries between these domains.
This article describes some of the ways in which US workers experience flexible working (or the lack thereof).
Positive accounts note that flexible hours are ‘worth their weight in gold’ and worth taking a lower paying job for. Though successful deployment and use of flexible working policies requires managers to become ‘comfortable with what productivity and accountability looks like in a telework/flexible schedule setting’.
Others, however, are more cautious. One respondent noted that because they have a flexible work schedule, between part-time and freelance work, they have become the ‘go-to parent’ for caring for a sick child, making doctors appointments et cetera, while their paid workload remains the same. The results are ‘often stressful and exhausting, especially when the two careers get busy at the same time’.
And there remain, of course, many who still have zero-flexibility in their jobs, which causes issues around maintaining a work-life balance. Many respondents noted that this still has the effect of producing families wherein work is split between one wage-earner and one caregiver.
A new survey of 3,000 business people suggests that 69% of UK professionals now work more outside usual office hours than in 2010. A similar number of respondents (72%) note that fixed hours are no longer suitable for their duties.
More than three-quarters – 76% – of businesses also reported a rise in remote workers, further suggesting that the concept of 9-5 day in the office is outdated.
This article reports data from a new survey of working men. It notes that informal flexibility arrangements are much more prevalent, with 66% reporting ad-hoc arrangements. Only 29% reported having regularly scheduled flexible working arrangements.
The author suggests that the prevalence of informal arrangements may be a boon as it normalise flexible working. This may encourage more employees to take advantage of flexible working with reduced workplace stigma, and spur employers and employees to embrace flexibility in the future.
Using Dutch panel data, the author argues that flexitime increases work-life balance and job satisfaction. However, teleworking improves only job satisfaction, and part-time only working-time fit.
The author also finds that remote working may harm careers since fewer promotions and employer-paid trainings are awarded to regular teleworkers. In their analysis of absenteeism, they demonstrate that schedule and location flexibility decrease the frequency and length of sickness absences.
Possenriede, Daniel (2014) The Economics of Temporal and Locational Flexibility of Work, Ph.D Thesis, Universiteit Utrecht
This survey of flexible work in Germany, England, Belgium and Netherlands found that 64% of English firms have implemented some kind of flexible working. This more than Germany (57%), the Netherlands (48%) and Belgium (38%).
The reasons cited for not implementing flexible working were that:
1. Companies are still looking into the possibilities of flexible working;
2. Staff are tied to a fixed place and time because of their specific duties;
3. The organisation feels that the presence of staff is necessary.
Notably, the reasons for flexible working differed by country. In Belgium and England, organisations to implemented flexible ‘to satisfy the wishes of staff’. In Germany, the most important argument for flexible working was that it leads to ‘higher staff satisfaction’. In the Netherlands, ‘cost-savings on buildings, accommodation and workstations’ was key for organisation.