Remote worker sitting at her laptop looking exasperated and tired.
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Irish workers worried remote work could lead to inequality, survey says

4 Oct 2021

Workplace inequality is a pressing concern when it comes to working remotely, according to 53pc of those surveyed by Matrix Recruitment.

More than half of Irish workers surveyed by Matrix Recruitment said they feared that choosing to work remotely post-pandemic would lead to equality issues.

According to the Matrix Recruitment Workplace Equality Report 2021, 53pc of respondents said they were concerned that if they chose to continue working remotely they would lose out.

Of those, 38pc said they were concerned that they would be asked to take a pay cut if they worked remotely full time, while 60pc worried that remote working could potentially impact their career progression.

The survey was conducted online in August 2021 among 1,178 adults working across a broad range of industries, sectors and regions. Now in its fourth year, the recruitment firm’s survey focused on several key areas including discrimination, the world of work and gender pay gaps.

One of the most pressing concerns highlighted in terms of remote working was the fear of being forgotten or overlooked by an employer.

More than half (52pc) said they were worried they would be forgotten about during meetings if they chose to work remotely full time and 40pc said they feared they would be forgotten about for projects if they were not physically in the office.

A similar percentage (48pc) said they worried that their boss would consider their decision to work remotely a reflection of their commitment to the company, while 47pc said they were concerned that they would be overlooked for a promotion.

Breda Dooley, senior manager at Matrix Recruitment, said that “feelings of dread and heightened concerns around modified workplaces” were “completely normal” as offices begin to reopen and workers adjust to post-pandemic working life.

“Many workers have enjoyed a better work-life balance over the past 18 months working from home during restrictions and it’s understandable that those who want to continue to work from home, full time or part time, are worried that it will negatively impact their career as we figure out this new way of working post-lockdown,” Dooley added.

Inequality between parents and non-parents

The survey also revealed the impact of remote working on parents. More than a third (36pc) of respondents said that the pandemic had created a workplace inequality between those with and those without children. Of that percentage, 38pc were of the view that more work was expected of employees without children, however 54pc said that more was expected of mothers when it came to juggling childcare and work during Covid-19 restrictions.

The majority of parents surveyed (63pc) said that the pandemic had not made them reconsider their role in the workforce. A tiny percentage (3pc) quit their job to become a stay-at-home parent over the past year, while 10pc said they had moved to full-time remote work over the past year in order to spend more time with their children.

Dooley said the report showed that the past year had been difficult for many workers, especially those with children whose needs had to be factored into working hours.

“The survey findings indicate that many employees without children feel they shouldered a heavier workload over the past year. Meanwhile, it appears that parents who had to juggle work and childcare are frustrated that they were expected to perform to their usual standard at work, despite having added burdens such as home schooling and childcare needs.”

There are signs that Irish workplaces are considering the need for measures to be put in place so remote employees don’t lose out. A remote working alliance was launched last week in a bid to help Irish employers embrace remote working.

Furthermore, it is unlikely that Irish employers will cut the wages of people who opt to work remotely, according to experts.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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