Catherine Mann, an Economist for the Bank of England, has shared her view that women who choose to work remotely will harm their career.
Ms. Mann stated that online communication platforms were unable to make up for the spontaneous office conversations which could allow staff to be recognised and advance in their careers.
She noted working in office would be particularly difficult for those mothers who had difficulty accessing childcare and who were facing school disruptions.
Analysing the split between workers who have returned to the office and those who remain working from home, Ms. Mann stated:
There is the potential for two tracks. There’s the people who are on the virtual track and people who are on a physical track. And I do worry that we will see those two tracks develop, and we will pretty much know who’s going to be on which track, unfortunately.
Amanda Harvey, at Silicon Reef, a remote working technology platform, called this view “categorically wrong”:
The Bank of England’s Catherine Mann said female remote workers will damage their careers owing to a two-tier workplace where office-based staff have an advantage. This is categorically wrong.
Condemning remote workers for damaging their own career development is victim blaming. If there is any blame, it lies squarely at the foot of businesses that allow it to happen and who say the technology isn’t good enough to allow proper collaboration. It is, and it must be used.
However, Danielle Harmer, Chief People Officer at Aviva, stated that companies could realise the disadvantage faced by working mothers in retrospect:
I think if organisations leave it up to their employees, you could have a potential situation where those with caring responsibilities, who tend to be female, tend to work from home more often, and we look back in two years and think: hang on a second, why has the gender pay gap widened? Or why are female promotions slowing down a little?
It’s taken us a long time to make progress on things like the gender pay gap, and I think it would be terrible if we went backwards on it.
These comments follow similar ones made earlier this year by Chancellor Rishi Sunak who felt young workers specifically would benefit from being in the office, arguing it would allow them to learn on the job.
Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.