New Inequality: Women Face Worse Pandemic Home Working Experience Than Men

Data from Drewberry’s 2021 Employee Benefits Survey, which questioned 2,000 workers at UK SMEs, found that 56.3% of SME employees who’d normally be in an office were now working at home due to the pandemic.

This applied to slightly more men (60.8%) than women (53.5%). However, the home working experience of men and women has been very different. The statistics show that:

  • 54.6% of men said they were more productive at home compared to 46.2% of women.
  • 27.1% of female office workers who currently work from home said their mental health had declined as a result compared to 14.5% of men.
  • Women working from home were more likely to report feelings of isolation than men and more likely to find it hard to manage their work / life balance.

Why Are Women Having a Worse Home Working Experience Than Men?

It would appear that several factors have combined to mean that remote working seems to work less well for women than men.

Productivity

  • Male office workers working remotely were more likely to say they felt both far more productive and more productive than when they were in the office compared with women.
  • Women were more likely to say they felt far less productive at home, with 16.6% of female office workers newly remotely working feeling this way.

Mental Health

  • 44.3% of men said their mental health had improved since working from home, either saying it had got much better or a little bit better.
  • Women were less likely to say this was the case, with 36% agreeing their mental health had improved since working from home.
  • Almost double the percentage of women (27.4%) than men (14.5%) said that their mental health had worsened since working from home.

Causes of Stress

  • Women were more likely to feel stressed about work and money than men.
  • However, women were notably less stressed about their physical health compared with men.

Women Face Significant Rise in Stress Due to Work

  • Since the last edition of our Employee Benefits Survey, the proportion of women stressed out due to work has increased from 41.6% to 63.1%.
  • Meanwhile, the percentage of women stressed due to their mental health has more than doubled, rising from 16.9% to 38.3%.

Has Employer-Mandated Home Working Come at a Cost for Women?

Women report feeling less productive at home than men. Their mental health has also fared worse since moving to remote working. Meanwhile, the proportion of women stressed due to work and their mental health compared to our last survey has increased considerably.

Yet despite all this, 38.4% of women said they were fairly keen or very keen to continue working from home. Just 18.9% of men said the same. Also, while 20.1% of men wanted to go back to the office 5 days a week, just 9.1% of women felt this way.

Furthermore, 50.5% of women wanted their employer to introduce some form of flexible working, something only 38.6% of men rated as a priority.

How Can Employers Help Women Working from Home?

Clearly, despite the challenges, women still see benefits in remote working. Employers should therefore take steps to better facilitate this and improve their remote working experience.

Address Causes of Workplace Unhappiness

  • Women were considerably more likely than men to say they were unhappy at work as they didn’t feel recognised for their efforts. 55% of women said this was the case compared to 37.9% of men.
  • More women were unhappy at work than men due to a lack of internal communication. A lack of support from their company during lockdown also made more women feel unhappy at work than men.

Introduce Benefits They’d Like to See

  • Women were notably more likely to want their employer to introduce flexible hours.
  • Other benefits more women would prefer than men include access to counselling, retail / leisure discounts and the option to work from home.

Types of Benefits Workers Want by Sex

  • More women prefer benefits that help manage their health and wellbeing, with 55.5% wanting to see such benefits from their employer.
  • Training and education relevant to their career aspirations and gifts / rewards they could use out of work were also more popular among women than men.

Get Expert Advice on Employee Benefits for Your Business

Unsurprisingly, women and men have differing needs and priorities in many areas. That means the benefits you introduce to please a female dominated workforce will likely be different than for one with more men.

However, there are plenty of benefits that both men and women would like to see almost equally. For instance:

If you need advice reviewing your employee benefits we are here to provide independent fee free advice. You can call us on 02084327333 or email help@drewberry.co.uk.

Nadeem Farid Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry

Our experts are here to do all the heavy lifting involved with setting up and maintaining a competitive employee benefits package for your business.

Nadeem Farid
Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry

I’ve held a policy with Drewberry for several years now. They are always friendly, insightful and offer great service.

Dan Pettitt
13/01/2021
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