How Accessible and Inclusive is Remote Work?

When I first started writing about remote work almost three years ago, a lot of the content at the time was concerned with conveying the benefits.

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Having experienced the joys of flexibility for themselves, advocates were trying to be taken seriously in the world of work and enthusiastically encouraging anyone who might listen that this really was the future

Increased productivity was one of the favorite arguments. Perhaps in a bid to appeal to decision-makers, stats from the famous Stanford call center study were repeated everywhere, from Forbes and HBR to company blogs, medium articles, and LinkedIn posts. Of course, we also heard about the lack of commute, extra time at home, and more flexibility to plan your day how you pleased. Then there were the nomad workers, loudly proclaiming remote work meant you could work from anywhere despite real risks to compliant employment, but that's another article

Amid all this early research and fact-finding, I distinctly remember watching a conference recording of Laurel Farrer. She talked about the potential remote work had for a more equitable future, which instantly piqued my interest. She spoke about teams filled with talent from all over the world, the revival of small towns previously dying out without local industry, and opportunities for groups who previously had limited access to work, such as disabled folks, people with caring responsibilities, or single parents. While much of this 'future' felt far away, I still remember the feeling of excitement and hope I had while watching. 

Fast forward three years and a worldwide pandemic, the future Laurel spoke of seems both closer than ever and impossibly far. Many of the office workers of the world can now attest to their increased productivity, more time in the mornings and the benefits of flexibility. Still, even after the prominent race discussions of 2020, I wonder whether there have been any significant changes to the accessibility and subsequent diversity of our workforce. 

In this article, I'll be asking whether remote work really makes a difference or not and, if so, how we can make this more widespread. 

Was working from home during the pandemic worse for women?

Working mothers have long been used as an example of the kinds of employees remote work benefits. And not without reason. At Shield, we have many examples of moms (and Dads!) who can now do school drop-offs or pick-ups because they don't commute and love that they're more able to be there for school activities, sports games, or even when their kids are sick. 

However, the pandemic has drastically changed the experience of mother's working from home. 

Women have reported higher rates of... read more

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Tim Burgess

Director, Shield GEO Services Ltd