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Working from home could harm women’s careers, expert says

A policymaker of the Bank of England, Catherine Mann said on Thursday that the women who work mostly from home risk having their careers harmed as a significant number of workers were returning to the office following the relaxation in curbs as the COVID-19 pandemic started to subside.

Mann, a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, stated that online communication could not replace the spontaneous office conversations that were important for advancement and recognition in many workplaces.

She remarked, at a Financial News event for women in finance, that virtual platforms were far superior to what they were, five years ago. However, in a virtual setting, extemporaneity and spontaneity of office work were difficult to replicate.

Mann said in a statement that the difficulty in obtaining childcare and the disruption to schooling that was caused by COVID-19 could restrict many women to continue to work from home while men returned to the office.

‘There is the option of two tracks. There are people on both the virtual and physical tracks. And I’m concerned that we’ll see those two tracks develop, and we’ll know who will be on which track pretty quickly,’ she stated.

Mann worked as an economics professor and chief economist at Citi and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development before joining the Bank of England in September (OECD).

In August, British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak warned that younger workers who worked from home risked missing out on opportunities to develop skills and work relationships.

Last month, British businesses reported that 60 percent of their employees had returned to work, but the proportions vary greatly by industry. According to the Office for National Statistics, 34 percent of professional services employees work in an office, 24 percent work entirely from home, and 35 percent work a mix of the two.

Separate ONS data show that in late October, a slightly higher proportion of male workers than females worked from home for at least some of the time, though the difference was within the margin of error of the survey.

Previous ONS research found that women were more likely than men to say that working from home gave them more time to work and fewer distractions. Men, on the other hand, said working from home helped them come up with new ideas, whereas women said it was a hindrance.


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