LONDON, Nov. 11 (Reuters) – Women who work mainly from home are at risk of seeing their careers suffer now that a significant number of workers are returning to the office after the COVID-19 pandemic, said on Thursday Catherine Mann, policy officer of the Bank of England.
Mann, a member of the BoE’s monetary policy committee, said online communication was unable to replicate spontaneous conversations in the office that were important for recognition and advancement in many workplaces.
“Virtual platforms are much better than they were just five years ago. But improvisation, spontaneity – they are difficult to replicate in a virtual setting,” she said during an event for women in finance organized by the newspaper Financial News.
Difficulty accessing child care and educational disruptions related to COVID meant that many women continued to work from home, while men returned to the office, Mann said.
“There’s the potential for two tracks. There’s the people who are on the virtual track and the people who are on a physical track. And I’m afraid we will see those two tracks develop, and we’ll know roughly who Which track is going to be on, unfortunately, “she said.
Mann was professor of economics and chief economist at Citi and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), before joining the BoE in September.
UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak warned young workers in August that they risked missing out on building skills and working relationships if they worked from home. Read more
British companies said last month that 60% of their staff have returned to their normal workplaces, but the proportions vary widely across sectors. In professional services, 34% of staff are in the office, 24% work entirely from home, and 35% mix, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Separate ONS data shows that a slightly higher percentage of men than women worked at home for at least part of the time at the end of October, although the gap is within the margin of error of the ‘investigation.
Previous ONS analysis showed that women were more likely than men to say that working from home gave them more time to work, with fewer distractions. But men said working from home helped them come up with new ideas, while women found it a barrier.
Reporting by David Milliken Editing by William Schomberg
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