Over 50% of Irish workers concerned that choosing remote working will create inequality.

As employees begin a phased return to the workplace, more than half (53%) worry that deciding to work remotely post-pandemic will cause workplace inequality, according to the 2021 Matrix Recruitment Workplace Equality Survey.

Of those, 38% are concerned that they would be asked to take a pay cut if they work remotely full time and 60% worry that it could impact their career progression.

Now in its fourth year, the 2021 survey of almost 1,200 adults covers a wide range of workplace issues including discrimination, racism, gender pay gaps and the pandemic’s impact on the world of work. Phase one focused on the impact of the pandemic on workers and the workplace.

Fear of being forgotten if choosing to work remotely

While many companies and organisations are offering a hybrid model, the survey highlighted the multitude of concerns among workers in Ireland. Of particular concern was what the workplace would be like as pandemic restrictions lift and a new flexible working model is rolled out in businesses across the country.

Of those who are concerned that remote working post-pandemic will create inequality at work (53%), the survey also found that:

  • 52% are fearful that they will be forgotten about during meetings if they choose to work remotely full time
  • 48% worry that their boss will consider their decision to work remotely a reflection of their commitment to the company
  • Almost half (47%) are concerned that they will be overlooked for a promotion and 40% are anxious that they will be forgotten about for projects if they are not in the office

Breda Dooley, senior manager at Matrix Recruitment said: “As people begin a phased return to work feelings of dread and heightened concerns around modified workplaces, the prospect of hot desking, the daily commute along with the prospect of permanent remote working are commonplace.  This is completely normal as workers and workplaces readjust.

Fitting five days into four hugely complex 

The majority (85%) of those surveyed were in favour of the introduction of a four-day working week.

  • Of those, almost all said that it will boost employee health and wellbeing (85%) and create a better work/life balance (86%).
  • More than half (57%) were of the view that most people could fit five days work into four.

However, of the 15% not in favour of a four-day working week, almost one in four (38%) stated that it would create a very pressurised environment. More than one third (36%) of respondents said that it would results in longer working days.

Almost three quarters (72%) of respondents who do not support the idea of a four-day working week said that this way of working isn’t feasible in every industry. 25% said it would be unfair for those already working part-time.

More expected of working mothers during pandemic

According to the 2021 Matrix Recruitment Workplace Equality Survey, 36% of respondents said that the pandemic had created workplace inequality between those with and those without children. Of that cohort:

  • 38% were of the view that more work was expected of employees without children
  • However, over half (54%) said that more was expected of mothers when it came to juggling childcare and work during Covid-19 restrictions

Breda Dooley said: “The past year has been a difficult one for business owners, particularly when it came to supporting workers with children and ensuring there was equal treatment for those without children during the pandemic. The survey findings indicate that many employees without children feel they shouldered a heavier workload over the past year. Meanwhile, it appears that parents who had to juggle work and childcare are frustrated that they were expected to perform to their usual standard at work, despite having added burdens such as home schooling and childcare needs.”

The fourth Matrix Workplace Equality Survey was conducted online in August 2021 among 1,178 adults working across a broad range of industries, sectors and regions.