Women professionals get hybrid working boost

The post-pandemic surge in hybrid working has encouraged large numbers of professionally-educated women in the UK - particularly mothers - to move back into full-time work, new research has shown.

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The report from the Commission on Hybrid and Remote Working, based on research by the Public First management consultancy, also found that hybrid work had proved to be invaluable when it came to business recruitment and retention, especially given the nation's long-standing skills gap.

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Research will inform recommendations on hybrid working

According to the research, hybrid working is worth £13.5 billion annually with hybrid employees valuing the positive impacts of such work in their work-life balance and wellbeing.The commission is made up of techUK members Zoom and Vodafone, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's CEO Peter Cheese and representatives from Indeed, Liverpool John Moores University, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, and Prospect Union.It was established to examine the rapid growth of hybrid working and make recommendations on how the government should respond to the rise in the practice.

Hybrid working key for inclusive workplaces

Julian David, chief executive of techUK, said: “It's imperative to harness the full potential of hybrid work for everyone, as it holds the key to fostering more inclusive and accessible workplaces."While many employers have already embraced this model, it is evident that government intervention is necessary to provide comprehensive guidelines and support to enable all businesses to unlock the advantages of hybrid and remote work.”The report said that, for decades, women have worked fewer hours than they would ideally like because of the challenges of managing children and other dependants.But now, Public First’s research shows that women able to work mainly work from home are much more likely to embrace full-time employment than those who have to work mainly away from home."That is even more the case in households with dependent children," said Jude Wilson, policy analyst at Public First. "The industry data shows large increases in the share of women in professional services (banking, ICT and other prof services) working full-time between 2019 and 2023, even more so when we look at those with kids."

Practices to support hybrid working

The report recommends that employers create moments for purposeful interaction, connection and collaboration by ensuring that employees have a reason to be in their office when they are so required.It also says the government, working with relevant bodies, should develop guidelines to support businesses to measure productivity in hybrid and remote working environments.Additionally, the report recommends that employers offer line managers and those with management responsibilities, training on remote work to help them support their hybrid teams.Other proposals include: - a government review of parental leave policies and the impact these could have on bolstering gender divisions in the workplace.- the introduction by the government, working in consultation with businesses, of a National Remote and Hybrid Work Strategy to ensure that remote working "is a permanent feature in the UK workplace in a way that maximises economic, social and environmental benefits".- consideration by the National Infrastructure Commission of the rise of hybrid and remote working for inclusion in their second National Infrastructure Assessment due to be published later this year.The research found that a large majority of employers offering hybrid work said it helped with hiring and retention of staff, with businesses estimating they saved between £6.9-£10.3 billion annually in recruitment costs alone, thanks to improved retention because of hybrid working.Additionally, businesses said they found hybrid and remote working made it easier for them to hire from a wider range of backgrounds. "A majority of businesses said it helps them hire more parents and carers and those from different regions of the country, whilst a significant minority said it increased their ability to hire people with disabilities."It also found that two-thirds of businesses felt hybrid and remote work could either boost or did not adversely affect productivity. Among hybrid workers themselves, 46 per cent felt they were more productive at home.

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