UCL School of Management

2 November 2023

The effects of remote work on perceived productivity and gender differences

Woman working at her desk from home.

Since the pandemic caused a seismic shift to remote working, scholars across fields and practitioners have been analysing the data from the past three years to understand the effects on productivity and attitudes towards peers caused by the ‘new normal’ remote working model many organisations have taken on. Chia-Jung Tsay’s research into the attitudes to women’s productivity across different working arrangements including in-person and virtual settings was recently referenced in a recent New York Times piece.

As more organisations are now offering remote and hybrid working models, it has allowed many mothers to enter employment, with studies showing employment rates have increased and reducing the gender employment gap. The differences in attitudes towards women and men at work, however, still prevail, with Chia’s research revealing more people believe women to be less productive. People tend to be more likely to notice women’s absences and assume that if women are away from their desks or not visible through virtual workspaces, they are engaged with non-work activities.

The New York Times article cites research by Chia and her co-author, a current working paper titled “Gendered Time Surveillance and Suspicions at Work and in Professional Roles.” This work includes over 2,000 participants and offers qualitative and quantitative analyses of assumptions about productivity across traditional and remote work environments and explores the nuances related to gender and the persistence of the gender gap at work.

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Last updated Thursday, 2 November 2023