Gender differences in reasons for working from home

The findings of the 2005 ‘Generations and gender survey’ reveal that women in the Czech Republic opt to work from home for different reasons than men do. Differences between both sexes also emerge when taking into account the life cycle and career. Men usually work from home at an older age and later stage of their career while women make use of this form of work throughout their entire working life, with a slight increase in such activity among women in the 35–44 years age group. Moreover, it appears that the presence of a dependent child in the household is a trigger for women to work from home.

Not only women who care for children opt to work from home, but also students, disabled people or individuals with a particular lifestyle. The characteristics of teleworking and the reasons given for working from home should be examined separately for men and women. That is because women generally choose to work from home for different reasons and in a different phase of their life cycle and professional career than men. These are the findings of the data analysis of the Generations and gender survey (GGS 2005), comprising answers from 5,757 respondents doing paid work in a reference week. The sample group included 5,029 employed and self-employed individuals. Respondents were asked where their workplace was and could choose among the following answers: ‘I usually work in one place away from home’; ‘I usually work at home’; ‘I usually work part of the week at home and part away from home’; ‘I usually work in a variety of places away from home’.

Incidence of work from home

According to the survey findings, 6.3% of employees and self-employed people in the Czech Republic worked at least part of the week from home. For 3% of employees and self-employed people, home was the sole place of work. If the sample of respondents were also to include other categories of workers who did paid work during the reference week, the percentage figures would be slightly higher at 6.6% and 3.4%, respectively. In the case of paid employment, homeworking – at least part of the week – was significantly more common among respondents receiving an old age or invalidity pension, amounting to 18.7% and 8.8%, respectively. Similarly, students who want to earn extra money also choose this form of employment more frequently than the rest of the labour force. The high incidence of this form of work among these population groups shows that working from home is mainly used to satisfy an increased need for flexibility.

Figure 1: Individuals working at least part of the week from home, by age group and sex (%)

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Source: GGS 2005

Almost the same proportion of men (7.1%) and women (6.2%) work at least part of the week from home. When it comes to the incidence of working in other places than at home, a gap emerges between both sexes, with 27.1% of men working in a variety of places away from home compared with 6.3% of women. Women are therefore far more likely than men to work constantly in one place. This might be due to the traditionally strong stereotypical role of women taking on household and childcare responsibilities, which does not necessarily allow them to carry out jobs requiring geographical flexibility.

Gender-specific characteristics

Work from home also depends on the life cycle and professional career, which are different for men and women. Women are more likely to make use of the flexibility of homeworking throughout their entire working life, with a slightly higher incidence of such activity in the 35–44 years age group. It can be assumed that women in this age group are caring for dependent children. Conversely, men only tend to take advantage of the benefits of working from home towards the end of their professional career when they are approaching pre-retirement age. The survey findings show that 12.3% of men aged 55 years and over worked at least part of the week from home; this represents about a five percentage point increase compared with the average proportion of men (7%) working at least part of the week from home (Figure 1). This may be related to health problems or possible mobility difficulties for this higher age group; however, these are merely suppositions. Only 7.9% of women in the same age category worked partially from home. Work from home was least widespread among young people of both sexes under 35 years of age, with 4.9% of men and 4.1% of women making use of this form of work.

Looking at the professions and education of homeworkers, these are more diverse among women while the distribution across individual job categories is more even. Only women in management positions show a sharp increase in the incidence of working from home at least part of the week compared with the average for other professions; some 15.1% of female respondents in this job category indicated that they use this form of work (Figure 2). This percentage is much the same as among men (15.25%) of the same professional category.

Overall, women are more likely than men to seek work from home; this appears to be relatively homogenous across all levels of education and professions, including those where this form of work organisation is atypical. Among men, this form of work organisation is only common for certain professions, primarily those requiring higher qualifications.

Figure 2: Employees working at least part of the week from home, by profession (based on ISCO classification) and sex (%)

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Source: GGS 2005

Improving work–life balance

The survey findings clearly indicate that for men the place of work is mainly determined by profession or labour market situation. For women, the family situation is the main determinant of their place of work. Women living in a household with at least one child up to the age of 15 years worked from home more frequently than men or women without children; they were also much less likely to have a job requiring them to work in various places away from home. While women in a household with a dependent child below the age of 15 years worked from home in 8.2% of the cases surveyed, the respective proportion of women without dependent children was just 5.1%. Therefore, the presence of a child in the household represents a fundamental determinant of this form of work among women. Whether a woman was a single mother or lived in a household with a partner was irrelevant in this regard, as the number of women working from home was the same. For men, by contrast, the presence of a child up to the age of 15 years in the family had no influence on their place of work.

Reference

This paper was part of the TP-5 project ‘Modern societies and their transformations’ (registration number 1J 023/04-DP2), which is an analysis of the data of The family, partnership and demographic ageing: Generations and gender survey, a prospective longitudinal study financed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Ministerstvo práce a sociálních vecí, MPSV).

Renata Kyzlinková and Kamila Svobodová, Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs (VÚPSV)

 

 

 

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