Teleworking has many advantages. In the morning we can jump out of bed to the desk and start working again with blemishes in our eyes. Or we can even do it without getting up and wearing pajamas, without thinking about what to wear to the office.
But all this is nothing more than trivialities when they present us with the latest figures on inequalities, which continue to discriminate by gender, ethnicity, socio-economic reasons, level of education and other factors in Europe and in the rest of the world.
No one thought these systemic problems would be resolved overnight with the introduction of telework, but little is said about the role of the new employment situation in perpetuating differences.
Women at home
Staying at home is always a woman’s business. Family reconciliation too.
In a recent report on the economic repercussions of lockdown, the International Monetary Fund warned of gender inequality as one of the main effects of the pandemic.
Coinciding with the closure of schools last spring, women’s mobility fell by 2%, suggesting that they are the ones who most often stayed at home to care for their children.
“The evidence provided therefore indicates a disproportionate effect of blocking measures on women, which requires a specific intervention policy to support women and avoid lasting effects on their employment opportunities,” the report said.
The Spanish government has tried to avoid the perpetuation of gender roles by including, in the new teleworking law, measures to promote “co-responsibility between women and men”, such as the right to adapt to day.
But not everyone thinks it’s the ultimate solution. Cristina Antoñanzas, deputy secretary of the UGT, admitted to elDiario.es that much remains to be done to prevent the gap between positions of responsibility from widening even further.
According to the Labor Force Survey, in the second quarter of 2020, 21% of female workers stayed at home, while in the case of men, it was only 14%. On the other hand, an IESE report indicates that they had up to 29% more responsibility for caring for dependents than they did.
Teleworking can become a trap for those who stay at home, as it cannot be seen as a form of conciliation to deal with minors. And for now, it seems the most caught in this trap are them.
Male-led video call meetings
With the first alarm state, we all had to get used to talking with friends, friends, family and colleagues through the computer screen. Zoom and Microsoft Teams were the big winners.
Instead, and according to a study by the World Economic Forum and the NGO Catalyst, the big losers have been women, who continue to feel undervalued in meetings, now virtual and still led by men.
Specifically, according to this report, 21% of women surveyed felt underestimated by their colleagues during a video conference, while 19% directly believe they were ignored.
This work also leaves other interesting conclusions, such as the fact that it is mainly women entrepreneurs who consider that their level of stress at work has increased with the pandemic, or that employees are the most reluctant to think that teleworking has made their more inclusive workplace.
Telework, a privilege of the rich
Last May, the Bank of Europe released a report that also warned that inequalities could increase due to teleworking, although in this case the focus is more on wages and territorial differences.
To begin with, the possibility of teleworking is more present in the Community of Madrid, in the Basque Country and in Catalonia, the three richest regions in which we benefit from a higher average salary (respectively $ 2,264, $ 2,241 and $ 2,067 per month according to 2018) Data).
This discriminatory characteristic of telework is also found when analyzing the type of work that can be considered the most “teleworkable”, and statistics indicate those with the best wages: permanent, more experienced and more qualified.
“Depending on the level of education, there is an important difference between workers with a university degree or more and the other groups, because the representation of the first group in the total of those working remotely is more than double that of the total never work from home, ”says the study.
As the pandemic progressed, the gap between rich and poor has become even more defined. The economic effects of the coronavirus have wreaked havoc on those with low incomes and precarious jobs, and as the IMF says, income inequality will continue to grow.
According to the new teleworking law, the government wants businesses to bear the extra expenses their employees have now that they are working from home, but it remains to be seen if they really take care of Wi-Fi, power, etc. computers or office supplies.
More racist than ever
Another group that will particularly notice the consequences of the pandemic will be the non-whites.
“[Los lugares de trabajo] they play a key role in bringing people together. Changing ways of working and living in the aftermath of the coronavirus could force policy makers to think about new ways of doing it at local, regional and national levels, ”a recent study by the Woolf Institute indicates.
It analyzes social diversity in England and Wales, but its findings can be of interest to any country. According to the report, workplaces are essential for integration and for breaking down stereotypes.
Without the possibility of socializing with people of other ethnicities, cultures and religions, we become more intolerant of what is ‘different’ and, as noted in the study, what ends up determining your biases, it is the group of people you relate to, not the other way around.
Where are the rights of the worker?
One of the big problems of teleworking is knowing how to set limits. While employers tend to think they are working less from home, the truth is that many workers put in more hours at work if they don’t go to the office.
Although they do this remotely, “remote workers have the right to adequate protection in terms of safety and health,” says the Status of Workers Act.
As indicated in a report from the FSC-CCOO, the National Safety Institute advises the creation of a document which establishes the parameters in which this telework will be carried out: working conditions, hours, working method, training …
In this pandemic and telework situation, it is also essential to take care of our mental health to know how to manage both the change in routine and the anxiety that can result from it, as well as the inequalities that continue to perpetuate.