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Study reveals men have greater flexibility where work is concerned

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The vast majority of teleworkers are men, according to a study published by the Institute for Employment Studies. Almost 70 per cent of those working away from the office were male professionals in mid career. A teleworker was defined as someone who works from home at least one day a week. The authors of the report were clearly surprised by their findings as they had expected that women with children would account for the greater portion of telecommuters. But not only were men more likely to be taking advantage of comms technology that women, there were gender differences in the way people worked away from the office as well. Men were more likely to work from a variety of locations than women, of whom 41 per cent worked in the home. Those who do telecommute tend to be in the middle of their career, with 60 per cent of the teleworkforce are aged 35 to 47, compared to 47 per cent of the working population as a whole. They are also more than twice as likely to be in professional occupations, and are largely (34 per cent) from the financial and business services sector. It should not be so surprising that men are more likely to telework than women, or that those who do telework are from mid career professional positions. A certain degree of seniority is needed to take the decision to work away from the office, an it is in just these types of positions that women are under represented. Receptionists, traditionally a female dominated job, would be pretty useless working from home. What is more surprising is that people with disabilities are still under-represented. Despite the mobile office being hailed as a great boon for equal opportunities, disabled workers are represented in about the same proportion as in the conventional workforce, roughly nine per cent. The telecommuting phenomenon is more popular and growing faster in the UK than in the rest of Europe. In 1998 it accounted for just five per cent of the workforce, but the study estimates that the number of people regularly working away from the office is growing at about 200,000 per year. ®

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