Elon Musk has called working from home ‘morally wrong’ and ‘unproductive,’ while others say it ‘doesn’t work for those who want to hustle’ or is evidence that America has ‘gone soft.’
These comments from men have left some to speculate that the real issue they have with working from home is not about productivity or hard work, but rather masculinity. It is possible that today some hold a view, likely rooted in traditional gender roles and societal expectations, that working from home is more suited for women than men.
In May, ResumeBuilder.com surveyed 1,195 Americans to learn more about how gender roles and societal expectations may be influencing their perception of work from home.
- 13% of Americans say working from home is more appropriate for women than men
- 9% think going into the office is more suitable for men than women
- 30% say working from home makes you more family-oriented vs. career-oriented
- 17% say WFH means you are less serious about your career
- Americans think WFH is most appropriate for women with children and least appropriate for single men
1 in 8 say working from home is more appropriate for women
It’s evident from our survey that a chunk of Americans do have sexist views when it comes to remote versus in-person work.
One in eight (13%) Americans say they feel working from home is more appropriate for women than men, while 85% say it’s for anyone, and 2% say it is more suitable for men than women.
There wasn’t much difference in opinion among age groups. GenZ (18-24) was slightly less likely to say that WFH is for women (9%), but a larger percentage (5%) feel it is more for men.
The belief that working for home is more for women, was more likely to be held by women. Sixteen percent of women feel this way compared to 11% of men.
In terms of going into the office, 9% say this practice is more for men, while 88% say it’s for anyone, and 3% say more it’s for women.
Older generations were more likely to say going to the office is more for men. Overall, 13% of 65+ and 9% of 25-34, 35-54, and 55-64 year olds hold this belief, compared to just 5% of 18-24 year olds. However, this younger age group was more likely to say going into the office is more for women, versus that it’s a practice equally for anyone.
Men were more likely than women to say going into the office is more for men (10% vs. 7%).
Chief Career Advisor Stacie Haller says, “The number of people, even though it’s great to see it’s currently the vast majority (85%), who say working from home is for all genders will grow in numbers over the years. As society evolves past gender stereotypes, remote and hybrid work will be seen as suitable for all,”
“It’s my belief that most companies will settle on hybrid schedules in the future, rather than ever demanding employees return to the office full-time. It’s been proven that most employees can be just as productive remotely, and being remote helps many better achieve a work-life balance, which is becoming increasingly important to Americans,” Haller continues.
Respondents were asked to provide a reason for why they felt going into the office is more for men. Write-in responses included:
- “Men are the breadwinner.”
- “Men usually are more interactive and aggressive towards goals at work, depending on the type of job they’re doing. Men are not usually the type that enjoy always being around the house.”
- “Women are more family and home oriented in general.”
- “Women have more responsibilities, with home and work!”
- “Safer for women not to be in a male environment.”
- “Men have always gone out to work because they don’t have to stay home and watch the children.”
3 in 10 Americans say WFH makes you more family-focused over career-focused
Overall, 30% say working from home makes you more family than career-focused, while 61% say it’s neutral, and 9% say more career than family-focused.
Additionally, 17% say they agree with the statement that working from home means you are less serious about your career. The same percentage (17%) believe that people who work from home should earn less money than if they work from an office.
Eric Kingsley, partner at Kingsley & Kingsley, notes that while working from home doesn’t automatically mean you’re less serious about your career, it might not be the best way to achieve growth.
“I don’t believe people who work from home necessarily take their career less seriously, but they might not be as interested in moving up at a company and using collaboration to improve their trajectory,” says Kingsley. “You have to take the gloves off to really make progress sometimes, and that just can’t be done at home all the time. You must get into the ring and do the work.”
John Friggo, eCommerce Manager at Best Price Nutrition, echoes the idea that in-person work provides more career opportunities.
“I wouldn’t say someone working from home is less serious about their career but being in office does provide mentorship opportunities, better networking, better relationships with colleagues, etc.,” Friggo says.
Haller tends to agree and advocates for a hybrid model.
“I don’t think we are in the place where working fully remote is helpful when climbing the ladder at an organization, as face to face is still easier for interaction and mentoring,” says Haller.
“Until companies learn to do this more effectively remotely, in-person work will be important. Hybrid would be a good solution as we evolve.”
Americans believe WFH is most appropriate for women with children
When given a list of people with different family and marital statuses, respondents were most likely to say that working from home is appropriate for women with children. The second most selected group was men with children, followed by married women, single women, and married men. The least amount of respondents say working from home is appropriate for single men.
Further, 5% of respondents say they feel it’s not right for mothers with children at home to choose to go into the office vs. work from home. The same percentage also felt this was the case for fathers with children at home.
Jessica Kats, e-commerce and retail expert at Soxy, agrees with the idea that working from home is more appropriate for some.
“Working from home is better suited for disabled people or those with a newborn at home,” says Kats. “Such people need flexible schedules to perform well. Other than that, working from home on and off can strike a balance between your work and life. Some people need the office to work more productively, while others never struggle to step out of their comfort zone. I must say, asking for work from home all the time makes employees unprofessional. It also shows that they are less serious about their careers.”
Phil Vam, owner of Microstartups.org, also feels that working from home makes more sense for some people.
“I think that working from home is indeed better suited for some people, such as stay-at-home parents and online entrepreneurs,” says Vam.
“I also think that it’s a misconception that those working from home are less serious about their careers. I think it’s actually the opposite, because they work longer hours due to blurred work-life boundaries. However, there’s one thing that can negatively impact the growth of their career, and that’s lack of networking opportunities and less face-to-face communication. In my opinion, everyone should find a balance that fits their individual work style, and of course, the job nature.”
Haller believes that everyone should have an opportunity to work from home.
“I believe that everyone should have an opportunity to work from home if this helps them achieve work-life balance,’” says Haller.
“I don’t think it’s productive to only discuss who ‘needs’ to work from home. It should be a choice for anyone. In this market, which still has more job openings than candidates, people can find remote or hybrid work if that’s what they want. If your company doesn’t offer it, they will look elsewhere.”
This survey was commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted online by SurveyMonkey on May 18, 2023. In total, 1,195 U.S. adults were surveyed. Respondents for this survey were selected from the nearly 3 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The survey was gender and age balanced using Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States.