LONDON, Nov 11 (Businesshala) – Bank of England policymaker Kathryn Mann said on Thursday that women who look to their careers mostly work from home risk suffering now that a large number of male workers are returning to the office .
Mann, a member of the BoE’s monetary policy committee, said online communication was unable to replicate the spontaneous office conversations that were critical to recognition and advancement in many workplaces.
“Virtual platforms are far better than they were five years ago. But instantaneous, spontaneity – which are difficult to replicate in a virtual setting,” she told an event for women in finance organized by the Financial News newspaper.
Mann said the difficulty in accessing childcare and the COVID-related disruption to schooling meant that many women continued to work from home, while men returned to the office.
“There is a possibility of two tracks. There are people who are on the virtual track and those who are on the physical track. And I’m worried that we’ll see those two tracks develop, and we’ll get to know a lot more about who’s going to be on which track, unfortunately,” she said.
Mann was a professor of economics and chief economist at Citi and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) before joining the BoE in September.
British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak warned young workers in August that if they work from home they miss out on building skills and working relationships.
British businesses said last month that 60% of their employees had fully returned to their normal place of work, but the proportion varied widely by region. According to the Office for National Statistics, in professional services, 34% of employees are in the office, 24% are working entirely from home, and 35% are in mixed work.
This data does not give a breakdown by sex. Earlier ONS data showed that women were more likely than men to work from home, giving them more time to work with fewer distractions. But men said that working from home helped them come up with new ideas, while women considered it a hindrance. (Reporting by David Milliken Editing by William Schomberg)