The Privilege to Slow Walk

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to rapidly shift to remote work arrangements, exposing inequities between management and non-management employees in work-from-home arrangements. According to survey data courtesy of the Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes from the National Bureau of Economic Research, 62% of non-managers work exclusively on-site, compared to 45% of managers, resulting in a significant disparity in remote work arrangements.

One of the main factors contributing to this inequity is that many managerial tasks for office jobs can be done remotely, giving managers more seniority and internal political pull to obtain flexible schedules. While this certainly benefits management, non-managers aren’t so lucky. In fact, the nature of their work often means they’re likelier to be pulled back into working on-site.

Pay differentials are another factor at play. Managers make almost twice as much as non-managers, with the average manager’s pay being $96,000 per year versus the average non-management compensation of $51,000. Higher pay often correlates with larger homes, and such homes are also more likely to have better home offices. This offers a clear advantage in remote work arrangements that is out of reach for many in non-management roles.

Another factor that compounds this inequity is that a larger percentage of managers have young children than non-managers. Working from home can be especially important and more available to parents, and as such, the ability to work from home can be seen as an implicit benefit for managers with young children.

Sadly, it’s not unexpected that factors related to diversity also play into this phenomenon. Inequity along various lines such as race and gender exist as it relates to who tends to be returning to the office, with management positions being likelier to be comprised of white males. Such disparities only show that companies should take a close, hard look at their remote work policies to ensure they’re inclusive and equitable for all employees, regardless of their position or demographics.

At the end of the day, inequitable work-from-home arrangements between management and non-management employees deserve serious consideration. Policies regarding remote work should be inclusive for all employees for whom on-site presence isn’t truly necessary, and companies need to reevaluate their policies and address the various factors that contribute to inequity. And if you need assistance with hammering out equitable policies or examining existing ones, Insight Squad is here to help.

Lynn Freshour is a Research Director and reigning data nerd at GVC, an inclusion business strategy firm, as well as at Insight Squad, a DEI data analytics firm.