Parents benefit most from digitally-enabled remote working, according to research from Accenture.
Half of mothers surveyed (49%) said digital technology gives them control over where and when they work, compared with 43% of non-mothers. Four in 10 (43%) said technology allows them a greater ability to manage their non-work commitments, compared with a quarter (26%) of non-mothers.
Fathers also cited the benefits of digital. Almost half (47%) of fathers enjoy the freedom that technology allows, compared with 42% of non-father respondents. Fathers said that digital technology increased their ability to manage ‘non-work’ commitments such as childcare (39% of fathers compared with 24% of non-fathers).
Emma McGuigan, senior managing director at Accenture, said employers need to recognise the potentially powerful role technology can play in helping parents balance life and work. “I’ve seen firsthand how the increased use of digital technologies has transformed the workplace,” she said. “The impact this has had on working parents’ ability to find that elusive balance between their personal and professional lives cannot be underestimated.
“As a mum of three with a challenging work schedule I rely on digital technology to help me work efficiently and flexibly while balancing my family commitments – I can be on a conference call in the office or at the school gates waiting to pick my children up. Digital drives a level of flexibility that can improve our working lives immensely, and for this reason I encourage my team to keep pace with the latest technologies and continuously hone their digital skills to collaborate and learn.”
However, Jonathan Swan, head of research at Working Families, warned that technology needs to be considered carefully so it doesn't interfere with work/life balance.
“Mothers and fathers can benefit from technology to help them integrate work and family life, offering workplace and worktime flexibility,” he told HR magazine. “But it needs to be managed: using tech doesn’t mean that you are available all the time, any time. We know from our Modern Families Index that some employees, in particular fathers, struggle with the idea of asking their manager to put boundaries on work calls and emails. Technology, well-managed, can be a great tool to help employees get a good work/life fit, but that good management is vital.”
The report also explored the challenges still facing women (as the gender still most likely to take time off to care for a child) in progressing their careers. Almost half of mothers (47%) felt it became harder to get promoted since becoming a parent. This was despite 72% saying they aspired to be promoted, compared with 62% of non-mothers.