Are Our Work Habits Widening Pay Gaps?

Written by Martin James Admin

After the shockwaves of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s safe to say that remote working is here to stay. It was recorded by the Office for National Statistics that 36% of working adults work from home at least one day a week, with many people spending their entire working life in the comfort of their home. Whilst this transition has brought an array of benefits to many employees (saving money on commuting, spending more time with the family, a more comfortable environment), there is a range of workers that are suffering from our benefit.

Indeed, there is a smattering of roles that rely on trade from employees that attend work in person. With these roles usually being underpaid, it seems that our new model of professional life could be hurting businesses that need traffic the most. With concern for the widening gap between high and low paid salaries, we take a look at workers that could be hit the hardest.

1. Office Maintenance Staff

As fewer people are occupying large office spaces (with many leases being terminated altogether) the demand for cleaners, gardeners, and window cleaners is likely to plummet. There are thousands of cleaning companies with staff that rely on minimum wage to get by and haven’t had the opportunity to develop their skillset. As a result, they may struggle to find other work.

2. Security Guards

If there is no workspace to protect then security guards are no longer needed. What’s more, thousands of them are at risk after more offices downsize to accommodate the new working model.

3. Food Trade

Homeworking has had catastrophic effects on many local cafes, food vans, and sandwich bars that rely on the lunchtime trade from workers. For many, the early afternoon hours can make up a day’s worth of business. Without the footfall, they are inevitably struggling.

4. Childcare

With more employees at home than ever before, the age-old problem of childcare has been somewhat solved for many individuals. Nonetheless, the decreased demand for nannies, nurseries, and after school clubs will leave many people in the childcare sector struggling.

Whilst we’ve seen the government crackdown on civil servants that are using remote working as an excuse to look after their children, it’s unclear whether the rest of the country will follow suit.

5. Public Transport

Fewer people flooding to public transport might be an advantage for commuters, but it’s the rail, tram, and bus staff that are suffering. With fewer travellers comes fewer tickets sold and fewer opportunities for young people to start in the lower ranks of the services.

6. Pubs and Bars

We might be out of the old-fashioned mentality that every day’s wages should be spent in the pub, but many of us enjoy a visit there after work occasionally. With employees using remote working more and more, local punters have become occasional visitors and social gatherings with colleagues are less frequent.

All the employees in the industries mentioned above must also deal with unfair financial disadvantages compared to those that work from home. These include costs for travel fares, petrol, and childcare, all of which are hiking in the current cost-of-living crisis. It seems that lower-paid workers are not only losing trade from the remote working model, but they’re also being made less capable to cope with the ongoing issue of inflation.

The working landscape has certainly changed and, as always, there are benefits and drawbacks with any change, particularly in business. At The Martin James Network, we encourage people to use the services that they value highly so we can ensure their ongoing success. We suggest adopting a hybrid working model so that you can strike a balance between comfort, productivity, and responsibility.

But perhaps more than anything, we want to shed more light on the ever-increasing gap between high and low paid salaries in the UK and how we can do more to prevent it.