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Remote working doesn’t produce lazy workers: So why are they facing discrimination?

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read
Remote Working Doesn T Produce Lazy Workers So Why Are They Facing Discrimination

Despite what some may think, remote and hybrid employees work just as hard as those who work full-time, on-site, according to the latest research.

Diversity Council Australia’s (DCA) upcoming Inclusion@Work Index revealed that those who take advantage of flexible working work just as hard and are equally committed and innovative as their full-time, on-site counterparts.

In fact, the research found that they performed slightly better in these areas:

  • Willingness to work hard: 40 per cent of flex workers and 39 per cent of non-flex workers reported they were always willing to work extra hard to help their team succeed.
  • Innovation: 31 per cent of flex workers and 30 per cent of non-flex workers reported their team always looks for new ideas to solve problems.
  • Effectiveness: 39 per cent of both flex workers and non-flex workers felt their team always works together effectively.
  • Customer service: 40 per cent of flex workers and 38 per cent of non-flex workers reported their team always provides excellent customer service.

Not only that, but the report found that those who were able to take advantage of flexible working were almost four times as likely to feel that work had a positive impact on their mental wellbeing.

“A diverse workforce has diverse needs. Access to flexible working options is crucial to fostering more inclusive workplaces where everyone can thrive,” said DCA chief executive Lisa Annese.

“We now have proof that flex workers are just as hardworking, effective, and innovative as non-flex workers, debunking the myth of the ‘lazy’ flex worker. The evidence is clear: if you give people the support and flexibility they need, your employees will flourish, and so will your business.”

Despite these positive outcomes, flexible workers still face unfair discrimination and harassment. Twenty-nine per cent of flex workers reported facing these issues in 2023, 9 per cent higher than those who didn’t work flexibly.

Perceptions haven’t really changed, even through the pandemic, where remote and hybrid working became so widespread. In 2019, 31 per cent of flexible workers reported discrimination or harassment.

These negative stigmas are reported to disproportionately affect those with caregiver responsibilities and those from marginalised backgrounds. Seventy-four per cent of carers utilised flexible working arrangement, versus 58 per cent without these responsibilities.

Meanwhile, 71 per cent of women accessed flexible working options, compared to just 56 per cent of men. Similarly, 71 per cent of workers with disabilities utilised these options, compared to 63 per cent without, and 70 per cent of Indigenous Australians, compared to 64 per cent who aren’t.

With many marginalised groups taking advantage of flexible working, these negative perceptions hit them the hardest. Employers should look to stamp out any ill feelings towards flexible workers to ensure wellbeing is upheld.

After all, the outcomes are clearly not lacking. Kim Crowder put it well when talking to Flex Jobs: “It is important for employees to be viewed through a lens not skewed by location.”

“It is unreasonable to suggest that an employee who works from home is any less dedicated than an employee who works in-office; likewise, it is unreasonable to suggest that an employee who works in-office is automatically of a higher calibre or more devoted to their work than a colleague who works remotely.”



According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, discrimination occurs when one individual or group of people is regarded less favourably than another because of their origins or certain personality traits. When a regulation or policy is unfairly applied to everyone yet disadvantages some persons due to a shared personal trait, that is also discrimination.

Hybrid working

In a hybrid work environment, individuals are allowed to work from a different location occasionally but are still required to come into the office at least once a week. With the phrase "hybrid workplace," which denotes an office that may accommodate interactions between in-person and remote workers, "hybrid work" can also refer to a physical location.

Remote working

Professionals can use remote work as a working method to do business away from a regular office setting. It is predicated on the idea that work need not be carried out in a certain location to be successful.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.