de Laat, K. (2023). Remote Work and Post-Bureaucracy: Unintended Consequences of Work Design for Gender Inequality. ILR Review, 76(1), 135–159

In-depth interviews with IT employees (N = 84) working under two types of work design—a post-bureaucratic work design labeled “agile,” and a bureaucratic work design labeled “waterfall”—are used to examine gendered patterns in the adoption of remote work. Interviews reveal an unintended consequence of the agile model: It promotes a physical orientation that induces on-site work. Agile is gender-inegalitarian, with more women than men working remotely despite its perceived unacceptability, and low numbers of employees working remotely overall. By contrast, workers within a waterfall work design express a digital orientation to work and feel empowered to work remotely. The waterfall model is associated with gender egalitarianism; most employees opt to work remotely, and men and women do so in even numbers. Findings suggest that when compared to the post-bureaucratic work design, the bureaucratic work design provides more flexibility. This article refines our understanding of barriers to remote work and provides a lens on the gender dynamics underlying work design.