The hybrid workplace – a female focus
There’s no question that remote working and the hybrid workspace have benefited our health, finances, and leisure time. However, we face new challenges creating a boundary between work and family time as they start to occupy the same physical space. Any significant upheaval in the way we work will also eventually reveal specific challenges for different groups of workers, and we need to get ahead of them.
How remote working affects women
An issue that is very real but currently quite difficult to quantify is how long-term remote working will affect women. Historically, women have faced numerous challenges in moving to senior positions, which now may be compounded by imbalances in home responsibilities. As a result, there is widespread concern that all of the work undertaken to narrow the gender pay gap will be lost as women choose flexible options that may impact their visibility in the workplace. To avoid this, we must urgently remodel and clarify routes of progression and remove the stigma around employees who choose to work flexibly.
A hybrid workplace or flexible working has actually been possible for more than twenty years. Yet until the pandemic hit, only about 5% of office workers in any global employment market regularly worked from home. This low uptake was due to a combination of factors, including employer apprehension and unreliable technology. Now that employees have proved that they can be just as productive at home and the necessary infrastructure is in place, most workers have stated that they want to continue to work from home several days a week. However, this will inevitably result in a less clear delineation between work and leisure time and family responsibilities.
Women in the workplace
Undoubtedly, a family’s approach to household chores has modernized since the 1970s, when it was rarely questioned that women would assume most of the burden and act as the default parent. However, Grow’s recent Women in the Workplace survey asked heterosexual couples for their views to ascertain just how far we’ve come. It found that many believe that things are still unequal, seeing that women in these households still take on more of the family responsibilities. However, they also found a gap in perception – over 80% of male respondents stated that housework was shared equally, while only 40% of women believed the same.
The role of employers in the hybrid workplace
Employers who demand that workers return to the office full time will soon find that they are missing out on the best talent, including talented women for whom remote or hybrid working, has been simply life-changing. Public employment services have watched with interest as the number of roles in the recruitment market that offer home working grew in the last year, increasing the chances of achieving high employment rates. For example, Jobsite Ladders reports that in the US, jobs paying over $80,000 per year that could be carried out remotely increased from 4% in early 2020 to 15% in Q3 2021. Labor market solutions in pandemic times had to withstand constant fluctuations. Now they also need to support fairness and equal opportunity.
Our employment solutions
Our solutions for public employment services and private sector staffing agencies are ready to support profiling and searches that include preferences for hybrid working as the working population finally gains its voice. Eventually, we hope that all companies move towards recognizing and rewarding real achievement over the pervasive “long hours” culture, or presenteeism, that took root in the 1980s. It has taken thirty years and a global health crisis to finally overturn this outdated perception of commitment and success. The reshaping occurring now within the private sector and government organizations could similarly last for decades, so it’s imperative that we get it right.
Employers can support women by designing transparent policies and performance management processes that communicate the desired qualities and achievements that will lead to their progression. Furthermore, regular reviews are needed, with feedback from staff on any points that leave them disadvantaged. Additionally, training in areas such as cognitive bias will ensure that senior staff feel equipped to make decisions based on fact and judge performance using a more level playing field.
As Public Employment strategists and agency recruiters seek to influence their markets to accept and embrace the new working realities, our Employment Analytics platform can provide robust data to support the need for change. There will naturally be trial and error over the coming years. However, greater transparency in decision-making and a commitment to strive for policies that benefit all should mean that we can continue improving both the way we work and how we live.
Find out more about WCC solutions
You can find out more about the full range of solutions that WCC has created to support Public Employment Services and Staffing Agencies here.