Work from home for women is a subject that is struggling to achieve the attention it deserves. But what is a great deal about it? The bat virus has weakened the business structures, enormously shifted the work dynamics, crippled the global economy, and forced us to lock ourselves in our homes. At least we all are ‘equally’ facing the fury of the pandemic, except we are not. WFH is causing gendered implications. This article will cover why I say that and how we can overcome the situation.
Going by the stats,
- Work from home for women causes more than 50% of women to face considerable motivational challenges.
- Owing to these challenges 75% of the women end up spending longer than usual hours doing the required tasks.
The ‘why’ to these are pretty straightforward –
For generations, we have seen women in primary childcare roles. We find them relentlessly working towards homemaking and household chores. Today’s day and age have changed little about that fact. As women of the present times find themselves torn between corporate and housework, most of them do not exactly ‘enjoy’ the best of both worlds.
- 70% of women are primarily responsible for all kinds of household chores.
- 66% of women state that they hold the primary responsibility of childcare.
Worst is the fact that these figures are no revelations. And the new normal – work from home – has not moved the needle. While you might think that work from home for women provides much-needed flexibility as they no longer need to make the tough choice – it is not completely true.
The top 7 challenges of work from home for women
1. The tough choice for women working from home
We do not need any research to prove that women carry out the majority of domestic responsibilities whereas men are most likely to focus on professional work. At a time when the economy has shifted to a remote one, this poses even more challenges for her. It is more difficult than ever for her to define boundaries when she works from home.
This leads to a divided focus, compromised results, and depleting motivation. Earlier she had to cater to her family, take care of her child, do the dishes, prepare meals, assume hundred other roles, and accomplish her salaried tasks – now she has to do it all at once. And her stakes are higher than ever before.
2. The optimum conditions
It is impossible to formulate optimum conditions when working from home. For starters, her Wi-fi might stop working, the home-deliveries might suck up her time, or her neighbour might find it the best day to start renovating his roof – who knows? She may never have her environment in perfect order.
Here’s where cafes, libraries, and co-working spaces will save her work life.
3. Career growth
It is no news that males hold the majority of corporate hot seats. In pre-COVID times women already found it difficult to become a part of informal networks (where critical decisions take shape) as they are dominated by male decision-makers. This heavily affected her career trajectory and opportunities.
Work from home for women is more likely to highlight this existing inequality. Now when work happens strictly through screens, she women may find it even harder to form associations and rise the coveted corporate ladder.
4. Rewards and Recognition
We are rapidly rolling towards a new normal. Remote working will manifest in different forms in different organizations. Some companies might opt for a setting wherein some employees are closely located while the others work completely remotely. This is most likely to emphasize the bias by creating gender-based divisions.
We might see men assuming the conventional roles of being on-the-go while women employees work from home. If organizations do not see employees beyond their gender – for what they bring to the table – it can result in recognizing and rewarding male employees for being ‘present’ while women remain unseen in the background.
5. Work from home for women can be lonely
Work from home for women burdens her with a lack of social interaction. Most of us are used to working in an office full of coworkers. The brainstorming sessions, meaningful discussions, extraordinary ideas, or even the watercooler chats play a huge role in imparting a balanced work-life.
Remote working has taken that away from us rendering the work environment lonely and decelerating the will to work. Work from home for women can also put her out of the loop where she misses out on all the ‘inside’ information or is the last one to receive it.
6. Unforeseen costs
Most of the women do not have a structured home-office in place. Apart from remote employees, none of us had prepared homes for WFH environments. Work from home for women may unknowingly open floodgates of unforeseen costs. While she may successfully avoid the large expenses, the little ones can add up significantly.
Work from home for women may result in an over-exhausted, stressful, and overburdened women population. There’s only so much she can take. In trying to juggle her myriad roles, she may not always be successful. Attending zoom calls while taking care of her family and home demands are not easy to balance.
It’s a constant struggle to stand true to both roles is not exactly what she signed up for. The results can push her mental health to unhealthy limits.
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Solutions to the challenges of work from home for women – (For managers, employers, and colleagues)
The first step towards making work from home a gender-neutral and mentally thriving place for women is to acknowledge that these challenges exist in the first place. We have, unfortunately, been so used to shunning women’s voices that acknowledging their grievances and having diverse conversations is where we need to start.
Upgrade HR practices:
Organizations must rely on data to analyze how remote working is different for different employees. This evidence can prepare a firm ground for formulating HR practices that serve women employees better.
New goals and strategies for women working from home:
Organizations need to realize that the framework that worked for in-office business will be different from what will work in WFH settings. They must set new goals and frame new strategies around how they intend to extend equal opportunities, prioritize inclusivity and gender equality in remote working environments.
Challenge the biases:
Managers must challenge the norms and assumptions around the roles of men and women in household settings. Employees and employers must not allow these biases to affect their judgments regarding remote working women.
Cultural reforms in alignment with women working from home:
Organizations need to maintain a culture of inclusivity where access to information is not gendered. The first step is to avoid forming male-dominated informal networks. Ensure that everyone is part of the same loop.
These times call for educated managers who take conscious steps towards maintaining boundaries, uncompromised mental health, and gender inclusivity. They must also be trained to tackle stress and burnout.
A fair evaluation of women working from home
Managers need to modify the basics of how performance evaluation takes place at their organization. Work from home for women demands new evaluation schemes where her active participation in the domestic roles is taken into account. Businesses must focus on the results that employees put forth – all the while allowing flexibility, and making necessary amendments.
Work from home for women – Tips for women
Everyday tips that remote working women can immediately act upon:
Women working from home must stick to a schedule:
Work from home can often make us lose track of the defined schedule followed in office. But the first step to avoiding over exhaustion is reliable planning (and a to-do list). Rise early and dedicate some time to prioritize your work so you don’t end up being overwhelmed.
WFH women need an exclusive office space:
Find a room or even a corner in your home and designate it as your office space. This will help you draw a boundary between personal and professional life. Keep your daily chores outside of your office space and vice-versa.
Women working from home must prioritize mental and physical well-being:
Work from home for women is difficult and the pandemic has not made it any easier. Anxiety, depression, and physical illness are on a rise. It is, thus, more important than ever before that you prioritize yourself (and not feel guilty about it). Strictly assign time to physical activity and explore well-being options like meditation.
Speak your mind – The golden rule for women working from home:
Rise above the notions that only the ‘lady’ of the house is ‘supposed’ to take care of the domestic chores. Don’t burn yourself out – ask for help when you need it. The best way is to assign responsibilities to each family member so that the burden doesn’t fall on you alone. Remember ‘no’ is not a bad word – use it more often.
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Work from home for women is highlighting the existing gendered challenges and bringing out new ones. Prioritizing self, establishing boundaries, and saying no can help women gain control of the situation.