The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new set of challenges to the workplace, particularly for women. Harvard economist Claudia Goldin’s new book Career and Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey toward Equity sheds light on the obstacles that women, especially those with a college education, face in the labor market. In her book, Goldin demonstrates how the need to work long hours outside the home at prescribed times is one of the most important challenges for women, perpetuating disparities between the genders. Fortunately, remote work offers an important opportunity to level the gender playing field.
Greedy Work and Women’s Disadvantage
Many professions today are “greedy,” paying disproportionately more for long hours and weekend work. This has a disproportionate impact on women, who often have to choose between advancing their careers and caring for their families. This results in a vicious cycle where women are paid less, receive fewer promotions, and have a harder time balancing work and family.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges, due to the dual burden of work and caregiving. With schools and daycare centers closed, many women have had to take on additional responsibilities for the care of their children and elderly relatives. This has made it harder for women to balance their work and family responsibilities, leading to increased stress and burnout.
The Silver Lining: Remote and Hybrid Work as a Solution
However, there is hope. The growth of remote and hybrid work may be the pandemic’s silver lining, offering a solution to the tension between career and family. Remote work eliminates the need to be in the office at prescribed times, allowing women to better balance their work and family responsibilities. This can help women advance their careers without sacrificing their family life. No wonder that Appcast’s “Recruitment Marketing Benchmark Report” found that due to increased benefits and remote work opportunities, the labor force expanded by 2.5 million workers in .
But remote work is not a silver bullet. To fully leverage remote work, complementary policies are needed, especially adequate childcare. Without adequate childcare, remote work will not spare women from the double duty of full-time employment and managing household and childcare responsibilities. Women will still face the same challenges they did before the pandemic, only in a different form.
Childcare Support Case Studies
Childcare support policies are essential for companies to help solve the work-life balance challenge faced by women. These policies can help women balance their work and family responsibilities and enable them to participate more fully in the workplace. Companies that invest in these policies can reap significant benefits, such as increased employee engagement, higher productivity, and a more diverse and inclusive workplace. That’s why I strongly advise my clients who I helped transition to hybrid and remote work to ensure appropriate childcare support.
One of my clients, a regional insurance company, recognized the importance of childcare support policies and introduced a flexible work schedule, which allowed employees to work from home when necessary. The company also introduced a childcare reimbursement program, which covered the cost of childcare for employees who needed it. This policy was well-received by employees, and the company saw an increase in employee engagement and productivity.
A late-stage SaaS startup introduced a paid parental leave policy that allowed employees to take time off to care for their children without sacrificing their salary. The company also introduced a flexible work schedule, which allowed employees to work from home when necessary. This approach led to a boost in morale and decreased turnover, while also improving recruitment of underrepresented talent into the tech workforce of this company.
A retail company recognized the importance of childcare support policies and introduced a flexible work schedule, which allowed corporate office employees to work from home when necessary. The company also introduced a subsidized daycare program, which provided employees with access to affordable childcare. Similar to the other two companies, this one saw a reduction in churn and significant improvement in employee motivation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges to the workplace, particularly for women. However, the growth of remote and flexible work may be the pandemic’s silver lining, offering a solution to the tension between career and family. To fully leverage remote work, complementary policies are needed, especially adequate childcare. It is time for companies to invest in childcare and make remote work work for women.
The growth of remote work may be the pandemic's silver lining, offering a solution to the tension between career and family for women, if companies provide adequate childcare benefits Click To Tweet
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Dr. Gleb Tsipursky was lauded as “Office Whisperer” and “Hybrid Expert” by The New York Times for helping leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio. In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/newsletter/.