Since the onset of the pandemic, millions of women have been pushed out of the workforce resulting in losses of up to $800 billion, revealed an Oxfam report. While many were laid off, some were forced to quit their careers to provide childcare as kids were home from school and facilities like daycare and creches were shut for long periods of time.
But now as countries scramble to reopen workplaces after COVID-19, there is a looming question of the changes to be made to make these spaces more equitable for women. New research by Catalyst revealed that retaining remote work as an option could be crucial to keep women in the workforce. The non-profit organization conducted a global survey of nearly 7,400 women and discovered that women who have childcare responsibilities are 32% less likely to leave their jobs if they can work from home.
Working mothers and remote work
When COVID hit last year and work-from-home became the norm, many working mothers felt grateful for the opportunity as they could spend more time with their children.
With long commutes taken out of the equation, remote working freed up more time for many employees. But with school closures, that also meant having to actively engage with children for longer periods of time with school closures. A study by Brookings, an American think tank, showed that full-time working mothers spent 50% more time each day caring for children than fathers working full-time. It also revealed that women continue to shoulder a disproportionate share of the childcare burden. Hence, providing access to continue remote work during times like these could help vulnerable mothers to provide for their families and be there for their children.
With COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, many workplaces are trying to coax employees back to the office. Surprisingly, many organizations have found themselves up against employees threatening to quit if remote work is not offered as an option. This is corroborated by another interesting finding from the Catalyst study that nearly a third of all employees said they are less likely to look for another job in the next year if they’re able to work remotely.
For companies interested in creating a more gender-equal workplace, the study recommends remote work policies that detail expectations at every level. It also suggests investing in stipends for employees who need additional childcare and upskilling managers to head teams in a more inclusive manner.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)