The smoldering ruin of go-go, hyper-connected office culture has left in its wake the Covid-19 epidemic. It has been a blessing and a curse for women.
Working from home has allowed women to enjoy more flexibility, given them a greater chance of being evaluated on their output, and in some cases has seen greater engagement. It has exposed to men the glaring inequalities that have previously existed in the workplace, a positive sign. The fact that women are also the default caregivers at home has been highlighted.
While the burden women face is nothing new, they were already working what sociologists described as the second shift, taking a disproportionate amount of household chores and care.
The research shows that women prefer remote work more than men, with some 69% saying they prefer it. Women are not coming back to the office. There is no need for formal office wear, more control over their schedule, and avoiding office politics are some of the reasons women prefer remote work.
This trend should concern HR but also force it to respond
It should come as no surprise. It has been known for a while that places of work tend to be designed to meet the needs of men at the top of office/work hierarchy. Many of the women and people of color who say they prefer remote work have watched for years as less qualified managers delegated and nagged people rather than be productive themselves.
This is an observation that should worry HR, but it should be forced to respond.
Given the preference for remote work among high-talent women and the continued demands on their time, HRDs need to ask themselves what they can do to “reALLY” help women succeed in the new remote-first workforce.
Putting people first
We put our people first at my organization. We make sure that our women employees have the flexibility and support that they need to do their best work at home.
It is our belief that work shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all occupation. We have been able to tap into a more diverse talent pool by recognizing the unique needs of our people.
Women who were left out of the recruitment pool because they thought they would never get a shot now know that location, elder care, and traditional work hours can be tailored to their individual needs.
Management skills are often lacking inside organizations when working from home. The systems and processes were based on Facetime and what workers were doing. One observer recently wrote that remote work makes who-does and who- doesn’t actually do work more obvious.
When employees are able to work from home, they become more focused on output and delivery. Quality output that meets the deadline will be achieved if someone wants to work in an asynchronous manner to accommodate the demands at home.
The gain of diversity
We have seen tremendous results at our organization. Thanks to an output-focused, remote-first work environment that emphasizes flexibility, we have brought more women and women of color into the organization and into leadership roles.
These top performers don’t have to deal with the sad reality of micro-aggressions and other daily workplace friction that can affect even the best-run companies.
It has made us focus on getting the work done in the most productive way possible and forced us to focus on transparency, expectation-setting, feedback, coaching, and openness.
It isn’tremote work for every company. In the end, it has created more balance, fairness, and more equitable practices in our organization. It’s allowed us to live our first core value, which is that we are human first.