On the occasion of International Women’s Day last week, we discussed the importance of having more women in tech1. The female workforce requires a more flexible approach to work than its male counterpart. Prioritizing family and children often leads to a big break in women’s tech careers, following which they either have to return to work after a sabbatical or continue to extend their break to focus on their priorities. In the former scenario, women often have to start from scratch or compromise on salary, benefits, and place in the company hierarchy.
A study by Pew Research2 shows that 51% of women said that being a working mother was simultaneously detrimental to their career. Similarly, a University of Wisconsin Milwaukee study3 shows that one-third of the surveyed women had left their jobs again post returning from a pregnancy break “because companies weren’t flexible enough to accommodate work-life concerns.“
The New Workplace
Instead of pressurizing women to choose between career and families, companies need to adapt more to the demands of the modern employee. Working environments need to be more flexible when it comes to working hours and location. Flexible work hours allow employees to strike a healthy work-life balance, thus automatically curbing attrition rates.
Remote working isn’t a benefit that can be allotted to some employees. It is how new office environments must be set-up to maximise employee productivity. Employees (especially female) must be allowed to work in a setting they feel comfortable in. It is one way of letting them know that they are important and necessary in the entire scope of things.
Busting The Myth
Remote working comes with a lot of unfortunate falsehoods attached to it. Remote employees are often looked upon as part-timers, slackers and even equivalent to freelancers. Even amongst the workforce, remote working is looked like something that deprives one of being a part of the in-office culture and benefits, and team meetings. This is one of the chief reasons why women have not yet fully adjusted to the idea of remote work.
Contrary to all the myths attached to it, remote work is thriving because it is showing positive results. Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom conducted a two-year-long detailed study that found that work-from-home employees showed higher productivity than their on-premise counterparts4. Additionally, employee attrition decreased by half among remote workers as they did not waste time in commuting, took shorter breaks, and had fewer sick days.
Women, especially feel more motivated to work more when they are working at their own pace. Women who work from home were also more likely to feel confident that the company understands their needs and concerns. This significantly reduces their stress levels.
Remote Employees, Healthy Employees
Employee health is one of the most critical but overlooked advantage of remote work situations. Employees that clock in minimal or no time in commuting for work experience comparatively lower stress levels.
Working remotely is also effective in the sense that employees who use public transport are more likely to pick-up regular flu and infections from public spaces. Women who work as well as look after a family, especially, need to look after their health more carefully. A good case in point is the current Corona Virus outbreak.
As the Corona Virus outbreak is declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), more and more employees are choosing to work from home than being exposed to the deadly virus. Even Google has asked much of its global workforce (primarily in North America, Europe and the Middle East) to work remotely until April 10th5. It is a very effective step as avoiding contact with large groups can help curb the spread of the virus. Rather than risking employee health and having them take days off due to illness, companies prefer to let them work from home.
While the concept isn’t entirely new in North America and Europe, many companies in countries such as China, India, South Korea, UAE, and Iran are doing it for the very first time. It may be the beginning of new work culture for countries unfamiliar with the remote work culture and its advantages.
A cursory glance at the above points tells us that women working from home are bound to be more productive and effective. Every company’s leadership has a responsibility to ensure that its employees are provided with the best benefits which work directly in the organisation’s interest.
The discussion around women in tech has always centred around getting more girls to take up STEM disciplines as an academic option. The lesser-discussed aspect of the lack of women in tech is the fact that women face major hurdles if they want to continue their careers. Modern companies need to embrace remote work as a serious option to give their female workforce a common ground. It is from this common ground that women will be able to cross the hurdles, break the ceiling, and shatter the prejudices.
Our initiative SheWork.in, is a community-driven platform, that empowers women to take up remote working opportunities. The platform focuses on flexibility as a primary aspect for female talent, so they can choose the work they want to do on their terms. Our platform consists of profiles of over 2000 women who are looking for opportunities that offer flexible working conditions. If you would like to be a part of our ever-growing community of talented women, click here to register. If you are looking to hire the best talent specializing in niche technologies and domains, click here to find the perfect resource.