Work from Home for Women: Is it just women who prefer Work from Home?
June 19, 2023
We often come across articles stating a certain percentage of “women employees” left their jobs as they were asked to come to office. One recent example is the case of TCS, where a mass resignation of women employees occurred due to the request for in-office work. These incidents raise an important question:
Is it just women who are choosing to resign in these situations? To shed light on this matter, let’s examine some statistics.
- As of 2021: About 68% of women said their preferred post-pandemic workplace would be remote, compared with 57% of men
- In 2022: 43% of men said they were willing to return to the office on a permanent basis, compared to just 28% of women.
So to answer the question, yes, women do prefer work from home when compared to men.
Why do Women prefer Work from Home?
We can all agree on one thing: men and women do not have the same experience in the workplace including work from home for women. Even to this day, gender bias is still deeply ingrained, even within the highest-ranking companies. It is evident that we have a long way to go in addressing this issue.Hence it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when it comes to work model preferences, men and women have different perspectives and preferences.
According to a report by McKinsey & Company, these are a few common factors that influence women’s preferences in the workplace.
Work- life balance:
In the context of work from home for women, one fundamental aspect that comes to mind is the family dynamic. Women often have the ability to allocate more time to their family members and achieve a better work-life balance compared to what would be possible if they had to commute to the office and work.
Women also tend to prefer working from home over working in the office due to fewer interruptions compared to their home environment. To a certain extent, they have more control over their surroundings at home.
Another influential factor in their preference for working from home, which is not surprising, is the absence of having to deal with microaggressions. Women of color, individuals with different sexualities, or those with disabilities have expressed that they can truly be themselves and feel more comfortable expressing their identity while working from home.
What does work from home for women really look like? A paradox
The concept of work from home for women can be seen as a paradox, as it encompasses both empowering and challenging aspects. On one hand, remote work can offer women flexibility, autonomy, and an opportunity to balance professional and personal responsibilities. It can provide a respite from traditional workplace gender dynamics, allowing women to create their own work environments and schedules.
However, the reality of work from home for women can also be complex. Women often face additional caregiving and household responsibilities, which can make it challenging to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. The blurring of these boundaries can lead to an increased workload and difficulty in achieving work-life balance. Women may still face expectations to fulfill traditional gender roles, such as being the primary caregivers for children or handling household chores, even while working remotely.
Moreover, the lack of in-person interactions and visibility in remote work settings can sometimes hinder career advancement opportunities for women. Without the same level of face-to-face networking and visibility as their male counterparts, women may experience barriers to professional growth and advancement. Remote work can also contribute to feelings of isolation and a potential loss of connection with colleagues and organizational culture.
How can organizations make work from home for women more successful?
Even though work from home may seem like an ideal option for women, there are a lot of factors that worsen the situation of work from home for women. It makes us as a society realize the existing gender inequality in our society, where women are usually handling both her household as well as her work.
So how can the organization work towards making work from home for women more effective.
Collect and Analyze data :
Instead of making assumptions, it is crucial to collect and analyze data to examine the effects of remote working at different career levels, including entry-level, mid-career, and executive positions. By utilizing analytics and adopting evidence-based HR practices, organizations can gain insights into any gaps or disparities that may exist. Data plays a vital role in revealing areas of improvement, particularly in relation to diversity and gender equality.
Change with rather than against your culture.
To navigate the integration of remote working within organizational culture, it is important to conduct analysis and surveys that consider the unique cultural dynamics of the organization. Simply adopting technology tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams does not automatically foster a culture of remote work. The question to address is “How should we incorporate remote working into our culture?” This exploration should encompass considerations of gender equality and other dimensions of diversity.
Understand that remote working does not occur in a vacuum.
Recognize that remote working does not exist in isolation. Actively challenge any ingrained assumptions about gender norms in caregiving roles, ensuring that these norms do not shape how managers and colleagues perceive remote working for men and women or set expectations based on gender stereotypes.
Avoid creating a hierarchical divide:
If a significant portion of the workforce is remote while others work from the office, it is essential to avoid creating a distinction or privileging those in the office. Organizations should strive for fairness and collaboration, ensuring equal flexibility and access to a hybrid work model for all employees.
Educate managers about the evolving dynamics of remote work:
Managers play a pivotal role in shaping organizational culture, and it is crucial to provide them with training on topics such as burnout, work stress, work-life balance, and inclusion. They should be briefed on appropriate knowledge boundaries when employees are working remotely and encouraged to consider the boundaries between private and personal space.
Shift the focus towards output:
Enhance performance evaluation processes and metrics to emphasize output-oriented assessment, particularly during periods of remote work. It is important to separate assessments from lockdown periods when childcare was unavailable, acknowledging the unique challenges faced by employees during such times.
In conclusion, this discussion highlights the impact of gender biases and societal factors on individuals’ preferences, including the work-from-home preferences for women. It is crucial to acknowledge that these preferences are not solely a reflection of inherent inclinations but are influenced by systemic gender biases within our patriarchal society. By recognizing and challenging these biases, we can strive to create a more equitable and inclusive environment that enables individuals, including women, to make choices based on their genuine preferences and aspirations, including the option to work from home.