As an HR professional, I’ve spent the last two-and-a-bit years having to pivot my work to help business professionals navigate the choppy waters of the pandemic. A huge part of this was remote working and conducting meetings over Zoom and Teams.
Fast forward to today, and the concept of hybrid working is a hot topic due to Jacob Rees-Mogg campaigning to get civil servants back to the office full time. And while JRM may not be a bastion of feminism, he may have a point. Hybrid and remote working could be holding women back.
Many complaints brought to HR, from both employers and employees, are regarding commitment to the role, and sometimes this can be unfairly aimed at women, particularly mothers. Even when at the office, there can be an assumption that the woman is ready to drop her clients to change a nappy or sip a latte at the soft play.
If she’s doing work from home, she could find that bosses and colleagues are starting to resent her because they believe that she’s not pulling her weight, instead using those extra hours at home to sing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’.
On the flip side, there’s the ‘hidden load’ which predominantly falls on women. Household chores, caring for family members, emotional labour – these roles often land in a female partner’s lap, and if she’s physically present at home, she will probably end up doing this on top of her paid role.
This leads me to another key issue we deal with for employees of all genders: burnout. Working from home, contrary to popular belief, tends to make people work harder because they feel guilty about not being at their desks. When home and work are the same four walls, it’s more difficult to switch off.
At a time when women are making strides towards equality – closing the gender pay gap and taking more seats on boards – the last thing we need is a digital ceiling replacing a glass one.
So, let’s log off, jump in the car and get back to the office. It’s exactly the tonic we need.