Work From Home: Working Moms Have More Odds to Beat
- Namrata Harish
- Career Development
- 09 Jun 2020
Working Mothers Tackle Woman’s Work
Biases While Telecommuting
As corporate India embraces the work-from-home model, we need to look at one sector of the population that is driving this change in the economy — working mothers.
In a recent poll conducted on JobsForHer.com, women stated that they needed organisational support as well as child-care and family support in equal measure to be able to continue working.
Important Statistics About Working Moms At This Time
With the current gig-based economy being fuelled mostly by women who are available to take up work-from-home/part-time/freelance jobs, this is an important fact to consider.
Moreover, JobsForHer’s DiverHersity Survey found that 2019 was a great year for work-from-home moms. Around 79% of all companies — large enterprises, small businesses and startups — had implemented flexible work timing policies. This is a vast improvement over the figures from the previous year.
Nevertheless, there still remains more work to be done. Nearly 20% of Working Mothers responded to a poll on JobsForHer.com saying they needed more flexible policies to continue to work.
Working mothers make up a significant part of the labour force, accounting for nearly one-third (32 percent) of all employed women.
The LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2020 has found that working moms are constantly daunted by family commitments, lack of support, travel-related challenges, and an inability to keep up with technology changes.
Added to that, most women opt to work part-time so they can take care of their children or other people. For childbirth and other caretaking responsibilities, a majority of Indian working women drop out of the workforce.
Diversity and inclusion departments in many companies are working hard to bring these women back to work. But with the Coronavirus pandemic, the equation seems to have changed, and not in the women’s favour.
Working Mom’s Dilemma
In the new remote working scenario, working women face more challenges as they try to balance work-life in the physical space of home. Here, imbalances between genders persist in what has been called the “invisible work” of parenting, because working from home has led to the assertion of traditional behaviours.
Working mothers have suddenly found themselves trying to finish complex work tasks, home-schooling their children, and fulfilling house responsibilities - all at once.
In fact, research conducted by the Lean In organisation during the period that most organisations worked remotely around the world found that women are bearing the brunt of ‘labour’.
Women with full-time jobs, a partner, and children report spending a combined 71 hours a week on child care, elder care, and household chores — compared with 51 hours for men.
A quarter of them are now grappling with physical symptoms of severe anxiety, over and above everything else.
Find out why work-life balance is so important for working women here.
A vast majority of working women around the world have so far had to pull a double-shift — going to work and managing the home. The operating factor here was that many of them could clearly delineate the difference between the workspace and the household through physical boundaries.
With work being shifted to the home space, women have to deal with both at the same time and in the same place, leading to them having to pull a “double-double shift”, as Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Founder of Lean In, puts it.
“We know that when things get hard, women get hit the hardest,” she says in the report published with the research. “The double whammy of what happens in the workforce and then what happens to demands on home help has never been higher.”
In an interview about Lean In’s research, Sandberg said, “Our data shows women who are working full-time are doing 71 hours a week of caregiving and housework, that’s 20 more hours than their husbands. Twenty hours a week is half a job. So I think this is a moment where we need to view what’s going on through the lens of gender. We have to view it that way because there’s no other way that we’re going to make the right decisions and take care of women as they need to be taken care of.”
The clear point here is that women need equal opportunities to do their work professionally and get the same kind of and the number of chances to rise up the ladder.
If that is getting systematically difficult for women as remote working continues, then it is up to the organisations to ensure that systemic changes are made to support this workforce.
Learn more about policies that help working mothers here.
What Can Companies Do at This Time for Working Mothers?
Many organisations have stepped up and introduced innovative ways to help working mothers manage work-life balance while working remotely.
Some measures include:
- Offering the option of flexible timings to help working parents better manage work and balance their time
- Giving working mothers opportunities for self-care through virtual sessions on mental health, meditation, healthy eating and nutrition, parenting, family and relationships, engaging kids while working from home, tax and financial planning, etc
- Making space for open forums where working moms can share concerns and experiences
- Encouraging managers to begin conversations on awareness of challenges faced by working women and drive empathy and compassion in their teams
- Ensuring that an inclusive working culture is maintained
At the same time, working mothers across corporate India have spoken up in solidarity with other women in the same boat to offer sympathy and share tips on how they’ve innovated to make the best of a bad situation
Find out how JobsForHer and similar companies are working to ensure this balance for their employees in this BBC podcast.
What Can Working Mothers Do?
For women to succeed in the competitive business landscape, it is imperative that women become comfortable giving equal weightage to our careers as we do to our other obligations, roles and responsibilities.
Neha Bagaria, Founder & CEO of JobsForHer, believes that for women to be able to do that, they need to build a thick skin and a strong support system.
“Until we do, we won’t be able to create the ecosystem required to support this challenging journey to the top of the corporate ladder. We will need to rally the troops and have our backbone structure in place - parents, in-laws, extended family, friends, and yes, husband too. We will need to stop caring about people who don’t understand and help the people whom we care about to understand. We will need to make sacrifices and compromises about being there for everyone all the time and having everything perfect. And we will need to stop feeling apologetic about it. When you’re at work, don’t feel guilty you’re not at home; and when you’re at home, don’t feel guilty you’re not at work,” she says
At JobsForHer, with 80% of our workforce being working mothers, we understand that this time of crisis requires all of us to be hands-on and drive the right change to make their work easier and seamless.
Neha gives 5 tips that have been helping her stay focused and productive while working from home:
- Stick to a schedule: Make a schedule for yourself and your children and stick to that from morning to evening, so that everyone knows what is expected and at what time.
- Find your workspace or work corner: Make sure that there is one part of the house that you can designate as your workspace. The other family members should know not to disturb you when you're in your workspace.
- Have the conversation, no matter how difficult, with everyone you're living with: Tell your husband, children and in-laws why your work is very important and why you need to stay productive during these times.
- Enlist the support of your life partner: Like Sheryl Sandberg says, make your life partner a real partner. There is no chore that is meant only to be done by women or one only by men. Make sure that household work is equally divided between both.
- Make some time for ME time: This is extremely important to refuel your energies, because only then can you be there for all those around you. Whether you need to meditate, sing, dance, sit quietly in a corner or talk to your friends, make sure that you make that time for yourself.