New Challenges Post-Pandemic

New Challenges Post-Pandemic

While it is true that a woman is required to shoulder her personal responsibilities, we however, need to take her in our stride by supporting her and showing the path.


The COVID-19 Pandemic came with lots of challenges for all but slightly more for Women, be it working women or Homemakers.


Working Women played and performed both the responsibilities from the Conference room to the dining room. It came with frequent interruptions, inconveniences and more emotional responsibilities. Online classes for children was the biggest and additional work for her. Though this could be looked into by men, it is somehow always the women’s responsibility first.


This worked to increase the doubt and confidence of the reporting manager whether she can perform that new dual responsibility well or not. As the burden that came into being owing to the pandemic was not equally distributed, women are required to pay more attention to their domestic responsibilities during WFH/remote working as compared to their male colleagues. Even before the pandemic, She was always needed to prove themselves as compatible as He. The persistent irrationality in corporate growth and pay scale before the pandemic has only worsened postpandemic.


The Logic given for such an increasing Gap is “She” cannot perform during WFH/ Remote working due to lots of house burden and duties. It has given another excuse to the corporates to increase the “Pink recession “. It is also impacting hiring women where WFH/remote working is applicable. For centuries, it has not been a cakewalk for women, but the current scenario has significantly damaged her progress path. It took them too far from the growth path.


On LinkedIn, there were posts by several women professionals that they are single mothers and need to take care of their families and have lost their jobs during the Pandemic. They seek support to get a job so that they can respectfully perform their personal duties. That is the sad thing of post COVID when companies were listing out names for manpower reduction, they first targeted women basis the perception that they are facing interruptions and challenges due to WFH/ remote working which will result in less output.


Perception/doubt of the corporates towards working women during WFH/ Remote working is not the solution. Corporates are needed to come up with some strong action else the growth GAP between Male/Female professionals will increase with every passing day and will take us back to medieval times. In such a situation, we are not able to utilise the female population in the corporate world. This is the time when hands should be extended to take them together from the Dining Hall to the Conference room again.


Flexible Working Hours


A key strategy that employers can use is Flexibility in working. It can be a support tool for women, particularly for working/single mothers to manage things or balance professional and home duties. Due to the extended period of study from home for the children, women are not able to concentrate on meetings, office tasks, as they need to give priority to their children as well. During this period, they need to play an important role for their children and also take care of the children’s mental health and engagement owing to isolation during the lockdown. Such a working arrangement provides a balance between domestic and office work and can reduce the “She recession” due to Family obligations.


According to the Mercer Flexibility Survey, 90% of employers say that productivity/outcome had either remained the same or had increased with employees working remotely, and 82% of employers say they will implement and continue flexible working. HR Leaders can educate managers on the facts about flexible working with facts and figures of several surveys which state that 90% of employers found that productivity of employees had either remained the same or had increased during the Pandemic.


Hybrid Working Plan


Hybrid working plan gives an option to employees to work from the office for a certain number of days or hours a week. The freedom provided by WFH/WFO will be a boon for women. It is like allowing them to find out or draw their solutions to manage work-life balance with new challenges. Many companies have initiated such a plan. Even though organisations were reluctant to enforce remote working/ hybrid plan, they began to embrace it when they witnessed enhanced productivity. This has also led women to take up more leadership roles. N. Ganapathy Subramaniam, the COO of TCS has said, “Many of our employees feel that they have found a solution to their work-life balance. So, when you are happy, naturally, your productivity is better.”


“The almost overnight switch to a fulltime WFH setup was more challenging for women professionals than men and to deal with the extra burden of managing the household and fulfilling professional responsibilities. Women are now vocal about their preference of a hybrid work model that provides them the right office infrastructure, and one that is also much closer to home, allowing them to cut down on their daily commute and save both time and money and ensure a better work-life balance,” says Harsh Lambah who is the head of a flexible workspace platform. He feels that the demand for a hybrid work model will increase and gain permanency as more women opt for flexible solutions.


Increase Women Collars


The pandemic has given an opportunity to Men to share domestic responsibilities. The Challenge here is that the Male Managers have not been sensitive to this aspect leading to high stress for women. The “Double Burden syndrome” impacts their mental health which is creating pressure on them to not talk about the factor of work-life balance with their Male Managers. This is because they cannot understand the situation, unless they put themselves in their shoes.


To create a sense of understanding for women professionals and her challenges increase gender diversity and women collars. When we have gender diversity the ratio of the workforce that can understand the situation of women will be higher and they can coach the male colleagues to develop greater empathy for women who are working in various hierarchical roles. Women have been facing discrimination and lower pay at work as also various obstacles for a long time now, and there is an increasing need for open-minded work culture. The Pandemic has given the opportunity to boost corporate performance by promoting gender diversity.


Set up for Home Office


Companies can help women out with a Home office set up where they can work in isolation without disturbances/interruptions by their family members. Many companies have taken this initiative rather than pinpointing her limitations. It has been reported that Johnson Control has taken the initiative of remote working arrangements to support women’s employment.


Lacy, a chief marketing officer in Boston, says, “I think the one thing that could be done that would make me feel even more supported would be to help me subsidize the cost of a home office. I feel much more productive when I have a dedicated office space from which to work, and it allows me to get solid work done even when my daughter is home.”

Deepika Gahlot is National HR Manager, ATA Freight Line (India). She is a competitive and dedicated HR professional, with 13+ years of handson experience in Talent Acquisition, Policy Formation and Implementation, Performance Management, Employee Engagement, Learning & Development, Compensation & Benefits, Rewards, Talent Management, and Succession Planning. Besides this, Deepika has achieved many Milestones at National & International Forums as a Writer & Poet.


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