Ways to reverse the impact of Covid on the female workforce

Libby-Jane Charleston

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More people are returning to the officeBrooke Cagle: Unsplash

Globally, the pandemic has cost women around the world at least $800 billion in lost income in 2020, according to research by Oxfam. It has been reported that women have lost more than 64 million jobs last year which equated to a 5 percent loss, compared to 3.9 percent for men.

In light of these findings, Lucinda Pullinger, Global HR Director at Workspace Specialists Instant Offices urges businesses to implement changes to support their female workforce post-COVID.

Over the last year, the pandemic has exacerbated an already unequal distribution. Studies show women are carrying a more significant portion of the responsibility, doing the invisible labour involved in managing a household and family on top of the typical 9-5 work day.

Pre-pandemic, studies show women did 60 percent more unpaid work than men in a week, spending 26 hours on tasks such as cooking, childcare and housework (where men spent 16 hours). In 2020, this increased by a further 4 hours for women, while their employment hours also increased by more than 2 per cent of men’s, with no increase in wages.

According to Instant Offices, now many people are returning to the office, there are a few ways to re-set this widespread societal issue.

How can businesses implement change that will benefit women?

Many employers have become more flexible the last year, and our research shows that 64% of commercial real estate leaders expect the workplace to change permanently. Here are a few things you can consider to support the female workforce.

  1. Maintain a permanent flexible working policy
    Around 40% of women compared to 13% of men work part-time or partly from home. This is often stigmatised, causing stress and guilt for the colleagues women feel they are deserting and the children they are not spending enough time with. Fortunately, global working from home means attitudes have shifted, and implementing a permanent flexible working policy can benefit women and families who need to spend time at home.
  2. Discourage presenteeism
    Women are concerned that lockdown has impacted career progression, especially after a Women and Equalities Committee report warned that permanent homeworkers could be left out of the career ladder. A flexible working policy that focuses on output rather than presenteeism will give working mothers an equal chance of progression and promotion.
  3. Make access to schools and childcare facilities easier
    The United Nations Development Programme estimates that women do 2.5 times more care than men globally. This means we need to better support women who juggle a career and family. For example, businesses looking for more agility from their office space can choose flexible workspace providers with onsite childcare. According to data collected by The Instant Group, flexible workspace with childcare facilities is most prominent in the US, UK and India, and the top city for childcare distribution across flex space is Singapore.
  4. Enable more flexibility around hours
    By making start and end times at work a bit more flexible, businesses can enable mothers and fathers to manage family responsibilities, like school runs or parent’s evenings. This can also save employees money, as nurseries often charge a penalty or early and late schedules.

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I'm a journalist and author writing across a wide range of topics, including tech, travel, history, business/startups, relationships, beauty & fashion, British royal history, & local stories concerning Charleston, S.C (where I have a long family history on my father's side: hence my surname! ) Former HuffPost Assoc Ed, ABC TV, ATV Beijing correspondent and many more. Author of "Fatal Females." Mother of three boys: I will love them until the Statue of Liberty sits down.

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