During this global pandemic, I decided it was time to investigate how women are responding to the effects of COVID 19 and in particular the age of ‘working from home’.
In true family tradition, I decided to take the topic to the lunch table, albeit virtually. Coming from a family of strong women I grew up debating topic after topic, allowing each family member the chance to have their voice heard. I realised this afternoon that a thought I have been harbouring in the back of my mind since broaching this topic, is astoundingly true, the topic of ‘Woman in the workplace and COVID 19’ is a rather sensitive issue, to say the least, and one that needs to be navigated with care. Needless to say, I was met with a storm of conflicting opinions which is not unusual for my family I may add. Opinions which ranged from a ‘devoted mother’ a ‘liberalist feminist’ and a family member which can only be described as ‘Switzerland,’ with her balanced views, in the midst of a World War.
It became apparent that women and men alike (yes my Grandad and Dad had their opinion too) are responding to these ‘unprecedented’ times each in their own way.
The devoted mother
The devoted mother felt that there are extreme benefits to the age of working from Home. She cherishes the lunch breaks she gets to take with my grandparents. Enjoys pottering and doing odd jobs around the house in the time she would have spent in traffic.
Being a home bird of nature she is enjoying fulfilling the role that some would say is traditional and expected of women. The mother, the nurturer, the caregiver and the homemaker. Working from home has given her the time she has so desperately coveted since first entering the workplace, she can now have more time to be present with the family and maintain an easy and manageable ‘work-life balance’.
The feminist shot back with a very powerful argument stating that ‘Woman in the workplace’ is a term most commonly heard a number of decades ago and in itself is highly outdated.
A couple of articles that have surfaced recently, questioning the negative or positive effects of the ‘work from home effort’ on the female gender, has got her and many others fired up, I’m sure. The fact that people are even questioning that women may be affected differently to men is baffling to her. She strongly believes that we should not be verbalising these kinds of stereotypes after fighting for so many years for Gender Equality, by 2020 is this even a debate to be had? She believes in what ” Workplace”? The workplace no longer exists – most men and women aside from those at the forefront of the essential services have been given an equal playing field, more so than ever before.
Then we had Switzerland that somehow manages to bring a balanced and unbiased view to any family debate. Acknowledging that there are many schools of thought to this rather contentious topic she talks about the individual, family structure, religious and cultural beliefs and a number of factors that contribute to how women and humanity are dealing with the COVID 19 crisis and the implications it may have. There is no right or wrong answer and a sensitive and cautious response is needed to such a topic especially given the increased violence against women in Africa. It depends very much on the individual and the circumstances at home.
As we entered the pandemic, social media was flooded with hilarious images of mothers and parents working from home who had duct-taped their children to chairs in an effort to keep them still and quiet during work hours, for those moms I’m sure a move back to the office would be welcomed relief. Then you have mothers like my own that can’t think of anything worse at this point than heading back to an 8 – 5 job away from home.
My personal experience
In my house we have experienced more than ever an equal shift of responsibility, having an Executive Chef for a husband he has found himself grounded, as his hotel closed a couple of months into the pandemic. Our ‘workplace’ has shifted more dramatically than ever imaginable.
Instead of him spending 16 hours a day on a shift and spending very little time at home, leaving most household chores to me by default, we find ourselves cooped up in our very own ‘work from home “workplace,” where we share the worries of everyday life, take turns doing chores, play ‘ching chong cha’ to decide who makes dinner and navigate around each other as we work tirelessly from home – fighting on equal grounds to make ends meet and survive this pandemic.
Albeit he comes from an industry that is most affected and a shift in his daily work activities can be expected, I would say his ‘work’ environment has taken even more of a hit than mine. Each situation is different for each family. This is my story and personal experience, whose babies include that of ‘fur animals’ and my husband who is basically a big child. Some would say I have it easy and I would say you would be right, I cannot imagine the difficulties those mothers are having trying to juggle high level jobs, homeschooling and household activities.
I think in general we can all concur that however we try to respond to this global crisis we can note a gradual shift of traditional roles. I believe we have a duty to contain the bias. Is it even political to discuss ‘woman in the workplace’ in this day in age’ and in the same right is it political to discuss ‘men at home?’ It becomes no longer about the mulit-tasking mom and devoted wife or girlfriend; it becomes about what needs to get done and the best available adult at the time to do the job. It’s no longer about gender it’s about getting through this together, spreading love across nations and sharing hardships and good times.
TalentintheCloud – advocates of gender in diversity
As leaders in Executive Search we promote gender in diversity in all the roles we place and we can proudly say that more than 40% of our hires globally are females but we also promote ‘top talent’ in every role we place! Like the most available adult to complete the job we ride very much on the ‘top talent’ for the right role no matter your gender.
For you ladies out there who are reading this, do you have a unique story to share or perhaps you have interacted with TalentintheCloud, at some point in your career? I would like to open the floor to your opinion on the ‘sensitive topic’. How has this experience been for you? Have you noticed that either you or your partner have perhaps started doing something you wouldn’t usually do? I believe that this topic is highly up for ‘friendly debate’ and should not be boxed by one or another opinion. So in conclusion I would like to hear the unique experiences of the ‘human race’ across the globe. At the risk of sounding ‘corny,’ but here it goes, “together we are stronger.”