The newest acronym – WFH – or work from home – I believe has incredible potential to change the outlook and prospects for women. The realities of the COVID pandemic have had devastating effects on our communities, but I think there are hidden gems that will allow us to reset and restructure the way the workforce operates.
The overall consensus of the value of working from home is mixed. This article from Stanford highlights the complexities of maintaining productivity, potential impacts on mental health, and the balance of the family/work dynamic when working from home. A contrasting article from Forbes maintains that overall productivity when working from home is higher and should be encouraged in business practices. Other articles, such as this one from Harvard Business Review, provide insights into how to create a work form home company culture.
The reality is that 43% of women leave their jobs when they have children . The complexities of the work/home balance are overwhelming and the article highlights the difficulty of leaving the workforce, trying to reenter and balance the family. Every woman who chooses to have children is faced with these issues and our society has lost valuable female insight and resources that enhance the workplace environment and overall business success.
I believe the shift in the workplace that the pandemic has brought needs to be embraced and we should restructure the way we think about our companies and the value that a diverse workforce brings. I would have never left the workforce if I had the opportunity to work from home and raise my family. The benefits are vast – from enhancing a families overall economic status to increasing career opportunities and supporting the overall mental health of women by keeping them engaged in a larger society.
As highlight in this article from the World Economic Forum, creating barriers to women in the workforce is costly and closing the gender gap is critical not just to women, but to world economic stability at large. From a microeconomic perspective, women influence the workplace by bringing a different array of skillsets and perspectives and attitudes towards risk and collaboration. As highlighted in the article, “Studies have also shown that the financial performance of firms improves with more gender-equal corporate boards.”. On a macroeconomic level, the article sites the complementary effect of male and female collaboration in production, increased skillsets and overall growth and could have an overall positive impact on GDP by 35%.
When I reentered the workforce, I looked for a work from home position. They were honestly very few and far between. I spent three years commuting two hours a day and the impact on my family was significant. When we balance the value from both a personal and economic perspective, the potential to restructure and create an inclusive environment for women and men to thrive in the workplace will provide boundless potential. This is not a topic just to muse about but to take actionable steps as we are faced with a stressed economy and uncertainty in the face of a pandemic.
Do you work from home? How would this support your overall work/life balance? Please share your comments and thoughts below!