The hybrid workforce has become one of the biggest changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the way we live. After a whole year of working remotely (at least for most workplaces), the new advancements in the fight against the virus, including the vaccine rollout plans, have made it possible for us to go back to the office very soon.
The hybrid working model has been in the spotlight several times in the latest months, especially as offices prepare to re-open the doors. However, many sources claim that most employees have adopted remote work as the new standard. Instead of continuing at their workplaces, some of them are even quitting.
We've mentioned above that a hybrid workforce environment may face many problems as the working model continues to reign among the industry. According to an article published by Mark Mortensen in HBR, the hybrid workforce environment may create power differentials that may affect the hybrid work culture established at the organization, creating communication barriers and reducing performance in the long term.
Remote work isn’t the perfect solution
Although most people prefer to work from home as they’re granted more flexibility and chances to take care of their personal lives, it is also necessary to note that it becomes quite difficult to demonstrate competence when the person doesn’t have the necessary equipment or resources to complete the required tasks efficiently.
The hybrid workforce policy factors mentioned above are struggles that most people have dealt with at some point. However, it is well-known that men and women have different struggles. It has become apparent that most of the male population will prefer going back to the office instead of staying at home as their responsibilities are less – especially when it comes to childcare.
On the other hand, women will opt for staying at home as they will be able to handle childcare and home-related tasks more efficiently. However, multiple sources have published articles on how remote work isn't as advantageous to women as people think.
Having to deal with all these hybrid workforce challenges simultaneously supposes a great burden in any person's mindset. All of this evidence points out that hybrid teams are less favorable to women than they are to men.
What should be done to lessen the gender disparity in a hybrid workplace?
Hybrid work environments change from a company to another. However, there are certain concepts that employers should take as a base so that each employee can feel equally seen and visible, regardless of their gender.
Although we still have a long way to go until we figure out how to make this experience equal for both women and men, the following changes should be helpful toward promoting a hybrid workforce policy where all employees have the same opportunities to keep up with their daily responsibilities without risking their position or well-being.
1. Take advantage of technology to increase collaboration.
We all have been witnesses of how technology has brought us together, even if we are miles apart. Long-distance communication became a huge thing in the latest year as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the same resources we utilized throughout these long days can also be used in the decision-making process for those in managerial companies. With hybrid work technology, issues like discrimination or harassment are easier to point out.
Technology can be an excellent tool to expose these hybrid workforce policy risks and solve the problems before they escalate into bigger situations.
2. The change begins at home.
Not everything has to do with how things are done at the hybrid workforce workplace. There are other factors to take into account, such as the unbalanced division of labor that most families have at home. If both parents are working remotely, for example, what should be done is to divide the home tasks in a way that both adults can still keep up with their work obligations and with their family duties.
It is a remarkable time in history, as both men and women will have access to the same flexible work opportunities. If we all work together, we can take advantage of this situation to bring more equal opportunities to all individuals, regardless of their gender, race, or unique condition.
3. Employers also have a key role in this regard.
Company hybrid workforce policies and company culture are two different things. It is well-known that those in upper positions within the organization chart are seen as role models by the rest of the company. Thus, whatever practices they incorporate in their daily routines, other people will likely follow them.
For instance, if a leader decides to be absent from the office two days a week so that they can work from home and when they come back to speak of the benefits that doing so has brought to their routine, it is very likely that the rest of the workforce will follow. It will become an accepted norm quickly as it is someone in a higher position that is doing it.
Hybrid working is here to stay; none of us can deny that. Although gender inequality is an issue that the world has been facing since the beginning of time, remarkable advancements have been made in the latest years. Women have better opportunities now, and even if we still have a long way to go until we reach a “balance,” we all know that this change is imminent and will become even greater in the years to come.
This hybrid workforce model allows people to alternate between working from home and working at the headquarters. However, not all positions are suitable for such an opportunity, which is why the employer must evaluate all the possibilities before implementing them to their fullest.
In the end, there isn't a perfect organizational model. Not only should generalities be taken into account here, but other issues such as gender inequality and individual cases are also worth considering as each individual is different and faces different struggles.
What other ways do you think that employers should implement at the hybrid workforce place to promote gender equality?
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