5 reasons why women work from home

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Women represent over 40% of the global workforce. Despite this, the health and safety of women in the workplace continues to be a concern that few CEOs are able to deal with. That’s what you will explore. You will discover why and how telecommuting, which has become popular with the arrival of the health crisis, appears to be an effective solution to all these problems faced by women.

The dangers faced by women in the workplace Physical Differences

Women have a number of physical differences when compared to men. They are somewhat sensitive. This can make finding properly fitting personal protective equipment (PPE) difficult, since most work clothes are still designed for the “average man.” With the growth of teleworking, in Japan for example, the Famili Mart supermarket group has installed robots to restock its shelves. They are remotely controlled by the storekeepers who stay at home.

Pregnancy stages of life

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When it comes to physical work, it’s obvious that pregnant women can’t bend, lift, and carry things the way their non-pregnant co-workers can. Many employers recognize this and alter the workloads to accommodate. But other hazards and harmful chemicals, are less obvious. Employers may not readily make accommodations for these in case of unforeseen events. At the very least, working in an environment that can be easily adjusted to one’s liking reduces or eliminates any risks associated with a traditional workplace.

Telecommuting as a remedy to the problems

Teleworkers often point to two benefits: reduced driving time, work/family balance and a more secure work environment. “The more hours workers have to spend on family life, the more they normally appreciate the opportunity to telework,” says Tania Saba, a professor at the University of Montreal’s School of Industrial Relations.

This could explain the results of a large opinion survey in which she was involved. “It showed that women were just as eager as men to continue telecommuting, even after the pandemic was over,” she says.

The other side of the equation

Indeed, although telecommuting has many advantages in terms of productivity, efficiency and stress reduction, not all women and men are equal when it comes to this new way of working. Among its disadvantages are the blurring of the boundaries between private and professional life and the disruption of work rhythms. These disadvantages affect women more than men.

Women are 30% less likely than men to have an isolated workspace. Moreover, according to the INED (Institut national d’études démographiques), 39% of men work in a specific room reserved for them, compared to a quarter of women who telework (25%). Moreover, 50% more women than men are frequently interrupted in their work. Yasmina Drissi, Deputy Director of Employability at the Conseil d’intervention pour l’Accès des Femmes au Travail (CIAFT), is also worried about the risks of isolation for women, especially those who are victims of domestic violence. “Going to work gives access to a social support and opens up opportunities to confide in others or to ask for help, which disappear when you are confined to your home,” she says.

A few ways to go about it

According to Anne Bourhis, professor in the Department of Human Resources Management at HEC Montréal, both workers and managers can take concrete steps to reduce the more negative impacts of telecommuting on women.

“When possible, women should move to a room or at least a space specifically reserved for work and have appropriate ergonomic and computer equipment,” she advises. She points out that in some countries, many employers have been active early on in the pandemic to provide such tools to their employees. Some have not been reluctant to send office furniture or digital equipment directly to their homes.

The blurring of work and social time is also a risk involved in the widespread use of telecommuting. Bourhis believes that managers should ensure that workers have time when they are not required to respond to mails or text messages, and most importantly, make this known very clearly. However, she encourages flexibility. For example, some employees might expect to have that time off between 4 and 7 p.m. to take care of the kids, while others might prefer other times.

“The ideal is to establish a clear policy on this matter, to express it explicitly and to avoid contradictory messages,” warns Anne Bourhis. “Employees must not only feel that they have the freedom to disconnect, but that the company encourages it.”

Telecommuting can provide interesting results for women, but its effects depend greatly on the physical and psychological conditions in which it is carried out. Women workers, managers and governments all have work to do to facilitate a shift that has occurred much more quickly than expected.

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