18 Jul 2020 18:26 IST

Why working remotely isn’t always good for women

It’s tempting to think such flexible options are a big equaliser; but there could be trip wires

By changing the attitudes toward working from home (WFH), Covid-19 may have altered the way we work. A new MIT study says that half of those employed before the pandemic are now working remotely. As company executives see for themselves that excellent work can be achieved, and productivity increased, even in jobs that no one thought could be done virtually, several companies, including Facebook and Twitter, are announcing they will allow employees to work remotely on a permanent basis.

It’s tempting to think that such flexible options are a big equaliser for women. Many are daring to hope that by removing the stigma surrounding WFH, and cutting commuting time and the insidious “face time” norms, women can hold on to full-time jobs and avoid losing traction in their careers during their caregiving years. But before we declare victory, we must consider three potential trip wires. These relate to work/family conflict, access to informal networks and critical assignments, and a new form of “presenteeism,” in instances where some people are physically co-located while others work remotely. Read more in the Harvard Business Review article “Why WFH Isn’t Necessarily Good for Women”.