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Women in COVID 19: positive work trends that are here to stay

By Patrycja Riera, CEO, Inclusionem

In the past few months, every article or report I read about the impact of the pandemic at a workplace presented harsh numbers and predictions, in particular for women in COVID 19. And I agree – this has hit us stronger than anybody anticipated. 

Many women lost jobs, especially women of color. Juggling work, deadlines, homeschooling and home chores has been crazy – yes that’s the right word!

And it’s not over… this season is not going to end tomorrow, it will continue for some time. But at the same time, I heard so many women and men saying how this time has been a blessing; how it brought families together, deepened conversations at work and made us stronger. 

Many companies stepped up and used the crisis as an opportunity. 

So many of my clients called to ask for help in creating remote effective teams that are performing well, are flexible and empathetic at the same time. Few weeks ago, one of my clients said:

We have proved to the world that we can be effective working from home, from a sofa, wearing our pajamas.. Now, how do I get people to come back to the office? They all created new habits that will be hard to change – especially that they all perform really well even under pressure, working in different times with kids around…I am not sure I want to mess it up for them”. 

An agile, hybrid and fluid workplace is the new normal. 

Here are some positive and important trends to consider creating more inclusive workplaces for both men and women in COVID 19. 

  1. Flexible Work is here to stay!
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What I find very interesting is that it took a pandemic to accelerate and transform workplaces to what people and specifically women have been asking for years!

We are now leveraging technology, what it can offer, and use this to change how we approach jobs and careers forever. A shift towards flexible work is here to stay, because people want to be able to merge the work and home life. An anonymous study run by MIT’s Ben Weber analyzed company emails, chat and calendar data to explore people analytics when working remotely. 

The data showed that working from home extended working time by anything between 10-20%, however it reduced the stress and negativity. It has increased confidence, communication and collaboration skills by 40%. Some indicate that business collaboration is stronger now than before the pandemic. 

2. Technology and Human Connection 

Organizations made crucial investments in tools that support online collaboration. And it’s not only used for business collaboration. We run businesses, attend weddings, have game nights with families and educate our kids through virtual means. We are making it more human without even thinking about it. It allows us to live in the same space at the same time. We design this space. We create the connection we want to create

3. Build your culture outside of the organizational walls 

Connections do! You have to build a culture though people, wherever in the world they are. We have proved we can build culture from our living rooms and home offices. Culture is really how we do things around here, how we behave, our values, what we prefer and how decisions are made…and each organization is going to be different, regardless if they sit in the office building or in a café or home. As a manager learn how to measure what every team member produces and contributes to the strategic objectives. And most importantly, create and nurture a culture of inclusion, where trust and fairness are visible. 

4. Work follows talent 

As the virus is not limited by borders, neither is talent management. The virtual world allowed us to shift the hiring model and the question of “will you relocate?” is not asked as often as before. 

What we see now is that the top talents are taking decisions on where they choose to live and work fromwhich means work follows talent. Technology has again helped us to utilize people’s talents and skills and at the same time actually save money. 

Technology and cultural organizational changes are the catalyst to remote work and talent development. 

This can greatly impact the increase in women reaching higher positions and dual couples pursuing careers rather than moving around the world for one or another. 

Workforce and workplace were living 2 separate and sometimes conflicting lives. Now, work, home and school have been brought together, and it creates the space for the balance that we were all looking for

If we utilize the technology and shift the way we think, unleash the new ways of working that are a catalyst for equality. 

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