For the first 15 years of my career, I commuted to the office every day. This means that by the time I have children, my contributions to the workplace will not be visible to them. All they noticed was my absence, not my leadership skills at work. I miss a lot, too: Some days I leave the house before they wake up to go to my first meeting, or walk in the door too late to hear about the highs and lows of their days.
Now that I take fundraising, hiring, and sales calls from home a few days each week while my daughters do homework or play in the next room, they have exposure to the reality of my work. I hope that the lessons they learn about work and its place in a fulfilling life will have a positive effect on them for years to come.
As the back-to-the-office movement has gained momentum in the past few months, bosses don’t understand why people aren’t coming back to the office. They express concerns about productivity, creativity, culture, development, and teaching—and even say that the remote and hybrid workplace experiments of the past few years reinforce the critical importance of sitting in an office. Wall Street executive Steven Rattner asked the effectiveness of remote work, relies on statements from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon to continue his argument. Recently, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman called remote work “one of the mistakes at work in the tech industry.”
Perhaps it’s no surprise that employees don’t feel the same way-new research shows that employees are still not allowed to work remotely as much as they want. And it’s no coincidence that the demographic that benefited the most from the old system also expressed the most anxiety about changing it. But we should not confuse the feelings of powerful people with the facts.
Despite all the efforts of the feminist movement that has spanned generations, the truth is that it has largely fallen to women to challenge gender inequity in society. Women are still trying to do everything, despite CEOs who preserve work arrangements that are outdated and unproductive when it comes to modern families and changing gender roles. By reshaping when, where, and even how we work, we can make meaningful progress toward gender equality and address the serious underrepresentation of women and people of all genders in our companies, especially at the highest levels.
We have stuck with the same corporate work habits since the late 1940s where many families could live comfortably on one salary and a third of women working outside the home. While much has changed (women entering the labor force in recording numbers in the late 1960s; the Anita Hill Senate hearing in 1991 that centered the movement around the mixed effects of race and class, the internet revolution, a pandemic that drove home millions of workers but did not destroy the economy), we are told in the only way to The job is to return to a schedule invented by the Model T.
The case for flexible work has social and moral imperatives. It helps keep the girls, reduces burnoutand made it easier to have children and assigning care responsibilities. According to a recent survey of female hybrid workers who combine in-office and remote work, 88% believe the flexibility of hybrid work is an equalizer in the workplace, and two-thirds say it has a positive impact on their career growth path. Flexible work provides greater opportunities for career advancement across gender lines and increasing the number of women of leadership, which is good for business. Companies with more women in leadership have more workers and about more useful.
Ninety percent of women want the ability to work remotely, including fully remote or hybrid-work options, and with it experience an increased sense of belonging, more psychological safety, and, thanks to less unstructured time with partners, less microaggressions. This is even more pronounced for women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities. Support for flexibility and the ability to work remotely is inextricably tied to gender equality and benefits us all: women, men, and marginalized genders.
The main one The role of the breadwinner is gonewith 29% of opposite-sex couples earning the same amount of money and women earning their husbands in 16% of marriages, and more, women spend two more hours on caregiving and 2.5 more hours on housework. Whether a stay-at-home mom or one who works outside the home, mothers still shoulder the lion’s share of care and household responsibilities, even if that work continues to be undervalued. , undervalued, and underpaid.
For opposite-sex couples with two wages, telecommuting supports gender equality in house by increasing a mother’s salary and increasing the father’s household work. Fathers who work from home more often conduct a a greater share of housework and child care, and their partners are more likely to work and work more hours in paid work. More: Children benefits long term economically and socially if their mother works outside the home: daughters are more likely to work, become supervisors, and earn more, and sons spend more time doing household chores housing and care for family members.
Sure, flexibility can be bad, especially when employers reward people who spend a lot of time in the office with all the raises, promotions, and plum tasks. In such a scenario, flexibility may inadvertently contribute to a gender gap in pay and advancement. Proximity biasthe unconscious tendency to favor those who are physically closer to us, is a real trap and can lead to two classes of workers broken down by gender and race, with the less favored class being those women and workers of color.
At the individual level, the benefits of flexibility for employees do not always hold. If your commute only requires you to walk a few feet and open your laptop, easily extend your work day, with negative effect on welfare and increasing conflict between work and family, especially for women. Anyone who has tried to work from the middle of their kitchen table knows how challenging it can be to focus when you don’t have a dedicated workspace, especially if you can’t access or pay for the maintenance of child.
But these setbacks are worth the tradeoffs. The real reason that flexible work arrangements do not work or lead to a perception by CEOs of poor results is that companies do not invest in education, practices, and policies that promote gender equity and improving their workplaces, such as paid vacation and mentoring programs. Flexible work is definitely not the only key to a more gender equal society but it’s a hell of a lot better for most marginalized workers.
The data on hybrid and remote work arrangements is “inconclusive at best,” Rattner himself admits. Flexible working is not a charges for workers to do just a little work, but for them to do more life–more focused work, more family time, and more focused on their well-being. This is not a rejection of work, but a rejection of a system that does not serve us well.
It is in the power of companies and CEOs to restore the “ideal” worker, valuing workers who take on household and care responsibilities, supporting flexible work arrangements and policies and equipping of managers to lead the many challenges of flexible work.
However, the responsibility does not lie solely with CEOs. all workers, when and where possible, can support flexible work by choosing it for themselves and empowering co-workers to work when and where they need to.
We need to reject flexible work and prevent it from becoming something else Mom’s tracka career path for mothers that offers flexible work at the expense of career advancement–or worse, another version of the tired misogynist trope that “women belong at home.”
Flexible work will continue to be a win for women as long as it is not penalized, such as slower paths to promotions or moving women to pink collar fields. And like parental leave, men should take it without consequence, also, to support gender equity and make a powerful statement about the value of care.
Three years ago, flexible work was novel. Two years ago, it was normal. Now, it is necessary. Our future workplaces—my children’s and yours—will depend on us to get it right.
Erin Grau is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Charter, a future-of-work media and research company.
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