Podcast: Why remote work doesn’t work for everyone

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Headshot of Kristin Luck

Working from home became de rigeur during the pandemic and it has widespread benefits. People have been able to work from the comfort of their own homes while complying with Covid-19 restrictions.

Remote-first also meant companies could widen the net and hire abroad, effectively “pulling up global wages in developing markets in ways that would have been very surprising only a few years ago” according to Jeremy Johnson, CEO of software developer recruitment company Andela.

Women have been impacted disproportionately during the pandemic

However, women have been impacted disproportionately. Fifty four million women left the global workforce in 2020 during the pandemic says Kristin Luck, president of not for profit business analytics organisation ESOMAR.

“Women on average do about 75 percent of the world’s unpaid care work, the demands of which have obviously grown substantially during the pandemic,” explained Kristin.

“When I say unpaid care work it’s taking care of kids, it’s cooking, it’s taking care of parents. Forty percent of mothers compared with 27 percent of fathers are the ones responsible for the home schooling and taking care of kids.”

She added: “If you look at how many hours a day, after spending even three hours a day on those tasks, that’s a considerable part time job on top of everything else that they’re doing working a fulltime job. So, it’s no wonder that women have chosen to exit [the workforce] at certain times.”

The economic impacts are clear: In the first year of the pandemic 54 million women left the workforce globally.

“All of these things that we say benefit women, they benefit men as well.”

Jeremy Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Andela, a software developer recruitment company with a focus on building remote teams, said there are some things that employers can do to improve the situation.

“In our talent network it has been harder to find more female software developers [during the pandemic] and we are also trying to address [this],” he said.

“We believe it creates a better environment for all of our employees and members of the network to have more gender balance. This is a material challenge the world is facing with remote work,” added Jeremy.

Work from home needs better parental leave policies

Ultimately, Kristin thinks that employer flexibility, better parental leave policies and more flexible work from home environments are key to addressing this issue.

“All of these things that we say benefit women, they benefit men as well. They allow men to be equal partners in that family experience.”

Jeremy Johnson and Kristin Luck were in conversation with Euronews journalist Pascale Davies on the Remote stage at Web Summit 2021.

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