While it should come as no surprise, people are returning to the workplace in droves, many of which through corporate mandates. Many news pieces have already covered this trend. In this piece, let’s take a closer look at the impact of returning to work on women and their specific challenges in returning to the office.
Women are finally returning to work in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. During the pandemic, women left the workplace in massive numbers. Now, three years later, the number of women in the workforce has exceeded the pre-pandemic, February 2020 number of 77.6 million. The Labor force participation has also almost made it back to the pre-pandemic level. This is due primarily to businesses and industries reopening, improved public health conditions and outlook, and more reliable schooling options.
Not all Return to the Office Situations are Created Equal
Many employers are quickly coming to terms that once Pandora’s box of remote work has been opened, many workers are not willing to return to the office all of the time. That is why many companies are allowing employees to work from home. While hybrid work schedules may vary, it has been observed in the marketplace that this typically equates to two to three days a week. This flexibility is beneficial to a better work-life balance for workers, not to mention more flexibility to get errands done.
Not everyone has the discipline or room at home to work remotely properly. The office allows some structure and discipline to keep people on task. It is great to see people in person and get to know them in a different way that Zoom and email typically do not foster effectively.
At the end of the day, it comes down to the individual workers as to what style and function of work that they are most productive at. Wise employers will recognize this and allow workers to choose. It shouldn’t be surprising that some will move on to new jobs if this isn’t the case.
That said, it appears that employees no longer have the upper hand regarding bargaining chips. With a down economy, many layoffs, and rising inflation, many employers may view such requests with hesitation. We will have to see how the economy either improves or gets worse in order to see how the remote and hybrid work trends end up playing out.
What are Some of the Barriers to Returning to the Office for Workers?
While women are making their way back into the workforce, it is not without some significant barriers to their return to the office. Several factors contribute to the potential success many have when facing the returning-to-work mandates of their employers. Let’s explore several of these work trends below in greater detail.
The Ageism Problem: By the Numbers
Let’s explore several quantifiable data-based trends. Studies show that 61% of workers in the United States over the age of 45 report witnessing or experiencing ageism. Older women are far more likely to be fired or let go by their employers. They receive more employment rejections, have less than half the callback rate of younger women, and report facing ageism a minimum of five years earlier than men.
Many Women are the Primary Caregivers of the Family
Women also have to do caregiving work at far higher rates than men, with extreme economic costs attached. 32% of women feel they must be home sometimes to care for family, and the number of childcare workers have, has dropped significantly since the pandemic.
Women are Under an Uneven Amount of Pressure to Look Their Best
In addition to some already considerable hurdles, as we have already discussed, there is major pressure in most industries for women to put significant time, money, and resources into maintaining a beauty standard. This is often unreasonable set by society and maybe a standard they have aged out of. This affects women’s self-confidence greatly and can even create a deterrent to returning to the office. Women are twice as likely as men to feel pressure about dying their hair for work, and 44% of women report feeling negatively when not wearing makeup.
Procedures to Help With Physical Appearance
Women are increasingly getting plastic surgery, such as the mommy makeover to combat some beauty standards. One in four women are reportedly considering cosmetic procedures of some sort. For postpartum women, they may even be aiming to change their postpartum bodies quickly. Some of the most common procedures women are typically considering are liposuction, breast augmentation, and tummy tucks.
Hybrid Work Provides More Flexibility
Another way that women support their return to the office is by finding hybrid and flexible roles that allow more women to find employment and decrease the bias women experience. This also enables women who do caregiving work to find employment that works with that. In some situations, this can also help avoid some beauty standards altogether.
Finding a Mentor for Your Professional Development
Lastly, one of the best ways women can help themselves as they return to work is by finding professional mentorship. Talent development programs help place employees into positions of success for them and the company. This is done by identifying the employees aptitude and coaching them through developing their skills to reach their goals as well as the goals of the company. These programs have been shown to dramatically improve self-esteem, promote livelihood, and increase confidence.
Bringing it all together
In conclusion, it will take some practice for people to get used to their old routines when it comes to returning to the physical workplace. Little by little, they will regain their confidence. What trends in the return to work movement have you noticed, and what can be done to improve conditions for all employees? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!