Is There A Gender Gap in Hybrid Work?

    As organizations continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic, hybrid work has become a prominent factor in many workplaces. As a result, employers are now being warned to mind the gender gap in hybrid working models. Recent research from The Female Lead and King’s College London affirms that hybrid working is beneficial in terms of equality, sustainability, and work/life balance. Despite this, a glaring gender disparity exists that impedes female professionals in hybrid work arrangements.

    The Pros and Cons of Hybrid Working

    Hybrid working can be beneficial for men and women, as well as their organizations. Let's take a look at the advantages of this innovative work setup.

    • Hybrid workers enjoy this setup as it bestows them with trust and respect, in addition to the freedom to control their work routines. Even those who would normally prefer staying at the office appreciate having the choice of flexibility.
    • By embracing the hybrid working style, individuals can transform both their work environment and their productivity level for greater success.
    • With increased mobility, hybrid workers are empowered to prioritize their health and well-being.
    • By working remotely, hybrid workers benefit from decreased costs for transportation and childcare services as well as fewer hours wasted on commutes.
    • Hybrid working offers immense flexibility, allowing those with caregiving duties to thrive in the workplace.

    Despite its many advantages, hybrid working can also be exclusionary and needs to be addressed. Reverting back to full-time office work is not the answer though. Below are the key risks that are likely to negatively impact the workplace and career experiences of women, along with measures you can take for improvement.​​​​​​​

    Risk 1: Women take on additional tasks and engage in virtual presenteeism, in an effort to challenge stereotypes of hybrid employees. However, working behind a digital veil increases the danger of their efforts going unacknowledged and undervalued.

    To overcome this risk, the following are suggested:

    • Reframe and communicate what 'productivity' is
    • Managers to champion employees upwards and sideways
    • Showcase employees without relying on managers
    • Support employees to separate work from home

    Risk 2: Women get excluded from political interaction, and because of this, they are put at a disadvantage and find it more difficult to build the essential networks needed for career advancement. This can leave them feeling disconnected and powerless.

    To mitigate this risk, consider the following:

    • Reframe 'politics' to encourage inclusive interaction
    • Create transparent communities
    • Encourage going to the office with incentives, not by enforcing regulations

    Risk 3: Women often find themselves missing the communal atmosphere at work. The loneliness and exhaustion brought on by an increase of video meetings can make these roles tedious, leaving them without purpose or fulfillment.

    To reduce this risk, the following are recommended:

    • Invest in purposeful team bonding
    • Encourage fellowship via transparent online social groups
    • Create a vibrant office environment

    Risk 4: The combination of potential risks associated with hybrid working, minimal learning opportunities, and limited flexibility in senior roles may impede the progress of womens’ careers.

    To remedy this risk, organizations may:

    • Onboard employees in-person
    • Provide regular shadowing opportunities
    • Design flexibility into all roles
    • Provide sponsorship

    While there are some risks associated with hybrid working, the advantages it provides for both men and women are too great to overlook. To overcome the risks, organizations should consider implementing measures such as those suggested above. By doing so, they can create an inclusive work environment that empowers all of their employees.