Article written by Janani Sampath
Over the last year, since the lockdown was imposed to combat COVID-19, companies have realized that remote working is here to stay, even in the post-COVID-19 era. At the same time, reports have revealed that the decision to work remotely has accelerated the inclusion of women in the workforce in a country like India, with a skewed gender ratio across industries.
Even as tech-giant Microsoft was poised to open its headquarters in the US on March 29, ‘2021 Work Trend Index’ found that three in four employees wanted flexible remote work to continue, as per reports. The survey of over 30,000 from across 31 countries, analyzed productivity and labor signals across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn.
An earlier report by management consulting firm McKinsey said that sectors like Banking Financial Services and Insurance, and Information Technology industry found remote working most useful.
Closer to home, in India, a similar scene has been playing out.
Avtar’s report titled ‘Remote Working in COVID Times and After – India Inc. Speaks’ released in 2020 amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic found that at least 69 percent of professionals in various roles and various stages of their careers felt they were productive.
Based on gender, women, as with men, said they were productive (79 percent of them).
Subsequently, remote working culture perpetrating due to the pandemic has been encouraging for women. The recent report by Avtar called ‘Women, careers, and marriage: Evolving dynamics in India Inc. in the post COVID world’ shows that a growing segment of women in the stage of marriage and early motherhood has begun pursuing career aspirations. The findings are a result of flexible remote working options.
While the gainers have been sectors like IT, BFSI, who have been the early adopters of flexible and remote working systems, pharma, manufacturing, and E-commerce have shown that they have an enabling atmosphere for women employees.
COVID-19 has provided the much-need impetus to the remote and work from home practices and has shown that it offers the opportunity to create a level playing field. It has given companies the much-needed module to be more inclusive and bridge the gender disparity in their workforce when coupled with support for motherhood.