Navigating the risks of hybrid work for women: strategies for success

Female hybrid worker

At first, it was a perk, then it became a necessity during the pandemic, and now it is an expectation. I am talking about hybrid work. Hybrid work offers the flexibility that is often considered a key component of a good work/life balance. However, new research shows that this flexibility may come at a cost for women.

According to Gallup, 46% of women are currently working in a remote or hybrid work arrangement whereas the same goes for 40% of men. However, if we look at their preferred work locations, 79% of women say they prefer working remotely or hybrid whereas the same goes for only 64% of men. 

Overall, hybrid workers - men and women - value the advantages for their overall productivity and well-being and this may explain why women seem to gravitate more toward hybrid work than men. Women tend to shoulder more of the primary caregiver and domestic responsibilities than men and hybrid work makes it easier to combine a (full) time job with family life. However, it can also negatively affect relationship-building, development, recognition, and engagement. And with more women than men in hybrid work arrangements, the costs of flexibility may be steeper for women than they are for men.

Hybrid work threatens the engagement

We recently wrote this blog post about Millennials and Gen Zs in the workplace. If you have read it, you know that the vast majority of Millennials (76%) and Gen Zs (75%) prefer hybrid or remote work, but you also know that they are less engaged (and more likely to quit) than any other generation.

The employee engagement rate remained fairly stable for men throughout the pandemic. However, among women engagement fell from 41% in 2020 to 35% in 2022. Considering how many women prefer hybrid work, it is crucial to understand why hybrid working women become more disengaged than hybrid working men and how to avoid it.

Hybrid work risk no. 1: Networking and relationship-building

Historically, women tend to score higher in relationship-based Q12 items, such as, “My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person” and they still are. However, the percentage of women who feel that someone at work cares about them as a person has fallen by 6% from 2020 to 2022. This feeling has only fallen by 3% amongst men in the same period. Not surprisingly, hybrid working makes it more difficult for employees to network and build relationships with their co-workers - just like it makes collaboration and coordination more difficult.

In an article, workplace consulting firm Gallup suggests that managers “should encourage the women they lead to be intentional about cultivating their network and investing time and effort in relationship-building. For example, women might consider letting on-site and other hybrid coworkers know when they will be in the office or scheduling time to meet with others face-to-face when possible to help nurture relationships.”

Hybrid workplaces can make it easier for employees to coordinate, collaborate, and build relationships by integrating their desk booking solution with an indoor map. The map enables workers to find and book an available workspace by showing live occupancy data. It also makes it easier for co-workers to find each other by showing who is sitting where and who will be in the office on Thursday between 10 am and 12 pm.

Hybrid work risk no. 2 and 3: Development and recognition

The hybrid workplace is meant to provide an opportunity for true equity in the organization. Unfortunately, that is not what nearly half of women in hybrid work arrangements experience. A survey by Deloitte found that 58% of female hybrid workers felt they had been excluded from meetings due to being hybrid and almost half of the women reported that they do not get enough leadership exposure. An arguably necessary element of career advancement.

According to Gallup, “employees who receive fulfilling recognition are up to 90% less likely to report being burned out at work “always” or “very often.” Additionally, these employees are about 40% less likely to report having experienced a lot of stress, worry, and sadness. But getting recognition right can be difficult if workers are rarely in the office and work odd hours.

It is important that managers have regular one-to-one meetings with both on-site, hybrid, and remote team members to discuss their development needs. Likewise, it is important that they do not forget the work completed outside of the office, which would leave hybrid workers (who are more likely to be women) overlooked. But organizations should also consider how they can make going to the office easier and more stress-free for everyone to make in-office days harmonize more with family life.

MapsPeople partner Wayleadr found that people are spending 10,4% of their day commuting and in some US states like California, commuters spend over 80 hours per year looking for an available parking space when going to the office. By offering employees a parking space management solution with an integrated map, employees can easily book available parking lots before arriving at the office, thus significantly reducing time waste and making it easier for everyone to go to the office.

It is important to note that hybrid work threatens the engagement, relationship-building, development, and recognition of both men and women. However, with more women than men in hybrid work arrangements, hybrid workplaces must be cognizant of the potential risk of creating gender divides and overlooking hybrid workers (men and women alike).

If you want to know more about how indoor mapping can help create an efficient and inclusive workplace, reach out to us to book a meeting or a free demo.

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