Why WFH isn’t necessarily good for women
By altering attitudes toward working from home (WFH), COVID-19 may have forever changed the way we work. According to a new MIT study, half of those who were employed before the pandemic are now working remotely. As company executives see for themselves that excellent work can be achieved, and productivity heightened, even in jobs that no one imagined could be done virtually, a growing number of companies, including Facebook and Twitter, are announcing that they will allow employees to work remotely on a permanent basis.
It’s tempting to think that such flexible work options will be a big equalizer for women. Many are daring to hope that by removing the stigma attached to WFH, and by cutting commuting time and the insidious “face time” norms that can add hours to the workday, women can maintain full-time jobs and avoid losing traction in their careers during their caregiving years. There is some evidence on which to base this dream of a better future — studies have shown that flexibility allows mothers to maintain their working hours after childbirth and to stay in relatively stressful yet well-paying occupations through times of high family demand. But before we declare victory, we need to consider three potential trip wires.