The Eurocadres blog
Women caught in the teleworking trap?
The pandemic has made telework to become the rule and not the exception. And this might stay so also after the pandemic. Being a female professional, this implies an intensified double charge of professional work and private/family tasks.
This situation risks that many female professionals leave or take a step down of their career as the burden is too heavy to carry.
The rules and legislations on telework will have an impact on gender equality for years to come, so it is very important to take into account as many factors as possible to prevent another gender inequality adding to the already existing ones. If teleworking is not regulated in such a way that it is not conceived as a way to achieve work-life balance, this organisational form of working will become a trap for women: not only do women stay at home to work, but they will also take care of all the family tasks.
Teleworking has advantages, disadvantages, and traps. What we have experienced in these months was improvisation and forced imposition of an organisational form of work. In future that must be regulated with fair and equal conditions for all.
If teleworking is not regulated in such a way that it is not conceived as a way to achieve work-life balance, this organisational form of working will become a trap for women
A legally binding right to disconnect (see Eurocadres’ resolution on “Right to disconnect”) must be put in place, so that teleworkers can have their hours of rest and leisure. Under no circumstances should teleworking and distance working be conceived as solutions for work-life balance, because, as it has been practised over the last months, it has clearly harmed women.
It is also important that households, especially when there are children in school age, are equipped with ICT tools provided by companies and by government, respectively. Psychosocial health risks associated to the abovementioned double charge need to be prevented and the performance criteria of teleworkers they must fulfil must be reassessed and made achievable.
It is important to implement legal provisions on psychosocial risk at work (see Eurocadres’ campaign EndStress.EU calling for an EU directive). Companies need to conduct risk assessments and act consequently to manage and solve any health-related issues derived from psychosocial risks due to telework, such as burnout, anxiety, depression, technostress, overtime, data protection, security gaps, etc.
To keep women in the labour market as well as to ensure a career path for women we must reassess the work environment. Companies should be aware that in the new world of work it is necessary to set new norms as for productivity and KPI (key performance indicators) in order to prevent psychosocial risks and mental health related hazards.
Teleworking as we experience it now cannot stay and the objective must be to aim for good and fair teleworking.
Teleworking as we experience it now cannot stay and the objective must be to aim for good and fair teleworking. We must fight for making the impact and downsides of telework less stressful and burdensome for female professionals, especially mothers and single mothers.
We must work together to promote quality employment, protection of workers, gender equality and to solve the lack of adequate and quality ICT tools. Government, social partners, and society as a whole must be engaged if we want work-life compatibility policies to be effective.
Paula Ruíz Torres
Vice-President of Eurocadres