Radical Changes Needed in Setting Guidelines For Women During Work From Home There are various difficulties that are being faced by everyone, especially women during this lockdown who are trying to strike a work-life and family balance

By Prasad Rajappan

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Women are rockstars! In the absence of domestic help during this pandemic, women are juggling work-from-home (WFH) and work at home. They are also helping to raise or support their families globally. This is happening globally, not just one state or country.

This brings up the question of, do we need to have separate WFH guidelines for women?

There are various difficulties that are being faced by everyone, especially women during this lockdown who are trying to strike a work-life and family balance. Many surveys for working married women have been conducted and all emphasized that workload has increased in lockdown compared with pre-COVID. Many emphasized empathy from organizations in terms of working hours and meetings, and general guidelines irrespective of gender.

One of our esteemed customers mentioned, "Everyone needs to be aware of as well as post the lockdown, about the policies that we want to build. As we are moving towards the end of lockdown, we need to consider the post-life situation. COVID has been a "university of hard knocks', an eye-opener about valuing people of low authority such as laborers and house help. COVID has brought about the realization that they are not under the peripheral vision but are supporting you from beneath and you are standing probably because of them. This brings across empathy, which in Indian ethos means dharma. Tyranny of generalization has been plaguing the administration and HR; as India as a country is different where even job descriptions don't work and the role is important."

Communication needs to be transparent with female employees and expectations need to be set. Everyone has lost the differentiation between workdays and holidays. Many organizations are considering various aspects such as liquid working. It is important to have fewer, but focused hours of work when you are WFH to ensure that the quality of output at work is really superior. Also, ensure that women should only accept deadlines that they can actually deliver on. Finally, have a very transparent relationship with your manager for setting expectations.

One important thing required when creating such policies is personalization. Every person's life is different. If an organization can personalize their HR software and tech products as per the customer needs, then why can't we personalize the policies for our employees? We also need to think of men who live alone along with women. It's time to acknowledge that we need to have such policies.

The policy should be applicable to both genders and companies should be able to frame the working hours and meeting hours. Long meetings need to be avoided. Currently, we need to delegate the work which was previously done collaboratively and then collaborate. We need to roll between fixed hours and variable hours. Like while working from the office, many women leave early and then login again from home. There is a need to maintain that balance in WFH as well.

If women who are in a senior leadership role they may have to work in different time zones, maybe twice or thrice a week. They should have the flexibility to take 3-4 hours off during the day because they need to be up at night. So flexibility and customization are important; you cannot be working 24 hours a day. Organizations need to judge women employees or all employees based on their outcome and productivity rather than working hours. Companies need to start caring rather than curing people with policies.

Prasad Rajappan

CEO, Founder, ZingHR

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