Career Woman

Female flexibility: How remote jobs are closing the gender gap

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For years now, salary has hardly been the most important feature to job hunters. Instead, employees are clamoring for better benefits: more reliable health plans, more plentiful PTO, and more flexibility. In fact, it is that latter request — flexibility in work schedule and location — that experts believe will close the gender gap in many fields.

Workers are moving beyond the corporate office 9-to-5 in pursuit of a workday and workspace that fits their needs and wants. Because female workers suffer most when confined to a rigid schedule and location, flexibility allows them to maintain employment — and be productive — while accomplishing other tasks in other aspects of their lives.

Whether you are an entrepreneur hoping to bring more women on board or you are a woman looking for employment that suits you — or both — you should be interested in learning more about the female flex work phenomenon.

The millennial push and the rise of the digital workforce

By 2020, more than half of the workforce will be composed of millennial workers. As boomers move out and millennials move in, they are altering employment to their ideas and interests. For example, millennials are more concerned than their forerunners about the work-life balance.

Because 80 percent of millennial couples both claim full-time jobs — compared to boomers, of which only 47 percent have a full-time spouse or partner — millennials are pushing for more time away from the office to manage home-related matters. Plus, younger workers have greater experience with technology, and most see the opportunity tech provides for being productive outside the office. Meanwhile, boomers, most of whom have partners who devote all their energy to the home and family, don’t see the problem with spending all-day-every-day behind their desks, where they are forced to complete work-related tasks.

Technology doesn’t just allow workers to check their email on-the-go; it is eliminating the need for traditional office space and creating a massive digital, global workforce. Many applicants are no longer forced to consider only their local job markets for available positions. In fact, advances in telepresence technology improves the impression of remote workers being present. Through connected devices, workers can work from anywhere — the only limitation is employers.

The millennial push for flexible hours and remote work options is incredibly strong. A lack of flex time is frequently cited among the top reasons millennials quit, and 40 percent of millennials have considered moving to another country to seek the PTO they believe they deserve — especially when it comes to paid parental leave, an issue that can be especially important to women in the workplace.

How women benefit from remote work options

According to a study from Pew Research Center, 51 percent of working mothers acknowledged that children hampered the advancement of their careers while only 16 percent of working fathers said the same. To balance home and work, 42 percent of women reduce their work hours after having children, compared to just 28 percent of men. In less-female-friendly industries, like tech, as many as 56 percent of women simply leave their careers to care for their growing families rather than try to juggle work and life.

Women shouldn’t be forced to choose between managing the home or maintaining a fulfilling career. In many cases, households depend on dual incomes to remain financially feasible. Since the 1960s, the rate of single-income homes has dropped significantly, but salaries have hardly kept up with inflation; most families require two incomes to remain comfortable. Thus, even if a working woman does prefer to quit and focus on her family, she and her partner might not be able to afford it. The best solution — the only one that allows women to give their work and their children appropriate attention — is remote work.

Flex time isn’t just convenient for employees; employers benefit, as well. All workers, not just women, are dramatically happier and more productive when given the opportunity to work remotely three to four days per week. Unfortunately, employers remain hesitant to give women the flexible time they need and want. Still, a solution is brewing: By 2020, 40 percent of the U.S. workforce is expected to be entrepreneurs. Largely, this is motivated by millennials — especially women — who are leaving the traditional workspace to create an environment that suits their needs.

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  1. Pingback: Career Women at Home: Why Women are Axing the 9-to-5 – Simply, Writing

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