Wednesday 9 September 2020 2:37 am

DEBATE: Has enforced working from home during the coronavirus pandemic benefited women in the workplace?

Sheree Atcheson is director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Peakon
and Angelica Reyes Froment
Angelica Reyes Froment is head of marketing for Europe and UK at Freshworks

For the City A.M. debate, Sheree Atcheson and Angelica Reyes Froment consider how work from home rules have impacted women.

Sheree Atcheson, director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Peakon, says NO

The notion that the coronavirus pandemic has given women the flexibility they yearn for is completely false. 

Thanks to entrenched gender norms, women often take on the majority of domestic responsibilities alongside their careers. This means that during the pandemic, women’s productivity may well have been disproportionately reduced. 

While most organisations have been sensitive to this, the return to the office is signalling a shift in focus towards economic recovery. 

This is dangerous territory, as we could easily get a tail of women left behind, still struggling to juggle work and family commitments working from home and being viewed as unproductive.

Employers cannot use this period as the yardstick to gauge women’s productivity when working remotely. Doing so could well put years of progress into reverse. 

Rather than judging women based on this period, employers need to listen to them, understand how they’ve coped and use these findings to establish ways of working that work better for women moving forward.

Angelica Reyes Froment, head of marketing for Europe and UK at Freshworks, says YES

I am lucky enough to work for an employer where I have been able to set boundaries with my time during covid-19. I am still able to collaborate with my teams and get the job done, but also spend some real quality time with my children.

Historically, this has not always been possible in the fast-paced world of B2B technology marketing and many tough choices have had to be made along the way.

Yes, lockdown has come with its challenges for parents, but I fundamentally believe it has allowed me and many other women to enjoy the best of both worlds and increased my overall happiness at work. 

Our own data gathered with Harvard Business Review found that 53 per cent believe that the quality of products or services a company can offer are better when employees are happier. 

It is simple – happier working mums can drive real business results at this time. The proof is in the pudding.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.