Motherhood and Professional Development In The Pandemic

Professional Development During the Pandemic
Overview
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    If you are a working parent, or especially a working mother, struggling during the Covid-19 crisis, you are not alone. One of the biggest challenges of this pandemic is balancing childcare and homeschooling responsibilities with work. 

    According to a recent study by Mckinsey & Company, almost half of employees say that during the past few months, they have felt stressed at work, and about a third admit they feel exhausted or burned out. For working mothers in particular, these feelings might be heightened. 

    This post will focus on the current state of motherhood and professional development in the time of coronavirus, and explore why some mothers are experiencing more challenges than others.

    Women and Workforce Development Challenges

    Under Pressure: The consistent pressure from key stakeholders has only risen during the pandemic and is driving many working moms to consider downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether. Here is a list of factors that predict whether an employee considers downshifting or leaving: 

    • Lack of flexibility at work 
    • Feeling like they need to be “always-on” or available to work at all times
    • Housework and caregiving struggles due to Covid-19
    • Stress that their performance is being judged because of caregiving responsibilities 
    • Fear of sharing their challenges to coworkers or essential stakeholders
    • Feeling like their personal lives are not taken into consideration 

    Studies have shown certain challenges are more likely to push women out of the workforce than men due to deeply ingrained, societal expectations.

    Even before the pandemic, women have been judged for putting their maternal responsibilities before their professional ones. For example, researchers sampled a group of 200 working men and women in both the UK and the US and found that women are viewed “less favorably” in the workplace when they have a new baby in their lives, even if they already had set maternity leave plans.

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    Single Mothers: 76% of mothers with children under age 10 say childcare is one of their top three challenges during Covid-19, compared to 54% of fathers with young children.

    Although the trend of the “stay at home dad” is on the rise, mothers are still more likely than fathers to be responsible for most of the housework and caregiving.

    Mothers are 1.5 times more likely than fathers to be spending an extra three or more hours a day on housework and childcare. This adds up to 20 hours a week, which equates to a part-time job. But what about the 1 in 5 mothers who don’t live with a spouse or partner? For them, the challenges are even greater. 

    Single mothers are much more likely than other parents to be responsible for all of the housework and childcare in their home. Financial insecurity is also considered to be a top concern among single mothers, especially during the pandemic.

    Black and Latina Mothers: 40% of mothers are the primary breadwinners for their household, according to the Center for American Progress. But it is important to note that we must look at this statistic from an intersectional point of view. What about Black and Latina mothers?

    Black mothers are twice as likely as white mothers to be their family’s primary breadwinner, which means they feel a lot more pressure to perform during the pandemic and provide for their children. 

    It’s also possible that Black and Latina’s mothers are burdened with more work at home. Latina mothers are 1.6 times more likely than white mothers to be responsible for all childcare and housework, and Black mothers are twice as likely to be taking care of these matters for their family.

    Which Learning Philosophy Works?

    Luckily, many companies have taken steps to help their employees work through the Covid-19 crisis, such as implementing more team-bonding exercises and providing more outlet for communication. However, few companies have taken on the difficult task of addressing the root causes of employee burnout and stress. 

    Less than a third of companies have adjusted their performance review criteria to deal with pandemic-related challenges, such as severe stress or caregiving struggles. Many employees are left wanting for transparency as companies refuse to update workers on their plans for performance reviews or their employee productivity expectations during Covid-19. 

    This miscommunication means many employees, particularly parents and caregivers, are having to choose between staying constantly connected with pre-pandemic work expectations, and pushing themselves to keep up with professional development at an impossible pace.

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    Mothers are dealing with heavy demands both at home and in the workplace. Many mothers are left feeling exhausted and unable to put their best foot forward. What’s important to remember is that we can get through this difficult time together. 

    If you are a working parent, what have been some of the challenges you’ve faced during the pandemic? Have you found any coping mechanisms or new learning philosophies that have helped you get through this time? Share your thoughts with us at WeLearn’s Learning Development Blog, because together, we learn.

    Overview
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      A recent US census estimated that 5.2% of US workers (8 million people) worked remotely. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, that number has unquestionably multiplied. But is remote work as strange as it seems?

      Major companies like Twitter have embraced the trend in remote work and have actively made working from home a permanent change for their frontline talent. With so many opinions on the future of work, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. This post will guide you through the possible pros and cons of remote work and help you find the best fit for your team’s professional development goals.

      Is Remote the Right Learning Philosophy?

      A Loss in Creativity: In a recent article, Kevin Roose of the New York Times warned key stakeholders and workers that ditching the office could lead to feelings of isolation, a decrease in employee engagement, and a loss of innovative thinking.

      Before making the switch to fully remote work, weigh the importance of teamwork at your business or firm. Studies actively illustrate the innate power of working with people face-to-face, and employees collaborating on a project together in the same room may be motivated to solve problems faster than remote teams.

      Employee Burnout: Remote workers could feel more pressure to always be available and productive in their supposedly “more relaxed” work environments. Be wary that your remote team might be taking shorter breaks and fewer sick days than an office-based one, and consider how that might impact their ability to create their best content.

      If you are the kind of boss that wants your employees to stay healthy, happy, and motivated, consider creating strict boundaries. Set a “no text after 8 PM” policy, and try your best to grant your workers the weekends they deserve. 

      The Pros of Employee Engagement at Home

      Happy Workers, Healthy World: The average commute of an American hit over 27 minutes in the past year. While at an office-based job a commute is inevitable, a remote position grants employees more freedom to spend time on things that matter, such as their health and family. Surely your team will feel better after a 27-minute walk with loved ones than nearly half an hour spent in traffic!

      If you want to take a look at the bigger picture, consider the environmental benefits of remote work. More than ever before, your company has the chance to lower the number of cars on the road and help reduce harmful Co2 emissions.

      Equality In The Workplace: Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where 86% of employees believe physical appearance matters, and 73% actively believe it impacts a person’s competency on the job. Working at home places emphasis on an employee’s ability rather than their wardrobe or looks.

      Working remotely may motivate female or minority team members to be more productive, as they will be experiencing far less sexual harassment or office-bullying. Zoom might be tiresome, but in the end, it unifies us by how imperfect we all look at home.

      Questioning Workplace Culture

      Face-Time is Overrated: Recent reports have shown that American companies spent 54% of their time on email, meetings, administrative tasks, and office-based “interruptions”. Michelle Ruiz of Vogue recently referred to the obsession of face time and challenges its importance.

      In her article, Ruiz suggests that face time is the ultimate “mirage, the symbolic appearance of working (going to meetings, chatting with co-workers) but not getting much done.” So, if you want your team to feel more comfortable and focused on working rather than putting on airs, consider remote work.

      Positive Productivity: While managers need to be aware that their team might be taking on more as remote workers, it’s not always a bad thing that employees are inspired to push themselves.

      In Stanford University’s two-year remote work productivity study, researchers followed 500 employees after separating them into their respective “remote” and “office-based” groups. The remote working group didn’t feel the need for as many days off, and results showed a work productivity boost equal to a full day’s work.

      The Future of Work: Uncertain But Promising

      While it is impossible to predict the future of work, the surge of remote working has provided companies and employees with more options than ever before. To encourage the best work possible, try making the office an optional space for employees to choose based on their preferred working style.

      Let your workers know that whether they are in the office or their living room, they are still relevant to the company and appreciated for their efforts. Share your story on remote working with us here at WeLearns learning development blog! We would love to hear your thoughts, and move together through these unprecedented times.

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