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IWG: Transforming Working Life for Women

For women, the shift to hybrid work represents a crucial opportunity to address existing inequalities at work and at home.

International Workplace Group (IWG), the worldwide provider of flexible workspace solutions, recently released a whitepaper titled “Transforming Working Life for Women.” The company outlined some of the challenges currently facing working women, looked at the ways we can support one another and effect change, and explored how the hybrid model can lay the foundation for a new, more modern, more equal world of work.

“The shift to hybrid working has helped everyone, but it has specific benefits for women,” said Fatima Koning, group chief commercial officer for IWG. “I’m proud that at IWG, we’re helping millions of people to work in a different way and explore options that can improve their lives.”

The Value of Women in Work

Research from McKinsey shows that women’s jobs were 1.8 times more vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis than men’s. A Gallup poll shows that women’s feelings of burnout have also increased during the pandemic and that the gender gap has widened, with women now significantly more exhausted than their male counterparts.

But a global shift to hybrid working could help create solutions for some of those pandemic-fueled issues, IWG says. According to an analysis by Bloomberg, improving women’s access to employment, for example, could boost global growth by $20 trillion by 2050. PwC argues that closing the gender pay gap could increase OECD GDP by $2 trillion.

“Women tend to wear a lot of hats,” said Koning. “And they want to be the best version of themselves both at work and at home. That can be incredibly hard — but the hybrid shift is a great development that’s going to make a real difference.”

Hybrid Working and Holistic Change

Hybrid working — the division of time between home, the corporate HQ and a local flexible workspace — has particular advantages for women, IWG says, especially because they are the ones who are more likely to step back from their careers for family reasons. FlexJobs data found that 31% of American women who took a career break after having children did so because of a lack of workplace flexibility.

In a hybrid world, balancing the demands of work and home is made easier, with less stress, less time traveling and less money spent commuting. Additionally, it is much easier to equally divide the housework amongst partners instead of most of it falling on the women. 

The Vital Third Location

Francesca Peters, IWG’s chief talent officer, argues that flexible workspaces are “the vital third location” that allows businesses to offer a convenient, professional environment for employees. By giving staff access to a flex space within an easy distance of where they live, companies can appeal to more prospective employees and offer a more attractive work opportunity.

Many factors make hybrid work more attractive to workers than traditional office work or full-time WFH. Flexible workspaces provide the opportunity for colleagues to come together in person, at the same time as offering a break from the domestic environment. This can be especially valuable for women, who traditionally feel disproportionately responsible for home-based tasks such as cooking, cleaning and caregiving.

Putting People First

In a world dominated by hybrid working, employers must focus on a people-led approach — empowering employees to make their own decisions about how and where they work best. 

As part of this empowerment, companies will need to create clear hybrid working plans if they want to ensure the new world of work is a fairer place for women, IWG notes. For example, in the past, many women may have felt stigmatized for leaving the office in time to collect children, while male colleagues didn’t have to leave as often. If a company’s hybrid strategy doesn’t consider some of these potential issues, it could leave remote female workers feeling similarly unsatisfied with their job.

A New Era For Equality

The hybrid model has the power to fully transform working life, IWG says, and a major part of that is because it has the potential to do away with the traditional, gendered divisions of labor. For women, the benefits of this new openness are especially important. If executed well, the hybrid model has the power to transform working life for women, at the same time as delivering lasting change for all working people. 

“IWG is a leading provider of hybrid working solutions,” says Koning. “It’s a privilege to be part of that, both professionally and personally. I love my daughter, and I love my job, and hybrid working empowers me to give the very best of myself on both fronts. I’m proud to be helping millions of other people find that same balance.”

Read the full whitepaper here.