And, the people doing the work, especially if they're parents? Well, they clearly made the wrong choice to bring children into the world in the last eight years. Otherwise, they wouldn't be in such trouble now.
(Yes, that's sarcastic.)
If you have not yet read Working Moms Bear Brunt of Home Schooling While Working During COVID-19, I urge you to do so.
Mothers, not fathers, were 53% more likely to step back from working during the pandemic. I don't have data about women who were fired because they care for young children. I bet it's a significant number.
Managers, listen up. Let me do a little woman-splaining to you. People who take primary care child care responsibilities during the pandemic exhibit these qualities and characteristics:
- They are the most adaptable to change. They recognize when change occurs.
- They are the most resilient to change. They find a Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan E, and so on.
- They are the most innovative because they have to be.
- They are good at fast switching because their children have many needs during the day.
- They have learned (at least a little) how to explain things so others can learn.
Working parents who take primary child care responsibilities excel at delivering in trying circumstances.
Why would you not support these people?
I hope it's not because they are women. If so, you don't understand how to optimize for remote work. You don't understand how effective these women can be.
Optimize for Remote Work
When teams create their hours of overlap, teams understand how to work together. Right now, teams might need 20- or 30-minute segments instead of hours.
If you understand spreadsheets, you can easily see how to divide a one-hour box into either 3 20-minute segments or 2 30-minute segments. Your team might even benefit from using 30-minute segments and creating Pomodoro's inside that 30 minutes.
How about “professionalism?” Can a working woman at home be professional?
I can't believe it's 2020 and people still ask this question.
Yes, you might see children (of all ages) in your Zooms. You might see a woman feeding an infant or a toddler—with the resulting rediscovery of gravity or the occasional spit-up. Or, a woman might go off-camera for the feeding times.
Is all this “aggravation” worth it?
You bet it is. In fact, you might be betting the survival of your company on it.
If you haven't yet read Anita Woolley's Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor…, you have no idea what you're missing if you exclude women. And, if you haven't read The mortality of companies, you might not realize how short a lifespan your company has—unless it can innovate.
Make life easier for your working parents, especially mothers. These women will remember how you treated them. Treat them well—they will be loyal.
Treat them badly? When the economy recovers, they will be young enough to start your next serious competitor and wipe the floor with you.
Managers, use the pressure you feel to create a better environment for all working parents. Don't fall prey to old, outdated thinking.
Support working parents, especially mothers. You need these people in your organization, now, more than ever.