How some women redesign the workplace to better fit their lives
“I still have no intention of returning to 8-5 Monday through Friday. I think the ship sailed for me, ”she said. She doesn’t feel like structuring her working day according to drop-off and pick-up times for her children, nor does she miss the stress of being late to the office and having to stop while driving to take a conference call.
Kristen Surya, a New York-based lawyer in the music industry, is also determined to protect her energies when she returns to the office. As an introvert, she sometimes finds the very social atmosphere of a record label exhausting.
“People like to come and talk to you,” she said. “It’s very social in a way that makes me die inside,” she joked. The first reopening of your office at the beginning of September has now been postponed indefinitely because of the Delta variant. But Ms. Surya is already thinking about the limits to set when the office reopens. “If I feel like I want to leave at any point during the day, I just have to allow myself to do it,” she said.
Ellen Ernst Kossek, a professor at Purdue University who studies work-life boundaries and career equality, says that while employers still have a lot of power, workers must also create the post-pandemic job they want.
She advises workers to speak to their managers about what flexibility they really need and how this will affect their performance. But she also warns: Offering more remote working opportunities and flexible working hours in a culture that still expects overwork can actually do more harm than good and contribute to a deeper erosion of the boundaries between work and private life. The pandemic has confirmed this: Instead of using the time to commute, take breaks and socialize at work to rest, most people simply worked more.
A recent survey also found that 39 percent of women fear that using flexible working arrangements will negatively impact their career growth – with black and Latinx women being the hardest hit. Other research suggests a number of reasons, namely the fear that the lack of physical presence leads to being skipped during promotions and reduces the influence of women and informal interaction with decision-makers.
Suzi Kang, a quality assurance engineer based in Lincoln, Neb., Was given the option to telework at the start of the pandemic. But she was very aware of the compromises. On the one hand, she feared that working remotely would make it difficult for her to build relationships, especially as someone who only started her job three months before Covid. On the other hand, she often felt like an outsider – an Asian in an industry dominated by white men. In the end, she decided the compromise was worth it. “It helps not to have to put on a different persona for work,” she said.