Women were hit harder than men by layoffs during the pandemic, and those who were caregivers or parents and kept working had to contend with COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care and schools. Online learning, runny noses and COVID-19 scares all meant that kids stayed home more, often on short notice. This made remote work necessary for many parents and the burden fell disproportionately on women.
As kids return to school, and the vaccine buys us some freedom to move around, employers are eyeing a return to the office. But child care remains precarious as COVID-19 scares – or even the kind of common childhood bugs that resemble the virus – threaten to keep kids home on short notice. That reality, along with the flexibility of remote work many employees have grown accustomed to, has given rise to the idea of a hybrid model, where employees can choose when to work at home, and when to come into the office.
But as ROB senior business writer and columnist Rita Trichur points out, the hybrid model can only work fairly if those who need to work remotely are given the same opportunities to advance in their careers as the employees who put in more face time at the office. And that means deliberately shifting the culture of many workplaces.