Is the remote-working model that has become wide spread with the pandemic becoming permanent? Speaking to BirGün, International LabourOrganization (ILO) SeniorSpecialist on Gender Equalityand Non-Discrimination Emanuela Pozzan answered thisquestion cautiously: “It is stillto be seen if remote-working arrangements will be fully embrace donce the pandemic ends. An hybridformula of in-presence and remote working is probably what many workers would prefer. It is worth mentioning that not all jobs are suitable for teleworking as “teleworkable” jobs are typically well-paid, white-collar occupations in bigcities.’
According to Pozzan, during these months of prolonged remote-working, both the benefits and the side-effects have been highlighted.
‘The blurring of physicaland organisational boundaries between work and home especially when remote-work is performed on a continued basis, if not adequately managed, can have a negative impact on an individual’s mental and physical health and intensify work-family tensions’ Pozzan warns.
‘WOMEN SHOULDER THE BRUNT OF THIS ADDITIONAL PRESSURE’
‘A few studies assessing the impact of teleworking on workers’ health out comes during the early phases of the pandemic report that mothers experience higher psychological distress compared to women without children and toall men’ she said and added:
‘Mothers may find it harder to meet tight, but not always important, deadlines or attend meetings, while feeding young kids or helping them in home schooling at the same time and, as a result, may work late to meet suc hdeadlines or carry out other duties. With the pandemic and the sudden closure of schools and daily care centres, the amount of domestic choresandunpaid carework have no doubtin creased. Accordingto a recent surveyby UN Womencovering 50 countries, 28 percent of womenand 16 percent of men reported an increase in theintensity oftheirdomesticwork.’
Notingthatthiswas in factalreadythecasebeforethe COVID-19 outbreak, Pozzansaid, ‘Women carrying out more than three-quarters of the total daily time spent in unpaid carework across the world. But preliminary evidence available seems to suggest, with no surprise, that women shoulder the brunt of this additional pressure during pandemic.’
CARE SERVICES OFFERED ARE VITAL
Whatwill be thepicture in terms of working life afterthepandemic? Willwomenprefertostayhomewhile men gotowork?
‘Thiswillverymuchdepend on there activation and well-functioning of care services in the country and on the extent to which the work will be organized with a view to avoiding any additional source of will not become discrimination’ saidPozzan.
‘In an ideal world, both women and men should be able to share the unpaid carework. If women wish to choose staying home, this should not be a reason for missing out in career opportunities.’
THE MEASURES THAT GOVERNMENT SHOULD TAKE
Pozzan lists other measures that governments should take if home-based work be comespermanent:
‘Access to affordable, reliable and high-qualitychild care an delderly care is essential if people are to concentrate on their work with out constant interruptions due to family care or housework. Provide a comprehensive package of care leave policies, including parental leave, whether paid or unpaid. Ensure the right of employees to disconnect from their work to prevent anxiety and burn out and allow for work-life balance.’
‘Work place policies and strategies need to ensure that those who choose or are mandated to work at home do not experience negative career consequences, such as not being offered career advancement or training opportunities, including training on installing and using computer software for efficient and effectivetele work.’ she added.
Emphasizing the importance of work-home borde rmanagement, ILO Senior Specialist on Gender Equalityand Non-Discrimination Emanuela Pozzan said, “To the extent possible, work place policies and practices, including when meetings are convened, should be adaptable and a ccommodate the different needs of different employees, irrespective of gender or life course stage. If you still need to be on call for a typical “9 to 5”, the benefits of working remotely are significantly reduced. Work-home boundary management support is also key. Good practices includee stablishing organizational policies regarding hours of “contactability” (which is broaderthan normal workinghours), as well as shutting down computer servers at night and over the weekends or discouragingmanagement to contact employees during leave periods or over weekends. Each employee also needs to adopt their own boundary management strategy.’
‘Managers should be assisted in shifting towards management by results instead of management by control. This entails, among others, setting more realistic expectations, re-evaluating performancecriteria – for instance, not criticizing employees for working outside of core hours; communicating clearly about duties, tasks; assessing regularly the employees’ workload; providing technicalorlogistical support as required; and facilitatingco-worker networking’ she added.
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