The Daily Telegraph: Why gender inequality could be set to spike at work as more women work from home - Michelle Gibbings

Thanks to Lauren Ahwan from The Daily Telegraph, Michelle adds her comments this article saying, adopting a flexible approach to work can prevent women from being overlooked. Read on.

Women who resist returning to the office risk may limit their career potential. But experts reveal how they can still progress and even get a promotion at home.

Gender inequality is set to increase in the workplace, with women missing opportunities for promotion if they continue to work from home.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures confirm more women prefer to work remotely than men.

But as companies transition back to the workplace, experts say women who resist the return risk becoming invisible when it comes to career progression.

Know the risks

Despite mounting fears over Omicron, LinkedIn profile writer Karen Tisdell says many workers are already returning to the office – but they are mostly men.

“It just feels like the whole gender divide thing is happening again,” she says.

“Women are not going to have visibility in the workplace. If you’re not visible in the

workplace then you are left out of meetings and you are left out of those really important foyer and water cooler conversations (where work and promotions are often discussed).

“I don’t want to scare women into thinking if you don’t want to go back to the office that you will potentially jeopardise your promotional opportunities … but I’m terrified that we will be penalised if we choose not to be present at the table.”

A recent Federal Government Productivity Commission report agrees, noting workers who do not spend enough time in the office may be “out of sight, out of mind … leaving high quality workers who prefer remote work behind”.

Increase your visibility

Workplace expert Michelle Gibbings says adopting a flexible approach to work can prevent women from being overlooked.

“If there’s a meeting happening with 15 people in the office and you are the only one on the phone or video call, it’s going to be so much harder for you to have a voice,” she says.

“I would be selective about it – think what are the days you can work from home and what are the days you really need to have an elevated presence and you need to go into the office.

“You have to have trade-off discussions all the time because the trade-off is if you don’t turn up (in person) to that (meeting), maybe you’re not going to get to meet this new person who is an important decision maker in the company.”

When working remotely, Gibbings advises the camera should be on for online meetings and managerial staff should be regularly updated on work progress to maintain visibility.

A study of more than 61,000 Microsoft employees finds working from home caused workers to communicate less with colleagues, potentially making it harder to acquire and share information.

Gibbings says staying in touch with the “connectors” and “talkers” in the workplace is particularly important.

“They are the ones that know everything that is going on so make sure you’re chatting with them and asking what’s been happening and who’s new in the office,” she says.

Sell yourself

Behind Closed Doors managing director Donny Walford says women must become comfortable with the notion of self-promotion if they are to remain top-of-mind within their company.

“In an evolving workplace, it’s more important than ever for women to identify their

strengths and promote them while also working on ways to improve their internal networks and remain on others’ radars,” she says.

While Bupa’s corporate offices were among the workplaces to switch to remote work during the pandemic, senior commercial performance coach Katrina Byworth still managed to secure a promotion.

She says a better work/life balance has now prompted her to seek a hybrid model of work.

“I will have to be very mindful of how I interact with my team,” she says.

“When you’re face-to-face, or in the office, it’s easier to have those one-on-one discussions so I’m going to have to hold myself to account (when working from home) and make sure I schedule time for that in my diary.”

Byworth plans to meet face-to-face with her work team every few months but will work from home for the remainder of her time.

“I’ve made sure that there’s two-way communication (with my managers) so they know my goals and can see that when I do work from home it doesn’t mean I cannot engage with colleagues,” she says.

Tips for staying visible while working from home

Source: Donny Walford, Behind Closed Doors

* Where restrictions allow, work at least three days a week in the office – align with your team so you are seen and can exchange ideas

* Discuss with your manager the key projects you are working on and how you would like to promote them – ask for their input into ways you can stretch and engage with other internal stakeholders

* Define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and report on them in a face-to-face monthly (or at least quarterly) update – share key outcomes and outline your focus for the coming weeks and months

* Internal and external networking is crucial to your success – consider founding an internal group to share ideas and strategies and demonstrate your leadership strengths

* Get involved in cross-functional projects

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