Is the Zoom ceiling the glass ceiling gender divide of today’s workplace?

Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2022 by Anne SNo comments

There is some evidence to suggest that more women than men are working more from home, and that when they do so, it’s more restricted (due to childcare and domestic balances). There are early signs that the new working from home model, is being adopted by more women than men, and may in fact become the new glass ceiling creating a gender divide in success in the workplace. Remote working is also highly attractive to many women, who often disproportionately have more demands to balance.

So, how as women can we prevent getting left behind in the workplace as we hit the Zoom ceiling?

1.    Be aware of what’s going on

Observe your workplace and also your household balance and try to determine, fairly, what is going on. At work, are colleagues who spend more time in the office favoured over those who work remotely? At home, are you taking on a disproportionate and unfair amount of the childcare, domestic responsibilities and mental load?

If so, can you make arrangements to work more hours within the office? Can you work out a fairer balance at home?

2.    Realise the importance of incidental encounters

Technology like Zoom makes it much easier for us to work remotely. Indeed, it enabled many of us to keep on working throughout the pandemic. It’s definitely got its place and is a boon for the benefits of remote working. However, it should be a supportive tool and it’s important to recognise its limitations.

Most crucially, if you are solely using remote communications, it’s vital to compensate for the incidental ‘water cooler’ moments that occur in an office setting. For example, it may be necessary to intentionally call a colleague to brainstorm or update them on something you’ve done which may otherwise go unseen.

Unfortunately, proximity bias is a real problem. It’s essential that you are not out of sight and out of mind. Make sure you are seen and heard regularly. If you think proximity bias is problematic in your workplace, often drawing attention to it is a good first step towards making the powers-that-be conscious that it’s happening.

3.    Call for more interactions and one-to-ones

Ideally your company will have a formal remote working policy which should factor in the need for additional contact time. However, you can also lead the way by booking in more one-to-ones to ensure you are seen and get timely feedback on your work. By formalising these meetings, you make yourself visible and can take feedback on board.

4.    Encourage all chats to go remote

While many will now be back in the office for at least part of the week, encourage your colleagues and team to keep communications and chats remote too. That way everyone is included, whether they are physically in the office or not. Definitely encourage shared online coffee chats and less formal social events.

5.    Balance your remote working with others in the team

If the whole team is remote working all of the time then there won’t be a problem. The gender gap is likely to grow if you are working considerably more hours remotely compared to the amount of time colleagues spend in the office. Try to ensure you work in the office on the same day as key players, like your boss. You need to level the playing field.

Are you worried about gender bias in your workplace? If so, and you’ve tried improving things within, without success, it may be time to work for a more aware employer. Hunt for a new job.

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