Times of India’s Edit Page team comprises senior journalists with wide-ranging interests who debate and opine on the news and issues of the day.
Who’s missing the office? Some women, it turns out. All too often, the whole family working from home has meant that duties of children and chores fall mainly on women, along with their formal work. In the West, this is referred to as women’s “double shift”. In India, affluent women outsource housework to domestic workers, but affluent men rarely pick up the slack. India has the highest unpaid work gender gap in the world, men spend an average of 52 minutes a day on housework, compared to nearly six hours by women.
Of course, women are also glad about the mainstreaming of remote working. Until now, many companies had been reluctant to embrace flexible work, even as demands of childcare often forced women to drop out. Remote-working had become an under-promoted, dead-end track.
The pandemic has been a dramatic rupture for employers too. It is a fresh chance to assess benefits of autonomy, costs of limited interaction, and to measure outcomes and rewards without implicit gender biases. So far, women have been caught in a pincer – the world of work has pretended that the private domain doesn’t exist, letting women suffer in their careers. Whether employees return full-time to the office or work from home, institutions have no excuses for treating men and women differently.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.