Empowering employees to find their own work-life balance is a vital step to ensuring the positive elements of remote working are carried forward, writes Emma Maslen of Ping Identity
The pandemic changed everything. We went from cars and trains to Teams and Zoom; from live music to online quizzes. And from remote working once a month to working remotely anywhere it suits.
For employees, the change was drastic. All sense of work/life balance went out of the window, replaced by meetings interrupted with children’s questions on homework, and client calls overrunning well into the evening. Now, as we rethink office culture in the “great reopening”, it is time to shift our mindsets from a “work from home” to a “work from where it suits you” culture.
Celebrating the good, stopping the bad
As we enter the hybrid world – one that’s still in relative infancy – we need to learn from the pandemic and ensure we’re creating a better, fairer workplace. Working remotely brought benefits but it also saw a rise in overworking, with more than three-quarters (77%) of employees experiencing “presenteeism”, despite not being physically present!
The challenge now is to retain the positive elements – working from anywhere, flexible hours and cutting our commute – while pulling back from the exhausting “always on” culture. To start, we’re calling for an introduction of client commitments that nurture the client-worker relationship, create hybrid-working mental health strategies, and establish initiatives that fit your organisation and your people.
Creating a positive culture
Critical to this is trust: empowering employees to find their own work-life balance. The shift to an all-digital “office” experience has in many ways levelled the playing field, notably for parents or carers who find themselves in a position of child or family care.
Covid-19 showed us that it was possible to have flexibility and remove the stigma that we all need to work a nine-to-five. It comes back to the culture we create internally and the example that we set for young professionals around us. In questions of gender equality, for example, we need more initiatives that encourage young women to develop hard skills that will suit the digital age – such as coding or UX design.
These, alongside softer skills such as collaboration and emotional intelligence have risen in importance alongside absenteeism and wellbeing. By encouraging the development of proficiency across a variety of skill sets and eliminating cultural aversions to outdated gender roles, future female leaders stand to perhaps benefit the most.
In many respects, the pandemic acted as a worldwide reset, spotlighting biases and creating working environments where people from all backgrounds can thrive. Yet, the tech industry in particular remains heavily male-dominated with only 16% female representation in the UK. This must be corrected. Companies need to take this time to invest in talent retention, retrain existing employees to be fit for a hybrid world and introduce initiatives that help young female professionals enter the working world of cybersecurity.
At Ping Identity, we recognise the importance of promoting a gender diverse workforce and ensure our hiring practices in Europe reflect these values. Similarly, we’re looking to launch our Ping4Good programme which has a focus on Girls in STEM, again, promoting gender diversity in cybersecurity and identity and access management sector.
For us, the challenges in the workplace and wider industry have only begun, so there has never been a better time to lean into the change.
About the author
Emma Maslen is Vice President & General Manager of EMEA and APAC at Ping Identity – identity security for the global enterprise.
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