Ben Bierman, Managing Director of Business Partners Limited
Ben Bierman, Managing Director of Business Partners Limited

Business101: Supporting women working full-time from home

By Opinion Time of article published Aug 14, 2020

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By Ben Bierman

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to close most grades in public schools for a month comes with additional responsibilities for families.

While this should impact equally on all working parents, research by Unicef, the UN Children’s Fund, shows this to be unlikely, with women carrying out three times the amount of unpaid care and domestic work than men.

For many South African women the schools’ closure means a juggle of childcare, homeschooling and domestic chores while working full-time from home. Here are ways businesses can use to support the hard-working superwomen during this challenging time.

Commnunication Working parents pretend that they are not torn between their children and work. But the reality is that there are times when the children need to take priority, and that is okay.

Ensure employees feel comfortable speaking up when these times arise and are able to ask for additional support when they need it.

Flexibility Parenting can be unpredictable. Things do not always get done when they are supposed to.

What is important is that urgent tasks need to be prioritised and deadlines are not missed – when the actual work gets done and targets are met is much of a muchness.

So, if working parents find it easier to get their jobs done in the early hours of the morning or late at night, make provisions for this.

Workload Everybody has had to adjust in one way or another over the past few months.

Some have handled this new way of working better than others. Businesses should be observing who is coping and which members of staff might need additional support, and reallocate the workload accordingly.

Support Businesses need to foster a supportive culture amongst employees.

A good way to do this is by showing people that they are not alone.

By normalising the conversation of worklife balance, you can create a platform for employees to speak about their current struggles and possibly offer support and coping mechanisms that they have found to be helpful over this difficult period.

Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited.


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