Working Pinays confident of careers, but overwhelmed by WFH – study

Published December 22, 2020, 7:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Working Filipinas fared better than their global peers in the way the COVID-19 has adversely impacted them and their careers, but equally share among other women workers that the work from home (WFH) arrangement has overwhelmingly affected them, both professionally and personally, according to a survey.

A Deloitte Philippines survey on 108 working Filipinas within its network showed that only 27 percent believe that the disruption brought about by the health crisis will prevent them from progressing in their careers. In addition, 64 percent of working Filipinas reported that COVID-19 has adversely impacted them.

This showed that Filipinas fared better compared with women in other countries. Deloitte’s global study revealed that nearly 82 percent of women surveyed said their lives have been negatively disrupted by the pandemic, and nearly 70 percent of women who have experienced these disruptions are concerned about their ability to progress in their careers.

But the survey showed commonality among working women in the way the work from home arrangement has affected them. Deloitte’s global survey found that on top of the adjustments at work women have had to make as a response to the pandemic, they have also taken on expanded duties at home as shelter-in-place directives were rolled out in the most hard-hit nations.

For the respondents in the Philippines, 68 percent feel the need to be always online; 49 percent believe they are evaluated based on the quality of their work and the hours they are online.

As a result, nearly half of working women – 45 percent globally and 43 percent of respondents in the Philippines – report feeling overwhelmed. Forty-eight percent of women globally admit that their physical well-being suffers due to this pressure, compared to 24 percent of Filipina respondents.

“The suddenness of our shift to work-from-home left many people unprepared for managing their teams remotely, managing tasks and expectations. But nine months into this new normal, hopefully businesses have learned to be more flexible and supportive as workers – particularly, working women – contend with increased home and work responsibilities. It would be unfortunate if the careers of some of these women are permanently derailed because of one highly unusual and unprecedented crisis,” said Pabellon.

Globally, 65 percent of working women report that they now have more responsibility for household chores, with a third of respondents also reporting that their workloads have increased due to the pandemic.

In the Philippines, 75 percent of working women said they now have more responsibility for household chores, with an almost equal number – 73 percent – reporting that they now also have increased workload.

Indeed, in both the global and Philippine survey, 29 percent of working women feel their career progression will be adversely impacted if they are unable to be “always on” for work. Also, when asked if they question whether they want to progress in their careers considering what is required to move up in their organizations, 60 percent of women globally and 44 percent of respondents in the Philippines said yes.

Deloitte’s survey also asked working women what actions they would like their organizations to take as a way of supporting their careers.

Fifty-five percent of women globally would like to get a promotion or a pay raise, compared to 60 percent in the Philippines. More important actions for working Filipinas are providing flexible working options (67%) and providing more skills development opportunities (63%). Globally and in the Philippines, ensuring teams are adequately staffed to provide necessary coverage and support is also an important action organizations can take – 47 percent and 59 percent, respectively.

“In addition to these support mechanisms, leaders can also conscientiously work at emphasizing trust and empathy during this difficult time,” said Pabellon. “Now more than ever, we are being chellenged to prove that corporate values such as diversity, respect, and inclusion are not just written on paper but are lived out in our work culture everyday, especially now that we are unable to physically come together as a team. Just as governments rally citizens to help make sure everyone emerges on the other side of this crisis, so should business leaders encourage their people to be supportive of each other so that nobody is left behind.”

“No doubt, this health crisis has been stressful for everyone, but this survey reveals the extra toll this unprecedented disruption has had on women, who are traditionally expected to shoulder most, if not all, household and childcare responsibilities even as they build their careers. While it is encouraging that most Filipina respondents believe this crisis will not stop them from advancing professionally, we cannot ignore the impact this increased personal and professional responsibility has on their well-being,” said Anna Marie Pabellon, Deloitte Philippines’ Risk Advisory Leader.

Asked about the specific adverse impact the pandemic has had on them, 40 percent of women worldwide reported that it has had a negative impact on their physical well-being, compared to 32 percent of Filipinas. When it comes to mental well-being, 39 percent of women globally admit the pandemic has had a negative impact, about the same as working women in the Philippines (38%). More working women globally (40%) report being unable to balance their personal and work commitments compared to working Filipinas (31%).

Notably, 54 percent of working women in the Philippines said they no longer have access to other activities for themselves or their children (such as extracurricular activities and spending time with friends) as an adverse impact of the pandemic, compared to just 28 percent of women globally.

As the world transitioned en masse to work-from-home arrangement, workers everywhere struggled with the blurring of the lines between their home life and work life. Deloitte’s survey revealed that 46 percent of women globally feel they need to be always available (i.e., online at off hours, responding to emails immediately) from a work perspective, with 51 percent of them reporting that they are evaluated at work not just on the quality of their output but also on the hours they are available online.