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Current Consulting | Challenges faced by Women working from home during COVID-19

The nationwide lockdown in South Africa has been exceptionally tough, emotionally and financially, on individuals and families across the country. This unprecedented time has caused the need for adaptation and, in line with such, a general shift to still get ‘stuff’ done despite the circumstances.

The concept of ‘working from home’ is not a new one, and in fact, is often viewed as the ideal situation. That is, under ‘normal circumstances’, you know, back when kids still went to school or had nannies, domestic workers took care of household chores and take-aways were allowed.

When lockdown began, many of the familiar support structures that we took for granted fell away, requiring someone to assume responsibility. It is a known fact that in times of crisis, it is more often the women who bear the brunt; taking on household and caregiver roles. Although not true for all households, it has traditionally been the task of women to keep the house clean, do laundry, cook dinner and nurture children. And while this may have worked back in the day, now add, professional working woman to the modern-age list.

Lockdown has forced many women to work from home and, as much as we love our children, it’s tricky getting things done intermittently or having your toddler barge in during video call meetings. Not to mention, the ongoing cycle of tasks of organising home-schooling schedules, quality family time, household chores and finishing work deadlines- with little quality emotional and physical release unless you can do it before 9 am.

For boss ladies already familiar with working from home, they probably have their designated office space set up and fully equipped. But what does it mean for the women who are suddenly required to work from home and can’t simply pop out to get documents printed?

What about the women who don’t have reliable internet access at home and can’t download school tasks for their children or send work emails?

What about the women who are unable to work at all because of lockdown restrictions?

So just how do we survive this time? A good place to start is setting up a daily routine and sticking to it as much as possible. Try organising some flexibility with your boss (even if that’s you) regarding work times so that you can incorporate other important activities into your day. This could include getting the kids set up with school work, doing some household chores and fitting in a quick workout routine.

Don’t be afraid to say if you need help; speak up and get your partner involved or allocate duties amongst family members.

As a matriarch, it’s natural to want to take on all the responsibilities that keep the household running but remember to also take some time out for yourself and not burn out!