According to a PwC study on remote work in Canada since the onset of the pandemic, almost 60 percent of Canadians are now working from home.
And it is Canadian women who are far more likely to work in professions and roles that are suitable for remote working, according to the nation's statistics agency. In fact, Royal Bank of Canada research from February to May showed degree-holding women were more likely to hold onto their positions — and ride out the crisis — than their male counterparts.
PwC also discovered work-life balance and maintaining productivity have been two of the main challenges in the shift to remote work. Leading women business owners and executives have been at the forefront of these challenges — all while they strive to maintain businesses through these uncertain times.
Remote Work Adding to Challenges
“The women hit hardest right now with the challenge of remote work balance and wellbeing during this pandemic are those with children at home, and who also have aging parents who need support,” said Heather Marasse, managing partner at Trilogy Effect. An Ottawa-based executive coach, Marasse has been working with women leaders as they struggle to balance remote work and wellbeing.
“The classic “sandwich” period of life where you have the demands of being a working mother is further complicated by having aging, and sometimes ailing, parents. Add the constraints of navigating this during a global pandemic and it creates a perfect storm," said Marasse.
Three Ways Women Are Pursuing Remote Work
Female business leaders are rising to the challenge of caring for their businesses, friendships, and families while staying grounded amid the difficulties the pandemic presents to everyone’s workload and wellbeing. Here is what leading Canadian women are doing to find balance and wellbeing, given these taxing demands.
1. Practice Kindness Over Perfectionism
Freelance writer Elna Cain has been working from home for the past six years. Distractions are part of her daily routine, with twins and a husband at home all day too. “They know that when my door is closed, I'm either doing a Zoom call or knee-deep in client work,” said Cain, who goes to her home office to start her workday, once her twins start their school day in the living room. “As a working-at-home mother, I have to give up that idea of perfection and give myself grace. This one thing has greatly improved my wellbeing is my ability to let go and know that as long as my clients, my twins, and family are happy, I'm doing a good job.”
2. Prioritize Mental Health
Author and business strategist Kelly Roach takes mental health just as seriously. Her business has put in place mental health days once a month for each team member. “This gives them an opportunity to unplug and recharge. We've also hired a team trainer who provides us with workouts, meditations, meal prep live sessions, snack sessions, and more. My best tip for creating balance in this area is to block off mental health days, breaks, vacations, and workouts on your calendar. If it's not on the calendar, it probably won't get done.” Roach suggests other female leaders "be relentless about fulfilling your promise to yourself" by doing activities like these on your calendar.
3. Set Firm Boundaries in Your work life
Kristin Moss, chief ambassador of DealAid, makes an effort to separate work time from free time by limiting device use and putting a hard finish on work activities at the same time each day. “I don’t do any work-related activities outside of my work hours — no work after 6 pm or on the weekends. I’ve also deleted my work email from my phone and only check work emails on my work laptop, which is in my designated workspace. This has helped me create strong boundaries in my mind as to when I am at work and when I am at home.”
Moss suggests other women leaders set "clearly defined deliverables and timelines" with co-workers, superiors, and employees that do not infringe on your time outside of work or detract from your mental serenity. “This is a must if you want to have any semblance of work-life balance,” she said.
For Pooneh Ramezani, co-founder of Dr. Brite, this is a useful way to avoid the risks of burnout. Ramezani started the oral hygiene company with her sister, Paris Sabo, in 2015. “I believe in working efficiently for five to six days per week and giving myself little periods of time off to do things I enjoy with friends and family, so I may recharge. I find that I get more done in five to six days per week — with some time off — than working non-stop. It's easy to fall into the trap of never taking time away from the business — which I've seen lead to burnouts.”
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. It should not be regarded as comprehensive or a substitute for professional advice.