Flexi work will unlock potential of female workforce in Uganda

Recent global research by Regus, a Luxembourg-based company, revealed that 63% of Ugandans (respondents) think more women are demanding to work remotely when they return to the workforce. Perhaps due to increasing financial pressures, 42% of those surveyed say they are seeing women take shorter maternity leave (under three months).

Some 48% say working closer to home is a key incentive, while 29% report that the option to video-conference over travelling would help returning mothers.

In a truly equal world, women should be running half our countries and companies while men run half our homes, Facebook chief, Sheryl Sandberg, says in her book, titled Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.

The company canvassed the opinions of more than 19,000 business owners and senior managers in 98 countries and the results can be pivotal for Ugandan businesses. Due to current changes in technology, a large number of workers, especially working mothers, would consider the ability to work remotely as a make or break perk for a job.

This is part of a new concept called flexi-work or flexi-place where employees get to work partly from the workplace and partly from remote locations but still deliver satisfactorily. Respondents reported that flexible hours, working closer to home and the option to video conference instead of travelling at least some of the time are among the top strategies to get more mothers back into the workforce after pregnancies.

Joanne Bushell, the Regus Africa Vice- President, notes that the non-participation of women could reduce Gross Domestic Product in some places by as much as 27%, this signifies possible wide-ranging benefits of adopting flexi-work strategies.

“When combined with the fact that companies with a higher percentage of women on the board are more profitable, it is clear that businesses need to adapt protocols to better suit working mothers,” she said.

The flexible working allows employees, especially those with children under six years to balance between work and family obligations. Employees get to work the same number of hours as they would at a normal 8am to 5pm job and to be equally productive; however, they get to divide the hours between working at the office and at home.

An employee could choose to work between 10am and 3pm at the office to pick their children from school, attend a family meeting and still deliver on their assignments between 6pm and 10pm. This not only cuts recruitment costs but ensures that employees are more fulfilled on the job and as the saying goes, happy employee make happy customers; in the end profits improve.

“When women return to work after maternity leave, they often find that juggling professional and personal duties can be very demanding, if not impossible. It is not surprising, therefore, that more and more mums seek flexibility,

“Whether that’s through flexi-time, the opportunity to work closer to home at least some of the time, or the option to choose video conferencing over business travel, these incentives are increasingly key to encouraging more women back into employment and driving the workplace into the future,” Bushell says.

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