In the past year, remote work has transitioned from being a rare benefit in the national security space to an expectation for an increasingly large segment of the population. Many cleared professionals are realizing just how much work they can get done in an unclassified environment, and are looking to hybrid work options to keep them maintain both flexibility and a national security career.
While remote work options may be the new norm, that doesn’t mean remote work doesn’t come without challenges. A study by McKinsey & Company found that while 79% of men said they experienced positive work effectiveness while working from home, that number was just 37% for female respondents. The survey noted women disproportionately noted struggling to balance work and home life, likely due in large part to disruptions in childcare and school schedules. Men, in contrast, didn’t rank balancing work and home life in their top 10 struggles.
Remote work is far from the talisman of career nirvana, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Despite the challenges, women still report remote work as being important, and a critical step in creating the kind of flexibility necessary to balance the demands of home and work life.
In a recent ClearanceJobs.com survey of cleared professionals, women wanted more remote work hours than their male counterparts. In contrast, the figures of what percentage of remote work they expected were more aligned across genders.
What percent of work do you WANT to be remote?
Average female answer: 61%
Average male answer: 47%
What percent of work are you EXPECTING your employer to allow or require to be remote?
Average female answer: 36%
Average male answer: 32%
Flexibility or Bust
It may be less about benefits and more about necessity – the juggle of work, school and childcare was a nightmare scenario for many working parents in 2020. Even if they report higher numbers of burnout, women still cite remote work as a benefit worth pursuing – a study by Catalyst found that female caregivers who could work remotely were 32% less likely to say they were going to leave their job in the next year compared to those who didn’t have the option to work remotely.
Remote Work and the Great Reshuffle
National security employers have been bracing for the great reshuffling. After a year of employees seeking to maintain the status quo in the face of uncertainty, many employees cite updating their career profiles and being open to their next opportunity. The 2021 ClearanceJobs Compensation Report found 89% of female respondents were at least somewhat likely to change jobs in the coming year, compared to 84% of male respondents. Women feeling the crunch of childcare and work responsibilities in 2020 and 2021 may be looking for an employer who offers better support.
What the data bears out is that remote work isn’t necessarily making life easier for female workers – the remote work burnout is real – but it is still a flexibility that is increasingly necessary. Employers who care about both attracting and retaining a diverse workforce will need to ensure their back to work plans are high on flexibility and support. Female employees might not expect it – but they want it.