Article by Kathryn Hutchinson, Head of Business Applications at Content+Cloud

Woman working at desk, work life balance, woman in tech, remote workingThe ability to make equal time for work and leisure within a daily schedule is sought after by many of us across the workforce.

But needing to maintain a healthy work-life balance for many women is not just a nice to have, it’s an integral part of feeling successful both in their careers and personal lives. With family responsibilities to juggle alongside work commitments, navigating the balance is no easy feat. But the balance is possible, and the women of today are very aware that a choice between work and family is not so binary, yet there are still challenges that persist. In 2021, 75.6% of UK mothers were in employment. Women are also much more likely to care for elderly relatives than men, with half of women becoming a carer by the age of 46—almost 20 years before they might expect to retire from their chosen profession. So, it’s clear that “home life” can mean a number of different things that require very different personal commitments.

In the technology industry, the working environment is intense, fast-paced and dynamic. With a constantly expanding to-do list, it can be hard to know when to turn off from work particularly as hybrid working models blur the line between working and “out-of-office” hours.

For much of the pandemic, dining rooms and kitchen tables were turned into offices, so it was easy to work after hours or to check emails late into the evening. Having the working day bleeding into family time has made it much harder to switch off. Even now, days in the office finish upon leaving the office, whereas at home the laptop can just sit there open as a ‘just in case’.

Creating a clear divide between work and home is therefore key to striking the right balance, but with so many home commitments to consider, women are at a greater risk of burnout. Taking time away from work and finding time to relax with family, away from responsibilities, is essential for unwinding and mitigating this risk. It’s therefore crucial that women are supported when it comes to identifying aspects of their lives where they are experiencing stress. Increasingly, technology solutions, such as employee experience platforms can help to identify negative working patterns and potential burnout in employees, so implementing these solutions is also an effective option for helping women in the workplace. If these tools are not currently available to you, raise the issue with management or IT to work out some options.

Putting your mental wellbeing first and ensuring you have the time to  unwind will in-turn help you in your role. It is also important to have a great support system around you that understands your role and the demands of it. This will enable you to lean on the support when work demands it and to ultimately enjoy your role in tech.

The Covid effect

Covid has been a double-edged sword when it comes to maintaining a work-life balance. On the one hand, the shift to remote working has meant women can spend more time at home so family commitments have less of an impact on work. For example, a child taking a day off school due to illness, or taking a relative to a healthcare appointment, does not mean missing work. As organisations have been encouraged to embrace more flexible working patterns, women can take some time out of work in the morning or the afternoon for the school run or appointments and make up the time.

For me, the commitments of my role in technology and constantly travelling around the country meeting clients was beginning to have an impact on my home life. As my daughter got older, I was considering a career change that required less travelling so I could spend more time with her. But remote working capabilities, accelerated by the pandemic,  have helped me to remain in the technology sector and have given me back the home life I needed.

Helping women remain in tech

Maintaining a work-life balance will never be easy, especially for those working in the technology industry. But there is a role for technology companies to play in helping women improve their situations, with care, consideration and practices that understand and mitigate the struggles women face today. Encouraging flexible working options and making hybrid working a permanent feature makes juggling personal and work commitments that bit easier and can help more women to remain in the sector.

Kathryn HutchinsonAbout the author

After earning my Accounting and Finance degree I took a role in Manchester as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) support consultant. I now have over 20 years’ experience supporting and consulting on various ERP implementations. My current role is Head of Business Applications at Content+Cloud where I look after a team of people working with Microsoft Dynamics 365.