The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone and their daily lives, and while it has been disadvantageous for everyone, it has been that way, especially for women. Women, in general, have a unique ability to play multiple roles at once and do extremely well at that. From being a wife and mother, to being a friend, teacher, and caretaker, many of us have overlooked the impact of the pandemic on these women. Working mothers have had it the worst; the moment they have children to raise and tend to, they abandon their careers regardless of their aspirations. This would be due to the lack of adequate workspaces that allow the two aspects of their lives – motherhood and the pursuit of their career – to come together. 

Designing a safe workspace for working mothers

As the economy rebounds and the pandemic slowly transitions into an endemic in many countries, like Malaysia, the original norm of working from home is also shifting as workers are called back to their offices. While this has signaled a significant transition in working culture, it is even more significant for working mothers. 

The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups’ report titled “Improving Incentives for Women’s Employment” polled 520 residents in order to investigate what kept women from re-entering the workforce. It was noted that only 44% of the workforce were married women, a low percentage given the country’s dwindling labour force participation rate. The report, along with other studies, also concluded that while the majority of those surveyed favoured women’s employment, they also felt that women should be the primary caregivers for children, and this is similar in other countries within Asia

Furthermore, it is a common belief that working mothers would have had it “easier” to work from home since they were able to handle their work and children in the same space. According to a global study, working mothers were 28% more likely than working fathers to experience burnout. A commentary written on Channel News Asia, along with research from the Singapore University of Technology and Design, has also highlighted the negative effects of COVID-19 on working mothers, which included burnout and dealing with “worry work”

It is critical for mothers, particularly new mothers, to have greater access to better workplaces so that they may return to work more seamlessly during this COVID transition. 

Workplaces of the future: coworking spaces

There is no denying that many parents have the common struggle of establishing a work-life balance. The balancing of a parent’s responsibilities at home and at work should be a business goal for companies to work towards achieving, especially when it comes to helping working mothers achieve that healthy balance. Fortunately, we do see a change in the future of employment as there are now many more options for flexible working styles given the pandemic. 

As a result of the growing popularity of hybrid and remote working arrangements, coworking spaces have now been able to market themselves as a “meeting point” between a company’s headquarters and the houses of its employees. The introduction of coworking spaces has always been widely accepted, as it used to cater to entrepreneurs and startups by providing affordable office spaces as well as unique networking opportunities. However, with the presence of the pandemic, larger companies are realising the benefits of coworking spaces, as it is a space where mothers can seek solace and get work done efficiently. 

As a space that allows mothers to go out of the house for a few hours to focus on their jobs and tasks that have to be done by that specific day, they would be able to get their tasks completed without their work excessively seeping into their personal lives once they leave the space to go back to their children. 

Reinventing a mother’s role in the future of work

Working mothers who wish to re-enter the workforce by experimenting with new working arrangements can consider coworking spaces like WORQ, which are a far cry from traditional offices. WORQ strives to encourage working mothers to return to work by fostering a welcoming environment without the dangers and expenses of big-ticket solutions. 

In addition to the independence that a coworking space offers, WORQ has features that cater to the needs of every working mother. Mothers would be able to strike a balance between their careers and their families by remaining close to home, and this is possible thanks to the several locations where WORQ has made their coworking spaces available. WORQ also offers amenities such as “Mothers Rooms” for nursing mothers, shower rooms, and resting pods for any mother who needs to freshen up during their working hours.

It is, with WORQ, that we may ultimately witness a growth in the re-entry of working mothers into the workforce and a potential increase in the talent pool of different countries’ workforces. 

About the author

Stephanie Ping WORQ

Stephanie Ping is the co-founder & CEO of WORQ, a hyper-localized community workspace founded in March 2017 with a vision of helping individuals achieve greater results by working together. WORQ aims to bring new opportunities to businesses and entrepreneurs by fostering meaningful connections for its members and the surrounding community. She graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in Economics and M.S. in Management Science & Engineering, where her experience with Stanford’s entrepreneurship community played a significant role in shaping her vision for WORQ’s entrepreneurial community. Stephanie is the award recipient of the Malaysian Venture Capital Association’s Outstanding Female Entrepreneur of 2019. Till date, WORQ has bagged 5 prestigious awards, including the coworker member’s choice awards for two consecutive years.