Here’s why hybrid working means more stress for women

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Victoria Masterson, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • Stress and burnout are at “alarming levels”, according to a new report by Deloitte.
  • A third of the women surveyed have taken time off work in the past year because of mental health challenges.
  • Flexible working is only available to 33% of women – and 60% say hybrid working makes them feel shut out.
  • Inclusive employers with flexible working policies are more likely to attract and retain women, say the report’s authors.

Burnout and stress for women at work have reached “alarming levels”, a new report warns. Women @ Work 2022: A Global Outlook is a survey of 5,000 working women across 10 countries by professional services firm Deloitte Global.

It finds 53% of women reporting higher stress levels than a year ago, while 46% of women say they feel burned out. This is the top driving factor behind the four in 10 women currently looking for a new job, Deloitte says.

Women off work

A third of women have taken time off work because of mental health challenges – with only around four in 10 feeling they can discuss these in the workplace.

COVID-19 and changes to the world of work have motivated “career and life decisions” for many women. “For some, this has meant seeking new, more flexible working patterns,” the authors say.

Others have left jobs or the workforce entirely.

Only 10% of women say they plan to stay with their current employer for more than five years.

Hybrid working challenges

Just a third of women (33%) report that their employer offers flexible working policies. More than 90% fear that asking for this would affect their promotion prospects. This is “worrisome”, the authors say.

Hybrid working has also made 60% of the women surveyed feel shut out of important meetings.

Other findings in the report include an increase from 52% to 59% in women experiencing harassment or microaggressions at work in 2021. This includes unwanted physical advances, repeated derogatory comments, being talked over or patronized. For LGBT+ and ethnic minority women, the incidences are higher.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the gender gap?

The World Economic Forum has been measuring gender gaps since 2006 in the annual Global Gender Gap Report.

The Global Gender Gap Report tracks progress towards closing gender gaps on a national level. To turn these insights into concrete action and national progress, we have developed the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerators model for public private collaboration.

These accelerators have been convened in ten countries across three regions. Accelerators are established in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Panama in partnership with the InterAmerican Development Bank in Latin America and the Caribbean, Egypt and Jordan in the Middle East and North Africa, and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

All Country Accelerators, along with Knowledge Partner countries demonstrating global leadership in closing gender gaps, are part of a wider ecosystem, the Global Learning Network, that facilitates exchange of insights and experiences through the Forum’s platform.

In 2019 Egypt became the first country in the Middle East and Africa to launch a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator. While more women than men are now enrolled in university, women represent only a little over a third of professional and technical workers in Egypt. Women who are in the workforce are also less likely to be paid the same as their male colleagues for equivalent work or to reach senior management roles.

In these countries CEOs and ministers are working together in a three-year time frame on policies that help to further close the economic gender gaps in their countries. This includes extended parental leave, subsidized childcare and removing unconscious bias in recruitment, retention and promotion practices.

If you are a business in one of the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator countries you can join the local membership base.

If you are a business or government in a country where we currently do not have a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator you can reach out to us to explore opportunities for setting one up.

Supporting women at work

In the race for talent, inclusive employers that support women will be the winners, Deloitte says. “Women who work for these companies report far higher levels of engagement, trust, and career satisfaction, and they also plan to stay with their employers longer.”

Evolution of the Global Gender Gap Index and subindexes over time.
The pandemic has widened the gender gap at work for many women. Image: World Economic Forum

In its Gender Gap Report 2021, the World Economic Forum estimates it will take more than 267 years to close the gender gap in the category of Economic Participation and Opportunity, which includes jobs and pay.

“Overall income disparities are still only part-way towards being bridged and there is a persistent lack of women in leadership positions, with women representing just 27% of all manager positions,” the Forum says.

The pandemic has also widened the gender gap in certain countries for women’s participation in the workforce.


  1. […] Findings show that prior to the pandemic, women were overlooked for leadership roles, and with hybrid working now, 60% of the women feel shut out of important meetings. At the same time, only a third of women (33%) reported that their employer offers flexible working policies, and more than 90% fear that asking for this would affect their promotion prospects which is a worrisome trend. About 64% of women working in a hybrid environment say their employer hasn’t set clear expectations around how or where they’re to work. That can cause challenges for those who may need a more predictable schedule.  […]

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