How post-COVID world will be friendlier to female entrepreneurs

The new normal has eased many barriers that existed for female entrepreneurs in all these years. The changes introduced by COVID-19 have transformed the corporate landscape, and many of them have created favourable circumstances for female entrepreneurs.

It’s been more than a year since organisations switched to work from home following the pandemic, and the model’s efficiency for business operations has been well demonstrated.

Industry-wide work from home has also prompted some shifts in attitude that will prove significant to female entrepreneurs. These changing perceptions are shaping a friendlier environment for women in business.

Like many such new normals are likely to become a part of everyday life post-COVID, these changes in attitude, too, will welcome more women to entrepreneurship.

Acceptance of fully remote startups

Before the pandemic, if one thought of starting a business, decisions about an office space usually was one of the top priorities. Even while introducing one’s business, questions about one’s office space tended to be one of the oft-asked questions.

In the pre-COVID-19 era, if one happened to say they were working from home with a remote team, it took away one’s business credibility. There was an unconscious bias against women working from home and the impulse to think they were only doing small assignments that didn’t bring a regular income. A physical office space elevated the ‘seriousness’ of a business.

The pandemic has turned the question obsolete. There’s never been a better time than now for businesses operating on a fully remote model. With global companies of all shapes and sizes working remotely, acceptance of the ‘work from home’ model has allowed entrepreneurs to breathe a sigh of relief.

You can now run an entirely virtual business without physical office space and a remote team located across geographies, and no one will bat an eyelid.

Today, your work does the talking. The work that you’ve done and the work you showcase establishes an entrepreneur’s credibility. Professional networking, too, has turned virtual and happens on social media networks.

A robust digital presence keeps you in touch with your professional network and eliminates the worry of inviting clients to a physical office for meetings.

Normalisation of motherhood and caregiving

Work from home replaced work-life balance with work-life integration. Working from home, juggling personal and professional lives, introduced a more holistic acceptance of a professional’s domestic responsibilities.

The common reality we’re facing and ever-changing guidelines inevitably make talk of an errand or chore a part of our professional conversations. It is making colleagues and clients, generally, more empathetic towards the role women play in their lives as mothers and caregivers.

I see people acknowledging the effort — something that was not appreciated earlier. As a female entrepreneur, excusing oneself to attend to domestic responsibilities or children is not frowned upon as it used to be.

It’s no longer perceived poorly and doesn’t take away from a female entrepreneur’s professional capabilities. This creates an encouraging environment that allows women to thrive as entrepreneurs. It saves significant mental energy that they may otherwise expend in trying to portray themselves as women who mean business.

An inclusive environment for mompreneurs

Concurrently, at home, family members are more understanding than ever before. They are more empathetic and appreciative of the efforts that go into balancing household responsibilities and work.

Witnessing first-hand — the woman in the role of an entrepreneur and a mom — they are now motivated to step in and help them achieve a balance. There is more support and encouragement at home.

Evenly and equally distributed domestic responsibilities have reduced the burden of expectations and roles assumed to be for women. Additionally, outsourcing tasks with detailed planning also helps.

Work from home also makes entrepreneurship more inclusive for mothers. Earlier, I used to be at the office for 10 to 12 hours at a stretch, which kept me from participating in my children’s lives.

Now, being physically present, I can monitor and supervise while also attending to work. Being around also offers excellent opportunities to instill good habits and valuable life skills in children.

Seeing you at work gives them a chance to understand your other responsibilities. First-time homepreneurs, in particular, can put to ease worries about their new business pulling them away from their kid’s childhood.

The new normal has eased many such barriers that existed for female entrepreneurs in all these years. The changes introduced by COVID-19 have transformed the corporate landscape, and many of them have created favourable circumstances for female entrepreneurs.

The ease of starting and running a business from anywhere, and changing perceptions of women’s responsibilities, have made it an opportune moment for women who want to step into the business world.

(The author Zahara Kanchwalla is the co-founder & CEO of Rite Knowledge Labs.)
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