Burning Questions about the Next World of Work

Sharon Tolaini-Sage Careers & Networking Expo Event Director

Burning Questions about the Next World of Work.

There can be no more burning questions in relation to work at present than those surrounding how the new world of work will emerge from the global pandemic. This is particularly the case for women, whose historical struggles to emerge from the domestic sphere may be re-enacted once society is able to return to enabling the kinds of collaborative, in-person working patterns that came before. 

Or is this just outmoded thinking? Will this new world of work enable a hybrid, more satisfying, balanced culture – the holy grail of work/life balance? The games sector is unusual as a specialist area of employment in that it is flourishing in the new remote working world – able to be productive because of pipelines of production that have digital connectivity hard-wired in: So what do we know about the effects of the pandemic on women working in the world of games?

The answer is, at the moment, we have no specific published research about the effects on the games sector, although we have anecdotal sources that may be confirmed to an extent by more wide reaching research. One example from the University of Birmingham* concludes that: 

‘Missing interactions with colleagues was noted as a key negative aspect of working from home, especially among women without children. This group was also much more likely to feel nervous and stressed during the lockdown than their male counterparts.’ 

As for women who are parents: 

‘…We have seen a significant increase in self-reported productivity but a decrease in the actual working hours of mothers, especially those with primary school aged children… Mothers are also working considerably more in the evenings than before the COVID-19 lockdown.’

So some women are suffering from a secondary pandemic of loneliness and stress, while others are working more productively for less time, but outside the usual working day. Recent analysis by the Office for National statistics covering the period March 2020 – February 2021 confirms the gendered implications.

New careers have been beginning in lockdown, where for almost a year, those embarking on entry-level roles, such as graduates, as well as those moving between companies, have been on-boarded in isolation, never having met their colleagues other than online. What the lasting effects of all this will be, is still uncertain.  

One thing though, is certain, as Jean-Nicolas Reyt, Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at McGill University, in an interview for the BBC’s ‘Worklife’* site, points out:

‘Even as modern organisation [sic] are challenged by attracting, retaining and promoting talented employees, they underutilise one major source of available talent: women. Women account for half of all entry-level employees, yet they compose only a third of senior managers and a fifth of C-suite executives…’ 

Another of the many unsubtle ways in which Covid-19 has affected women’s continuous battle to highlight inequality, has been the suspension of the government’s gender pay gap reporting requirement. In order to ‘make sure that the pandemic does not turn the clock back on women and work’ the Fawcett Society has just published a ‘joint statement on Gender Pay Gap Reporting’, which can be found here.

Against such a background of instability, Women in Games as an organisation looks to examine essential questions about the world of work and bring them to light through discussion and speculation. The forthcoming Careers and Networking Expo will bring women together to enable them to compare their views and experiences of the changing working landscape. Women can only make it into those ‘C-suite’ executive roles, if their work is career shaped: That is, it needs to have longevity and sustainability. More than a job, with its connotations of challenge without deep satisfaction, a career can be shaped, and deliberate – the product of choice. 

How can women focus on identifying the career they really want? And how can they maintain it, to accommodate their own growth and development? Both networking with other women who share work-related interests, and listening to speakers who have developed their careers by identifying personal goals and pursuing them, can be great sources of inspiration, bringing women together. 

There are likely to be as many nuanced answers to these questions as there are differing personalities and priorities, and one way of negotiating this new world of work, is to examine it through discussion, debate, and community engagement: The Women in Games Careers & Networking Expo, free and inclusive for everyone who has an interest in the burning questions of the day.

*University of Birmingham (UK) ‘Working From Home During the COVID-19 Lockdown: Changing Preferences and the Future of Work.

*BBC Worklife