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Working moms in the Middle East are struggling. Here’s what would help

Working moms benefit from hybrid and remote work, and so do companies.

Working moms in the Middle East are struggling. Here’s what would help
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Closing the gender gap is not simply about providing equal job opportunities. It is about acknowledging the multifaceted challenges women, many of whom are mothers and, often, primary caregivers, encounter in the workplace. 

A solution to this has been adopting hybrid work by working moms. While some critics argue that hybrid and remote work models could potentially erode company culture and hinder collaboration, the benefits of increased autonomy and flexibility are undeniable.

In fact, a recent survey by Gartner showed that 68% of full-time workers support hybrid work schedules, and 73% of workers would sacrifice other work benefits to keep their hybrid schedules.

“As a working mom, balancing career aspirations with family commitments is paramount, and hybrid/remote work provides the ideal framework to achieve this balance. While the challenges include potential feelings of loneliness and the need for effective communication strategies, once you perfect time management and communication, the wins definitely outweigh them,” says Tazeen Jafri, a freelance PR consultant..

Although hybrid and remote work arrangements are one part of the equation, Rowen Astrom, Founder of Beyond Careers and Head of Marketing & Communications at Al Jomaih Energy and Water Co., says it can provide increased flexibility for mothers by balancing household responsibilities alongside their professional duties.

This is important for employers to consider, as adopting this method increases employee satisfaction, leading to higher retention rates, less absenteeism, loyalty, higher employee morale, and improved productivity, specifically for working moms.

“Though there is a slight change in the private sector, we still need to see a greater shift in HR policies and perception that allows flexible work arrangements, especially if women have children below the age of eight,” says Foram Gohel, Managing Director of Tappy Toes Nursery.

The UAE government offers an enhanced maternity policy, and more recently, proposals have been made to allow a hybrid setup for mothers with children under ten. “If this policy passes, it will have a huge positive impact on the working economy — making roles more accessible to working mothers,” says April Kearns, Director of People and Culture Tish Tash Communications. 

Ultimately, the success of hybrid and remote work models depends on striking the right fit between employee and company culture, needs, and values. 


It is known that working remotely has reduced commuting time for people, but when it comes to working moms, it has done more than just that. 

“Hybrid/ remote work has provided more flexibility for moms. Allowing working moms to do school pick-up and drop-off is an often overlooked chore of a parent, but it can mean so much to your children, and it’s a privilege to see their beaming faces in the middle of the day,” says Kearns.  

As a remote/hybrid working mom, Jafri gets more time to spend with her child and strikes the right work-life balance. “My child gets to wake up and see me every day, I tend to my early morning meetings, and we then go ahead and have breakfast together. I can focus on my clients at my own pace, meaning I can schedule meetings and work between breakfast, nap-time, and lunchtime.”

Providing working mothers a hybrid setup allows them to set their work schedule. “So long as expectations and boundaries are set from the beginning, there should be no reason why a working mother would be any less productive than those without children,” adds Kearns.

“Hybrid work has helped me adapt my schedule to accommodate unforeseen circumstances without compromising my productivity,” says Jafri.

Children fall sick often, so having a role where moms can stay home and watch their kids while fulfilling work duties can be very convenient.

“There is nothing worse than the feeling of being judged by colleagues because you’ve got a tiny sick kid at home again. Hybrid work removes this anxiety altogether,” adds Kearns. 

At Tappy Toes Nursery, Gohel says that eliminating the need for daily commutes and offering a more conducive work environment, whether at home or in the office, has helped their staff who are mothers do their job much better. “We have not had any turnover till date, as remote/hybrid work for moms provides a stress-free environment, and they can pay better attention.” 

With the ability to work from home, mothers can better manage their work hours around childcare duties, medical appointments, and other family commitments.


Considering inclusivity in company strategy towards working moms is crucial if organizations want to retain experienced talent.

“Companies and the government can implement policies that support flexible working arrangements, such as remote work options and adjusted work hours,” says Jafri. “This model should be based on deliverables and KPIs rather than the hours of work you put in because, with experience, we’re able to achieve tasks quicker.” 

Providing childcare facilities in the office space or close proximity is another way companies could help working moms.  

Most importantly, fostering a culture of inclusivity and understanding around the challenges working moms face can go a long way. “Why can’t a mom bring their child to the office and manage both being an employee and a mom without judgment? If anything, this will only motivate them more and create an environment where they can thrive professionally,” says Jafri.

In fact, a BCG study found that companies that promote a culture of inclusivity produced higher revenue. This shows that inclusive strategies and listening to the needs of working mothers with hybrid/remote work can generate positive outcomes for businesses.

Kearns adds that there are very simple ways to apply this as well. One example involves considering board meeting timings or offering flexible working policies.

Including moms in mentorship and training initiatives is just as important. 

“The average working mom is likely to be in the middle of her career with significant experience – so it is easy to think they are busy and tired, they know a lot already – they wouldn’t want to mentor,” says Kearns. “Just because women have had children does not mean they have lost the hunger for learning new things. They want to develop and continue to progress, just like any other employee.”

Not considering hybrid/remote work for working moms can also take a hit on companies, placing them at the risk of talent attrition and missing out on valuable senior female leaders.

“To establish a robust DEI framework, companies must actively address biases and enhance systems and processes to ensure inclusivity for mothers—from the initial recruitment phase to the point of departure,” says  Astrom.

Should companies avoid addressing this, it hinders diversity goals and deprives organizations of progress and innovation within the workforce. It can also perpetuate gender stereotypes and limit the economic empowerment of women, ultimately impeding progress towards a more inclusive and equitable society.

By acknowledging the challenges working mothers face and implementing inclusive policies and practices, companies can attract and retain top talent, promote gender equality, and contribute to the overall well-being of their workforce. 

“When people are looking for a new role, they are looking to see if there are women at board level representing the company, looking at their maternity and flexible working policies and will likely take their time investigating the company culture. If businesses want to grow, progress, and innovate, they must include women and working women/ parents,” says Kearns. 

Embracing inclusivity enhances the company’s reputation and strengthens its position as an employer of choice in the competitive labor market, adds Gohel.

Fast Company Middle East’s Best Workplaces for Women, an annual list recognizing organizations, leaders, and teams empowering, supporting, and encouraging women in the workplace, will be revealed on 8th March 2024. 

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Suha Hasan is a correspondent at Fast Company Middle East. More