This essay is excerpted from Industrious’ latest guide: 4 Visions of the Future of the Workplace.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have single-handedly reversed a six-year trend of increasing female representation in corporate America.

One in four women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce entirely, according to McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org’s 2020 “Women in the Workplace” report — the largest study of its kind. These women are burned out by the increased pressure the pandemic placed on them in their personal and professional lives. Last March, many became full-time moms and teachers as well as full-time employees during what was a make-or-break year for many companies.

The study went on to find that mothers were more likely than fathers to worry that taking care of their kids would negatively affect how their work performance was judged. That gender gap isn’t just a perception, in part because many of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic are also dominated by women. From March to December 2020, women lost a net 5.4 million net jobs compared to 4.4 million lost by men, according to the Center for American Progress.

It’s true that the pandemic seems to be entering a new phase. Vaccination rates are on the rise, companies are hiring, and children are heading to school and summer camps — at last alleviating some of the heightened stressors placed on parents this past year.

But that doesn’t mean that the underlying issues are going away. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the pressure parents — and mothers in particular — face when juggling work and childcare. There are a number of reforms that could help working parents if taken together, such as making childcare more affordable and encouraging longer maternity and paternity leave. Another is to rethink how we structure work.

The eight hour workday is hard on parents, who need greater flexibility so that they can, for instance, pick up a sick child from school or bond with their kid by helping out during a field trip. What’s more, the standard nine-to-five schedule doesn’t line up with the typical school day in the U.S., which lets out around 3 pm and leaves parents scrambling to come up with an activity or childcare option that can fill the gap until they’re available to pick up their kids.

In the “Women in the Workplace” study, participants who noted lack of flexibility at work were more likely to consider downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether — and the report goes on to suggest companies reset norms around flexibility. Even before the pandemic, a 2019 study of STEM professionals found that 43 percent of women and 23 percent of men left their full-time jobs within seven years of having or adopting a child. Many of these parents switched to part-time jobs while others left the workforce.

So here’s a radical idea: What if we get rid of the eight-hour workday altogether?

Instead of hiring salaried employees to work a certain number of hours per week, what if employers simply assign them a certain number of tasks? In this system, employees would be paid for their accomplishments, not their time.

Flexibility and Fair Pay

Having flexible hours reduced the motherhood wage gap by 68%, while the ability to work from home reduced it by 58%.

‘Family-Friendly’ Jobs and Motherhood Pay Penalties: The Impact of Flexible Work Arrangements Across the Education Spectrum” (2018) The University of British Columbia

Task-based work could make it much easier for parents to balance their job with their childcare responsibilities, especially time-sensitive ones like carpool duty. To further help new parents stay in the workforce, companies could give them fewer (or less time-intensive) tasks when they first return from maternity or paternity leave.

When McKinsey Award-winning author Tamara J. Erickson outlined the concept of task-based work in the Harvard Business Review more than a decade ago, she argued that companies were already participating in this model when they allowed employees to telecommute because they were trusting that their employees would do the work they had been asked to do without having them come into an office on a regular basis.

Sound familiar? Companies that went remote during the pandemic have already experimented with a task-based model — but without getting rid of the old nine-to-five schedule. During this period, many white collar workers were expected to clock-in their usual hours, even though their performance was judged almost wholly on the work they were able to accomplish, regardless of whether or not they did that work within a nine-to-five window.

Now, companies embracing hybrid have the opportunity to make the switch to task-based work official. Instead of establishing workday hours, why not set meeting hours? For example, ask employees to be available for meetings from ten to noon, Monday through Friday. Otherwise, let employees work the hours that make the most sense for them, whether or not they’re working from home.

The main challenge is making sure that employees don’t have too much on their plate, since managers can’t tell who’s working long hours by seeing who’s in the office the most. This is one of the trade-offs of switching to hybrid; managers and reports will need to be more active about discussing workloads. In a time when you can work from your smartphone, that’s probably a good thing. Especially if embracing a more flexible schedule helps working moms (and dads) have it all.