Sometimes I look back on the earlier days of my business career and wonder how I managed to raise two children as a single parent and still maintain and advance my career; most of all, I wonder now how I maintained my sanity and how I managed to focus any attention at all on work. I think my children, now grown and successful in their own right, turned out pretty good, and my career flourished as well, but it was not without an undercurrent of stress and guilt, and a constant juggling of babysitters and after school programs.
With this experience behind me and the knowledge that work/family balance is an ongoing challenge for most women, I applaud the White House conference on flexibility in the workplace for the attention it has brought to the topic.
The Economic Office of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers released a 35 page report , Work-Life Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility, which addresses not only the need to create flexible solutions for work, but also the benefits to companies who embrace these initiatives.
According to the report, there is a greater need now for flexibility in work than ever before. Why? because women now make up almost half of the labor force in the United States. The majority of children now are raised in households where both parents work. Another key factor is that more adults are attending school.
The report also states that flexible work environments can vary tremendously by gender, race, work status, education, and industry. Flexible hours and location of work were considered.
The most impressive section of the report focuses on the economic benefits, the business case, for companies that provide flexible work solutions. These companies experience a decrease in employee turnover and absenteeism along with an increase in productivity and the ability to attract new talent to the organization.
With these types of statistics behind us, women now need to take the lead to move these initiatives forward in their own work environments. It’s time to speak up and rally the troops. Flexible work solutions benefit men and women as well as companies.
The Glass Hammer’s article on the subject provides some guidance on how best to do this from their interview with Flexpath’s CEO, Meryl Rosenthal.