That day when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer ordered all home-based employees back to the office, I imagined that many women teetering back and forth with the work/don’t work decision said “That’s it, I’m staying home.”
If those were your thoughts, I wouldn’t rule out the idea of returning to work just yet. Flexibility still exists–it just isn’t handed out in any wholesale way.
The extreme Yahoo decision was indeed a step backward for flexibility and work+life balance initiatives (or “work+life fit” initiatives—the more accurate and realistic term coined by expert Cali Yost), but my two cents is that in many instances the 100% work-at-home option is not ultimately good for employer or employee. There is something to the “face time” that Yahoo decided they must have: a) they are right that idea generation among peers, team building and general collaboration is easier when you’re in the same room, and b) you’re more likely to advance your career when your peers and your superiors can actually see you in action (at least part of the time).
In my estimation, it will be a long, long time before the majority of companies allow their employees to work 100% at home. Only a few have embraced the alternative work structure wholeheartedly–Aetna, for example, gladly allows a significant percentage of their employees to make their workplace home.
That’s still more the exception than the rule. Where I’ve seen the most acceptance and growth over the last decade is in the work at home and work in the office combo. This is really the best of both worlds–giving employees a couple of flexible days at home and a couple of reasonably predictable scheduled days in the office.
So, if fear of no flexibility is the reason you’re thinking of leaving the workforce (or not wending your way back to work after a family hiatus), rest assured that with some strategic effort you can find a company that would not chain you to their desk. Your best bet is to explore opportunities at smaller companies that veer from typical corporate policy. Whether you want to work full or part-time, you’ll find that smaller companies recognize that they can get more talent when they require less office time. –KAS
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