In my work I see so many women who at their wit’s end–trying to find a way to make work work. They are usually mothers who are working in jobs that do not have an ounce of flexibility. Or they are mothers who want or need to work but can’t figure out how they will handle child care and inevitable snow and sick days.
When I listened to a great Ellevate presentation, “The Flexible Workplace: How Leaders Can Retain the Keys to Success and Avoid Giving Away the Keys to the Kingdom”, I read some great statistics that lead me to say that perhaps many women are simply working for or interviewing with the wrong companies.
The presentation leader, Shani Magosky of Vitesse Consulting, cited these statistics from a WorldatWork Survey on Workplace Flexibility:
84% of companies surveyed offer flex time (flexible start or end times that accommodate, for example, taking your children to school or getting to their afternoon sports games)
Many companies offer “telework” options (working at home):
- 83% on an ad hoc basis
- 58% at least one day a month
- 57% at least one day a week
- 37% on a full-time basis
52% of companies offer compressed work weeks (e.g., longer hours on Monday through Thursday so that you can have Fridays off)
52% offer a combination of flexible solutions that are tailored to employee needs
27% offer job sharing options.
Wow. Who says there is no flexibility? These are all encouraging numbers that defy the conventional wisdom that work only means you are chained to a desk for 60 hours a week far, far away from home.
Here’s the reality: flexibility is not always openly advertised. As an employee or a job seeker you have to ferret it out. There are lots of one-off deals with employees (once they have proven their worth and productivity), and flexibility can also be negotiated when an offer is on the table.
The bottom line is this: flexibility IS out there. If you’re working for one of the roughly 16% of companies that offer no flexibility whatsoever, then consider pointing out that your employer is in the minority and/or start looking at other companies that are among the enlightened 84%. And if you are looking to get back to work but afraid of giving up any semblance of freedom, know that with a “give and take” attitude (and good management of the flexibility arrangement as Shani Magosky also points out in her Huffington Post article, “One Size Does Not Fit All: My Unsolicited Advice to Marissa Mayer and Yahoo”) it is very possible (with research, strategy and perseverance) to find companies that will help you happily blend both life and work. —KAS
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