As a working mother of a 2-year-old long-term flexible work has never been an option for me. This pandemic has made it a challenge to find any true level of work-life balance but also made me realize the benefits of a long-term flexible work arrangement.
Honestly, it has been very overwhelming to continue to find ways to keep my little guy entertained while staying engaged, driven, and motivated at work. As millions of America are now working from home, the thought of maintaining a long-term flexible work arrangement has entered into my future career goals.
Data shows that women are more likely to adjust their lives for family life more than men.
And we know that women take the brunt of all household work in almost all cultures. Its sounds crazy but women do about 14 hours of household work compared to the 8 hours men do. Lets pause for a second. Women will work about 40-50 hours a week then go home and work another 14 hours on household tasks. And this doesn't include childcare hours.
Nearly 60% of working women have children under the age of 6.
I know we, society, have a long way to go before we can balance the pendulum around ideal roles for men and women. While researching about this topic I found, Pew Research which goes deep into societies' views on roles men and women should play in their household.
In sum, most people still believe women should work part-time and focus primarily on staying home to take care of the kids while their "male" partner should spend more time working outside of the home. How crazy is that! In 2020, we still have this view on how men and women roles should be at home.
Since having my child, I've always had mommy' guilt. I know I am not alone but have been lucky to have a very involved husband who participates in household and childcare task as much or even more than I do.
Honestly, the first time I had to leave my son to go back to work I was a total mess. Big dog tears and snot running down my nose as I sat on the Metra on my way into central Chicago. To make matters even worse, I was starting a new job in a new city. I've heard about mommy's guilt but was not prepared for this epic episode. I am sure all the people on the train thought I was crazy!
On a typical workday, I'd probably have about 1.5 hours of uninterrupted time with my son. Now that many of us are now in a long-term flexible work arrangement, I get a "full" day with him - not without its challenges but worth it. I never knew how impactful long-term flexible work would be for my family. This arrangement has honestly had me reevaluating my career direction for the future and how important long-term flexible work matters to me. I am beginning to find the right work-life balance I desire.
Analysts expect the way we work post-pandemic will never be the same. And it's true, life as we knew it will never go back to "normal". I expect and hope companies will begin to adopt more long-term flexible work options which had me thinking about my future career moves and the benefits of flexible work schedules for women.
Smoother Career Transition
Deciding to have a child has a large impact on your career trajectory. I was very fortunate to work at a great company that provided it's employees, with a strong maternity and paternity leave but also a great long-term flexible work plan when transitioning back to work.
I worked with my manager and was able to work half days for a few weeks after having my son. This made the transition back to work very easy. But I didn't know how uncommon this was until I transitioned to a new job.
Most women are forced to choose between their career and family which is quite unfair.
With short or limited maternity leaves, women are rushed back to work without flexible work options making the transition back to work extremely difficult. Women are often forced to choose between building a strong career and family responsibilities. And women, who choose not to return back to work more than often do so because their company has limited flexible options available.
Companies that lack long-term flexible work arranges will lose out on great women candidates. Not only does this impact the company'es ability to hire and retain great candidates but it impacts women's long-term financial trajectory as well. With flexible work arrangements, women are able to develop and create a schedule that works best for their job and their home life.
What the pandemic should teach companies, is that long-term flexible work styles are capable without decreasing overall productivity. In fact, as someone who has been working from home for 6 weeks now, I find myself working longer stretches and concentrating better with limited meetings and drive-by interruptions. I hope companies make adjustments that will immensely benefit women.
Work-Life Flow not Balance
To be quite frank, I don't believe in "work-life" balance. You technically can never have a balance between your career and personal life in its true sense. As you can't spend 50% of your time at work and 50% of your time with family consistently.
But I do believe in work-life flow. Finding a good routine and "balance' in your life and work that fits in the flow of your life. Flexible long-term work options helps women create their own balance.
Right now most people live in a uniformed schedule where work begins at 8 am and ends at 5 pm and we squeeze our personal or family life around this. But that schedule doesn't work for most people especially working mothers. Sometimes our day begins at 6 am because we have to pick up our in-laws from the airport, or your kid has a recital that starts at 3 pm. Somedays you have to head to the post office to mail letters to your bank or you have to take your child to their 6-month checkup. Every life is different thus the need for more flexible work options. Flexible work gives women the ability to create their own schedule while still pursuing their career dreams and not having to choose one over the other.
Why can't women have a job they adore and also be a present parent.
Everyone's view of work-life flow looks different thus the need for more flexible work options, especially for women. An employee should be measured on how they perform not when or where they work. I hope the pandemic kills the fear around working from home. Let's hope companies take action to create more flexible work options.
About the Author:
Grace Kasozi is the Founder of Kasozi Associates a platform dedicated to connecting women professional to women life, business, and career coaches to help close the gap. Grace has over 10 years of experience building well-known brands. She holds an MBA from the University of Minnesota and is currently a Global Brand Manager at large midwest CPG. She spends her free time traveling the world with her husband and 2-year-old son.