I recently read Ellen Galinsky’s response to the Yahoo memo regarding their ban on telecommuting, and I wholeheartedly agree with her that “wherever employees work – in the office, at home, or at remote locations, they need to be well managed and engaged in making the company a success.” While she was remarking specifically on telecommuting, I think the issue is really about flexibility in the work place. A workplace that is flexible for parents is one that is going to retain better, more productive employees, and a healthy work/life balance for those employees.
I’ve written before that I enjoy my job and believe it’s better for me to work as opposed to staying home with my son. But what I haven’t really reflected on (until now) is how supportive my employer is of my family life.
Upon returning to work after my maternity leave, I transitioned back to full time work by working four days instead of five, allowing me extra time with my son. I was still able to get my work done. As a mother who breast-fed, I was also concerned about pumping. But I didn’t have to worry: I had a space where I could pump in private as well as no questions asked about the time it took or the frequency.
My son is now 22-months-old and I have been back to working five days a week for over a year. But I still feel that having a work/life balance that I am happy with is important to my employer. If I didn’t feel as supported as I am, I certainly wouldn’t stay.
I would not be effective if I worked from home and literally couldn’t do aspects of my job that require face-to-face interaction (and also, I would totally lose focus). But many parents are quite able and even more productive working from home. Some parents will telecommute, some will work abbreviated hours, some mothers will even bring their young, nursing infants to work with them. Flexibility is key. When you invest in the family of an employee you value, you won’t regret it.