There are few things in the world that are more important to me than my family and my career. I am a goal-oriented mother of two and finding ways to balance a hectic work-schedule with my children's needs can be a brutal undertaking. Thankfully, there are a variety of policies that many companies are instituting to make my life exceedingly easier; allowing me to contribute more fully to my employer's success.
Flexible Working Hours
When my daughters started heading to school, I wanted to do for them the same things my mother did whenever I was headed off to school in the morning; pack lunches and drop them off at school. Then, I had a desire to be there when they left school, picking them up like the rest of the moms.
Of course, after school activities were out of the question. They could participate, but dad would need to pitch in for those. Mommy had work and needed to find some way to cram all of those work and family activities into a single 24-hour period.
I was able to balance family and work by working on my schedule. My employer at the time appreciated how important time with family was, and besides mandatory meetings, I was free to work on my schedule; as long as tasks were completed on time.
The benefits of self-managing my work into my family's schedule are too many to list. A recent article on Inc.com hit it right on the head, pointing out that "...strict hours are bad for business because they're bad for employees. According to research, it's hazardous to their health. Stress takes a toll on heart health, blood pressure and getting a good night's sleep. Spending more than 20 hours awake has the same impact on bodily and mental function as consuming five or six alcoholic drinks."
Not only did setting my own schedule provide new opportunities for my family, but according to multiple studies, it might have added a few years to my life!
Telecommuting Opportunities are a Must!
The only thing better than setting my own schedule was having the power to control where I worked. There are some things that I'm better at doing in an office setting; diving deep into a report or coordinating with a team is far easier to do in a distraction free work environment. However, I enjoy working close to my family.
Being able to be there for them, while at the same time getting all of my work assignments completed is a win-win in my book. And apparently, I'm not alone in diving into the work from home trend. Rachel Barton, a friend that writes for Reboot, points out that "...There are signs that the number of people working from home is on the increase in the UK, according to the CBI. A total of 59% of employers who responded to a survey in 2011 were offering teleworking, up from 13% in 2006."
Just a few perks for employees and employers offering the option to telecommute:
- Less physical office-space is required; offices can be shared by telecommuting employees.
- Skip that frustrating, stress-inducing commute!
- Minimize the distractions associated with office chit-chat and watercooler time.
- Workers that telecommute provide companies with a savings of more than £7,550 per employee, per year.
The Challenges of Making It All Work
Flexible hours and working environments offer fantastic benefits to workers in almost any living situation, but it comes at a cost. The burden of time-management is transferred from the manager or supervisor, to the employee. Working from home requires discipline and dedication to seeing projects through; on-time and in-sync with the rest of the team.
It's much easier to procrastinate at home, compared to a more structured office setting. Plus, working around family can be a real hassle. It's all too easy for your kids or significant others to knock on the door and demand attention. These distractions can completely throw your focus and extend the amount of time required to complete assignments.
And how do employers keep track of employees that telecommute? Sure, it's easy to point out problems when employees miss deadlines or deliver low-quality work. But, correcting the problem before deadlines are missed is critical.
Structure Improves Reliability
I had the pleasure of working for a Fortune 500 company from home. While most large companies are embracing the telecommuting revolution, they are hitting challenges that require unique solutions. In my working relationship, my supervisor held a mandatory conference call every day with the team via skype. We were able to put eyes on each other and ensure that the team was showing up for work every day.
The structure provided by these 5 minute meetings, where we discussed our progress as a team and highlighted areas of opportunity, ensured that everyone was operating off the same sheet of music. Sure, instant messages and email provide communication, but nothing beats regular checkups via video conference.
The challenges for working moms are many. But, if you can find a career opportunity where you can break free from the 9-5 office life, you'll find that balancing it all is a lot easier. I know that I wouldn't have the strong relationship with my daughters if I spent the majority of the day locked away from them in an office.