It’s funny how you can be ahead of your time and not even know it. 20 years ago, when my first-ever pregnant employee let me know she was expecting, two things went through my head: “Yikes – we need a maternity leave policy!” (these things creep up on you when you’re starting your first business); and “I wonder if she’ll come back after she has her baby?”
What I didn’t expect (because I was clueless) was for the person to ask if she could work from home after having the baby, rather than trudging into the office every day. In this case, she had established herself as a really good and trustworthy employee, so I thought “Sure – let’s give it a try!”
While the practice was somewhat novel at the time, I quickly learned the “you-can-be-a-stay-at-home-mom-who’s-also-working” option was a truly awesome “third way” to handle employee motherhood, due to these three things:
Work-at-home moms are unusually dedicated. They tend to have an “I value the flexibility and work/life balance so I’m going to earn your trust every day” attitude toward their employer.
Work-at-home moms are disciplined with their time because they’re accustomed to programming their entire day, so they know how to get a lot done in a little time.
Work-at-home moms are fiercely loyal, because their employer is supporting them as they raise a family while also investing in their career.
According to a survey by FlexJobs, 43% of women quit their jobs when they have kids, but 65% of those either need or want to work. This indicates there’s a rather large pool of moms who are making the traditional “work vs. stay at home” choice, and do not have access to the third way.
That third way is not about companies being “woke” or even “generous.” It’s just good business sense: it’s really hard to find good people, and if your good people need to work from home with a flexible schedule (whether it’s to be a mom or some other reason), well (duh!) let them work from home!
(Author’s Note: Lest I appear unwoke to the woken, I fully understand I’d likely have the same experience with stay-at-home dads.)