During this pivotal time when women are demanding more support to balance their work-life goals, its important to extend any benefits we receive to men. It was a point brought up during yesterday's chat and one worth repeating here.
As more mothers return to work after having children, the need for some type of flexible work schedule is important. When we talk about flextime, we seem to forget two major points: 1) men must be entitled to them if they're going to support our career goals and 2) working from home does not necessarily imply we get anything done.
While we still face challenges in balancing our lives, men seem to face larger obstacles. For one thing, even though extended leave has been available to them for some time now, the status quo expects them to decline. Men still face taboos when it comes to justifying their need to use that time to pitch in. This perception does not only apply at work, but society in general still has a hard time accepting men as equal domestic help. But by granting men the same privileges as working moms, this comes at the expense of women.
Broach the topic of flextime with any manager, and their response - whether vocal or implied - is they don't want to start a workplace trend. They worry that if they are selective, they will eventfully have to accommodate more workers than makes them comfortable. We see this happening now as more fathers expect to be accommodated alongside their working mother colleagues. What this amounts to is having companies revoke offers to work from home. We saw this happen recently at Yahoo and it's now been reported that Best Buy's management has eliminated flextime as well.
What drives management to reconsider their position is their concern over productivity. There is work to get done and naturally management wants it done. Whether it's through extended time off or agreeing to remote work, the risk of encouraging productivity is high and expensive.
Its interesting to see where all this goes. After news of Yahoo's decision to ban flextime, there was concern many companies will follow down this same path. So far, its been relatively quiet. But somewhere down the road businesses will have to decide between supporting working parent households or their productivity goals, which impact profits. On the other hand, they can wise up and find a middle ground. We shall see.