Why the 9 to 5 Workday Is Dying for Women
More U.S. moms than ever before, 31 million of them, are working. The Labor Department says that’s 70 percent of women with children under the age of 18. But how, when and where these mothers earn a living is changing. Workplace flexibility is helping them balance careers with family life in ways that were never before considered practical. The result? Millions of women no longer need to choose between their kids and their career. They are breaking the mold of the 9 to 5 workday and replacing it with creative solutions.
Employers, determined to recruit and keep the best workers, are responding. Not every company offers every option when it comes to workplace flexibility, but most offer something. The concept of workplace flexibility is becoming so common it now has its own day. National Flex Day is held the third Tuesday in October to encourage workers and employers alike to get behind the need for more flexibility in the office.
Is the 9 to 5 dying for working women and, more specifically, working moms? Maybe. Here are four ways working mothers are balancing life at home and at the office.
1. Flex time. Flex time occurs when employees are allowed to vary the start and end times of their shifts. WorldatWork’s recent Trends in Workplace Flexibility survey found this option to be the second most prevalent offered by employers, behind only working from home occasionally. Rose Stanley, a senior practice leader for WorldatWork, recently told the Huffington Post that, based on her research, she’s found more working moms using this flexibility option than any other workplace accommodation. She added that flex time is popular because it allows mothers to be able to do things like drop off or pick up kids from daycare and school while still meeting their working world commitments.
2. Part-time work. Part-time work comes in at number three on the WorldatWork survey. Many good job candidates just a few decades ago who would have left the working world altogether after having kids are instead finding firms open to the idea of hiring them on a part-time or even seasonal basis. The startup PowerToFly has made an industry of partnering women with companies around the world for remote part-time work. The company’s co-founder and CEO, Milena Berry, says they encourage women with children to embrace motherhood and their careers: “We encourage women to post photos of their kids and not hide who they are in their personal lives. The whole concept is that we want to inspire a whole new generation out there to say, ‘This is who we are and how we get work done.’”
Another option is to take a full-time gig and make it part-time through a job share. Typically, a job share involves two people working a prearranged schedule for 16-32 hours each week. It is a great way to maintain a career and an income for those who can’t put in the full-time hours.
3. Compressed work week. Compressed work weeks are great options for women who need the income from a full-time job but who do not want to be out of the home five days a week. Certified registered nurse Nikki Lorino works two 12-hour shifts and one 8-hour shift each week. She always works nights and takes weekend shifts when she can. The hospital that employs her pays an hourly premium for nights and a second one for weekends. With three young boys, a husband finishing his master’s degree, student loans of her own and a new mortgage to pay, the added income and fewer hours of daycare serve her family well. “I sacrifice sleep, but I love my job and I love my kids; so it’s the best of both worlds.”
4. Telecommuting. Telecommuting involves work that can be done completely by Internet and phone and from home. Most of these jobs require access to a computer and the Internet, but not much more in the way of a home office. Medical transcriptionist Cretia Hentz works a scattered schedule of afternoons and evenings during the week as well as Saturday mornings. The later hours scared her at first because she had a son on the way, but her stepdaughter and husband pitch in, too; and they make it work for their family. “Sometimes my husband and I are a little like ships passing in the night,” she says with a laugh, “but I get to be with my son all day, and we have no daycare expenses. It just works for our family.”
These are just a few ideas to consider if you’re trying to break free from the 9 to 5. The options prove that women are finding more and more ways than ever before to bring balance to their home and work lives. It’s not practical to believe that every industry is conducive to flexible work options, but industries that do have those abilities will likely continue to embrace them to their benefit and to the benefit of the working moms they employ.
The women we spoke with agree their systems aren’t flawless, but as a whole they say having flexible options has meant a happier home life and happier moms, too. And as the old saying goes: happy spouse, happy house.