For working moms, flexibility is a magic word. As more U.S. moms than ever before — 31 million of them — are employed (that’s 70 percent of women with children under the age of 18, according to the Labor Department), workplace flexibility is adapting.

Not every company offers every option, but most offer something. 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 moms? Maybe. Here are four ways:

  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 do things like drop off or pick up kids from day care 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 working 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 a job share, where typically two people work a prearranged schedule for 16 to 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. I get to be with my son all day, and we have no day care expenses. It just works for our family.
  4. COMPRESSED WORK WEEK

    These are great options for women who need full-time income but who can’t 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 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 day care 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.”

  5. TELECOMMUTING

    Telecommuting involves work that can be done completely by internet and phone and from home. 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 day care expenses. It just works for our family.”

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.

Recommended Reading