Earlier this month, Anne-Marie Slaughter toured the country, visiting companies and educational institutions to provide “a week’s snapshot from the front-lines of the work-family debate.”What she found is encouraging. Not only are women pushing harder for flexibility and equality in the workplace, but employers are also coming to see such policies as more than a “women’s issue.” Slaughter writes for the Atlantic:
Novartis has many different flex policies, as many large corporations now do. But what was most interesting is that the application for flex-time is “reason-neutral.” Employees must show that working flexibly would be good for them and good for the business, but they do not state any reason why they want flex-time. It could be to take care of children or elderly parents, or it could be because an employee simply works better at home part of the time. The great advantage here is that parents, mothers in particular, are not singled out and stigmatized. Just as many colleges have “need-blind admissions,” corporations could move to “reason-neutral flexible work.”
Though women might feel more torn between family and work demands, balance is an issue for both genders. And, while at VM we support every horse in the race of flex-work policies, telecommuting is the most promising by far. Not only do employees value the ability to telecommute nearly as much as a good salary, but it is better for the environment, and can actually increase worker productivity.And with 13.4 million US employees working from home in 2010 (9.4 percent of the population), telework is taking off. We’d like to see this number grow. If trends continue, Slaughter’s next tour of corporate America should include a significant number of home visits.