With the advent of birth control in the 1960’s, women had a choice for the first time. They could plan their family/career path strategically. Often women started their careers and then took time to have a family. Whether or not they returned to their previous careers, they did have choices.
But with more and more mothers in the workforce who contributed to the income of the family, discussions began around work/life balance and how best to manage both a career and family. Women were still responsible for most of the childcare and housework along with their jobs. It became obvious that to do it all at the same time was a difficult, if not impossible task. The emphasis on self-care for women and work/life balance became a hot topic.
The lack of flexible work solutions, therefore, was initially focused on women who wanted options for balancing career and family. This assumed little if no participation from their male counterparts in childrearing. The lack of flexible work solutions was also tagged as an obstacle to women’s advancement in business as more and more women were forced to drop their careers to seek better alternatives than their companies were offering.
The concept of flexibility is emerging now as a gender neutral issue that focuses more on the need for everyone, male and female, to have a more flexible, healthy workplace. Flexibility is not just related to working mom stress as more and more men share household responsibilities. It encompasses alternative work solutions such as part time work, job sharing, telecommunting, on site child care. Men are now more interested in having options to take time off whether it’s for childcare, elder care, or personal pursuits.
Businesses are becoming increasingly aware that there is a business case around flexibility in terms of reduced overhead, improved recruitment and retention of talented employees. as well as the importance of a flexible work force.
To learn more about the options and benefits of flex at work, listen to my interview with Karol Rose, Chief Knowledge Officer at Flexpaths. www.flexpaths.com.