Why So Many People Support Work Flexibility

Supporters of work flexibility share how it benefits them, their families and their employers.

1MFWF-website-badge

I am proud to be a part of One Million for Work Flexibility. I encourage you to check out their website and join in the movement.

When you sign up to voice your support, you are also asked to write in the reason for your support. Here is a random sampling of responses gathered from respondents to the 1MFWF website, split into a few categories:

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One Million for Work Flexibility

Here’s something we can do to raise our voices together in support of work flexibility!

Welcome Harvard Business Review Readers! Please take a look around this website, including the category links to the right and my writing at HBR and other outlets above. if you like what you see, you can follow this blog via facebook, twitter or email (see links to the right). Thanks for visiting!

As I noted last week, October is National Work and Family Month– an effort to raise awareness of the importance of work-family balance for employees and employers. I am happy to also be a part of a second advocacy push- One Million for Work Flexibility.

1MFWF-website-badge

One Million for Work Flexibility seeks to get, well, one million individuals and companies to voice their support for workplace flexibility. By uniting our voice, we will be better able to successfully advocate for changes to corporate and public policy.

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Work and Family, A Conflict of Generations?

Can the causes of work-family conflict be traced to generational differences in priorities? Here’s the evidence- plus what we Gen Xers can do to improve the situation.

Three generations. We all probably see the value of work-family balance a little differently
Three generations. We all probably see the value of work-family balance a little differently

Talkin’ About Our Generations

I think studies based on generational differences are over-rated. After all, how valid could it possibly be to lump together people 48 years old to 33 years old in order to compare them with people 49 to 67 years old? I mean, wouldn’t the 48 and 49 year olds have more in common with each other than the rest of their purported “groups”?

With that caveat, I recently came along “Mixing and Managing Four Generations of Employees,” by Greg Hammill, in which he summarized some of the findings about different work-related attitudes and values among generations. This chart caught my eye:

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Joe Flacco and Hunter Mahan: Why They Both Made the Right Work-Family Decision

A few weeks ago, PGA golfer Hunter Mahan left a sporting event to be at the birth of his child. Last week, NFL star Joe Flacco chose to play. Why I support both of their decisions.

Real progress for working dads comes when we have choices and can thoughtfully make work-family decisions that work for us.

Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens in training...
Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens in training camp July 23rd, 2008 (Wikipedia, Creative Commons license)

High-Profile Fathers

Over the past few months, I praised high-profile new dads who made public actions to prioritize family over work. Of particular note was pro golfer, Hunter Mahan, who left a tournament he was leading (and in which he could have won $1Million) to be at the birth of his daughter. He made a high-profile choice that, in my opinion, sent an important signal about fatherhood. I was especially encouraged by the support Mahan received from the golf and sports world.

Last week, Baltimore Ravens star quarterback Joe Flacco was faced with a similar dilemma. His wife unexpectantly went into labor shortly before the Ravens’ game against the Cleveland Browns. Flacco talked with his wife and other family members over the phone, but did not leave the stadium for the hospital. Instead, he played, leading the Ravens to a much-needed victory. As soon as the game ended, he sped to the hospital, a few hours after the birth of his son.

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Coming Back to Work After Paternity Leave (UK version)

The use of paternity leave is still rare in the US, as taking time off work for family reasons is still frowned upon by many workplaces. Here is the story of one father from the UK, where fathers are legally entitled to a two-week paternity leave, who wrote about his experiences during leave and when he returned to work.

Guest blogger Jonathan Ervine of the Dad's the Way I Like It blog
Guest blogger Jonathan Ervine and son

A guest post by Jonathan Ervine. This article originally appeared at his great blog “Dads the way I like it” (uh-huh uh-huh I like it)

Here are three thoughts based on my own experiences of paternity leave:

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“Moments of Accommodation” An Interview with Major League Baseball on Paternity Leave

Paul Mifsud, Senior Counsel, Labor Relations for Major League Baseball was nice enough to speak with me about their paternity leave policy. One of Paul’s primary responsibilities is working with teams and the players on rules changes within the game of baseball, ranging from drug programs to instant replay to paternity leave. He’s also a busy working father of three. I greatly appreciate his time.

MLB All Star Home Run Derby 2013
In my opinion, MLB hit a home run with its paternity leave policy (Photo credit: gargudojr)

For the past few months, I’ve been reporting on players who use Major League Baseball’s Paternity Leave Policy and have repeatedly praised MLB for their high-profile support of working dads. Could you summarize Major League Baseball’s paternity leave policy?

Prior to the 2011 season, when Major League Baseball first implemented the Paternity List, most Clubs allowed players several days of paid leave upon the birth and adoption of a child, but were required to play short when the player was absent. The establishment of the Paternity List enables Clubs to replace players who are granted leave for a maximum of three days, while continuing to pay the players and maintain a full roster of active players during the leave period.

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4 Factors Job Seeking Parents Should Keep in Mind

Job-seeking parents need to consider more than just pay and advancement opportunities when considering career opportunities. Here are 4 less obvious factors to keep in mind.

Help Wanted

When considering a potential job offer, we are often acutely aware of such factors as pay, opportunities for advancement and benefits like health insurance. These are important, but sometimes the less-obvious features of a job/employer can be the difference between a difficult situation and a job situation that suits you and your family.

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Pioneering Fathers Needed: Dare to Be Visible in Using Work Flexibility

Many workplaces are not open to men prioritizing family while at work. To change this, we need visible role models- fathers who are both respected at work and take noticeable actions to balance family responsibilities. If you have the security and courage to do so, here’s some advice on how you can become that role model. (part 2 of a series)

I'm calling for dads to stand up for work-family balance, but not for Jerry MaGuire-level career suicide.
I’m calling for dads to stand up for work-family balance, but not for Jerry MaGuire-level career suicide.

Two weeks ago, I began a series of articles* about how we can “be the change we wish to see” and help make our workplaces more accepting of fathers’ work-family issues. We can do this by:

  • Talking about our families & asking other men about theirs (see part 1)

  • Making sure other men in our workplaces see us occasionally use work flexibility for family reasons

  • Taking paternity leave

  • Starting a Beer Fire! (a group of male coworkers to discuss life outside of work)

In the first installment, I wrote about how we can make coworkers feel more comfortable discussing their families while at work by taking the lead and starting these conversations. Today, I’d like to go one step further and discuss how we can use our actions to role-model work-family accommodations.

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My Presentation Today at the EAM-International Conference in Seville, Spain: Changing Work-Family Dynamics for Men

The academic life has its perks. Today, I am in the gloriously beautiful Seville, Spain, to present as part of a symposium on emerging and under-studied themes in work-family research and practice. I’ll be presenting about- surprise surprise- fathers’ work-family issues. Here’s a sneak peek.

Greetings from Seville! (photo from Trekexchange.com)
Greetings from Seville! (photo from Trekexchange.com)

My co-presenters are the fabulous:

  • Suzanne C. de Janasz from IMD in Switzerland
  • Monique Valcour from EDHEC in Nice, France (and who guest posted on this blog and writes great stuff at HBR blogs)
  • Diana Ritchie of the Spouse Career Centre in Switzerland, and
  • Joy Alice Schneer from Rider University in NJ.

I’m proud to be included in such great company.

The summary of our symposium:

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The Challenges and Opportunities of Fathers, Work and Family, All in One Awesome Graphic

Fathers are more involved than ever. Fathers continue to face intense work pressures, inflexible workplace expectations- and are now feeling increased work-family imbalance and stress. A fantastic graphic from the NYC Dads Group and What to Expect shows the challenges men face today. The graphic illustrates why I am so passionate about fathers’ work-family challenges and the work we all need to do.

Welcome Thursday with Thirdpath Callers!

The guys at NYC Dads Group do incredible work. They have over 700 members throughout New York City- dads helping dads through peer support, new dad boot camps, meet-ups, podcasts, a great blog, and- nearest and dearest to my heart- information and resources for dads all over the country to start and grow their own dads groups (although I would rebrand them as BEER FIRES!)

NYC Dads Group recently partnered up with What to Expect, did some research on factors affecting fathers today (using valid data sources like Boston College’s “New Dads” study, Pew Surveys, and the Families and Work Institute), and presented the issues in one stunningly brilliant infographic. Here it is:

Please click "read more" to see this entire great infographic
Please click “read more” to see this entire great infographic

(full picture after the jump)

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How We Maintained Work-Family Balance During a Spike in Work Demands

About two months ago, I wrote about my wife’s new show, and how her work hours would spike for several weeks. I discussed our family’s plan for handling this time period, considering my work commitments and increased duties at home. The show is over, so now it’s time to see how we did, and what lessons we learned.

My wife's career as a stage actress has led to lots of cool experiences, funny costumes, and work-family juggling
My wife’s career as a stage actress has led to lots of cool experiences, funny costumes, and work-family juggling

(On Monday, I’ll be commenting on this week’s Pew Study’s findings on breadwinning moms and dual-career couples- SB)

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that my incredible wife Amy is a musical theater actress, and, depending on the project, her work schedule is often demanding, haphazard, inconvenient and inflexible.

About two months ago, Amy began work on an excellent new play, “The English Bride”. The play was very well-received (see this review!), so much so that it will run at the 59 E59 Theater off-Broadway, NYC in the Fall.

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One Month Later: The Media’s Response to Yahoo’s Ban on Telework Completely Missed the Point

Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to examine the media’s response to Yahoo’s ban on telework. Much analysis, by “journalists” and experts alike, missed the point entirely. I explain where so many went wrong.

Who'da thought she'd be the one setting back the cause of working parents?
Most analysis of yahoo’s ban on telework missed the point. The ban punishes the 98% of Yahoo employees who don’t fully work from home

I promise this is the last I’ll write about this issue unless there’s some new development

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban working from home for all employees was rightfully a hotly debated topic. Considering the steady rise of telework over the past decade, the increased attention to work-family issues, and Mayer’s high visibility as the first female CEO of her generation (who was hired while pregnant and recently build a posh nursery for her baby in her CEO suite), you had all the ingredients for a big story.

It is not surprising that many people had very strong feelings about this ban on telework, both pro (“working from home kills creativity”) and con (“betrayal of the sisterhood!”). I have become inured to “journalists” and advocates being unable to write accurate articles. When there’s a hot button issue, we very often get shouting, cherry-picked facts, provocative headlines and overstated conclusions. These are great for page views, but not for an informed readership.

Now that we’re a few weeks out, the time seems right to examine the media reaction to Yahoo’s ban on telework. (hint: almost everyone missed the point entirely)

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