I’ve written a lot about my quest for the perfect situation to enable me to both work and take care of my children often on this blog. A few years ago, I posted over on ScaryMommy about the dilemma I faced when I went back to work fulltime after my daughter was born. Faced with a long commute across state lines to the office and raging hormones after just having given birth a few months earlier, I made the decision to leave when my flexible schedule to ease my return to work (3 days in the office, 2 at home) went out the window. I left a job I loved to enter the world of motherhood, and the transition was really, really hard for me.
Eventually I would realize that being at home was not for me and that I needed to get out of the house, so I found a job that allowed me to come into the office a few days a week and work the rest from home. And suddenly, my freelance career was born. For the last nine years, I have worked in and out of the home for companies nearby and far away. My first job was in Long Island City. I worked in the office two days, one at home. I relished the adult contact in the office but also appreciated my ability to be with my kids the rest of the week.
A few years later, I worked part-time for a company based in Chicago. My manager saw the value of my work and let me work from home completely, flying to town once a month. As a mom of two young children, it was heaven on earth. There were plenty of challenges – childcare, making sure my sitter was at the right places at the right time, feeding the kids the foods I wanted them to eat, being on time for events and meetings at school. But I made it work.
Since then, I have had several jobs offering me the flexibility I have required to navigate the waters of motherhood and I have managed to progress my career at the same time. I’m proof that it can work for a company. I’ve worked just as hard, if not harder than others, to juggle my two worlds but have never wasted my time at home. I set up a workspace, created files and systems and worked during the day and later into the middle of the night while going into the office when necessary and always being available. I get hired to work a certain skill set, and with direction and a plan created with my managers, they have always known what I am doing. One of the last CEO’s I worked for was a wonderful, savvy man who saw the value of blogging and referred me as an interviewee for an article in Publisher’s Weekly. He knew how hard I worked and encouraged me both in the office and from a distance. By working from home and going contract, I was able to start my own company, which I am very proud of.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer sent a memo to Yahoo’s remote employees last week, of which there are hundreds that they have to begin working in offices. If they don’t want to, they can quit. I can imagine that many of them feel the way I did when my flexible schedule was taken away after my daughter’s birth when I did ultimately decide to walk. It was not an easy decision for me, let me tell you, and it was one that I questioned long after the fact, but in hindsight, it was the best decision my family and me. I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on my children’s youngest years and my skill set advanced.
Please read this post by my friend Estelle Sobel Erasmus: Why Yahoo Just Became Obsolete: CEO Marissa Mayer Bans Working from Home. She lays it all out for you and explains that at home employees can be just as, or more, productive than employees in the office.
I hope that Marissa, who went back to work after two weeks of maternity leave, snaps out of it soon. Before it’s 2050. These are modern times, not ancient.