by Christy Williams | Featured Contributor
I am shocked that we still don’t have more flexibility in America in 2018.
Maybe my head has been buried in the sand. Or maybe it’s just because I’ve worked for a company that is so committed to helping people find the flexible jobs they need, that I thought there was more flexibility out there than there really is.
But my experience as someone who is currently looking for that additional side hustle is that there is still a limited amount of flexibility to be had.
I’ve written before about how I would really love to work full time at this point in my life, but I simply can’t within the rigid parameters of a 9-5 workweek. Two kids at two different schools with no busing means I just don’t have enough time that fits within the confines of a super-structured day.
Do I have enough available hours in my weekly schedule to work a full-time job? Absolutely. But some of those hours would have to be nights or weekends. That’s simply what my family’s needs are right now.
But there have been a few organizations that have especially surprised me with their lack of flexibility. They are women-owned, small businesses that are focused on helping women find career opportunities. And within the last several months, three of those organizations have been recruiting for positions that I would be well-suited for. Full- or part-time writer/editor for a career-based website and online service, focused on women. Ummmm…check, check, check. I have experience in all of the above.
So what am I missing? Geographic location.
These organizations are based in Los Angeles and New York, and want someone to work at the office with them. And actually, the company based in New York even said the job could be done remotely after a few days of training at the office, but they still want the candidate to be based in New York.
Now, again, maybe it’s because I have experience working for a completely distributed company where we all worked from our home offices—but I just don’t understand the reasoning behind this.
When I worked at this company, we had a number of communication tools available to us that we all used on a daily basis. Slack, Yammer, and Sococo were among the platforms we would use to communicate with each other every day.
We even had team-building activities using these programs. Once or twice a month, we played trivia as a company on a Friday afternoon, where we all grabbed an adult beverage of our choice and broke up into teams to play. So much more fun than any standard team-building activity in an office setting.
And the funny thing is, I feel closer to that family of co-workers I only knew virtually than I do with any other company I’ve ever worked for face-to-face in a central location. Bar none.
So why are so many so-called modern, progressive, “cutting edge” companies still not embracing more flexible work options—at least more than just your basic flextime?!
I first became a flexible-work evangelist when my boss at the time adopted a new baby and wasn’t able to take any paid time off to be with him. That was in 1998. 1998! That was 20 years ago!
Shouldn’t we be further along as a country than we are right now?!
That position I mentioned in New York? This was the second time it has been posted since September. So that only leads me to believe that either the first applicant hired just didn’t work out, or that they are still looking after months of recruiting. Either way, they could expand their field of applicants exponentially by opening up their search—and their minds—to remote applicants.
As someone with human resources experience, I am well aware that they might not be set up as an employer in my state. But perhaps it’s worth considering whether it would be cost-effective and appropriate within FLSA guidelines to have the company be set up as an employer in additional states—or even to consider if the position could be a contractor role.
But more importantly, there is a robust workforce out there of educated women who are interested in careers that fulfill them, but corporate America is missing out because an entrepreneur’s schedule can (sometimes) be more flexible. While I have always been a huge supporter of entrepreneurs and women starting their own small businesses, I also wish that employers—especially women-owned businesses—would start embracing more flexible work options.
If we are going to change the culture of our male-oriented workforce, it is going to have to come from women. Yes, there are a lot of men in leadership who are aware that our workforce needs have changed as women have become a bigger and bigger proportion of corporate America—and as men have stepped up like never before in sharing the parenting responsibilities at home.
But we still have a long, long way to go.
At least from where I stand.
And I’m looking at all you women-owned businesses to do your part in this cause. A cause–and responsibility—that will only benefit us all in the long run.
Image: Photo by Christy Williams