Working in tech as a mother of two young children, it can be difficult to strike the right work-life balance. And with only 11% of U.S. companies offering paid family leave and 35% of women exiting the labor pool after having children, it’s obvious why working mothers face a frustrating uphill battle for equality in the workplace. Companies offering true flexibility to their employees are gaining the upper hand in recruiting groups like working moms to their workforce.
I previously lived in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area with my husband quite a distance away from our extended families. Traffic was terrible and essentials like child care and housing were very expensive. Being offered a job at Rocana opened the door to many new living possibilities through the company’s distributed workforce model -- all employees at the company work remotely wherever they choose to be located, and meet periodically throughout the year in various different locations as needed (my colleague Rachel Taylor writes about this more in-depth in her blog post Distributed People). We decided to move closer to our families by relocating to Pennsylvania and have been incredibly happy with that decision. Working for a distributed company has enabled my family to thrive in many different ways, and on our terms.
Having a flexible schedule alleviates some of the working parent stress around scheduling everything for and around our kids-- playdates, doctor appointments, even grocery shopping. I am lucky to have a nanny who watches the kids while I work from home. I can eat lunch with my preschooler every day and hear how his morning went. If I need a break I can sneak downstairs for an extra baby snuggle.
A no-hassles paid parental leave policy also means one less thing working parents have to worry about.I took advantage of this benefit when I was planning for maternity leave in 2015. When I came back to work and our engineering team needed to meet in person, rather than opt for some big city like New York or San Francisco, the entire engineering team came to my hometown so I wouldn’t have to leave my newborn and the rest of the family in order to travel for work. The support from my colleagues was amazing and something I’d never seen before at previous jobs. It helps me feel like my roles as a parent and an engineer are both valued.
Benefits like these are only worth something if a company believes in them and instills a supportive culture to make it real throughout the organization. A company with real family friendly policies can go a long way in alleviating the everyday stresses that come with being a working parent. Too often companies preach about flexible policies for parents but the underlying pressures around day-to-day work, high regional cost of living and daily commuting demands can overshadow any family friendliness that companies seek to provide. Rocana is a great example of how companies can support working families by embracing a new operations model that promotes flexibility for employees and a harmonious work-life balance.