I’m really looking forward to Mother’s Day. Each year, my kids make me breakfast in bed and then in the afternoon, I head to the spa. As a mom with two children – with a full-time job – this kind of day only comes around once a year.
Many working mothers walk a tightrope between managing their work responsibilities while staying plugged in to what’s happening at home. Sometimes we make it seem easy, but the fact is we need all the support we can get from family, colleagues and employers.
According to a recent survey, flexible work hours (73 per cent), the ability to work from home or remotely at times (61 per cent) and a helpful partner who shares in responsibilities at home (65 per cent) were important for working mothers to overcome the daily struggle of achieving balance.
So, for all the working mothers out there, here are ten tips to help you get a little closer to work-life harmony throughout the year:
1. Design a plan. Not all bosses will proactively offer a flexible work schedule. If you want it, present a plan to your manager outlining how you will execute a flexible schedule. Details about how you will continue to fulfill your responsibilities, how you will report in and when you will or will not be in the office should be included in the plan. Be ready to negotiate or modify your vision based on the feedback from your employer.
2. Request flexible work hours. With the technology available today, working a 9 to 5 schedule isn’t always necessary. Today’s managers understand this. While it’s important to be in the office for face-to-face meetings and to build camaraderie, there are times when working remotely or from home should be permitted.
3. Split the work week between home and office. Recently, Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer faced a firestorm of criticism when she took away the ability for employees to work remotely. This extreme approach may not be necessary for all businesses. Working three days in the office and two days at home, or in a flexible workspace, can create an environment that will better meet the needs of both businesses and working mothers.
4. Set benchmarks with defined deadlines. While supervisors let go of their line-of-sight management style, they still need to know your work will get done in a timely manner. Maintain open lines of communications with your manager to ensure all projects are up-to-date.
5. Have a childcare plan in place. Children can get sick. Very sick. Especially when they are in daycare. Without question, there will be times when mothers need time off to care for their children. However, when you are working from home, children can be a real distraction. Having a childcare plan for when you are not available will reduce stress and give you peace of mind.
6. Reduce your commute. So much time is wasted each day on lengthy commutes to the office. This time could be better spent with your family. Instead of commuting during peak business hours, drop into a business centre near your home to get caught up on some work and be productive opposed to sitting in traffic.
7. Find a flexible workplace close to home. Working from home isn’t always the ideal option for mothers. There can be many disturbances and a home office may not be properly equipped to conduct business.
8. Limit business travel. Help your company reduce travel expenses and spend more time at home. For meetings that can be done virtually, host a video conference or use Skype. These digital meetings keep you at home while in touch with colleagues and clients.
9. Get organized. Have a master calendar on your smartphone and at home. The calendar at home lets your family know what your commitments are for the day, week and month ahead. And make your morning routine less chaotic by doing family prep work like making lunches, choosing clothes and packing up homework the night before.
10. Prioritize. Not every day is going to go as planned and you simply can’t be in multiple locations at the same time. Your partner and your children need to understand this. Don’t feel guilty about your decisions. Ultimately, things will come up at work that may prevent you from attending some school-related functions, don’t beat yourself up with guilt. You can always try to make it the next one!
Special to The Globe and Mail
Brianna Iverson is the operations director of Regus Canada. Regus is the world’s largest provider of flexible work spaces, with products and services ranging from fully equipped offices to professional meeting rooms, business lounges and the world’s largest network of video communication studios. The company operates 52 business centres across Canada.