I am in the middle of changing my job. Even though I have been thinking of this step for some time, I had been refraining from taking active steps. This is/was mostly related the fact that boys are still just 1-year old, they get sick still quite regularly and I still follow start-early-finish-early timetable at work. This is mostly to make sure that I am at home on time in the evening for their go-to-bed-period. With my (still) current employer I have a good basis of understanding. I deliver high quality work. In return I am free from pressures such as spending in the office unnecessary hours or extremely long days. This has its own downsides of course. In my field there are lots of after work conference and networking gatherings. All of this I have been missing since 1 year, but I believe it is just a temporary.
The urge to change my job came from the fact that I do not have the level of professional growth, which I used to have 2 or 3 years ago. On the other hand I have/had a job which I knew inside-out and gave certain degree of comfort. But lack of professional development bugged me nevertheless.
Than some 2 months ago an offer for a new job came. it was unexpected and somewhat what I was thinking as my next career step. Decision to move was not easy, given the above mentioned circumstance. I have decided to make this move.
I start in January and I will tell you how it will work out or not. However here I’d like to offer some views how companies/organisations should help, especially new mothers, to develop and advance their careers (if there is such a wish in the man-dominated management circles).
To start with, there are several stereotypes or pressure points so to say.
- Many people tend to make abnormally long hours. Whether they really produce productive work or not after certain amount of hours is another debate. However, when one sees colleagues lingering in the office past 18h00m it does put certain ‘pressure’ on others – as if they do not work enough. The recent study by John Pencavel of Stanford University and published by The Economist underlines that after 45-50-hour work-week productivity regresses: ‘Economists have suspected for some time that longer work hours could eat into productivity.’
- Working from home or flexible working hours. This will help greatly working mothers. It will lift the pressure from them to spend lots of hours in the office for work, which can be done from anywhere. Here I do not want to downplay the importance of being in the office, having sense of belonging and importance of team work at the work-place. I am not in favour of total work-from-wherever. I am talking about the flexibility where this is possible and taking into account whether presence of a person in the office is necessary for performing tasks.
- Lastly and may be most importantly. At the end of the day what counts is a quality of the work and not the quantity of hours spent on a project or in the office. Being flexible employers can somewhat boosts productivity by lifting the pressure of spending-lots-of-hours-in-the-office. Instead the focus should be shifted to the quality if work.
Providing new mothers with flexible hours will make sure that women stay in the labour market, and that they don’t miss the professional development. As opposed to women who can’t handle pressure of long working hours at the office and decide as a result to quit their careers. If this is personal choice that is another matter, as long as it is not triggered by the pressure.
How flexible employers can be largely depends on the field of activities of this or that organisation. Professionals working with the governmental structures of with the European Institutions face different reality.