When I first saw the headlines about Elon Musk’s directive that Tesla employees must return to full-time, in-person work and mocking workplace flexibility, I groaned. Part of me figured it was just another corporate titan throwing their out-of-touch opinions into the world, but nope. In fact, he recently doubled down on this sentiment, telling Twitter employees that remote work might be OK if a person is “exceptional.”
Earlier this month, Musk told Tesla executives that they needed to return to the office—or else. Considering he has made billions on forward-thinking ideas , Musk’s stance on what makes a “good employee” are shockingly regressive and outdated. Not to mention they are downright insulting and just another blow to working parents. Sadly, these views and policies aren’t an anomaly; they are, however, outdated, insulting and harmful to working parents.
For the past two-plus years, parents have been running on overdrive. We’ve managed our work responsibilities while pivoting between remote and hybrid school when there’s an outbreak in our kid’s classroom. We’ve been doing more and sleeping less, all while being productive and engaged team members at work. We’ve been burning the candle at both ends, all with inadequate support and few safety nets.
One of the few silver linings of the pandemic—and there are very few—has been the forced adjustments to the ways in which we work. We let go of the outdated—and frankly, sexist—idea that “face time” in the office is the way to climb the career ladder. We realized that it’s possible to build a strong workplace culture not with happy hours and free lunches, but instead by showering employees with respect, trust and compassion. We realized that less time spent commuting means more time with our families and generally doing whatever helps us be better humans. We abandoned the idea that working longer hours means working better, and finally realized that working smarter is better for everyone. And we’ve recognized that when working parents are able to be more engaged parents, the entire community benefits.
Added bonus: we saved some money on commuting costs (more important than ever with astronomical gas prices), in-office work clothes, and overpriced lunches in the office cafeteria.
Some employers are clinging to obsolete, dysfunctional and, quite frankly, toxic attitudes about what it means to be a good and productive employee. And working moms are suffering as a result.
Several employers got the memo that workplace flexibility is the key to a productive and engaged workforce. They’ve realized that they can expand their talent pool when they aren’t confined to a specific geographic location, and they’ve learned that employees are happier and healthier when they have workplace flexibility. Of course, not all jobs lend themselves to a remote or hybrid work environment. But if a job can be done remotely, at least part of the time, many employers are realizing that it’s a way to build and maintain a quality team of workers who are likely to stick around.
Unfortunately, some employers are clinging to obsolete, dysfunctional and, quite frankly, toxic attitudes about what it means to be a good and productive employee. And working moms are suffering as a result.
In Motherly’s 2022 State of Motherhood survey, 30% of respondents said that resolving issues related to balancing a career and motherhood would decease feelings of burnout and 27% of respondents who aren’t currently employed said that more flexible options would help them get back in the workforce. Among working moms, 48% said their employer could better support them as a parent with increased flexibility, such as remote work, job-sharing, or schedule flexibility.
Not only is it insulting to assume that remote workers are only pretending to work, it just isn’t accurate. “Most of the evidence shows that productivity has increased while people stayed at home,” Natacha Postel-Vinay, an economic and financial historian at the London School of Economics, told Insider.
Forbes reported that two studies suggest increased productivity with remote work. A Stanford study followed 16,000 workers over nine moms and found that performance increased by 13%. Similarly, a survey by The Remote Collaborative Worker, which is published by the Society for Human Resource Management, found that 77% of respondents reported increased productivity while working remotely.
I’ve worked from home for over a decade; I am more productive, happier, and more engaged than when I worked 50+ hours in an office. Not everyone agrees with my work-from-home preference, but we’re all adults. Shouldn’t we be trusted to know how, when and where we work best?
As a working mom, I can’t say I’m surprised by these outdated attitudes. But my lack of surprise does nothing to quell my frustration. Fortunately, I have a supportive partner, but it’s hard not to feel defeated when we are working hard every day—at home, at work, everywhere—and the rest of the world doesn’t seem to care. DON’T YOU SEE US?!, I want to scream.
I’m guessing some days you do too.
But despite the simmering red hot rage, despite the fact that we toil away in a world that fails to adequately support us, despite the fact that we are disrespected and overlooked, we’ll do what moms have been doing since the beginning of time.
We’ll roll up our sleeves, hold our heads high, and get the job done.
Motherly designed and administered its 2022 State of Motherhood survey through Motherly’s subscribers list, social media and partner channels, resulting in more than 17,000 responses creating a clean, unweighted base of 10,001 responses. This report focuses on the Gen X cohort of 1,197 respondents, millennial cohort of 8,558 respondents, and a Gen Z cohort of 246 respondents. Edge Research weighted the data to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the US female millennial cohort based on US Census data.