October is National Work and Family month, a time when employers are encouraged to celebrate progress and also continue to review the business benefits of creating healthier and more flexible work environments. And while businesses should always be thinking about how to better support, engage, or retain their employees, it’s important to use this time to shed a light on the benefits of flexible work.
From my work consulting organizations on how to better support and retain parents, especially new moms, in the workplace, I can tell you flexibility is a key component to success. Were it not for the outdated societal norms that companies and employers still (automatically) employ; women might actually be positioned for gender parity at work. FlexJobs CEO and Founder, Sara Sutton Fell put it this way “By making flexible work options more readily available for all workers, both men, and women, we create a more equitable workforce and reduce the friction between work and life that affects many more women than men.”
Instead, what we see is 43% of highly qualified women with children leaving the workforce either temporarily or for good; which leads to a breakdown in the leadership pipeline. Women who were once sailing smoothly along their career paths and ascending to new heights come crashing down after having children. For new moms especially, flexibility is critical. There are more reasons than options, for a working mother to request an unconventional work day. And by doing so, both employees and employers have the opportunity to create a more harmonious work environment that benefits everyone.
Freelancers, Part-Timers, and remote workers report greater work-life integration and are typically more satisfied with their work than their non-traditional counterparts. With the emergence of Co-working/childcare spaces, new moms in the workforce can perform their jobs and still be in the same building as their children. These co-working/childcare dwellings not only provide a shared environment for career-minded women to flourish but promote the enrichment and well-being of the children in their care. Keltse Bilbao, founder, and owner of Big + Tiny located in Los Angeles insists: “Work-life balance can be especially difficult to achieve for parents of young children. Today, people are becoming increasingly more aware of the importance of spending quality time with their loved ones while being productive and successful. Big and Tiny is the space that helps parents achieve this balance.”
Flexibility is one of the most sought-after benefits in the modern workforce. Millennials would actually take less pay if it meant more flexibility at work and increased work-life integration. And while companies are often slow to adopt formal policies, unemployment rates are at all time lows and the war for talent is high. New parents are poised to ask for more control over their work-life integration. Here are 3 ways to ask for flexibility in your current role:
1. Do your research.
Consult your colleagues to see if they’ve inquired about or received flexible benefits. Does your company have any formal policies around flexibility? If so, take note and include the policy and/or success stories to craft your request. No policy? Start with some key facts about flexibility and determine what your ideal scenario would be to draft your proposal.
2. Company, first.
Frame your request in a way that clearly outlines, first and foremost, the benefit your flex schedule will have for the company. Address how the flexibility will help those on your team and your boss as well. By putting the company first, your boss will be more receptive and willing to indulge you.
3. Be open to compromise.
If there’s any hesitation or pushback from your employer, ask for a trial period and a temporary arrangement of 3 months. Or if your initial request is to work remotely full time, consider a trial of just one or two days a week. Document your productivity and achievements during the trial period, and be open to feedback so that both you and your employee will recognize the benefits of your new flexible schedule.
Moving into a flexible schedule doesn’t have to mean off-ramping. Staying the course and asking for what you need can be a win-win for everyone; workers are happier/less stressed which increases productivity, while companies benefit from higher employee retention.
If your pint-sized ‘bosses’ are making it impossible to get any work done on the home front, your productivity quotient during nap time is no longer cutting it, and your laundry heap is taunting you away from a deadline, it’s time to venture to a coworking space that offers childcare! Working moms and dads can now make every day Bring Your Kid to Work Day at one of these awesome locales across the country. Read on for where to get down to business while your kids take their job of play seriously.
Big and Tiny – Santa Monica, CA
This newly opened, “integrated learn, work, and play space” has the goal of fostering productivity, creativity and community for kids and parents alike. The modern, streamlined office space allows parents to focus on work, while the boutique playground/creative space dubbed “Tinyland,” which is reminiscent of a castle in the forest, enables kids ages 6 months to 6 years play with sensory-rich sustainable toys that will encourage their imagination. Big and Tiny partnered with School of Wonder to design an educational program for kids that focuses on mindfulness and community-based learning, offering classes including yoga, music, dance, languages, drama and creative movement.
Good to know: They offer an array of co-working plans wherein parents have access to a workspace, printers, WiFi, etc. while kids enjoy enrichment classes and activities.
1731 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
The Hive – Austin, TX
The Hive is all the buzz for busy parents in South Austin. Parents can get down to business in their co-working office by renting a desk monthly that comes with childcare, printing, conference room use and even a bottle of wine on Fridays. Parents must remain on-site while their kids are being cared for and they can stay in childcare for up to four hours per day or 12 hours per week. It’s a perk that The Hive has a nice breakfast, lunch and snack menu which includes coffee drinks, smoothies, sandwiches, wraps and more.
Good to know: Not ready to commit to a paid plan? You can visit The Hive free of charge in their indoor/outdoor open seating area, either outside at the picnic tables or inside at the cafe area and lounge and get some work done whileyou supervise your kids play.
10415 Old Manchaca Rd.
Austin, TX 78748
The Garden by Equal Play – San Mateo, CA
We may still be waiting on equal pay, but in the meantime, there’s Equal Play, a calm and quiet distraction-free, fully-equipped coworking space for parents/loving learning environment for kids “where everyone grows.” The caregivers on staff have taken a minimum of 12 units of Early Childhood Education and are trained in positive discipline so you can rest assured your kiddos (infancy to school-age) are being well cared for in The Play Garden or The Nursery while you work (both are screen-free as well). There are several options of membership as well as hourly and daily rates. Founded by a mom, The Garden by Equal Play wants to accommodate parents by being flexible and working with them to ensure they can meet their needs no matter how large or small. Coffee and tea are complimentary and meals are available for purchase. Kids are treated to a healthy, nut-free breakfast and lunch during their stay.
Good to know: There are nursing/napping rooms outfitted with hospital-grade breast pumps.
Read more about The Garden by Equal Play here.
11 N. Ellsworth Ave.
San Mateo, CA
The Inc. – Seattle, WA
More than a co-working spot, The Inc. is on a mission to shift today’s parenting paradigm. Their vision is “to achieve gender equity in entrepreneurship, in the workplace and at home.” They’ve realized that childcare is the most important component of achieving gender equity so they’ve created this “modern-day village” as a brilliant solution. The Inc. affords parents a flexible co-working space where they can drop off their kids in one of the nearby Playschool rooms and go accomplish their work goals. Members have access to parent only co-working rooms, a break room for community connection, high-speed WiFi and printer, a Cowork + Coplay room, free/discounted workshops and classes and more. They want to help parents make the juggling act work by offering a space to learn, work and grow while their toddlers and preschoolers are being cared for.
Good to know: Parents must remain on-site and will be paged if their kiddo needs a diaper change or to use the potty.
Read more about The Inc. here.
The Inc. Greenlake
Inside St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
111 N.E. 80th St.
Seattle, WA 98115
Workafrolic – Washington D.C.
Want to combine work, child care and fitness and wellness classes for adults and kids? Then look no further than Workafrolic. This hub of creativity and community enables families to connect with others as well as soar independently. You can either drop in for a few hours of work or join with a monthly membership. The modern shared office space features coffee and tea, WiFi, printer/scanner, etc. as well as wellness classes for an additional fee. Kids ages four weeks to four-years-old will enjoy the childcare space that’s designed to feel like a home with lots of natural sunlight and nice toys and child-led play as well as games and songs. Kids may attend childcare for up to 3 consecutive hours while parents use the co-working space or go off-site.
Read more about Workafrolic here.
1707 North Capitol St NE
Washington, DC 20002
Work and Play – South Orange, NJ
Work and Play offers a flexible, state-licensed early childhood Reggio-inspired program for parents who utilize their workspace, as well as customized schedules for other parents in the community that need part-time care. Available to kids under age six, the program seeks to create independent thinkers and a new generation of entrepreneurs. Both their co-working space and their early childhood program are about building community, and their mission is to offer a solution to working parents who want to continue building their own careers and professional development while also taking part in the day-to-day activities of their families. For parents worried about the division of work and play, it’s good to know that a lot of care went into soundproofing so that adults barely know there are kids in the same building. The early childcare program is on the lower level, and the office space is above them on the first floor. Each also has separate entrances, so those without kids downstairs won’t even know there’s childcare on site.
Good to know: Work and Play have two locations in South Orange. Their flagship at 19 Prospect St. is the location that has childcare. Their second location – just down the street – has private offices and an additional co-working space and a meeting room.
19 Prospect St.
South Orange, NJ 07079
Nido – Durham, NC
Nido is a co-working community that began with a potluck and has founding members who have based their model on building community between families. They’ve masterfully fused their on-site Montessori preschool with office space for parents––and this not-for-profit business considers themselves a movement toward a “new way of living and working and being with each other.” The co-working space is a hub for those who work remotely or run small businesses and Nido describes their environment as a “femicentric space” in which they aim to support the lives and needs of women and mothers. A $200/month membership grants you 24/7 hour access to the space, unlimited coffee and WiFi, printer/copier and ten hours of monthly conference room time as well as the support and camaraderie of other co-workers. To add childcare to the mix, click here for the pricing options on membership plans that include tuition to the on-site preschool. The Montessori school offers half-day morning or afternoon options for kids ages six months to six-years-old and the ambiance is serene and beautiful while the learning focus encourages kids to be “productive, creative and self-driven,” “a perfect mirror” to their co-working space.
Read more about Nido here.
902 Broad St.
Durham, NC 27705
Play, Work or Dash – Vienna, VA
At Play, Work or Dash, kids ages nine months to eight-years-old can enjoy singing, dancing, music, story time, arts and crafts and holiday-themed parties in the playroom while you get your work done without interruption. Slide into an open desk and fuel up with a cup of complimentary coffee or tea, log on to the high-speed Internet and go. You can use the Play and Work service for up to three hours per day and the “Dash” service (short-term, drop-off childcare for kids age two and older) lets you leave the premises to run an errand, go to a meeting, etc.
Good to know: You can check-in on your kids via a tablet that shows a live video feed.
Read more about Play, Work or Dash here.
8214-B Old Courthouse Rd.
HackerMoms – Berkeley, CA
HackerMoms could be just the village you’re looking for. This band of mothers helps alleviate the isolation of motherhood by offering a community where members can explore creativity, crafts, hacker/maker culture, entrepreneurship and more with the convenience of on-site childcare space. The membership (dues are $80/month) grants you 24/7 access to the space as well as tools (Epson Stylus Pro 9880 large format industrial printer, a Juki industrial sewing machine, a standard Brother sewing machine and some smaller power tools) and the chance to utilize childcare at an hourly fee and free workshops and peer to peer skill-shares. If this sounds like your vibe, visit an open house meeting (offered twice monthly) or make an appointment to go in and meet the other moms and introduce your kids. Then complete their membership application and have a reference check for child safety. Parents must stay on-site to utilize the childcare for kids ages 5 months-6 years-old. HackerMoms allows the kids to meander between their room and the workspace so moms can model “active, creative lives for their kids.”
Good to know: For heavy-duty power tools, members can go to their partner hackerspace up the street, Ace Monster Toys, to use a CNC machine, laser cutter, makerbots, 3D printers, a full woodshop and electronics lab and more.
3288 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Giocare Play Spot – Brooklyn, NY
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Giocare Play Spot offers parents the ability to use their workspace while their kids play in the on-site play room. Kids will enjoy activities, organized play and music and movement while parents can get to work using the high-speed Internet, laser printer, charging station, office supplies, coffee and tea and the ability to work uninterrupted and without worry, as the kids are just a room away. The daily rate is $45 and the monthly rate is $250.
Read more about Giocare Play Spot here.
Giocare Play Spot
655 6th Ave. (corner of 18th)