We're deciding when, where, and how much we want to work, depending on our economic needs and life stage. After a baby, a death, or a family crisis, women often cut back or rearrange their work schedules. There are circumstances when time, attention, and caring are more important than money. Only about 18 percent of us stop work altogether, however, according to a Simmons/HP study. That's a significant figure. It tells us that more women are figuring out alternative ways to combine work and personal life, so they can do both. An obvious alternative is to work from home.
When women first entered the workforce in great numbers, we tried to do it the guys' way. The commute, the nine to five, the navy suits, and the Day-Timer. Some of us made it to the corner office and beyond. A lot of us found great satisfaction in our jobs, but we also learned that the guys' way only worked for guys. Most of them had wives at home taking care of the house and kids.
Are you tired of trying to do two jobs in different places in the same twenty-four hours, and feeling like you're failing at both? Are you exhausted, frustrated, burned out, and stressed? We're not talking about the kind of stress that a hot bath and candles is going to cure. We're talking about the effects of living too long with all work and no play -- the screaming, stomach-knotting, hair-pulling kind of stress that spikes our risk for heart attack and stroke. Stress kills. Medical researchers keep doing new studies to prove that point and we know it in our gut.
So what's the answer? We don't want to quit work. We like it and we're good at it. What we want is time to go for a walk, read a book, spend time with our spouse, eat lunch with a friend, and watch our kid play baseball. While we're at it, we want to see the whole game ... and the fourth-grade play ... the school awards ceremony ... our best friend's wedding rehearsal ... and our parents' anniversary dinner. We want to be there for our lives -- not just work through them -- and we deserve to be. That isn't going to happen if we're chained to our desks, out of town, stuck in traffic, or working late through the events that matter.
What we want and need is some kind of balance -- a balance of work and life. Maybe it's our influence on the workplace, or maybe it's a changing society, but men have taken a hard look at the rat race, too. They've seen that in working long hours, traveling, transferring, and fighting their way up the ladder, they've missed a lot of ball games, too. Not to mention family dinners, vacations, and friendships. Is it worth it?
No. What good is a big salary if you never have time to enjoy it?
Changing attitudes are causing dramatic shifts in the traditional workplace, according to the Families and Work Institute. The old command-and-control style of authority, which worked when companies nurtured and groomed employees for their entire careers, no longer flies. Smart employers are figuring out that when employees are valued as people with real lives, not just time-clock punchers, they are happier and more productive.