THE BLOG
06/05/2013 08:58 am ET | Updated Aug 05, 2013

Working Mothers As 40 Percent of Household Breadwinners Further Pleads the Case for Flex

New information from the Pew Research Center has proven what we have
already been seeing as a major shift in the workplace. Working mothers have
become the breadwinning -- or sole -- sources of income in 40 percent of households with
children. The data, reported by the U.S. Census Bureau and other surveys,
shows that women want to work. In fact, in 2012, 32 percent of working moms claimed
that they would prefer to work full-time, an increase from 20 percent in
2007.

What does this mean for today's working mothers? Well, with moms leading
the charge in both the workplace and at home, it can be a tricky struggle to
make it all work. The vast majority of those polled (79 percent) believe that women
should not return to their more stereotypical roles of strictly wife and
mother. That said, 74 percent of respondents felt that working full-time in the
workplace -- and working full-time at home, too -- makes it harder to raise
children.

And without flex, it definitely does.

The key to successful work life balance is telecommuting and flexible work
options, plain and simple. We're not advocating flex schedules for just
working moms, but for all employees. People want and need work flexibility
for many kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with parenthood too
(taking care of aging parents, health issues, reducing costs associated with
commuting, etc.).

Although the Fox News guys might be shocked to hear this, not everyone wants to
go back to the traditional husband/wife mentality of a wife staying at home
to care for her children while the man is "dominant." And as it happens,
that antiquated arrangement is simply not the reality of today's working
parents... certainly not for single working moms, who are a big part of the
growing trend of these breadwinning mothers. Consider that 83 percent of single
parents are women, and almost 60 percent of them don't receive the full amount of
child support due according to the US. Census. Where does that leave
them? Furthermore, we still need to accept the fact that even for most
two-parent households to stay afloat, both Dad and Mom have to work. Often
times, that means a 40-hour work week in a traditional office job.

So here we are, back to the point of finding better solutions for today's
workforce -- identifying ways that support people to be more efficient with
their time and more productive in their jobs. Although this seems incredibly
obvious to me, this is where telecommuting and work flexibility come in. In
order to allow working mothers (and working dads!) to have the careers they
want/need and be the parents they want/need to be, companies should consider
practical ways to allow their workers to have some form of flexibility that
won't negatively impact the company but will benefit the work-life balance
of their employees. And in fact, many studies show that flexible work
options have both bottom line and work culture benefits for companies.

At FlexJobs, we conducted two surveys which illustrated this point, our
Parents & Work and Relationships & Work surveys. Both found that workers value telecommuting, flexible or alternative schedules because they help positively impact
work-life balance. I know this firsthand. As a mom of two young boys,
being able to have a great career, contribute financially to my family's
budget, and also be a super-involved parent is amazing. It's not easy, but
it's definitely achievable and worthwhile by all of my measures.

I sincerely hope that with women quickly gaining momentum in the workforce,
managers and CEOs will take notice -- and open their minds to consider the
win-win benefits of creating a corporate culture that embraces work
flexibility. It will allow employees to be invested in both their work
lives as well as their family lives, and reduce the competition between the
two. Because honestly, our society definitely doesn't win in the long run
if everyone has to constantly choose between their work and their families.
There IS room for both.