Diversity Woman Magazine

SUM 2019

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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38 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N S u m m e r 2 0 1 9 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m children. "I've had two children while telecommuting, and even though mater- nity leave has been good, I'd always have to go back and kind of juggle all of that," she says. "Being home makes it great— I do have a nanny who's here while I'm working—because I can be around more. All of the principals that I work for— they're all men, and they all have fami- lies—are so understanding. ey just made it work." Maxwell's location in the central time zone has actually benefited the firm, which has numerous cases in California and Texas. Another Porzio attorney, Jennifer Ro- manski, began telecommuting when she had her children. She works around 30 hours a week, spending two days in the office and working from home for two days. "It was absolutely essential [in or- der] for me to stay at the firm," she says. "I have had friends whom I went to law school with give up practicing. ey walked away from it, usually after they had kids." Romanski, like Maxwell, was promoted while telecommuting and is now a principal at the firm. In a survey of 200 of the country's larg- est law firms conducted by the National Association of Women Lawyers, 88 per- cent said they offer the option to work from home. at's good news for women, who enter the profession in similar num- bers as men but make up only 20 percent of equity partners. Telecommuting—in law firms and many other fields—is a trend that shows no signs of stopping. Telecommuting: the new normal Not long ago, telecommuters were rela- tive oddballs. But the number of home workers has grown by 115 percent in the last decade. Millennials, who care deep- ly about flexibility, are largely driving the trend. "Our recent FlexJobs report points to that," says Mika J. Cross, director of 1 Million for Work Flexibility and vice pres- ident of employer engagement and stra- tegic initiatives at FlexJobs, a popular remote-work job site. "As we embrace a multigenerational workforce, the ability to DW Life > offer flexible options is becoming impor- tant." Most millennials—70 percent— say they have left or considered leaving a job because it didn't offer flexible work options. Older workers surveyed also value flex- ible work options, and both younger and older generations ranked telecommut- ing 100 percent of the time as their pre- ferred type of flexible work arrangement. "People of all ages want to choose when, where, and how to bring their talent to the workplace," Cross says. Companies across nearly all industries are responding. "We work with employ- ers in over 50 occupations, from health care to customer service and high-level positions like executive management," Cross says. "ey understand it gives them a competitive edge when they're searching for talent." If a company in a small city needs someone with hyperspecialized skills, there may be few local candidates who are qualified—or none at all. By offering a remote work option, however, that com- pany can broaden the search beyond its own backyard. Telecommuting and remote work op- portunities have popped up even in the most unlikely places. "Before I started at FlexJobs, I worked in the federal gov- ernment, which has a workplace culture that's been ingrained for 50-plus years, so that's hard to shift," Cross says. "We just released our top 100 list of companies that offer remote work, and even govern- ment agencies are among them, like the federal Department of Commerce and the State of Virginia." In fact, the US gov- ernment is now the largest employer of telecommuters. According to census data analysis con- ducted by Global Workplace Analytics, about 50 percent of the US workforce holds a position that is compatible with at least part-time telecommuting. Meeting women where they are Companies offering telecommuting can tap into a broader talent pool that in- cludes skilled workers needing flexibility in their work lives, particularly women. A Boston Consulting Group survey of 6,500 employees in 14 countries across indus- tries found that in (heterosexual) house- holds where both spouses work full-time, women are more likely to handle tasks that are time sensitive and occur frequent- ly. And women are more likely to be pri- marily responsible for everyday household Making It Work: Launching a Program A thoughtful approach to telecommuting will help ensure its success. Experts offer the following tips for rolling out a telecommuting or remote work program. • Create telecommuting or remote work policies so that expectations are clear. • FlexJobs can share research with companies to help them craft effective policies. • Be cognizant of employees who might be working in different time zones, for example, by scheduling meetings at times that are convenient for all. • Provide the equipment and materials that telecommuters need to perform their job. • Treat telecommuters and in- office workers equally. Remem- ber that just because you don't see employees doesn't mean that they aren't producing qual- ity work. • Help remote workers get to know their teammates, for ex- ample, by scheduling occasional nonwork video chats over coffee or lunch, just to socialize.

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