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working from home

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Where Have All the Women Gone?

Inspired by the NBC News coverage of recent report findings published by Deloitte, in “Women @ Work: A global outlook”.


With viewership of Hulu’s most-watched original title, The Handmaid’s Tale, achieving record numbers following its season 4 premier nearly a month ago, it should come as no surprise that women are seeking an escape from their own overwhelming workloads –at home and on the job— via entertainment.  And yet, that ‘escape’ to a dystopian television series based on Atwood’s 1985 prophetic novel, that so closely mirrors the current state-of-affairs for women in the workforce, seems to be more cathartic than entertaining; the show and its themes giving voice to the ‘perfect storm’ awaiting women following the COVID-19 pandemic.  And while America is still a far cry from the fictional Gilead, the disappearance of women from the workforce is nothing short of distressing.


The Findings

Deloitte’s survey of over 5,000 women from 10 countries from November of 2020 to March of 2021, confirmed what any working mother has already endured throughout the pandemic: an increase in responsibilities at work and at home, taking a devastating toll on mental health and leading to burn out.

  • 8 in 10 women surveyed said their workloads had increased since the pandemic began, but so did their responsibilities at home.
  • Job satisfaction dropped by 29 points over the pandemic, “with women considering opting out of their workplaces –or the workforce entirely— in troublingly large numbers.”
  • More than half of the women surveyed are less optimistic about their careers than they were before the pandemic.
  • Overall, 57 percent of women plan to leave their workplaces in the next two years or less, while 21 percent say they will eave sooner than that, all citing lack of work-life balance.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 women are considering leaving the workforce altogether.

The Cost

The contribution of the female labor market over the past 125 years has been a major factor in America’s prosperity.  In fact, a recent study “estimates that increasing the female participation rate [in the American workforce] to that of men would raise our gross domestic product by 5 percent.”

However, women face significant obstacles in achieving their professional goals, made even more insurmountable by the pandemic.

  • The gap in earnings between women and men is still significant.
  • Women continue to be underrepresented in certain industries and occupations.
  • Too many women struggle to combine aspirations for work and family.
  • Further advancement has been hampered by barriers to equal opportunity and workplace rules and norms that fail to support a reasonable work-life balance.

According to Janet Yellen, a Distinguished Fellow in Residence with the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, “If these obstacles persist, we will squander the potential of many of our citizens and incur a substantial loss to the productive capacity of our economy at a time when the aging of the population and weak productivity growth are already weighing on economic growth.”

The Next Step

We cannot continue the devastating path we are on; the pandemic has wiped out the job gains women made over the past decade. Women now have an unemployment rate in the double digits, for the first time since data began being reported by gender in 1948, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Women’s unemployment in April of 2020 was nearly three points higher than men’s according to Labor Department rates reported by The Washington Post.

Kimberly Churches, CEO of the American Association of University Women believes we should focus our attention on bills and legislation that are focused on: pay equity, practices in the workplace on flexibility and on access to care—like the Paycheck Fairness Act and the FAMILY Act.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation believes we should focus our attention on the caregiving crisis, beginning with a national paid family and medical leave policy.  “We’re the only industrialized nation without one [a paid family and medical leave policy].  We also need federal action to stabilize the teetering childcare industry and to direct additional resources to long-term-care services and supports so that ill and aging adults have options besides relying on a mother or a daughter.”

Rachel Thomas, co-founder and CEO of LeanIn.org believes that remote work, as long as it is embraced correctly, will be key in maintaining the presence of women in the workforce while legislation and cultural norms catch up to the disproportionate caregiving responsibilities falling on the shoulders of women, one of the major factors in nearly 2.2 million women completely dropping out of the workforce.


While the US is a far cry from Gilead, our workforce may not be.  With women leaving reluctantly to be “stuck at home mom’s”, employers must take action to preserve an essential asset to our economy.  And the solutions don’t require a revolution; nearly a quarter of the women surveyed by Deloitte say, “better child care/caregiving support, short-term sabbaticals and better resources to support their mental health are the top three things companies can do to keep them.”  It’s time to get American women back to work, with the proper supports to stay there.

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Kindness Deserves a Seat at the Table, Whether in the Kitchen or the Boardroom

Inspired by the Harvard Business Review article, “Don’t Underestimate the Power of Kindness at Work”.

One of the unspoken challenges of working from home, working remotely, or working largely in isolation is the lack of authentic opportunities for social interactions with colleagues, management, and our professional tribe.  Many of us are seeing the lines of our home life and work life blur for the first time due to the pandemic, juggling the demands of childcare and Zoom meetings, and our working hours stretching late into the evening.  Our carefully established boundaries, routines and life as normal have been uprooted and our aptitude for kindness is essentially non-existent, all while our appetite for human connection becomes nearly insatiable.  We turn to social media to replace our face-to-face connections, which only furthers our inner turmoil and loneliness in a culture that seems to value division over unity with Keyboard Karen’s lurking in the shadows ready to add their vindictive two-cents to any, and every, post.  Is it any wonder that we have lost touch with one of the greatest attributes we can embody and the windfall of benefits therein?  It’s time to adapt to our new normal and to begin sprinkling kindness like confetti once again.


The Windfall of Benefits

With opportunities for ‘praise in passing’ limited by the pandemic, it is important to recognize the tangible benefits of kindness in the workplace.  A yearlong compilation of surveys conducted by Gallup found that recognition at work could help to, “reduce employee burnout and absenteeism, and improves employee well-being.”  Decades of research show that seemingly simplistic gestures like offering a compliment, words of recognition, and praise can help individuals to feel, “more fulfilled, boost their self-esteem, improve their self-evaluations, and trigger positive emotions.”  The affirmation offered by praise confirms our self-worth and contributes to our positive view of ourselves.

Next, the act of being kind contributes to our perceived sense of life’s meaningfulness.  When we are kind to others, it confirms our belief that there is more to life than ourselves.  These acts of kindness also change the way we see ourselves, as our reputation and esteem in the mind of others is improved.  We assess ourselves based on our behavior, so when we are kind to others we view ourselves as kind people, and therefore a good person.

Finally, giving to others makes us even happier than receiving from others.  In various studies, participants who complimented one another found that giving the compliment made them even happier than receiving one.  Compliments may seem trite, but the psychological steps taken to construe and offer a compliment are much deeper.  When we give a genuine compliment it requires us to,  “think about someone else—their mental state, behavior, personality, thoughts, and feelings.”  Thinking about others is a necessary step in feeling connected to them.  And this human connection, that we’ve all been desperately seeking throughout the pandemic, can lead to enhanced positivity in relationships ultimately driving our own happiness forward.

Bringing Kindness Back to the Workplace (Even If It’s Remote)

In order to create a culture of generosity and kindness within an organization, it is imperative that leadership leads by example. “By giving compliments and praising their employees, leaders are likely to motivate team members to copy their behavior and create norms of kindness in teams.”

Next, leaders can establish a time during Zoom meetings for a “kindness round”, close a call with an opportunity for employees to acknowledge each other’s work, or encourage a weekly “bright spot” submission in the weekly meeting notes.  Just a few moments taken out of the norm can have significant impacts on moral and social connection.  The key is consistency and an opportunity for peers to recognize one another publicly.

Finally, small spot bonuses, or tokens of appreciation, even if it’s ‘just’ a gift card for coffee or a thoughtful e-mail, can trigger the same psychological benefits of large acts of kindness without significant expense.


While we are busy switching loads of laundry, and prepping dinner between e-mails and Zoom calls, it can be easy to dismiss acts of kindness as frivolous.  But, if we can pencil in one small gesture of kindness a week, or a day for our colleagues, management and professional tribe, the overwhelming minutia of survival mode can begin to look a bit more like thriving for ourselves and others.  Our children are our best examples of unencumbered kindness, offering a hand picked dandelion, a smile to a stranger, or the last bite of their prized dessert.  Let’s become a bit more childlike and a lot less jaded; the world needs more kindness than Karen’s.

Corporate Family Women Work at Home

What are Corporate Women Seeking? Balance!

It’s tough being a mom and excelling in the corporate sphere without compromising on family time. Let’s face it, when you have a high-pressure job and a team of people depending on you, missed family dinners, arriving home after bedtime, and traveling often—even over the holidays—often become the norm despite your best efforts otherwise. Before you know it, the work-life balance you were striving for goes out the window! That’s why more women today are leaving corporate America and opting to work from home.

We get it: Being a mom is more than just a full-time job, it requires you to be on-call and readily available 24/7—to nurse your children during that unexpected 24-hour flu, pick them up from a sleepover when they get homesick before the “sleep” part happens, stay up late with them to finish their science fair project—the list goes on. We also understand that most of us can’t just quit a six-figure corporate position with all its perks to stay home full-time and bring in zero dollars in income. That won’t support your family’s needs either!

Working from home is an amazing alternative to a full-time corporate job that actually allows you that balance that you’ve been seeking for so long. While working in your PJ’s may sound appealing (at least for the short term—trust us, it gets old after a while!), there’s a lot more to look forward to when you’re a work-at-home mom.

1. Set Your Own Schedule

Gone are the days of the 9 to 5 (usually longer) routine that forces you to miss out on your children’s lives. This time, you set your own working hours. This may not necessarily mean that your days will be shorter, but it does mean that you are now flexible enough to work at whatever time suits you best without compromising on family time. Are you a night owl? Well, now you can get in a 4-hour chunk of work during your peak hours after the kids are tucked in bed!

2. Work-Life Balance

With flexibility comes the work-life balance we all strive towards. The corporate world may cater to your career goals, but at what cost? As a work-at-home mom, you’ll not only be able to provide for your family financially, but you’ll have the time to focus on your family and yourself as well. Success is not only measured by your position on the corporate ladder, but by other aspects of your life—such as family, self-care, and friendship. Not to mention how you feel about yourself at the end of the day. Let go of that mom guilt once and for all!

3. Be Your Own Boss

Fed up with taking orders from someone day in and day out? As a work-at-home mom you call the shots. The skills you developed in the corporate world may still apply, but being your own boss forces you to develop a new set of skills that come with having to make decisions on your own, and that in itself can be very fulfilling. As the one who calls the shots, you’ll soon find yourself making swifter and smarter decisions, and you’ll develop savvier leadership skills. Plus, there’s the added bonus of being able to take time off whenever you want and not having to answer to anyone but yourself. That’s one perk that most women in the corporate sector cannot claim!

4. Potential for Limitless Income

No matter how hard you work and how far up the corporate ladder you climb, there will always be a limit to your income. Working from home eliminates these limitations. The harder and smarter you work, the higher your potential earnings. You can be a great mom and create financial independence at the same time. Break that glass ceiling!

5. Prove the Naysayers Wrong

“Moms have a hard time being entrepreneurs.” WRONG! Being an entrepreneur isn’t always easy, regardless of whether you’re a mom or not. But did you know that you actually have a better chance of being a successful entrepreneur because you’re a mom? Here’s why:

• Your children become your motivation. Once you have kids, your focus shifts. You don’t only have yourself to think about—you have to provide for your children, and that changes the game. Additionally, you have less time and probably less money to waste on things that aren’t important. This makes you more focused and more determined.
• Children force you to become more organized. Sometimes “winging it” doesn’t cut it. As a mom, you have to be on top of things, and that means keeping things in order. This skill will naturally filter into your work as well.

Are you considering leaving the corporate world to enjoy the balance of working from home? At Moms Making Six Figures, our priority is helping working moms take that step towards their dreams. For more information about getting started on the path to balance and fulfillment in your life, call us at (858) 837-1505, or visit our website at momsmakingsixfigures.com.

Work

Working From Home: 10 Tips For Success

When I started a small part-time business 2 ½ years ago, I had no idea that it would grow to the full-time business is it today, allowing me to walk away from a corporate career I spent 15 years building! When I tell people I work from home and have replaced a corporate salary within 2 years, I usually get one of two responses – “I don’t know how you get anything done,” or “I wish could do that.”

I feel that many of my friends who are also moms like me think the flexibility of working from home sounds amazing, but they aren’t sure they have what it takes to be productive. I’ll admit that you can become easily distracted, but here are 10 tips I’ve learned along the way.

1. Establish a Schedule

I know for many moms this can seem difficult (especially if you have young children), but it’s a critical element to successfully working from home.

If you do not have a schedule and do not set your intentions for the day, you will waste more time trying to figure out what work to do versus actually getting work done. It doesn’t have to be an hour by hour schedule, but something that becomes routine.

For example, I like to use Mondays as my office day to make calls, send follow-up emails, write my social media posts for the week, and set appointments with current and potential clients – anything office related. Tuesdays through Thursdays, I usually schedule an hour of office/desk time but spend the majority of those days on appointments and networking with others. I like Fridays to be my day to tie up loose ends and tackle all of the tasks that I necessarily pushed off. I have a daily list – I know I have had a productive day when I see all the things crossed off of my list. Even if you only work 2 or 3 hours per day on whatever it is you do from home, it is important to have that time blocked off and know what you intend to accomplish during those hours.

You can accomplish a lot in 1 hour if it’s a focused, distraction-free hour; if you try to squeeze in 5-10 minutes here and there, you’ll likely find yourself stuck in the same spot for weeks.

2. Establish Boundaries

I truly believe this is where most moms struggle. I have a designated work-space in my home. When I am in my work-space during my work hours, I do not spend any of that time answering personal emails or personal calls (unless it’s my kids’ school or my husband, which are really the only exceptions). My kids are now 4 and 7, so we had a conversation in terms they understand; if Mommy is at her desk on the phone, it is not the time to interrupt. And I’m realistic when I’m planning my work schedule, so when my kids are home (day off of school or in the summer), I typically don’t spend more than an hour at a time at my desk. Instead, I’ll break up my work day explaining “it’s Mommy’s hour to work” and give them 2-3 choices of things they can pick to do during that hour. You may or may not agree with this method, but I believe children need to learn to entertain themselves for short periods of time (i.e. it helps them practice self-discipline). I have even caught them playing “office,” mimicking me making my calls, etc. On the flip-side, my kids know they will have my full attention during play-time.

By setting the boundaries and schedule, you won’t have to worry about the guilt of empty promises of “just give me 10 more minutes and we’ll play then…” Your family will appreciate the boundaries. They will learn to recognize when Mom is working and when she is available, rather than constantly interrupting because they’re competing for your attention.

3. Know When You Need childcare

Sure, I started my own business to have more time with my children, but there are times when you may have to put in more hours or attend a meeting and it simply wouldn’t be appropriate to bring your children along. If your children are not yet in school and you work from home, find a reliable form of childcare for the times it is needed, even if it means swapping playdates with a friend.

4. Get Out of Your House

This might be difficult for moms with small children, which is why I mentioned #3. I understand that one of the main reasons we choose to work from home is because we want more time with our children. But working from home can be a bit lonely. While a lot of connecting begins through social media, real relationships are still developed in person. Make attending local networking groups, trainings or events a part of your regular schedule. That’s where you can meet potential clients, colleagues and mentors to support you on your journey. I recently attended a LinkedIn class and not only did I meet great people, but I also chose an activity that would benefit me professionally.

5. Evaluate Your Activities and Priorities

I was a busy corporate mom before I started my own business and either way, when you add a new responsibility, you have to let go of something. No one is going to do this for you. You have to be the one to evaluate your current activities and obligations and decide where your time is best spent. I started by clearing out my DVR; I still like to binge-watch Fixer Upper every now and again, I love me some Chip and Joanna, but TV can be one of the biggest time wasters.

Be clear about your priorities in life and focus on them. Cut down on activities and obligations that don’t help with your priorities. (i.e. TV watching, magazine reading, social activities, mindless Internet surfing, etc.) Make every moment of your life count. Do only what helps you achieve your goals. Learn how to say no without guilt. I really wanted to serve on my daughter’s school’s parent teacher committee this past year but when I looked at the time and commitment, I realized I was still establishing myself as a business owner and balancing my time as a mother. I still contribute, just not by serving as a committee member.

6. Hold Family Meetings

Make sure your spouse understands your business, your goals and your priorities. My husband travels 50-70% of the time for work but he still likes to understand what I am working towards with regard not only to my schedule, but how our children will be cared for on my busy days, as well. We also involve our children at times. When I first started my business, our daughters understood that Mommy had to work really hard and a lot of hours so she could quit her job and be the one to take them to and from school. My husband and I explained that we needed their help, which included doing their chores without complaining, getting ready on time in the morning and understanding that Mommy would have to work late sometimes during what looked to be a very busy upcoming year. To increase their willingness to be helpful, we promised them Disneyland passes if they followed through. Let’s just say incentives work wonders with young children!

7. Get Your Rest

Remember when you had your first child and everyone said “Nap when the baby naps.” I hated hearing that! I used to think “but what about the laundry? I need a shower.” I soon realized an overly tired Mommy wasn’t good for my husband or the baby, so I napped. I am not saying to take naps, but if you are up working until midnight or 1:00 am to work on your business while the kids are sleeping – stop! Lack of sleep will catch up with you and won’t be good for anyone. Go back and read #2. It is possible to work while your kids are awake. Even powerhouse mompreneurs need their beauty rest!

8. Get and Keep Your Home Organized

An organized home will demand less time for upkeep, while a cluttered home will require constant work and suck your energy. Don’t even think of starting a home-based business or working from home until your house has been decluttered and organized and your household maintenance systems are in place. Set up daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and yearly routines for house cleaning. For example, I throw in a load of laundry every morning, it goes in the dryer when kids come home from school and is folded and put away before we go to bed at night. I wipe down the bathrooms Monday morning and wash all the bedding on Thursdays; it doesn’t matter what you do or when, but create your system and stick to it.

9. Dress for Success

I know your PJs are comfy and one of the perks working from home should be that you don’t have to get dressed up BUT, you still have to get dressed, even to work from home. I’m not sitting here in my power suit and heels, but you do need to get out of your PJs and slippers. I wear something comfortable and casual that I can wear outside the house. I even put on my basic makeup. My rule of thumb is – be presentable enough to meet a potential client. If you’re physically ready for anything, your mind will be as well. Believe it or not, this will make you more productive.

10. Let Go

Let go of the idea that you can do it all. Maybe this should have been #1. You can’t clean the house, do all the laundry, run the errands, pay attention to your husband, answer 100 emails per week, plan and prepare dinner every night, print pictures to mail to grandma, volunteer at school, bake cookies for the church bake sale and grow your business…all by yourself. Get over being perfect. If you have the luxury of doing so – hire someone to clean the house. It’s okay if you have to buy the cookies. Ask your spouse to help out a little bit around the house. Feel “OK” if you can’t do it all – remember why you started – to have more time with your family; they won’t mind if the cookies are store-bought. When you are 86, what will you look back and treasure the most? You’ll either look back and love the time you had with your family or wish you had made more time for family. Live in the moment so you can look back and actually remember these moments.