The rise of remote work shifted the global labor market with unprecedented opportunities for achieving work-life balance and fair inclusion of moms in the global workforce. While some companies are still trying to bring their employees back to the office after the pandemic, others are embracing the change by developing further fully-remote employee-centered policies benefiting from the diversity of skills, knowledge and motivation of their people.
One thing is certain, remote work is here to stay and we’re about to witness its beneficial influence in providing solutions for some of the well-recognized corporate pitfalls regarding the fairness of the global work market towards new mothers. These include:
- Mitigation of motherhood penalty
- Work-life balance
- Self-improvement and continuous growth
- Gender equity
I stumbled upon the term ‘motherhood penalty’ just recently, and it brought back dark memories of the tons of CVs I sent out while searching for a job. I’ve always clearly stated that I’m a middle-aged mom of twins with diverse qualifications and experience. I got only one response.
If you have never heard of it, a quick Wikipedia check will tell you that it basically refers to the fact that “working mothers encounter disadvantages in pay, perceived competence, and benefits relative to childless women… Mothers may also suffer worse job-site evaluations indicating that they are less committed to their jobs, less dependable, and less authoritative than non-mothers.…The penalty has not shown any signs of declining over time.”
It hit me on a personal level. I have to admit that the motherhood penalty is a fact, but facts change and one way to combat unfair employment for mums is by successfully implementing new business models which are beneficial both for those women and their employers.
My greatest joy
It’s been almost three years since I first heard “It’s going to be twins!”. Since then most people around me have felt sorry for me rather than being happy. It’s been three years during which I became a mother, fought postpartum depression along with a myriad of baby-related battles, changed mountains of diapers X 2, and had to count every coin. Yet, I never gave up on my belief that spending quality time with my children is my top priority and I do not have to apologize to anyone for this. So, I finally got a job. From that one single call I mentioned earlier.
How remote work allowed me to be both a mom and a career woman?
I joined Motion Software in the last quarter of 2022 and I couldn’t be happier. My full-time job is fully remote, mostly async, in a company that nurtures a healthy work-life balance. Without the burden of a daily 2-hour commute, I manage to fulfill my work-related tasks, put home-cooked meals on the table, spend enough quality time with my children, and even steal some time for my own mental and physical self-care. Those two hours completely change the reality of an average working mom’s life. The piles of laundry are still there at the end of the day (they are obviously here to stay in the “life” part of the equation). However, my time is spent on things that matter to me and my children, not in traffic or similar meaningless activities.
My team is also fully remote and each of us works whenever, and wherever, we want to. We talk a lot and rely on our skills to manage our time, priorities and workloads. And we moms are great at this. We become great managers the moment we become mothers. There is so much we have to cope with that we, willingly or not, develop skills that are useful in other situations too. We keep deadlines, we are great organizers and multitaskers, we push things to happen. We are critical thinkers, problem solvers and great team players – because we know how hard it is to feel alone.
Nowadays, with geographical barriers almost entirely non-existent for companies, the professional world is opening up to highly skilled female professionals. They can safely return to their jobs or explore career paths without having to choose between the office and home. No longer do they have to hide a growing belly in order to keep that promotion, or quit a job for the sake of the family. And corporations gain access to a huge pool of talented women who, if not able to work remotely, would have to sacrifice their careers for their families.
What does it mean for me?
I get a reliable income to support my family in a country where one salary rarely pays all the bills. I have a clear but flexible career path and the opportunity to learn and develop within a company with a great remote-first employee-centered culture. Surprisingly, I can even sign up for drawing or sailing classes. I have the confidence that I will not get fired if I happen to skip a meeting or have to run out with the kids in the middle of a call because of an earthquake (it did happen last week, actually). In the past six months I have worked from 2 countries, 4 remote locations, 2 shared-offices, countless child centers, always with the kids around. I spent 7 weeks in total working from home while having my child around, and without having to arrange for a full-time nanny or take any sick leave.
Achieving work-life balance for mothers is not a miracle that just happens out of the blue. It comes with great efforts from visionary leaders, not just regular managers, who think outside the box, believe in their people and nurture the potential in each of them. Company policies for self-development, flexible career-paths and support for employees within and outside the company structure are also vital.
It works in all ways
All of this pays back – in employee satisfaction, turn-over and profit. It pays back to society as it allows women to be valued members of their communities, and to feel secure while raising their children. It contributes to achieving fairer gender balance. Especially in the tech labor market as it creates opportunities for women – as developers, analysts, researchers, designers, etc.
Remote work is not the solution to all the challenges mothers face nowadays. However, it is a huge step forward towards tackling stereotypes and empowering women.
Now I have the twins – a real blessing, my light, my everything. And a truly remote job that inspires me, pushes my limits and lets me be a fully-present mom!