Risk of Working from Home

All right, I am working from home. I have stepped outside of the studio to bring to you a thought for today. It’s a beautiful day in Southern California, I had an opportunity to eat lunch outside, and working from home is something I really, really fought for when I was a corporate executive – especially when I was in a leadership role. I traveled a lot, the expectations were really high, and working from home just that one day a week afforded me an extra hour of sleep, I got time back from commuting so that I could see my family, start household chores, whatever it looked like.

And even today, working from home provides that for me. My husband commutes several miles, his commute is horrendous round trip. So I am the primary person handling household responsibilities and the child-rearing responsibilities. And on average, it tends to be women who do that. Even when both partners, a woman and their partner work, it tends to be the women who take on more of those responsibilities. In some cases, adding up 20 to 30 hours per week.

So I get it, I understand the draw and the advantages to working from home and having that flexibility. I mean, I have two teenagers who are still at home, and I got to see Reese this morning before she headed out to the mall with her girlfriends and Ethan before he took off to go meet up with friends at the beach, so that was great! And if I want to, at the end of my day, I can pre-start a load of laundry or start cooking dinner early, so those are some great advantages.

We’ve fought to have this flexibility to work from home, but it’s come with a cost. The cost is this “drop to the top.” And what we mean is that while we have been fighting for the acceleration of women in leadership, we are now seeing that there is a decline in the number of women in leadership roles. And I fear it will only get worse. Although organizations are implementing more return to office policies, there are still a lot of people who have the flexibility of hybrid or are 100% remote. And on average, it tends to be more women who are choosing to work from home.

I fear that this is just bridging the gap, or widening the gap, excuse me, even further – that women are now not in the office. There’s a lack of visibility, a lack of opportunity, and a lack of promotion. It’s just going to get worse if we don’t take preventative measures. So if you are a woman who is looking to continue to accelerate in leadership, I really encourage you that yes, take advantage of any flexibility you have, but if you can be in the office one or two more days per week, find the schedule that works for you to be as well balanced if you will, as possible in both your professional and personal life.

But be in the office and then maximize that time in the office! Make sure it’s on days where the senior leaders, those decision-makers, are there. Make sure you are being seen, network, be heard, and advocate for yourself. If you are not willing to accommodate that, then those choices are that you potentially have that – that lack of visibility and lack of opportunity. Now, for those of you in senior leadership positions, please reach out, partner, and come up with a good communication strategy so that everybody can rise and the organization can benefit as a whole!