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Can Women Have It All?

I remember when I was entering college, many years ago. The future was bright, and the world was my oyster! I was one of the first generations that was going to have it all! I was going to be a successful professional woman, and a successful loving wife and mother.

It was what my mother and her mother had fought for during their lifetimes—the right to be a professional equal, the right to pursue the same careers as our male counterparts. It was going to be the perfect life.

Well ...

Turns out there were some stumbling blocks to this perfect life. Don’t get me started. Talk to any over-worked, stressed, distracted, working mother and you will find the same torn woman. A woman trying to do it all at the office and do it all at home. And most will tell you that they often feel they aren’t able to live up to the needs of either.

Some of my working mom friends have come up with solutions that work for them. They had planned ahead of time to be able to have some flexibility with their work schedules. One, for example, is a lawyer with her own practice and a partner and associates. Another is an insurance agent who owns her own company and has an assistant and a partner. These women don’t have a boss to answer to (although they have their clients to answer to) and have some redundancy built into their businesses, in case they have emergencies. But not all professional women want to, or are able to pursue the type of work that allows for this. And even with this flexibility, when they are away from the office, they feel very disconnected.

What do you do when your six year old is home with a 102-degree fever for the third time this month? Call in sick again? You have to. There’s really no choice. You may be able to get some things done through email or phone calls, but you can’t really be a part of the on-going projects in a seamless way. And what about the working father out there? What solutions are there for the men who often have to compromise or make difficult decisions about where to be physically, and how to be available to their kids?

Now, consider this: What if you could work from home? I mean, really work from home. Not just make a few phone calls, send some email, and finish a document you’ve been working on. But really be able to collaborate and be a part of the workday. True virtual offices are becoming a reality. The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) refers in their mission statement to “Creating innovative and effective change in the business culture.” Yes! And one of the most important things to women is finding solutions that allow more flexibility in their work day, an issue they address in their article Move Your Office Online.

Working with Qtask has been a big step in finding a solution that is working for me. All of my projects and daily task information, discussions, calendars, files and documents can be accessed from home, or from anywhere. I can be accessible to others, and my project leaders and team members are all accessible to me. I can take part in on-going discussions, scheduling, and document creation. This type of communication is what work and business is all about (The Art of Collaboration, Benefits and Elements of Running a Virtual Business).

I’ve lived this and it works.

When one of my boys is home sick, I can tend to him, and while they are asleep or watching Spongebob, or playing Xbox games, I can continue to be a part of on-going projects and tasks and discussions. I know what my co-workers are doing and I know where my comments and input are needed. I can be a part of the workday in a natural way, unlike email, which is very one-sided and stilted. It’s also allowed me to avoid long commutes that would make it difficult to get my kids to baseball practice and games, or be involved in morning activities at their school. I’ve been able to work before breakfast and after they are asleep. Even though I am working with people who may not all be in a physical office together, I can ‘see’ my co-workers because everyone posts their pictures so this online environment feels friendly, less lonely.

For me, and many women like me, this is a huge breakthrough. Working women everywhere need to lobby to have these types of tools adopted by their companies. It’s time for this; it’s time for this kind of flexibility and accessibility in our work world and a change in the business culture. It’s time to help working parents everywhere!