This is a shift we don’t talk about enough: really, only in the past 60-70 years or so has childbirth in most of America/the world even been a choice, and that’s correlated (or timed out) with a rise in female education and overall empowerment. (I’m keeping this narrative simple for now.) Now we’re at a place where the number of men working at home may outnumber the number of women doing so — one survey has it as 36 percent (men) to 23 percent (women) and another has it as 37 percent (men) to 31 percent (women). Now, there is a dangerous flip side here — women who request more flexibility can get slid onto “the mommy track,” which in certain types of companies essentially would end career growth upward.
The flip side of the narrative is that when mothers work at an office, they tend to pine for working at home — whereas men at an office just want the flexibility. Essentially, different emotions are involved.
Here’s what I don’t, for the life of me, understand: why is working in an office still such a commonly-held notion? Offices cost big money to maintain and keep running — and the work that gets done there (often in meeting form) could be (a) shifted online or (b) shifted to Google/Tumblr reports and/or (c) most direct clients of people tend not to live where the company is, hence business travel. I realize if companies started going full work-from-home that would (a) have pretty drastic social effects on the country where it was happening and (b) managers would freak out over losing face-to-face control and seat time of lower employees, but I do hope that shift continues to emerge. Offices are often less productive places than the home; the issue comes back to wanting control over your employees, honestly. Since most workers aren’t Pre-K students, that seems like an absurd notion. (And please don’t tell me how important meetings are. Many successful companies do business predominantly with China or Europe. You think they sit in the same building five days a week?)