The new San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance went into effect on January 1, giving residents of San Francisco the “right to request” work flexibility. Essentially, this gives professionals who work at least eight hours a week the ability to “assist with caregiving responsibilities for a child, family members with a serious health condition, or a parent 65 years or older,” according to the Society for Human Resource Management. What does this mean for working families, and how can working families benefit from work flexibility?
Supporters of 1 Million for Work Flexibility, a national movement bringing together voices in support of flexible work initiatives, often cite family as one of their main reasons for seeking out work flexibility. From the working moms and dads themselves, here are four ways working families benefit from work flexibility.
1) More time to spend with the kids.
Without work flexibility, working parents are forced to choose between their families and their jobs. Nani, a working mother from New York, is seeking flexible work options because “I am a mother of three children and I have always struggled with childcare concerns. Somehow, someway, I managed to move forward but not without obstacles, struggles, and lack of resources in many cases. I am still challenged, in some ways, with flexibility when it comes to my youngest. I would like to see changes take place to open the door for so many others who are struggling with the same concerns.”
Flexible work options like those included in San Francisco’s new ordinance (“including but not limited to a modified work schedule, telecommuting, job sharing arrangements, or changes or reduction in work duties”), can help people better manage childcare and have more time to spend with their children themselves.
2) More help paying the bills.
Flexible working helps people find money in a couple different ways. First, part-time and flexible schedules help stay-at-home moms or dads go back to work part-time in order to bring additional income into the family budget.
Second, working from home full-time saves money because it cuts down on so many common expenses. A Salary.com article found that telecommuting helps the average professional save the following annually:
Gas and car maintenance costs: $1,432
Dry cleaning, laundering, and professional wardrobe costs: $1,190 – $1,590
Lunches and coffee out: $832
Tax deductions and breaks: $750
3) Ability to stay active in their profession.
While much of the argument over flexible work options stems from working parents who need to work to help pay the bills, a lot of parents want to work. Many people, after staying home to raise children, want to go back to work to reconnect with their professional selves. Work provides career satisfaction, a feeling of purpose and great mental exercise.
Niti from Texas says she benefits from flexible working “because I want to work for myself and be available for my kids as well.” And Elizabeth from Alabama needs flexible work options to both stay active in her career and move forward by taking classes. “Going back to school and working full-time is tough enough. Having the flexibility to work around a class schedule would make it much easier,” she says.
4) Ability to care for family members in need.
As Baby Boomers enter retirement over the next decade, the need for familial caregiving will increase in ways we’ve never experienced as a society. Professionals mid-career will need to find ways to balance caregiving and work, and flexible options will become a must-have. Diane in New Jersey is already experiencing the push and pull of working and being a caregiver. She says she needs work flexibility for the “freedom to work and to be a stay-at-home caregiver for my parents without going bankrupt,” which is a concern thousands of professionals share.
Reasons like caregiving for aging parents or sick children, providing income for the family budget, spending more time with children, and staying active in a career are just some of the many reasons people seek and support work flexibility. Ordinances and laws like San Francisco’s Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance and a similar law passed by Vermont in 2013 will make it possible for professionals to juggle their work and personal responsibilities.