Studies show that businesses with large remote workforces have a higher percentage of women in leadership positions than traditional office-based companies. There are four times as many women CEOs leading remote companies as there are helming S&P 500 companies, according to a recent study of nearly 130 remote companies by Remote.co. And millennial moms make up a large majority of those leaders.
“My kids know how important work is to me and I like that I’m able to set that example for them,” says Bethany Braun-Silva, senior editor of NYMetroParents.com and Big Apple Parent magazine. “At the same time, they are important, too. So being able to be home and do school drop off and pick up is something I cherish. I needed a job with flexibility. Day care or a nanny just wasn’t in the cards for my family and I feel so lucky that I found a company that respects my professional work and personal responsibilities equally.”
She adds that women put so much pressure on themselves to be the best moms and the best at their jobs and can often feel like they’re not “doing enough.” And we know that this mentality is detrimental to women’s development in the workplace.
“If women were given the opportunity to create a life that worked for them, I believe that we would excel professionally and personally, our kids would be happier, our bosses would be happier, and we would be happier,” she says. “I think moms feel that it has to be one or the other, work or motherhood, and it doesn’t. If more companies took the approach of a flexible schedule and allowed more moms to work from home, the results would be mutually beneficial.”
As a trend, more companies are making moves to hire more remote employees or offer telecommuting options. A report on telecommuting in the United States from FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce, found that 3.9 million U.S. employees who make up 2.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce work from home at least half of the time. There’s actually been a 115 percent increase in telecommuting between 2005 to 2015, and 40 percent more U.S. employers offered flexible workplace options in 2017 than in 2010.
Remote work opportunities are rife and, when Remote.co looked at a sampling of the women in leadership roles in these jobs, they found that 72 percent of the female leaders sampled were parents and/or caregivers, and almost a quarter of them were millennials.
Remote.co senior career specialist Brie Reynolds told Forbes that she believes, because millennial moms grew up with technology as a part of their day-to-day lives, they may be better-prepared to perform well remotely and, therefore, climb the ladder in remote companies.
“As they enter parenthood and the workforce, they bring these skills with them in a professional capacity,” she said. “When they're combined with remote work, millennials, including millennial moms, can really excel and stand out in that environment as a result, which may lead to faster advancement and higher-level job titles.”
When the study’s participants were asked why they feel they thrive in virtual companies, they also suggested that remote environments allow them to better handle conflicting career and family responsibilities, which makes them feel happier, more valued and more productive and, ultimately, sets them up for success.
Bottorff will be welcoming a second son in March 2018 and, while she’s sure life will be a bit chaotic, she says she can rest easily knowing that she doesn’t have to give up the security of a second income.
Micala Quinn, a former high school teacher and now the founder of Live Free Mama, also agrees that the income from her remote work is a benefit. After all, studies show that the average annual income of telecommuters is $4,000 per year higher than those who work on-site.
“If continued to teach, after we would pay full-time daycare for two kids, I would have taken home maybe $400 a month,” she explains. “Working 60 hours a week for $400 take home pay a month was not worth it… Now I am able to work 30 to 40 hours a week if needed all when my kids are sleeping. I wake up and work early mornings, during nap-time and evenings if needed.”
But that’s not all: Millennial moms are also proud that they’re able to set examples for their children, too.
Julia Sewell of Sewell Speaks LLC adds that the biggest benefit of working remotely, for her, is being able to pursue her passion and have her daughter experience and be apart of building her empire with her. Sewell lives in the Dominican Republic but travels throughout the United States with her five-month-old daughter hosting empowerment workshops, headlining as a motivational speaker and uplifting her clients as a life mentor and coach.
“Being the queen for my young daughter and her highest example is of absolute importance for me,” she says. “She gets to see her greatest example living her dreams out loud without apology. Being able to give her the love and attention she deserves while building a movement trumps all.”
Of course, working from home isn't all about the perks. There are some legitimate challenges, too.
"When you work from home there isn’t as a clear-cut division between when you are at work or at home," explains Kiley Nichols, senior marketing and communications consultant for KN Communications. "I have a designated workspace and leave my work physically there, but like every other working parent, my cell phone is basically an extension of my laptop. So when IMs or emails come in, it’s tempting to just reply real quick. To combat this, I typically leave my cell phone in another room, ringer on, and check it periodically."
Nichols also adds that she can sometimes be harder on herself when household tasks "like fixing a leaky faucet or mowing the lawn" aren’t done because she works from home because she thinks, “if everyone working out of the home can do it, [she] should definitely be able to.”
That said, the pros of being able to spend time with her daughter and have autonomy over her work and personal life outweigh the cons.
"[Remote work] kind of chose me," she explains. "But the main reason I was attracted to being a freelancer and working from home is that it allowed me to make my own hours, choose what work I wanted to do (read: say no), and gave me much needed time back with my family and for myself."
More money, having more flexibility and lifting up more female leaders who have the agency to say no — that sounds like a recipe of the future.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.