Coronavirus is spreading across the U.S. and so are swift changes to corporate work life. As teams go remote, kids are home from school or daycare, and work travel comes to a screeching halt, here's what I'm wondering as an executive coach: will COVID-19 finally debunk these three myths for working moms?
According to American Express, business travel is a $300 billion industry. One of the biggest stressors I hear from my coaching clients — including C-level executives with older children — is that there is so much pressure to say “yes” to work travel. While frequent business travel is the norm, it's also expensive and can be draining on employees — whether delayed flights ding productivity, obligatory "team fun" eats into recharge time, or working moms have just one more thing to deal with in managing care and coverage. So, will the forced groundings from COVID-19 finally debunk the myth that all of our work travel is necessary travel?
Millennials have started what Forbes columnist, Heidi Lynne Kurter, calls The Remote Revolution. Still, for many working mothers it can feel like an uphill battle to secure flexible schedules or remote days. A myth persists that remote work will harm culture and productivity, despite Gallup research demonstrating that increased remote work directly correlated with increased engagement and performance. So, will the forced teleworking of millions of employees across the US allow working mothers more flexibility once we return to office life?
If you are looking for the most committed, creative and resilient people in your organization right now, look no further than the working parents on your team. As schools and daycare shut down across the nation, working mothers (and fathers) are doing their jobs, educating their children and caregiving all at the same time. Unfortunately, a myth that persists that working parents are less committed to the job, given their caregiving responsibilities at home. With schools closed and work open, working moms are stepping up to the plate to show everyone how incredibly capable they are. As one senior media executive once told me about being both an executive leader and a working mom: “everyday is a miracle.” And that was on a normal day with childcare. So will this unprecedented, schools-closed-work-from-home situation finally demonstrate just how committed, creative and resourceful working moms are?
My hope for this crisis is that, once we return to the office, we will hold productivity and results in higher regard than check-the-box things like in-office face time or the number of business trips taken. As I watch my clients pivot and adapt with COVID-19, I marvel at their agility and their commitment to truly being working mothers. This COVID-19 shift has been extremely difficult for working mothers and that media executive was right: everyday is truly a miracle.
Randi Braun is a coach, consultant, speaker, and the Founder of Something Major.