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Crafting Mom-Friendly Workplaces

Two years?! It's hard to believe that two years have passed since I first sat in the same sparkling sun of La Quinta, California, on Spring break, pondering (once again while on 'vacation') how we can make work work for moms. When I founded Make Work Work for Moms, I had no idea how many champions, warriors, and badass women and men were working towards creating a better structure for moms and caregivers. Yet, here we are, still a bit stuck, well, maybe more than a bit.

In the recent Motherly State of Motherhood Report from 2023 ( , expert and WRK/360 Founder Mary Beth Ferrante nailed it: "It isn’t surprising to see that flexibility and affordable childcare are the biggest ways to bring more moms back into the workplace. If companies want to attract and retain this incredible pool of talent, they have the answer sitting right in front of them. The question is now, are they going to embrace the idea of change and innovation or fall back into the old ways of the workplace—the ways that were never designed for working moms."

Hmm, easier said than done, the part about embracing change?

When people learn about Make Work Work for Moms, I receive two different responses. One, a public and effusive thank you for shedding light on what we struggle through as moms in the paid labor force. And then there's the not-so-happy, slightly annoyed response from leaders and people managers who think I'm trying to prioritize working moms at the expense of everything else (note: some themselves working moms). "Dana, how do we do it? How do we know if people are really working?"

Here are some of my thoughts on how to succeed at creating a workplace that works for moms. This comes after navigating through the last two years, speaking with leaders, individual contributors, and caregivers across the lifespan who are part of the paid workforce. And are things that everyone can do (the next blog will tackle the harder to solve and ever frustrating child care crisis and paid family leave inadequacies).

Set Clear Expectations: Flexible work schedules don't mean anything goes. Some jobs/roles won't allow it, and that's that. However, it's important to ensure that this is the case and not simply resistance to a changing landscape. Have you reassessed roles that can be done remotely or in a hybrid manner? Once you've confirmed a job can be done remotely, have you considered the team's needs, expected hours, outcomes, and availability? Clear expectations are crucial for both teams and individual contributors.

Communication: Effective communication is key. Communication wasn't something many excelled at pre-COVID, and it may have worsened since then. We need to talk (yes, talk, not just email or text). We need to communicate our needs, expectations, the good, the challenging, and everything in between in person, early, and often. There's something important about being face-to-face (even on Zoom). Humans want to connect and belong.

Embrace the Pivot: Innovation and change require experimentation and trying new things. Whether it's new schedules, compressed workweeks, new technologies, weekly team huddles, or job sharing, embrace trying new approaches. Celebrate successes and learn from failures.

Set Boundaries: Use vacation and sick time and then be on vacation or sick. It's essential to establish boundaries. When someone is sick, they should take a sick day. When someone is on vacation, they should be on vacation. This also highlights the importance of having adequate time-off policies.

Celebrate and Connect: Relationships matter more than ever. In a fast-paced world demanding productivity and performance, it's easy to forget that we're all human. When moms are part of a workplace that supports them, it benefits everyone. Flexible work arrangements, remote options, leave policies, and comprehensive benefits are wins for all.

The way we worked doesn't work anymore. Offering flexibility and clarity in work arrangements not only accommodates mothers' needs but also fosters loyalty, productivity, and overall well-being among employees.

What are you doing to Make Work Work for Moms?

With lots of love,

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