Despite all the pandemic parenting horror stories reported by the media, it appears the majority of moms and dads want to continue the current trend of working from home. At least, in part. From the Institute for Family Studies:
“More than half of parents with children under age 18 said that COVID-19 has made them more likely to prefer working from home, either most of the time (33%) or half of the time (20%), according to a new Institute for Family Studies/Wheatley Institution survey by YouGov.”
“These feelings are shared by both mothers and fathers. Over half of fathers said the coronavirus pandemic has made them more likely to prefer working from home (either full or part time), while only 38% said that the impact of COVID-19 made them more likely to want to work from the office.”
“Similarly, only 30% of mothers said the pandemic made them more likely to prefer working from the office most of the time. A majority (53%) of mothers would prefer to work from home most or half of the time. This question was asked of parents who said that their ideal situation was to work. The rest of the parents (18% of moms and 8% of dads) said they simply prefer to not work for pay at all.”
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, establishment publications chose to focus on the negative effects the pandemic had on working parents—specifically mothers. (See: The New York Times’s “America’s Mothers Are in Crisis,” NPR’s “‘This Is Too Much’: Working Moms Are Reaching The Breaking Point During The Pandemic” and the Washington Post’s “The pandemic is devastating a generation of working women.”)
Stretched thin trying to be parents, educators and remote employees all at once, moms had difficult jobs and faced burn out on multiple fronts. Behind the chaos, however, it appears that many moms and dads discovered the joys of spending more time with their children, and want the ability to do it more.
In order to remain competitive, employers must adapt to the growing desire for flexibility and more time at home. While remote work isn’t suitable for every business, enabling more flexible work arrangements will attract a greater pool of employees. Offering more flexible, part-time options will also help boost women’s labor participation rates, which dropped dramatically during the pandemic.
Ultimately, Americans need more options and choice. And, we need government policies that recognize and support these shifting priorities and desires.
As exemplified in its push for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would boost the unions at the expense of flexible, independent work, the Biden administration is pursuing policies that would have the opposite effect. Instead of one-size-fits-few government programs that push both parents into full-time jobs while subsidizing government-run child care and schools, the Biden administration should pursue family-friendly policies that maximize flexibility and choice, and give both moms and dads what they really want: The ability to pursue meaningful careers, while also being present at home.