Katy Clark left the house every morning by 7 a.m. to fight for parking. Lymari Vélez Sepúlveda spent two to four hours a day commuting, dragging her young son along for the ride so he could be dropped off at day care. Christopher Thomas left before his daughter woke up, and by the time he returned, she was starting to get ready for bed. Angele Russell raced to pick up her son each evening before his aftercare program closed. And a mother of three in New Jersey almost never got home in time to eat dinner with her family on weeknights. Sometimes she wouldn’t even make it for the final kiss good night.
“And if I missed bedtime, I was really upset. And they were upset,” says the New Jersey mom, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she was expressing a desire she worried would upset her bosses:
She wants to work from home.
For decades, working parents — and mothers in particular — have been calling for more flexibility to juggle their personal and professional responsibilities. Finally, a global pandemic forced many employers to give it to them. Office workers were sent home en masse to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, along the way testing out their companies’ capacity to maintain operations with a dispersed workforce — and challenging some long-held notions about how productivity is best achieved.