ThirdPath

5 Mandates for Change

October 5, 2017jdegrootBlog

Why Change is Imperative

The 2017-2018 season of Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars will explore the practical steps you can take on the road to integration – whether you are launching your first career, becoming a new parent, balancing work and the care of school aged children, or work and the care of an aging loved one.

Our focus will be on the “how-to” of following an integrated approach, but following this approach is also a revolutionary act that improves our lives and benefits our workplaces.

Anne-Marie Slaughter shows us just how revolutionary this approach is in her book Unfinished Business, making the case, “most of the pervasive gender inequalities in our society – for both men and women – cannot be fixed unless men have the same range of choices with respect to mixing caregiving and breadwinning that women do.”

Both men and women need to change, she argues, but so do our workplaces. “Radical as it may seem, it’s time for CEO’s, supervisors, and team leaders to assume that the experience of caregiving… helps people become more efficient, and develop knowledge, patience, adaptability to different rhythms, honesty, courage, trust, humility, and hope.” The workplace she envisions is one where “new fathers would have to opt out of taking it rather than opting in. It also means welcoming whatever arrangements allow workers who are also caregivers not only to stay on the job, but also to stay on leadership track.”

To learn more about her revolutionary vision, listen to the YouTube recording of our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar with her.

We’ve also included her original “5 mandates” for change from the article that went viral. When you read them, you’ll see why they sounded so familiar – especially after we added the words “men and women” to each mandate.


Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “5 mandates for change” – and their connection to ThirdPath’s mission

Men and Women Changing the Culture of Face Time – This is at the root of all of the work ThirdPath does as we encourage men and women to look for the unique flexibility in their jobs. Not every job can be flexed in the same way, but there is a flexible solution for every job. It also means pushing back at chronically overworked work cultures so that employees don’t just trade long hours at the office for long hours at home.

Men and Women Revaluing Family Values – ThirdPath sees this in the multitude of Shared Care families we’ve met – whether they flexed or worked reduced hours at the same time, or shared different roles at different stages in their family’s development. In each of these stories the parents learned how to maintain their involvement with work while also staying actively involved in the joys and responsibilities of caring for their children.

Men and Women Redefining the Arc of a Successful Career – This is at the core of the work we do with ThirdPath’s Pioneering Leaders. This is a truly inspirational group of male and female leaders who have all courageously followed integrated career paths. Now they are working with us to create wider change. Together we are examining the systemic issues that need to be addressed so even more leaders can follow in their footsteps.

Men and Women Rediscovering the Pursuit of Happiness – Whether it is the joy you gain from an amazing vacation (our August blog post), or making the most of summer (our July blog post) or pushing back at overwhelm (our September blog post), this recommendation gets right to the heart of our mission: to assist individuals, families and organizations in finding new ways to redesign work and life to create time for family, community and other life priorities.

Men and Women Becoming an Innovation Nation – Right again! Lotte Bailyn discovered this concept over a decade ago when she first introduced the term “dual agenda” – solutions that are good for business and good for you. Today this is also central to our work. And just like Lotte discovered so many years ago, we’ve also seen how encouraging employees to follow this approach – from entry level to executive level – means they actually find ways to improve how they work.

Join this year’s Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars – we’ll show you how you can put these ideas into action and join the revolution.

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The Pursuit of Happiness

September 25, 2017andyagnewBlog

The New Revolutionaries

In Brigid Schulte’s book Overwhelmed, Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, she describes the web of forces that make us feel stuck in a life that is going too fast – a life that includes little time for reflection and even less time for joy.

But Schulte wants us to think bigger:
“What if not just women, but both men and women, worked smart, more flexible schedules? What if the workplace itself was more fluid than the rigid and narrow ladder to success of the ideal worker? … And what if both men and women became responsible for raising children and managing the home, sharing work, love, and play? Could everyone then live whole lives?”

At ThirdPath we are putting these ideas into practice:
People who are part of the ThirdPath community are showing us how to push back at overwhelm. They have also discovered, changing their approach to work and family is not just good for their own lives, but good for their workplaces.

Leaders and fathers are a critical part of the revolution:
Click the SoundCloud icon to listen to our conversation with Brigid Schulte and two progressive leaders who describe how they have redesigned both work and family to create more satisfying lives, not just for themselves, but for their whole teams. Or read on to learn how one young dad switched to a four day work week, creating a win for his workplace and a win for his family. We’re so proud to be part of this movement for change – the groundswell of people who are choosing to step away from constant overwhelm and reclaim their lives.

CJ is one of the new revolutionaries:
CJ is one of the father’s ThirdPath has worked with to “redesign” his work so he had more time to care for his children. Our job was to help CJ find a “win-win” solution – one that was good for him and good for his workplace.

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In order to reduce his workload from five to four days, we asked CJ if could: systematize tasks to reduce the amount of work required; change who did the work – for example delegating tasks that no longer were a good use of his time; slow down the pace of his work by reprioritizing the deadlines of less critical work.

CJ also noticed how many of his “highest priority” tasks required focused attention for prolonged stretches of time.  As the company’s sole engineer, CJ was often the person people came to to ask for help – but these constant interruptions got in the way of him getting his own work done.

CJ decided to talk to the company’s general manager, Molly, about the suggested changes.  What CJ noticed was that as he sought input from Molly, they both became more clear about what CJ should really be working on.  CJ explained, “I can get confused about what my top priority work should be because everything seems like a priority.  I can see where a regular review of what I am doing could be really valuable.”

“In both areas of my work, R&D and process improvement, I have a list that is two miles long.  My daily tasks are chipping away at these two long lists.  By having too much to do, all that happens is that the progress in both areas slows down. Now I’ve gotten better at asking, ‘What is my biggest priority?’ and, ‘At what rate do I need these things to get done?’”

Molly became an advocate for CJ, even helping him create routine “quiet time.” For example, Molly gently encouraged CJ to take a look at his own reluctance to say “no” to the various disruptions during his designated periods of quiet time.  “I do enjoy those interruptions,” CJ admitted, “but my job suffers, and engineering and design tasks get put on hold.”

Six years later we asked CJ for an update. Here’s what he said:
“One of the best thing about the changes I made is that I have more energy at work — which means I’m more productive when I’m at work. I also have more energy at home — which means I’m a better husband and father. Combined with my commute, my work days are long, but then I get 3 full days to focus on my home life. It also means I’ve been able to schedule all personal appointments on Fridays, so I rarely if ever take time off work for personal matters, this is a benefit for both me and my employer.”

Join the revolution.
Want to create an integrated approach to work and life like CJ? This year’s Thursday with ThirdPath webinars will be exploring the 8 major crossroads you’ll need to navigate as you design an integrated approach to work and life. You’ll discover the choices we make, skills we develop, and lessons we learn, can help prepare you for the next one. Want to get started today? Check out our many resources. Click here to learn more.

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Take That Vacation!

August 2, 2017andyagnewBlog

Take A Vacation: It’s Time To Recharge Your Batteries

Taking a vacation is good for you, its good for your family and it turns out its good for your organization!

Here’s what we at ThirdPath have learned about the importance of vacation time over the past 15 plus years of advocating for doing work and family differently. You can also listen to our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar where we discussed this topic by clicking on the SoundCloud player.

In Short, the Shared Care parents and Integrated Leaders we’ve worked with, have taught us that disengaging from work while taking a vacation can improve our effectiveness at work and increase the skills we need to find a more satisfying approach to work and life.

However – some of us might need to challenge a few work norms to make this happen: the fear of being perceived as an under performer; the pressure to see it as a win-lose proposition – either we meet our client and customer needs or our own personal needs; or the worry that maybe there’s no point to take a week off given the demands to be available while away and the difficulty transitioning back upon return.

But there’s a lot to gain when we push back at these norms.

Vacation Benefits:

– Time off can have several health benefits like reducing risk of heart disease, stress and depression.

– Seeing new places and experiencing different things can have a positive effect on our overall outlook on life, providing a fresh and new perspective.

– Time away from work can also help us remember that work is just one part of who we are and remind us that we have friends, family and other life interests.

Here’s a list of ideas to help increase the enjoyment of your time away and maximize the benefits upon your return. For the full list, click here.

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Vacation Check List:

  • Plan vacations around the “seasonality” of your work. Try scheduling longer trips for less busy periods of work and “long weekend vacations” when work is busier.
  • Block off pre and post “quiet” work days. Avoid scheduling meetings and phone calls the day before you leave and the day you return to allow for the “unexpected” and for catch up time when you return.
  • Create a “what can wait” list.  A week before you go, create a list of things that you can wait to get done after vacation, versus tasks that must be completed before you go.
  • Decide how “connected” you want to be.  If you need to check email or voice messages, plan ahead around what’s least disruptive.
  • Carefully define emergencies.  Think ahead about what challenges could arise. Clearly define emergencies to avoid everything becoming one.
  • Keep track of what worked well.  Create a list you can refer back to of helpful ideas for planning your next vacation.

And don’t forget, creating vacations that really recharge our batteries may also require us to change how we approach vacations as a family. Two parents working together as a team to plan and make the most of a vacation, makes it a better experience for everyone. (And while your at it, don’t forget to plan a romantic getaway for just the two of you!)

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Make The Most Of Your Summer!

July 2, 2017andyagnewBlog

Making the Most of Summer

Think summer has to be a struggle between work and family?  Think again.  Here are some of the things ThirdPath has learned about balancing work and family over the summer.  And one of the most important things we’ve learned is that taking 20 minutes to write down what you liked (and didn’t like) about this summer will be a big help when you plan for next summer.

  • In general summers can allow for an enjoyable “slower pace” at home.
  • But summers also take A LOT of planning.
  • The age of your children will also have a big impact on what happens during the summer. What worked last year might not work again this year since your child is a whole year older!
  • Finding the “right” camp can be a highlight, but finding it can be quite a journey.
  • Another summer goal is finding the “right” mix of planned and unplanned activities – balancing boredom versus over scheduling.
  • Summers can also provide an opportunity for children to develop independent interests, such as reading and trying out new hobbies.
  • Over time families often develop a rhythm to summers that can last year after year, some becoming deeply valued memories and “family traditions.”

You can also listen to what a few pioneering mothers and fathers had to say about summers by clicking on the SoundCloud player for our Thursday with ThirdPath webinar on this topic.


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 Interested in learning more?  Here are some summer solutions we thought were very creative  …

– Grandparents and extended family can play a great role in summers. Children can spend one or two weeks with them (and sometimes with other cousins as well). This can provide a great opportunity for the two generations to get to know each other and connect.

– A partner in an accounting firm negotiated a “flex year” schedule – working a total of 20 hours during the summer months. This gave her maximum time with her school aged children. Then during her “busy season” – January through April – her husband became the primary parent in charge.

– ThirdPath has also met many families where one parent intentionally became a school teacher as a way to have more flexibility throughout the summers. In one of these families, the other parent negotiated an alternative summer schedule so she could work remotely one day a week.

– Telework can be a great summer solution when caring for teens. It’s also a great option for stretching out limited vacation time. One family planned a two week beach vacation but only used one week of vacation time. They did this by trading off who was working (in the mornings or in the afternoons) while the other parent played with the children at the beach.

You may also want to take a look at this great blog post from author Christine Carter about her 3 steps to a successful summer

Don’t forget our summertime tip: Write up your “summertime” notes, then pull these out in February when you start planning for next summer!

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Pioneering Leaders Summit 2017

June 30, 2017andyagnewBlog

Men and Women Fighting for Change

In this blog post ThirdPath celebrates the men and women who participated in our 2017 Pioneering Leaders Summit.

Together, our pioneering leaders have begun to put the pieces together for a world that supports success at work and success in our lives outside of work – it’s also a world that will profoundly improve the lives of fathers.

Healthy family systems need time to recharge…

Families need money, families need care, and families need time to recharge. With over 15 years of working with individuals, leaders and families, ThirdPath has also learned that organizations gain when men and women learn how to set thoughtful limits at work so they have time and energy for their lives outside of work.

The male and female leaders at our Summit took many steps over the course of their careers to achieve this. All of them also created a “team at home” to better manage both domains.

Increased demands on families, means less time to recharge…

This year’s Summit focused specifically on the “new family” stage – a time when many families feel stretched thin – and many also fall into gendered patterns at work and at home.

Instead, the fathers at our Summit shared stories of rearranging their work schedules to pick up children from daycare. Or they became the primary parent designing work around family. Or they broke new ground by having both parents work reduced schedules to share in the care of their children.

Add to this one job – or both jobs – requiring more than full time work, and it can lead to chronic overwork and gendered patterns at work and home…

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Listen to our May Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar (above) for a quick recap of the Summit and to learn how chronic overwork is bad for organizations and bad for families. Or click here to learn how overwork is contributing to a widening gender gap. Unfortunately, the gendered patterns around chronic overwork are no surprise to ThirdPath. When parents balance work and family, the aren’t just balancing work and caregiving, they are also looking for ways to decrease their family’s financial risk. And when organizations are more likely to reward employees who overwork, it should be no surprise that this plays out in a very gendered way.

That’s why men and women need to work together to redesign work, family, and to push back at norms around overwork.

Check our our “Redesigning Leadership” page to learn more. Or are you ready to take the next step towards creating a more integrated approach to work and life? Join our next Overwhelm Mitigation Group – learn how to push back at overwhelm, get more efficient at work, and have more time (and energy!) for life.

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Welcome ThirdPath’s Newest Team Members

May 18, 2017andyagnewBlog

Meet Diana and Rashi!

We are very proud of our newest ThirdPath team members. When you read their stories, you’ll see why they are a great fit for ThirdPath, and a great example of how organizations can support people to live “whole lives.”

Diana Blasdel – Fundraiser and adventurerDiana
For Diana, figuring out how to finagle balance is always a challenge and constantly changing. The location of home shifts weekly as Diana, her husband Miguel and their dog Remy LeBeau, move to a new city with the Jersey Boys National Tour – Miguel performs and Diana works with merchandise. In addition to the tour, Diana has blended this nomadic lifestyle with flexible virtual jobs that also allow her to pursue a career of meaningful work with nonprofit organizations.

When Diana became ThirdPath’s first Manager of Development and Donor Relations, she was asked to create her preferred “triple win” schedule that was good for her, good for getting her work done, and good for the people she worked with. To figure it out, Diana took out a red marker and blank calendar and mapped out not only time for ThirdPath, but also for other obligations to make sure balance existed between her professional and personal life.

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She discovered that juggling a virtual career, an evening job, family and friends – and making that work (or not) is a constantly evolving process, and it took a few tries before Diana found a schedule that really worked. One where she could effectively collaborate on ThirdPath projects, but that also left time to enjoy life with her family on tour, and fulfill other work obligations. What she learned is that sometimes it takes a little experimentation to devise, adapt, and alter a schedule that truly creates space for different life goals.

Diana admits none of this is easy, and believes it will always stay “a work in progress.” Amidst the juggling, her biggest challenge is remembering to carve out time for herself, or it becomes harder to balance the rest.

Rashi Shyam – Crafting a life that includes work, love and playRashi
Having grown up working in her parent’s store, spending years in investment
Banking ,and then eventually owning her own business. Rashi is no stranger to a
dedicated work ethic. Today, as ThirdPath’s new Manager of Programs and Operations, work continues to play a prominent role in Rashi’s life, but so does her commitment to caring for her family, and even a little time to unwind.

After years in investment banking, Rashi decided to start her own event-planning business so she would have more time for family meals, to help with homework, and attend her children’s sports games. However, she quickly learned her new business could at times mean “there was no end” to the work to be done. Rather than being free to fully enjoy her child’s sports game, she had to keep one eye (or two) focused on work.

Taking a position with ThirdPath, Rashi is beginning to see a new way of working. With a self-created set schedule that allows for time at the gym in the morning, a boss who respects the time limit of conference calls, and flexibility to adjust her work hours if life happens (i.e snow days!), Rashi is beginning to let go of the “I should be working” guilt. Instead she’s learning how to be focused while at work, and then to “not feel guilty when giving myself time to unwind or spend time with my children.”

As Rashi says, she is excited to work for an organization that truly reflects her life goals, supporting an integrated approach to work life and the shared care that she and her family are working towards. You can find both Rashi and Diana’s bios on our website.

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How Does Money Influence Our Work-Life Balance?

February 15, 2017andyagnewBlog

Creating a “Team” Approach to Family Finances

We had a powerful discussion about work family balance and finances on our recent Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar. Missed it? Check out the YouTube link we’ve created for you. Scott Behson also provides some great advice on this topic in his book – Working Dad’s Survival Guide.

Read on for a few of Scott’s words of wisdom:

 

1 – You May Need to Choose – Big Bucks or Work Life Balance

Scott references Warren Farrell’s book at the start of his discussion of family finances. He does this because, as Scott explains, “among other things, jobs that require or strongly encourage extensive travel, long commutes, long work weeks… earn significantly more than jobs that are more stable, have more regular and reasonable hours, and do not make such time-based or psychological demands.” However, Scott also reminds us that jobs that pay less may have other non-financial benefits, like “more satisfying work, better work-life balance, less stress and more free time.”

2 – Success Is the Freedom to Live by Your Priorities

Throughout the section that focuses on family finances, Scott argues, “My over-arching philosophy when it comes to finances, work and family, is that the key to success is the freedom to act in accordance with our priorities.” To do this, Scott encourages his readers to be careful around the big financial choices they make, like the decision to buy a house. “Maybe instead of working harder and sacrificing family time, you can free up time by examining and reducing these large expenses.”

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3 – There is a Lot to Gain From Smart Budgeting

Scott talks about the value of creating a family budget. In fact he compares it to something he does at his workplace. In August his organization creates a very conservative budget, “not quite a worst-case scenario, but a bad-case scenario.” Then, a few months later when they have a better handle on their financial picture, they create a second budget. This second budget is almost always better than what was originally projected, and as a result, people are more at liberty to spend on things that are “nice to have” not just “need to have.” Scott points out, “If we do 85% budgeting, we have more slack in our finances to accommodate unexpected expenses.” In contrast, “If your regular income and regular expenses simply equal out, your finances can be compared to a rope already taut. With no slack, the rope has no more capacity to be stretched further without fraying.”

4 – Create a Team Approach to Your Financial Goals

Scott ends the chapter by encouraging parents to talk through different options with each other to create a common plan. He concludes with one father’s illustrative story. “My wife and I talked about my transition from a long-hours, good-paying job with good benefits to going out on a limb and starting my own consultancy… We had some financial cushion, but it was scary. Now I can have a much more family kind of lifestyle, and we can share the load more easily at home. The fact that my wife and I talked all the implications through – what does this mean for our mortgage, for college savings, for health insurance, for her work? – made the transition so much better.”

We also know real and lasting change will only happen when societies support men and women to share in the work of earning income and caring for their families. Want help designing your Shared Care work-family solution? Check out our “Work Family Options Resource Book.”

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The Truth About Work Life Balance

January 5, 2017jdegrootBlog

After Fifteen Months of Chronic Overwork, I Still Have One More Month to Go

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The last 15 months have been challenging, not just because of some unexpected life events (learn more), but also because our organization is growing. Growth is a good thing. We want to reach more people with our exciting and important mission. But the trick is figuring out how to have growth happen at approximately the same rate as our capacity to manage this growth.

Luckily, at ThirdPath we very purposefully build in slower periods of work over the summers so we can make changes to address these types of issues. In fact, this summer we put a great plan in place to manage this growth. However, hiring and training people takes time, so my chronic overwork continued through the end of the year, and I’m hoping it will be behind me in the next month (or two).

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There is a silver lining. I now have a better understanding of what it feels like – and how I start behaving – when I’m chronically overworked. I also know that too many professionals in today’s 24/7 business environment are chronically overworked. So this past year has given me greater insights into what their lives must feel like.

I like to tell people to think of their capacity for work as a glass of water.
Is your glass filled to the brim? Overflowing? Or do you have a little wiggle room at the top of the glass?

When managing my capacity for work, I’ve learned to very intentionally plan around busier and less busy periods of work – or continuing with the glass analogy – to plan for the times when my glass is filled to the brim and spilling over versus when I have a little extra room at the top. If I’ve done a good job preparing for a busy period, I have created extra support and good personal habits to handle this peak period more effectively.

During slower periods, I use the “extra room” in my glass to make changes that will improve how I work going forward. I systematize processes, re-prioritize tasks, and decide what to delegate so that I have more time for what I am uniquely qualified to do.

It turns out working this way isn’t just good for you, it’s also good for your organization. It means you are better able to manage the unexpected – both at work and outside of work. It also means I come to work more refreshed, and better able to keep my perspective about what’s really an emergency and what’s really most important. However, this Fall, I could tell living with this on-going level of stress wasn’t good for me.

When constantly in a state of overwork I began to notice how smaller things pushed me off balance very easily.
I was quick to lose my perspective. I even caught myself working less efficiently, and even making some mistakes.

In October, my husband and I planned a long weekend away to celebrate my birthday. I pride myself in my ability to turn off work while on vacation, and I was able to do this during this trip as well. But even with this break, when I got back to work, I was shocked to see how quickly I returned to the same stressed perspective I had before vacation.

Once again there was a task that needed to get done that was going to require more time than I had available. And just like before vacation, it pushed me immediately into a stressed response, instead of being able to step back and imagine a more creative solution.

The truth is with so many months of stress behind me and a few more to go, I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m still behaving this way.
I didn’t do anything wrong. Growth is good. Life happens.
ThirdPath has also developed and begun to implement a plan that will end this period of overwork. But I also have to admit that during the last 15 months, sometimes I have traveled to a bit of a dark place. A place where I start losing hope, and believing things will never change.

Luckily I have developed and maintained a number of good habits to regain my normally optimistic outlook. I exercise regularly. My husband cooks amazing healthy dinners for our family. I carve out routine times during my work week without calls or meetings so I can get focused work done. And all year long I relied on my staff to help me keep focused on my top priority work.

When I get overloaded, I also try to remember to stop and take a walk, or to call a friend, or to do both. This helps remind me that it is probably the chronic overwork that is causing me to see things worse than they are. But I’m also really tired of it, and I’m looking forward to a much more balanced 2017!

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to push back at overwork and create more time for life? Let us help you.

Check out our free resources, including our “Key Integration Practices” handout.

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Revolutionaries: Supporting Great Work & Whole Lives

December 12, 2016andyagnewBlog

Revolutionary ThirdPath Community Members Changing Work and Life

ThirdPath has become the premier work/life organization supporting men and women – as both parents and leaders – to achieve integrated lives.
We were able to do this by learning from you.

You’ve taught us meaningful change can only really come about when we look at our lives from an integrated perspective – we need to make changes at work AND changes at home. Read on to see just a few of the ways ThirdPath’s amazing community members are changing the world.

Revolutionary workplaces … Our most recent Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar included two of ThirdPath’s Pioneering Leaders as well as Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs. Together they discussed the opportunities and challenges of creating truly flexible workplaces. Watch the YouTube video to learn more.

Revolutionary work practices … This month’s “Meet the Pioneer” story illustrates how to put these ideas into practice, including practical ideas for shaping a flexible work team.

Revolutionary parents … But our community members also taught us how changes at home are linked to changes at work.

Changing What We Do at Home Changes Our Workplaces

Gay or straight, living together or separate, when both mothers and fathers are supported to flex work around the needs of children, great things happen.

Both parents learn how to work more effectively
They learn how to: reduce interruptions; focus on tasks that make the best use of their skills; eliminate lower priority tasks; strategically delegate; use slow periods to re-prioritize work and put more efficient processes into practice.

Both parents learn how to manage changes in schedules
Parents can work together to handle predictable and unpredictable changes such as school closings, snow days and a sick child. They can also help each other out to manage the ups and downs of their workloads.

Families have more “wiggle room” to plan for what’s needed next
Families need time to for many small things (when to get the car fixed) and big things too (how to make the most of summers, or how to manage a job relocation). Having time to anticipate and organize around these changes increases the likelihood of developing the best possible solutions.

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Organizations learn how to develop less gendered career paths
Normalizing both parents involvement in family care, doesn’t just change our assumptions about gender at home, it also changes our assumptions at work.

Both men and women become role models for the next generation
When fathers are supported to be active parents at home, and mothers and fathers learn how to work as a team to meet work and family needs, both parents become powerful role models for their children.

We explored the importance of flexibility at work and at home at our last Pioneering Leaders Summit – a biennial event that brings together all of ThirdPath’s “integrated leaders”. Are you a leader who has moved ahead at work while also creating time and energy for your life outside of work? Contact us. We’d like to tell you more about our plans for Pioneering Leader Summit 2017.

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Millennials Joining Our Movement For Change

October 19, 2016andyagnewBlog

Millennial Dads – Changing Our Workplaces and Families

Did you know that two-thirds of millennial men want to share caregiving responsibilities at home?

We learned about this from the wonderful Boston College Center on Work and Family report “The New Millennial Dad.”
It also got us thinking about what a positive impact this change would have on families, workplaces, women’s careers and our larger society!

For over 15 years, ThirdPath has been working with dads who have designed very diverse ways to succeed at work while also being an actively involved in the care of their children. Like today’s millennials, these dads were interested in finding ways to share caregiving responsibilities.

Below are a few examples of these dads’ stories. If you’d like to hear them talk about their experiences, click the YouTube video on the right. When you do this, you’ll also learn about what our society and workplaces need to do to support more men – including millennial men – to follow in their footsteps.

Bill started parenthood as an attorney working full time, Alexandra his partner, worked an 80% schedule in marketing.

“After the birth of our first son, Alexandra worked an 80% schedule (every Friday off). Seven years later, after the birth of our third son, Alexandra asked me to reduce my schedule so I could take on more responsibility at home and she could maintain her career. In response, I went to an 80% schedule (every Monday off).

“One year later, with a newly assigned manager, I met resistance to my schedule because of the workplace and societal views of men’s roles, and was told I would have to go full time. I pushed back and negotiated a 90% schedule (every other Friday off). Shortly thereafter, Alexandra was promoted and asked to go full time. In response, she followed my lead and negotiated a 90% schedule (taking the alternative Friday off). We maintained that for four years.”

Ultimately Bill ended up changing his career and staring a web design business. Today, they have settled into a healthy dynamic, where Alexandra works from home two days a week and Bill has plenty of flexibility from owning his own business.

Brett started parenthood as an attorney working full time. Together, he and his partner decided Angelike would become the stay at home parent.

“Angelike and I have been very focused on insuring that each of us can live a fulfilling and varied life. That focus – mixed with an interest in being actively involved parents and role models for our children – have been the guiding principles of our family decision making and lead us both to career and caregiving identities.

october-2016

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“At the time my daughter was born, we were both lawyers. We discussed maintaining both of our careers and hiring a nanny, one of us working part-time and one of us staying at home. We both liked our jobs but we both realized I got a lot more satisfaction and enjoyment out of my job than she did. We also decided that the nanny route,during the early years was not for us. Angelike’s boss was also not willing to accommodate a part-time schedule.

“Today, we are a family of an 8 year old, a 12 year old, a partner in a law firm and a mindfulness and self-compassion teacher whose work hours are increasing as her parenting hours get cut back. There are a lot of interests and needs to juggle and we approach them the same way we approached that first decision when my daughter was born: we sit down on the couch (all 4 of us), talk about all of our upcoming needs and, together, figure out the best path forward. Because that’s the only path there is.”

Roger started parenthood as an engineer working reduced hours. His wife Shimul, also an engineer, did the same thing.

When Roger’s son was born, both he and Shimul decided to work reduced hours so they could share in the care of their new baby. To begin with – even though they both worked for the same employer and had the same benefits – Roger’s wife assumed she would be the one who worked reduced hours. It was actually Roger who suggested they both could work part time. Now both parents have regular “alone” time with their child. Roger can see how this has helped the couple build a high level of trust.

Both parents feel comfortable in the other’s ability to take on any responsibility in their absence. This feeling of trust has also helped the couple feel closer in their relationship.

What can we learn from these choices?

  • Families are diverse – What you want might be very different from the family right next to you.
  • Families keep changing – Children change and work is probably going to change as well – change is part of the process.
  • Supportive workplaces make a big difference – Roger and Shimul work for a company where people role model moving ahead in their careers while working reduced hours. This made their decision to both work a reduced hour schedule much easier.

Remember – Even in less supportive environments couples can work together to craft a solution that works well for their whole family.
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