NewsRoundup

The Roundup will be brought to you in July and August by the new Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN), an international membership organization for interdisciplinary work and family academics. The WFRN welcomes the participation of policy makers and practitioners as it seeks to promote knowledge and understanding of work and family issues among the community of global stakeholders. The Roundup is a compilation of the latest news articles, reports and other materials related to workplace flexibility delivered to your inbox on Monday and Thursday. In the fall, the WFRN will launch its new website which will include a News Feed among other features. We hope that you will get involved as a member and by posting the latest news. Questions?

June 11, 2010

Articles

Not commuting is driving me crazy

Anne Fisher • CNNMoney.com - Fortune • June 11, 2010

“About 42 million people, or roughly one-third of the U.S. workforce, now works from home at least one or two days a week. Some firms encourage employees to do so to save overhead costs, while many employees (you, for instance) telecommute hoping to advance their careers without sacrificing time with their families. Yet in researching a study on work-life balance, Strelitz found that full-time telecommuting isn’t always a panacea.”

More Workers Alleging Bias Against Caregivers

Jennifer Ludden • National Public Radio - All Things Considered • June 10, 2010

“There’s no federal law that bans workplace discrimination against parents or people who care for elderly or disabled family members, but that hasn’t stopped a surge of lawsuits by such workers alleging unfair treatment by their employers. In the past 10 years, the number of such suits has quadrupled and many have been successful, according to the Center for WorkLife Law. [. . .] Stuart Ishimaru of the EEOC says he and the other commissioners were themselves grappling with balancing work and family and noticed that more and more people were complaining about unfair treatment because of such family duties.”

Flex It

Zach Hagadone • Boise Weekly, ID • June 9, 2010

“According to Kempthorne, a confluence of forces—political, demographic and technological—is driving a trend toward a world of wireless work. It’s been happening for a long time, aided by the ubiquity of cell phones and wireless Internet, but a rising generation of tech-savvy workers, the need for elder care and more families with two working adults means workers are demanding more flexibility.”

The Risk of Parenting While Plugged In

Julie Scelfo • New York Times • June 9, 2010

“Not all child-development experts think smartphone and laptop use by parents is necessarily a bad thing, of course. Parents have always had to divide their attention, and researchers point out that there’s a difference between quantity and quality when it comes to conversations between parents and children.  ‘It sort of comes back to quality time, and distracted time is not high-quality time, whether parents are checking the newspaper or their BlackBerry,’ said Frederick J. Zimmerman, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Health who has studied how television can distract parents. He also noted that smartphones and laptops may enable some parents to spend more time at home, which may, in turn, result in more, rather than less, quality time overall. “

5 Alternatives to Traditional Retirement

Emily Brandon • U.S. News and World Report • June 7, 2010

“Traditional retirement generally requires us to work and save consistently for 30 or 40 years so we can have an extended period of leisure in our golden years. But there are other ways we could allocate work and leisure time throughout our lives. Some people take sabbaticals, mini-retirements, and other career breaks in exchange for working until older ages or even indefinitely.”

Events

Work Life Balance: Finding the Balance on Extended Time Off

Author Unlisted • New America Foundation • June 15, 2010

“In the face of a protracted economic downturn, what is the timing and future of extended time off policy within the context of workplace flexibility? New legislative and administrative initiatives from the left and the right provide opportunities for action in this space. Meanwhile, other countries continue to develop initiatives that can inform American policymakers.  What is the right balance between private and public action in the area of providing extended time off? Join the New America Foundation’s Workforce and Family Program for a discussion of the future of extended time off.”

Blogs

Technology Helps Work/Life Balance: It’s Official

Elizabeth Harrin • Glass Hammer • June 11, 2010

“What does your boss think about giving you gadgets for work? And what do you think about carrying around a smart phone or BlackBerry? While it might feel like technology means you are chained to the office – even when you aren’t actually there – new research shows that gadgets actually have a positive impact on happiness and work/life balance.”

An Issue for the 2010 Midterm Elections

David Gray • Huffington Post • June 10, 2010

“The story of last evening’s primary elections was the success of female candidates. Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, California senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina, South Carolina’s gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and Nevada senatorial candidate Sharron Angle were all nominated (or at least in a runoff in Haley’s case) for senator or governor from their various states. [. . .] All five of these women are parents and I bet all five have important stories to tell and examples to set about work life balance.”

Balancing Your Work and Your Kids’ Needs

Joanne Stern, Ph.D. • Psychology Today - Parenting Is a Contact Sport • June 10, 2010

“So you’ve finally been able to reconfigure your job to enable you to work from home. You may have thought it would automatically give you more flexibility and more time to spend with your daughters. But many parents find themselves struggling harder than ever to protect their precious quality time with their children because the same technology that gives them freedom and convenience with work also intrudes into their non-work time.”

Happiness, Outside Work

Melinda Tuhus • New Haven Independent • June 10, 2010

“Theirs was a complementary presentation: he focused on the policy changes needed in society to support individuals and families in achieving work-life balance; she talked about the personal changes people can make right now. So, deGraaf (pictured) described four bills in the U.S. Congress that could pave the way to a better life for Americans – a life that is already enjoyed by citizens of most developed nations, he pointed out. If passed, he opined, ‘they [the laws] would allow the U.S. to join the 21st century.’”

Are We Stuck With High Unemployment Forever?

Derek Thompson • Atlantic - Business • June 10, 2010

“In the past three recessions, workers stayed unemployed much longer once they lost their job. One reason why it’s getting harder for laid off workers to find new work is that technology is sweeping through their old companies, destroying their old jobs forever. It takes time for the economy to recalibrate. Another compounding factor is that the long-term unemployed experience diminishing skills and face resistance among employers when they choose to re-enter the labor force. What’s more, the rise of part-time and independent workers as a major swath of the public creates a shadow work force that isn’t counted by (or protected by) the government.”

Government Workers Cost More to Employ

Sara Murray • Wall Street Journal - Real Time Economics • June 9, 2010

“The largest share of the costs comes from wages and salaries for both sets of workers: 70.6% for private employees and 65.9% for government workers. The rest of the payment comes in the form of benefits.  It costs state and local governments $3.16 per hour to pay for employees’ retirement and savings plans, compared to 96 cents for private workers.  Another $4.52 goes to health insurance for public workers, compared to $2.08 for private workers. And governments spend $3 per hour for its workers’ paid leave, compared to $1.88 for private workers.”

Global News

In Sweden, the Men Can Have It All

Katrin Benhold • New York Times • June 9, 2010

“From trendy central Stockholm to this village in the rugged forest south of the Arctic Circle, 85 percent of Swedish fathers take parental leave. Those who don’t face questions from family, friends and colleagues. As other countries still tinker with maternity leave and women’s rights, Sweden may be a glimpse of the future.  In this land of Viking lore, men are at the heart of the gender-equality debate.”

Mothers in the workplace: call this choice?

Jessica Smith • Guardian, UK • June 8, 2010

“What are the underlying factors that have lead me and so many other women to quit their jobs and stay at home? Why is it that women, who fought so hard for the right to work, are choosing the traditional role of the housewife and mother? My analysis goes something like this …  Women have won the right to work, to vote and supposedly to be paid equally with men. To accommodate this new load of women in the work place, society has made a few adjustments – maternity leave, some part-time jobs, flexible working, parental leave.”