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?

April 8, 2011


In Praise of Distraction

James Surowiecki • New Yorker • April 11, 2011

“The implication is that asking people to regulate their behavior without interruption (by, say, never going online at work) may very well make them […] less effective. […] A more interesting solution, proposed by the Copenhagen experimenters, would be to create “Internet breaks,” allowing workers to periodically spend a few minutes online. […] In the nineteenth century, letting wage-earners stand around drinking coffee would have seemed preposterous. But, in the early nineteen-hundreds, a Buffalo company introduced the idea of short breaks in the workday, and by mid-century it had become a hallowed office custom. The basic insight—that giving people some respite from difficult tasks, along with the chance to let their minds wander, will make them more productive—remains true.”

Nooyi Calls for More Women in Top Management

Joann S. Lublin • Wall Street Journal • April 8, 2011

“Indra Nooyi, chairman and chief executive of PepsiCo Inc., criticized fellow corporate leaders for failing to try hard enough to increase the ranks of women in upper management. […] Among the proposals backed by Ms. Nooyi: the creation of a private panel of big-business chiefs. This CEO commission would publish results of corporate efforts to expand the number of senior executive women – including ‘company scorecards and metrics’ – and consider setting public targets for women’s advancement.”

Age shall not wither them

Schumpeter • Economist • April 7, 2011

“THE National Rural Electric Co-operative Association (NRECA) does not have the same ring to it as Google or Facebook. But in its own humble way the NRECA, based in Virginia, is helping to shape the future. It is a pioneer in coping with one of the biggest challenges facing business: managing older workers. It lets employees work flexible hours and telecommute up to three days a week. It gives them health checks and advice on managing stress, and regularly has ceremonies to congratulate long-serving staff. More than a third of its workers are over 50 and the average employee has been with the company almost 12 years.”

Government shutdown looks different to workers who toil in Capitol’s basement

David A. Fahrenthold • Washington Post • April 7, 2011

“The Capitol employs 2,600 workers to maintain its buildings, trim its trees and operate its mini-subways. More than 75 percent of them would be told not to report during a shutdown […] The remainder, who were being notified of their status Thursday, would be needed for limited food service, restroom cleaning and mechanical emergencies. But they wouldn’t necessarily be paid […] A month ago, a union that represents hundreds of Capitol employees advised them to begin saving up so they wouldn’t run out of money in an extended shutdown.”

Furloughed feds cannot telework or use BlackBerrys

William Matthews • • April 7, 2011

“For congressional employees, a government shutdown will mean an information blackout as well.  Capitol Hill staffers won’t be allowed to use government-issued BlackBerrys, laptops or cellphones, the Committee on House Administration said in 10 pages of guidance issued as Republicans and Democrats remain deadlocked over how much to cut the 2011 federal budget.  Furloughed congressional staffers cannot perform official duties, or even volunteer to work for free. That means no phone calls and no email messages, according to the guidance.”

Disabled, but Looking for Work

Motoko Rich • New York Times • April 6, 2011

“For the last five years, Social Security has paid out more in benefits to disabled workers than it has taken in from payroll taxes. Government actuaries forecast that the disability trust fund will run out of money by 2018.  About 8.2 million people collected disabled worker benefits totaling $115 billion last year, up from 5 million a decade earlier. […] In a proposal for the Center for American Progress and the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, Professor Duggan of the University of Maryland and Prof. David H. Autor, an economist at M.I.T., suggest that disabled workers be offered partial income support and services to remain in the workplace. Moreover, they advocate for employers to purchase mandatory disability insurance as they do unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation, giving them incentive to accommodate workers rather than send them to the federal benefit rolls.”

Would you take a pay cut to telecommute?

Ann Bednarz • Network World • April 5, 2011

“In a survey conducted by the careers site, 35% of technology professionals said they would sacrifice up to 10% of their salaries for full-time telecommuting. The average tech pro was paid $79,384 last year, according to Dice’s annual salary survey, which means a 10% pay cut is equivalent to $7,900 on average.  Another 36% said no to the idea of a pay cut in exchange for teleworking—they want the same pay for the same work. Among the remainder of those surveyed, 20% are unemployed and would take any job, and 9% already telecommute.”


Changing Workplaces to Reduce Work-Family Conflict

Erin L. Kelly, Phyllis Moen, and Eric Tranby • American Sociological Review •

“Work-family conflicts are common and consequential for employees, their families, and work organizations. Can workplaces be changed to reduce work-family conflict? […] Analyses clearly demonstrate that the workplace initiative positively affects the work-family interface, primarily by increasing employees’ schedule control. This study points to the importance of schedule control for our understanding of job quality and for management policies and practices.”


Study: Best Buy’s Results-Driven Focus Reaps Benefits

Christa Meland • Twin Cities Business - Daily Developments • April 7, 2011

“A University of Minnesota study that took place at Best Buy Company, Inc.’s Richfield headquarters found that results-driven work environments offering flexibility reduce employee turnover and improve work-life balance.  U of M sociology professors Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen conducted the study over an eight-month period—and the results were published in the April edition of the American Sociological Review.”

Does Having Kids Dull Career Opportunities?

Sue Shellenbarger • Wall Street Journal - The Juggle • April 6, 2011

“With each new child, women believe that windows of opportunity on the job are closing for them, says a new study by McKinsey & Co. But men see their career potential expanding as their families grow, says the research […] While 78% of childless women believe they have the opportunity to advance to the next level, that percentage drops to 74% among women with one child, and to 70% among women with two or more children.  In contrast, just 69% of childless men see their advancement opportunities as bright. But among men with one child, that percentage rises to 77%. And among men with two or more children, 80% see bright prospects of advancement.”

Why are We Denying Welfare Moms an Education?

Dana Goldstein • Ladywonk • April 6, 2011

“As a new report from Legal Momentum makes clear, it remains extremely difficult for mothers on welfare to access the kind of education and training that lead to good jobs, the kind that pay a living wage and come with benefits such as paid sick leave and health insurance.  The problem is the narrow definition of ‘work’ according to TANF’s ‘work first’ requirement. If a recipient is over the age of 20, the program allows for just one year of vocational education while benefits are being paid. One year, however, is not long enough to earn occupational certificates in many growing professions, such as nursing and dental hygiene, especially if a mother is attending school only part-time because of childcare responsibilities.”

Women in the Workforce: Is Wage Stagnation Catching Up to Them Too?

Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney • Brookings Institution - Up Front • April 1, 2011

As the chart above illustrates, inflation-adjusted earnings of the median full-time female worker have increased almost 56 percent from 1963 to today (the blue line) and the annual earnings of the median female has increased by roughly $20,000 (the red line). This extraordinary increase is the product of two key trends: the increase in women’s employment and rising wages for working women.

Global News

Elder Care, Child Care, and the Struggles of Chinese Women

Sylvia Ann Hewlett • Harvard Business Review - Blogs • April 8, 2011

“Among the more than 1,000 Chinese women surveyed by the CWLP, 95% already have elder care responsibilities. Every woman interviewed knows someone who put her career on hold to care for an aging relative. […]More than half (58%) of Chinese women also provide financial support to their parents or in-laws — an average of 18% of their annual income, the CWLP data show. […] The pressure of being a good daughter or daughter-in-law can be crushing: ‘daughterly guilt’ affects an extraordinary 88% of the women surveyed. Adding to a high-achieving woman’s burden, China’s one-child policy, implemented in 1979, means that women in their twenties, thirties, and early forties have no siblings to share the load. China’s rapidly aging society will only intensify the problem.”

Sleep in or work from home: minister’s plans to ease rush hour

Polly Curtis • Guardian • April 7, 2011

“The transport minister, Norman Baker, wants to dramatically reduce rush hour in the capital and across the country by convincing companies to let people work from home, come in late, or set up satellite offices that will create commuting routes which go against existing traffic.  Ministers are investigating tactics to ‘nudge’ people into abandoning the rush hour, such as convincing train, tube and bus companies to offer bigger discounts for travelling outside the busiest hours.”