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The Truth About Wannabe Work-at-Home Parents

Lindsay Olson

If you're not (yet) one of the millions of people who work from home, but are angling to, you're not alone. FlexJobs recently put out a survey on parents who want to work from home, and the results are very interesting.

Who they are. FlexJob's survey shows that 82 percent of employees seeking to work virtually have a college degree, with 35 percent of those holding a graduate degree. The majority are females, aged 30 to 49 years old. More than half are at an "experienced" career level, while 26 percent are managers and 9 percent are executives.

These are clearly employees who are professional and know their worth. They're no longer trying to prove themselves to employers the way younger workers might be. They know working from home won't tarnish their reputation, and that they can be as productive--if not more--if working on their own terms.

What working from home would mean. The survey made one thing clear: for employees who have children, family was the No. 1 priority. Ninety-six percent of those surveyed felt that having a traditional full-time job conflicts at least a little bit with taking care of a family. They feel, it seems, that they're often being asked to choose between the two--work or family--and that the decision is unfair.

An overwhelming majority of those surveyed in FlexJob's survey--98 percent--said that they felt working from home would make them better parents. They felt they would be able to stay home with sick children without missing vital work time, and that they would be able to attend their children's events without worrying about missing pay or work or being unfairly judged for taking off a few hours.

Unfortunately, employers do sometimes raise an eyebrow when a parent puts her child above her job, and it's definitely an area to address as the workforce opens up to more flexible options.

Why they work. You might (falsely) assume that these employees need to work, but in fact, only 24 percent said it was a financial necessity that they work. Surprisingly, 9 percent said they simply want to work, and 67 percent said they both need and want to work. We can see why if you simply wanted to work why you would want the ideal work situation, such as working from home.

When asked about the most important factor in their next job, 89 percent said work flexibility, followed by competitive pay, liking the company and people, and having a short commute. It would be interesting to see what the same people would have said a few years ago was most important, before telecommuting jobs were more of an option.

What they want. For employers who assume workers would demand the same pay to work from home, listen up: FlexJob's survey shows that 93 percent of parents would be willing to take a pay cut to work from home. That can mean big savings for employers, as they can not only cut down on office overhead, but also salaries.

Those employees are also willing to work fewer hours to boot: Forty-three percent of those surveyed would love to work 20 to 29 hours a week, while 32 percent would want to work 30 to 39 hours. The main objective, though, is to telecommute and have a flexible schedule.

It's clear: telecommuting is becoming more of a viable option for employees, and more companies are opening up to the idea. The line between home and work is blurring with more employees setting up home offices, and they're proving to be more efficient in working from them as well. This survey is tapping into the way we as a society are adjusting to the changes in the workforce.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

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