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Storms test workplace flexibility

The minute I heard that South Florida schools were closed on Monday, my kids cheered and I groaned. If I listened hard enough, I could hear other working parents groan, too. Up north, parents have to contend with snow days. Here we have to deal with storm days. Regardless, all of us have to contend with bosses who may or may not understand the predicament parents face when kids are off school and we are expected to come to work. To me, that's when companies who call themselves family-friendly are put to the test. Talking to crazed parents on Monday inspired me to write the article below: 

 

The Miami Herald

Storms, school closings provide ultimate workplace flexibility test

By Cindy Krischer Goodman
balancegal@gmail.com

 
Daniella Aronsky, left, 9, takes more folders from her mom, Emira, who works at the office, while her sister, Sofia, center, 7, and cousin, Shayna Soffer, right, keep inserting papers into brochures, at the Soffer Health Institute in Aventura. With school being closed, from Isaac, the office finds duties to keep the kids busy and helping out.
 
As Floridians set out frantically buying storm supplies this past weekend, one announcement created almost as much panic as the threat of high winds: public schools would close on Monday.

For working parents, the news triggered a mad scramble for child-care solutions, particularly when most businesses chose to stay open. Trapped, some parents were forced to take a vacation or sick day, others showed up at work with kids in tow, while the desperate begged relatives or babysitters to step in at the last minute.

Across the country, hundreds of companies boast of being family-friendly workplaces. But to me, days like Monday speak volumes about the reality of that label. For parents, it’s not only how our employers react to our need for accommodation during weather related events; it’s also how well they’ve planned for it.

As news of Tropical Storm Isaac circulated, top managers at C3/CustomerContactChannels in Plantation held meetings to prepare for various scenarios. Supervisors were told to allow employees to work from home when possible and encourage staff to download documents to their laptop hard drives to be able to work on them even without an Internet connection. Even more, the company, which operates call centers around the world, began brainstorming ways that hourly workers could make up time off for weather-related office closures.

On Monday, when downpours flooded the streets, Alicia Laszewski, vice president of communications at C3, asked to work from home. Pregnant, Laszewski says she felt uncomfortable making the commute to the office and had two young children out of school. She got the green light to work from home. “It builds loyalty that they have respect for me and my health and my family,” Laszewski said.

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