3pm clock blue and pink background

What If Employers Embraced “Mother’s Hours?” (And Encouraged Them For Everyone)

Inside: “Mother’s Hours” for work makes sense, and not just for moms. Here’s how employers can make it work.

Dear Employers,

Do you know how many incredibly talented, experienced, creative, and dedicated employees you could attract by making one simple change?

It’s a change that does not in any way impact productivity but could skyrocket employee happiness, wellbeing, satisfaction, and retention.

It’s a change that would probably make YOU a whole lot happier too!

Sounds great, right?

Here it is.

Swap 5pm for 3pm.

And before you say “That’s impossible!” hear me out.

Why do we need to work 9-5?

In the US, the 9-5 workday was not standard until the 1920s when Ford Motor Company set their hours. Eighteen years later the Fair Labor Standards Act followed suit to enact better working conditions including an increase in minimum wage, child labor laws, and decreasing hours worked per day. This was a huge improvement from the 10-14 hour workdays that were common at the time. 

So, things were not awesome for work in the early 1900s, but they improved and this goes to show we’ve done the reduction in work hours before. We evolved with the times! A reduction in work hours is completely possible.

But here’s the kicker, I’m not necessarily asking for there to be a reduction in work hours. Just a reduction in butt in seats work hours.

Butts in seats does not equal productivity

The concept of “pay for the number of hours you’re sitting there” in salaried jobs started in the 1950s when law firms wanted to make more money and increased quotas of hours worked from about 27 hours a week to 45 hours a week. The increase in billable hours made the law firms more money which they were VERY into.

My friends, that was just 70 years ago! Are lawyers that much better at lawyering now because they bill more hours? Sure, one can argue that more experience doing anything is good, but at what cost?

What grinds my gears is that the concept of “billable hours” translated over to other industries and other salaried jobs and now butts in seats from 9-5 is the expectation. You’re paid for 40 hours a week instead of getting paid for doing the work you were hired to do in an amount of time that makes sense.

What if your employee can do a kick-ass job and completely meet and exceed expectations between the hours of 9am and 3pm? Wouldn’t that be enough?

What if your employee could do a kick-ass job and completely meet and exceed expectations between the hours of 5am to 6am, 9am to 3pm, and then 8pm to 9pm. Wouldn’t that be the same?

How to make "mother's hours" work. Simple shifts to create a workplace that makes sense (not just for working moms!)

Why Those 2 Hours Make a Difference

I’m so enamored with 3pm because of one simple that every working parent reading this is screaming right now. The school bus!

By definition, as working parents we have children and if those children are school-aged (between ages of 5 and 18, so that’s a lot of kids) then they are, you guessed it, going to school. But it’s a six-hour school day! Not an eight-hour school day, not a ten-hour school day. Six.

That means there are thousands of parents around the country that need to figure out what to do for childcare after 3pm. There are after-school programs (in non-pandemic times) but spots are coveted and add an extra expense. Plus parents also want to see their kids in the daylight hours, coach soccer, make it to the school play, and help with homework.

It’s good for the parents, financially and emotionally. It’s good for the kids to have time with their families that isn’t rushed. That’s not too much to ask.

How to Make 9 to 3 Work

So, employers with salaried employees, what if you did this:

Set standard “meeting hours” between 9am and 3pm, or 2pm if employees are in the office and need some commute time, so that your team would be online or in-person at the same time for collaboration and discussion.

Outside of that 6-hour window, which is a lot of hours, everything else was flex! If employees got their work done well between 9am and 3pm, they are done. If they have more to do, they finish at their kitchen counter or from their laptop in bed or during breaks at the soccer field. 

This “mother’s hours” style of work doesn’t need to be a benefit only for working parents either – it can be for everyone! For employees who want to get home to their dogs. For employees who want to take a class, or practice yoga, or write the next great American novel while sitting in a park!

Couple this with remote work or hybrid options and by George, you have a winning combination!

Let’s Make “Mother’s Hours” Work Hours

What I’m proposing here is not revolutionary. It’s not rocket science. It’s not even that hard. But it’s also not commonplace.

If you start to Google search 9-2 jobs or 9-3 jobs, you’ll get a list of companies that offer flexible schedules but it’s not super robust. Same thing if you search for “mother’s hours.” And some of these flexible schedules advertised are actually nighttime shifts, which is a viable option for some people but not the flexibility I’m referring to here.

I get that this doesn’t work for every company. But before employees put themselves in the “doesn’t work for me” camp, hold the phone for a second. Have you tried it? Run a pilot? Experimented with this during say a global pandemic when you had to get creative? You were SO creative in 2020! Keep that up!

We want to get women back into the workforce after a ROUGH year, so let’s do that in a way that works for their families. We care about mental and physical health, so let’s walk the walk and do what we know improves employee well-being.

I like to imagine this world can exist, but let’s not simply imagine it. Let’s create it.

How about we start now?

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