I spend a little time most weeks working in my Panera “office.” It’s a boost to my productivity to be in a different place with people around, yet people I’m not required to interact with as part of my work. This morning, four men in shorts and jeans have gathered around the round table beside me, conducting some kind of business meeting. I haven’t figured out exactly what technology-related business they are in, but they are quite serious about their work together.
I’ve been working away on a newsletter article, for the most part ignoring their conversation, but a few minutes ago their voices broke into my consciousness. One man just said, “I gave up a $190,000 salary because I was missing out on time with my kids. The money was great, but it wasn’t the most important thing. I want to work with you, but I want to work in an environment that allows me the flexibility to be a real father to my kids.” He is bargaining for a flex-time, work-from-home schedule with this contract. He wants 40 hours a week. (Not the macho 60/90/100 hours so many like to brag about working.) He wants to work from home. He has a minimum salary he is willing to work for, and he is dealing hard to get it.
I am impressed.
If you listen to the media, you will be bombarded with news about the gender wars: men vs women, women vs women, professional mom vs stay-at-home mom. Women tend to be the ones portrayed as having to scramble to make the parent/professional balance work. It is refreshing to be reminded that the media isn’t always right. Men fight this fight too sometimes. This dad wants to be a parent and a professional, a hands-on dad and a provider for his family, even if it means he doesn’t pull in a salary that comes complete with bragging rights. He is scrambling hard to get it.
I really hope he does.