- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2006

On a Tuesday afternoon, Carrie Lukas is more likely to be getting her daughter ready for a nap or taking her out to play rather than bound to a desk. However, she says she’s more productive than she’s ever been.

An author and a vice president at the Independent Women’s Forum, Ms. Lukas did not want to stop working when she had her daughter, Molly, in September 2005 — but she also didn’t want to go back to the office.

“My maternity leave was up, but I felt it was way too early to go back to work,” she said. “We needed the paycheck, but it would have felt like too much of a sacrifice to go back so soon.”

Today, Americans are working more than ever, and the majority of employees feel deprived of time with their husbands or wives, according to the Families and Work Institute.

The Independent Women’s Forum granted Ms. Lukas’ request, on a trial basis, for a work-from-home schedule. Rather than see her work diminish, Ms. Lukas was able to streamline her time more effectively than she had in an office setting. She says she works at night or when Molly is taking one of her numerous afternoon naps.

“What is interesting about working from home is that you become more conscious of time,” she said. “Production is not how much time I spend on a project, it’s how much I get done. I am getting as much done at home as being in the office from 9 to 5.”

The work-from-home trial was made permanent at the beginning of this year by Michelle Bernard, president of the Independent Women’s Forum for the past three years.

“I knew after Molly was born that Carrie would be willing to leave the company if she had to come back to work,” Ms. Bernard said. “I wasn’t willing to lose Carrie.”

Ms. Lukas is the author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism” and a regular contributor to National Review Online.

Indeed, a flexible work schedule only works if work is actually being done. If both parties fulfill their end of the bargain, Ms. Bernard says, productivity can reach new heights.

“We are committed to being the best public-policy organization, and there is nothing more valuable than a happy employee; the work they put out can be tremendous. On the other hand, an unhappy employee can destroy the productivity of the whole organization.”

More American companies are offering alternative schedules and shorter workweeks to help employees balance work and family demands.

“We’re seeing Americans work more than ever, but at the same time, there are a lot businesses deciding to offer ways employees can stay married and maintain a profession,” said Mitch Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage.

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