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Go Ask Mom

Julia Sims: The flexibility factor

Posted January 14, 2013

WRAL-TV reporter Julia Sims with son Will

Some four years after leaving WRAL after our son was born, the opportunity to return to journalism presented itself.

It was what I really wanted to do. I missed the news business and I missed my “family” at WRAL. (And, seriously: How often do you get a chance to return to a job you love after leaving?).

Still, my husband and I wondered if we could make the crazy schedule that comes with news work for our family. Mike and I believe dinner time is important family time. We also both want the opportunity to be involved with school activities. So, we just weren’t sure a reporter schedule would fit with our priorities.

That's where flexibility comes in. Fortunately, WRAL's parent company, Capitol Broadcasting, believes in the value of work-life balance. As a result, I am working a four-day work week.

That means I can count on being home for dinner at least three nights a week and it allows me one day during the week to do things with Will, my son. Last month, I was a volunteer at his daycare. I was able to see how he interacts with his teachers and his classmates. He got a kick out of it too! He talked about it all week long. It was a good experience for both of us.

More companies are moving to flexible work schedules, but there are plenty more that should jump on board, in my opinion. Think about it: The company ends up with a much happier employee and, as a result, someone who is likely much more productive.

They also benefit from having a much more well-rounded employee. Someone who doesn't just eat, sleep and drink work. Someone who brings different perspectives to the table simply by having the time to experience other things. And what about the companies that don't offer flexible work schedules? It seems to me they miss out on a lot of talent.

So, I count myself as one of the lucky ones: Someone who can make her family a priority and still contribute to the work force and enjoy a career that I feel passionate about. I think it’s a good example to set for my son. I'm fortunate Capitol Broadcasting “gets it.”

Julia is a reporter for WRAL-TV and the mother of a preschooler. She writes monthly for Go Ask Mom.

8 Comments

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  • loni Jan 23, 9:54 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing. It is encouraging to see professionals successfully achieve work-life alignment that better fits their family needs. Workplace flexibility has become a highly debated trend as more companies are changing gears to incorporate flexible work options for employees. You’re right, there are still plenty of companies that this business model can benefit. I like how you mentioned a more well-rounded employee as a result of this ideal, because it's true-a happier work life leads to a happier home life, thus contentment and productivity come full circle. As the demand for flexwork programs increase, work-life alignment is becoming a mainstream business priority. Our hope at Mom Corps, a national staffing firm with a core focus on flexibility, is that in the near future more companies will begin to implement these options for the purpose of enabling their employees to have better integration between their professional and personal lives. -Allison O'Kelly, founder/CEO Mom Cor

  • JAT Jan 15, 4:34 p.m.

    country - then your department is a rarity in not just the State but most other private companies.

    I often wonder what these men think would happen if women either stopped having babies or if mothers always stayed home. They'd end up with a bunch of single women and old men. Wow - that sounds a bit like the 50's.

  • country4ever Jan 15, 2:50 p.m.

    "the State of North Carolina. Department heads don't believe you are capable of doing a job if they can't literally see you doing the work." suki

    Not true - many of my co-workers are on a flex schedule

  • JAT Jan 15, 9:25 a.m.

    Sadly, too many people and companies don't feel the way WRAL does. I often wonder, how would they feel if their wife or their daughter was discriminated against in this way. And for some reason, too many supervisors think that being out for a NCAA basketball game or taking their family to the beach or just "working from home" is somehow different from a mom having to be off for an hour to take her kid to the doctor or pick up a sick kid from school. I'll never get that. And strangely enough, it's usually the men who have wives that don't work who are the worse. It's great that their wives get to stay home but not everyone can afford to or even wants to. It's really sad that society has not embraced working mothers (and fathers but somehow when dads get off they're seen as devoted and loving) to a greater degree. Employers need to realize they're only hurting themselves in the long run.

  • suki Jan 15, 8:34 a.m.

    You are very blessed to work in such a company. Probably one of, if not the, largest employer in the state doesn't provide flexibility in scheduling although they will say they do ---- the State of North Carolina. Department heads don't believe you are capable of doing a job if they can't literally see you doing the work.

  • justbcauz Jan 15, 8:02 a.m.

    I agree that flexible work schedules are a win-win (for employer and employee), but there are still a large number of companies that just won't make the complete transition. Some companies suggest they have adopted flexible schedules, but they put so many rules, regulations and restrictions on the flexibility that is makes it almost more difficult than the typical 8-5.

  • snowl Jan 15, 6:40 a.m.

    So true. My children are adults now, but I was a full time working Mom while they were growing up. At one point during that time, I applied for a admin. office job and asked this employer if he would consider making the job a split/share type with another working Mom. We would each work 4 hours per day. Well....HE thought I was out of my mind for coming up with such an idea. I felt like a pioneer for working families back then, but it was not something that was normally considered in the early 1990's.

  • shirleystrickland Jan 15, 6:31 a.m.

    This is for Amanda and the comment I received
    I was not trying to curel. I lost my sister at Thanksgiving and if I talk about it I will break down. All I was saying was for Amada to keep writing her feeling but don't post it on Go ask mom because they are a lot of people who can't deal with it every day. Write your feeling in a joural. I am not being curel I know how you feel. My hoilday are never great because I lost my sister this year and an I lost my brother at Christmas so I do know how amada feels