Bucking national trend, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced this past week that the company would no longer allow staff to work from home or from remote locations. Approximately 10% of the US workforce has cut the commute out of their life and now work from home. This is certainly unusual for the industry where internet firms, and the companies that support them (think design, ad agencies etc.) have often pushed the limits of what the word “workspace” means. From massages to free lunch to creativity pods. Just watch this sketch from Portlandia for the epitome of this.

There are numerous reasons why working from home is a good thing. With those additional cars off the road, it is kinder on the environment. Families get to spend more time together since mom and dad are no longer tied up in the car or train. And less time in endless meetings can mean more productivity.

Of course, working from home doesn’t work for everyone, or every employer (though I haven’t heard of too many going back on their decision, especially not company-wide). To work from home requires immense discipline and a quiet space away from the family to work and hold conference calls. Just because you work from home does not mean clients or colleagues should be subjected to cartoons on the TV in the background when you are trying to conduct business.

Some people thrive better around others, while some need the quiet and solitude to think and produce. Having worked both in offices and at home at various points in my career, I am a bit of both. I love the interaction and sharing ideas you get being around other people, but when it comes time to sit and write articles, proposals, or churn out reports, I need to head into isolation.

Since my son was born, working from home has been the best situation for me. He gets to play with his babysitter from the comfort of our home while I get to retreat to my office to work. And the best part is that I am also a part of his day. I can pop in to see how he is doing, what the babysitter is feeding him for lunch, and making sure he is taking a nap early enough during the day. When I need to be around other people, which is often, honestly, I head to a Starbucks or local coffee shop and work from there. The ambient conversation, chitchat with the baristas, and the caffeine are important parts to making me feel like I am not a one-woman man island some days. The balance isn’t always easy, but working from home absolutely, without a doubt in my mind, helps.

As the CEO of a company in need of a significant retooling, I understand Marissa Mayer wanting to take control of the situation, so I hope that the virtual working ban is a temporary measure until they get back on their feet, for the sake of all those parents trying to make both ends of their life work as smoothly as possible.

It seems like the topic of balancing family and work (especially from the prospective of successful females entrepreneurs) is coming up more and more. Today, Inc ran this article by HappyFamily CEO Shazi Visram on the work/life balancing act. I like her used of mathematical equations to showcase the challenge here. It really does come down to this: your family and children aren’t going away so how are you going to balance everything?

I like Shazi’s advice:

1. ask for help

2. schedule one hour a week for myself

3. prioritize

Not living anywhere remotely near friends or family, “Asking For Help” was the one I had the most trouble with after first becoming a mother. I often have to rely on help from “strangers” or paid help. While there have been some great people that have come into our lives (and some questionable ones), it is also an adjustment in our family budget, having to account for a babysitter each and every time we need someone to watch our son.

For #2 – I actually have a folder on my iPhone I’ve named “Sanity.” It consists of two icons: Starbucks and a Fitness app. These are two things that keep me a calm, functioning human being. So, if I don’t get to get my latte (which, for me means a chance to escape from my home office for a little while and see other human beings face-to-face for a while), and I don’t get to go to Pilates and move around after sitting in an office chair for hours on end, then it is just not working for me. I make it a point to get to my Pilates class at least twice a week, and can occasionally squeeze in a third class.

Prioritize – this is essential. And becoming a parent, you find that some decisions are made for you, like having to reschedule a work call because your child gets sick. But, since time is a precious resource, it should be help onto closely – and this can be a good thing especially in the marketing services business, because maybe that means that maybe you only take on the projects that are the best fit for you, or that you have the most interest in. I like to prioritize by making a list for what needs to get done today and I use a whiteboard to schedule the bigger picture of what needs to happen over the course of a week or longer.

There are a number of things I could add but here’s a quick list – because time’s ticking and I do need to move on 🙂

  1. Learn to say no – this is one I have a hard time with, but it is a huge time-saver. Maybe now is not the right time to join so-and-so committee, or attend this-or-that event. Saying “No” frees up a lot of time and you’ll realize how much of a time-suck low-value things are.
  2. Get organized, and if its not in your nature, get the help of a professional organizer at least once – having systems in place of where you keep documents, files, recipients, contracts, forms, bank statements, important documents, etc. will save hours of searching for when you need to find that one thing. And it keeps the papers off your desk so you can have a clear place to focus on your work.
  3. Make time to laugh a few minutes a day – whether its a quick text message or email or Facebook post between siblings, friends, etc. – it helps break up the day and keep your non-work, non-kids relationships strong.

And now, back to work!

For the better half of the last 15 months, balancing babies and business has been at the forefront of my mind. When I started my digital marketing business, Sinuate Media, at 24 years old, I have to admit that babies were a little on my mind. At the time, I thought it would be easier to run my own business so that when the day came that I had children, I would be the master of my own schedule and be able to gracefully juggle the two.

So, fast forward 5 years (almost to the exact day incorporated my business), I had my first baby. And, I felt like my master plan was in serious jeopardy.

Taking care of a baby was hard, but nothing prepared me for how difficult it was to take care of a baby at the same time as a business. Added to the effort, it wasn’t just business as usual. I was on overdrive trying to heal the wounds the recession left on the business and sustain a cross-country move at the same time.

And while all signs were pointing to this being a fruitless effort, I had to carry on. I hate quitting. Sometimes to a fault.

I went to an all-girls high school where we were fiercely encouraged to succeed. We were even given many tools to do so–leadership, a spirit of giving back to the community, and enough leash to explore your interests. But never once did we ever have the conversation about how to continue to succeed in business after the babies arrive. It was a conversation that I sorely wished I had had with someone–anyone.

At many points, I questioned, how can a women who owns a small business, have a family and still grow that small business into a large, successful business. And then I read articles like this one on Forbes.com, and I can see a game plan unfold. It’s a fuzzy image, but those types of articles are encouraging.

Yesterday, while in Barnes & Noble, I was paging through a book about women achieving success in their careers, and just as I was about to put the book down, I came across a quote in the chapter about Motherhood that I found amusing:

“Show me a women who doesn’t feel guilt and I’ll show you a man.”

Upon which, I shared it with my husband who informed me that he does feel guilt about working too long and not being able to spend more time with our son. Point taken. So, the gist is that even if you find a good balance between work and time for your kids, there is still this underlying feeling that the amount of time spent with either is never enough.

Finding the right balance is going to be a messy experience that is going to take a lot of times to get right. Just like potty training.