March 31st, 2010
06:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Obamas promote workplace flexibility

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Wednesday he could relate to families juggling two jobs, raising kids and other demands, because that's how the first family lived before moving to the White House.

Addressing the Forum on Workplace Flexibility held by the White House Council on Women and Girls, Obama said helping American workers meet the demands of their jobs without sacrificing the needs of their families should be a priority of businesses and the government.

Changing demographics in recent decades have resulted in more women in the work force and more families in which both parents work, Obama said.

"To these families, every day is a high-wire act" of tight schedules that can easily be disrupted by sickness, a car breaking down or other common occurrences, the president said.

That was the case for the young Obama family back in Chicago, Illinois, he said.

"It took a toll," Obama said, adding that his family "had it relatively easy" because they had good health insurance and help from Marian Robinson, the mother of first lady Michelle Obama.

In comments to the forum earlier Wednesday, the first lady also spoke of the Chicago days, saying she often felt unable to keep up with both her job and her family responsibilities.

She told of going to a job interview with her newly born daughter Sasha because she couldn't find a baby sitter.

"I prayed that her presence wouldn't be an automatic disqualifier," the first lady said.

As a manager, Mrs. Obama said, she found that flexible policies permitting employees to work from home and make other adjustments to regular routines "make employees more, not less, productive."

Her husband made the same point, telling business leaders at the forum that looking out for the interests of their workers can benefit everyone.

"What's good for your workers and good for their families can be good for your bottom line and shareholders as well," Obama said. The federal government was considering allowing more flexibility for its workers, he said.

The forum included working sessions in which participants traded ideas on policies and practices to bring flexibility to the workplace, including training managers on the concept, focusing on results instead of daily
attendance, and using technology such as Internet access, teleconferences and other communications tools to enable flexibility.

Filed under: Michelle Obama • President Obama
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Gerry NH

    Now what is he trying to sale and how much will it cost the American taxpayer?

    March 31, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  2. rustybingham

    Wish the company i worked for saw it that way. I could do my job from any computer with internet access. Instead the pay me my hourly wage, plus milage. As for this government program, help with funds, where is the money going to come from?

    March 31, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. Nick

    Proud to have you as our President! Keep up the great work! Its nice to finally see a light in all of this darkness today!

    March 31, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. D.

    He just forgot to say that his job was mainly being a state senator and a lecturer in a nearby university. Not the traditional family of two people with real jobs.

    March 31, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  5. terry,va.

    Flex hours is for the companies to decide. May the best employer get the best employees. Get your hands off industry Obummie!!!!

    March 31, 2010 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  6. Aaron

    He forgot to say that the companies can always get the workers without kids to pick up the slack and do their work for them. It's now an American tradition.

    March 31, 2010 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  7. Michael from Ventura

    It's things such as this that make me proud of my President. He relates to the middle class. Just wish the decision to drill would get reversed. As a person who lives on the coast and saw first hand the Santa Barbara oil spill years ago- I will NOT support "drill, baby,drill" or anything like it!

    March 31, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  8. Meka

    President Obama is America's true "Family Value" Leader.

    March 31, 2010 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |