image courtesy of Wall Street Journal

There’s no better time to be a working mother.

A recent study reported in The Wall Street Journal – Where’s the Boss? Trapped in a Meeting – tells us that CEO’s lives are looking a lot like those of working mothers who are telecommuting, taking advantage of flex-time schedules and conducting much of their business virtually.

As the Journal reported,

“In one sample of 65 CEOs, executives spent roughly 18 hours of a 55-hour workweek in meetings, more than three hours on calls and five hours in business meals, on average. Some of the remaining time was spent traveling, in personal activity, such as exercise or lunches with spouses, or in short activities, such as quick calls, that weren’t recorded by CEOs’ assistants. Working alone averaged just six hours weekly.”

CEOs are Working Virtually
The CEOs’ busy meeting schedules are no longer a steady stream of face-to-face encounters ala Mad Men. One CEO in a Massachusetts tech firm with more than 4,500 employees said he’s not spending a lot of time in long face-to-face meetings. Rather, he’s conducting more “frequent iterative touches,” often in “text messages, instant messaging and video chat—sometimes with four or five windows open concurrently.’”

He was not alone among his peers, many of whom were said to be working virtually.

Time for “Thinking” and Social Media
At least one executive said he “tries to dedicate as much as 25% of his week to thinking by making time on flights or blocking out time on his schedule—occasionally retreating to a quiet room or driving on the highway to let ideas crystallize.”

Being a Southern California girl, I’ve long thought I do my best creative thinking on the freeway – at least before the ubiquity of cell phones – a bad habit I adopted later than most for fear of losing my highway free time.

Like all working mothers I know, that same executive said he tries to build a big fence around his first work hour in the morning at 7 a.m. to clear his thoughts, catch up on reading and manage email. Another exec said he spends a fair amount of time “scoping out his competition” on blogs, by monitoring Web traffic and Twitter feeds.

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by Victoria Pynchon

Victoria Pynchon is an attorney-mediator and arbitrator. She is also a principal in the She Negotiates Consulting and Training firm for which her blog “She Negotiates” is named. In addition to writing for the legal blog “On the Docket,” Pynchon also authored the book “A is for A**hole, the Grownups' ABCs of Conflict Resolution.