Reshma Saujani founded Moms First in 2021 to advocate for economic recovery policies centered around moms, whom she said were “the first resources to go” when the pandemic first hit. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Now that three years have passed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, many top CEOs are saying it’s time to ditch remote work models and go back to the office. While Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon has called remote work an “aberration,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk went as far as to call it “morally wrong.” However, Reshma Saujani – CEO of Moms First and founder of Girls Who Code – has a different take. 

“It’s been a gift,” she told Katie Couric on a recent episode of Couric’s podcast Next Question. Saujani – who allows her staff to work under either a fully remote or a hybrid setup – argued that working remotely is beneficial for women, who often take on two-thirds of caregiving responsibilities.

She said when her first child was born, she was so busy building Girls Who Code that she wasn’t around to see him walk for the first time or say his first words. “I thought that was the price I had to pay,” she told Couric. 

She gave birth to her second son post-pandemic, when remote work was normalized. And that made all the difference. “I’m at every meal, I do bath time and I’ve seen him walk, crawl and talk. I can both raise him and be with him, and build an organization that’s gonna be larger and bigger than Girls Who Code.”

Saujani founded the national movement Moms First (formerly Marshall Plan for Moms) in 2021 to advocate for economic recovery policies centered around moms, whom Saujani said were “the first resources to go” when the pandemic first hit due to lack of accommodations like childcare.

“I’ve learned that if you give mothers and women control over their schedules, they don’t have to choose between being a caretaker and being a worker.”

Aside from touting remote work’s benefits for caregivers, Saujani also shot down claims that the remote work model decreases productivity. “They’re not following the data,” she said of CEOs implementing strict return-to-office mandates. “Studies have shown that people who work remotely are just as effective if not more effective.”

In 2020, human resources consulting firm Mercer surveyed 800 employers – 94% of whom stated their employees’ productivity was the same or higher since adopting a remote work model. 

Saujani also argued that allowing her employees to work from home has not tarnished company culture or reduced communication among colleagues. “Every Monday, we all come together, and we also do virtual coffees with one another on Friday. And we have an ‘innovation day’ where we all work on a project,” she said. “Every six weeks, we try to meet in person and have dinner or something, so I feel like I really know everybody on my team.”

When Couric asked Saujani where she sees the future of work going, Saujani said she is hopeful that remote models will continue to help women stay in the workforce. Even though the pandemic might be (nearly) a thing of the past, she made one point crystal clear:

“Remote work is here to stay.”