Not long ago, companies were rolling out all kinds of work/life benefits such as child care centers and elder care assistance. Then came the recession, and those benefits dropped to the bottom of most companies' priority lists.
Fortunately, the private sector has stepped in. Seeing opportunity, businesses are discovering a huge market in work/life conveniences. From Web entrepreneurs to large drugstore chains, businesses offering convenient solutions to workers are finding consumers want help with work/life balance and will pay for it.
One young entrepreneur has launched an entire website to list businesses open 24 hours. ``People taking on more project work and working weird hours,'' says Jeanette Perez, co-founder of 2itch.com , a directory of 24/7 businesses. ``They want to know what's open when they get off.''
Here's a look at some of the more innovative and useful work life services.
• Walk-in clinics. You are at work and your throat is sore but the thought of waiting hours in a physician's office is a huge turnoff. Drug store chains such as CVS and Walgreens' Minute Clinic have rolled out walk-in medical clinics staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. These clinics make it easier for working people to get a flu shot or strep throat swab and get their necessary prescription filled in one stop.
• 24-hour vets. When Fido is sick, a trip to the vet can take hours out of the work day. VCA Animal Hospital, a national operator of veterinary clinics, has locations open late in many large cities. The website, VetsNearYou, lists vets with late night hours by ZIP Code.Pediatric pharmacy windows.
• Meal delivery. The Internet has made it easy for workers to order dinner online and have it delivered to their door. National companies like DineWise deliver prepared meals to your home and give you a choice of healthy meals, gourmet meals or vegetarian meals.
OFFICE HELPVirtual assistants.
Suzanne Riss, editor in chief of Working Mother Magazine, sees lots of entrepreneurial working mothers starting errand-running and concierge services companies . ``Every working mother jokes about needing an errand runner or personal assistant. Now they can hire one.''
Entrepreneurs such as The Task Lady or FindBalance Concierge Service will do the small things (buying pet food, plant watering, post office runs) or the big ones (personal shopping, travel coordination, party planning. There are a few hundred personal concierges throughout the United States.