Thursday, February 28, 2013

Next Generation Workers...The Telecommuting MYTHs

The news is in a complete buzz about the recent decision to eliminate telecommuting by none other than Yahoo.  There is some clear irony about the idea of a technology company mandating a physical presence in order to assess work performance and re-orient their working world.  The implications for the decision will largely resonate with two audiences of particular importance to me, working mothers and those who currently have some level of telecommuting arrangement.  I hope that Yahoo's decision doesn't cascade into the minds and strategies of those businesses that understand working from home, and those that actually get it right.  

In my career I have spent large amounts of time as a consultant and strategists, often having a mobile office that went from place to place.  When I first became a mother, I had no idea that I would later decide that I did not want to work 70 hour work weeks on average, a standard that I had created.  I am so thankful that I worked for a Board of Directors who were both insightful and good business people.  Flexibility is key for many professionals who give above and beyond what any one person should be asked to do within one job assignment.  I know that I have friends and peers who currently balance what should be the equivalent of no fewer than 3 jobs.  Flexibility allows the priorities of life to someone blend into a more effective balance, and it allows for the use of time and resources in more innovative ways than being tied to a desk.  There is no question what side of this debate I support. 

How many people are tied to their smart phones, making the dumb decisions to answer every call and every email, even when sent at inappropriate times?  How many of us recognize that we have conditioned people within our professional circle to expect replies and follow-up instantaneously, when we have different priorities or work that should be done away from email?  How much of this current debate reflects a lack of clarity about job performance, metrics and evaluation standards - and not some ill conceived notion of a colleague sitting at home in their bathrobe taking calls, while drinking lattes and watching TV?  For those who seriously understand and have experienced working from home, you know that reality is much different. 

Working from home, in many ways mirrors working for yourself.  You now have the freedom to start your day at the earliest possible hour and end your day at the latest possible hour, in an attempt to best serve your employer and to demonstrate you have earned the flexibility given.  That also means you are highly self-reflective, evaluating your value, contributions and achievements on a regular and consistent basis.  While I can only imagine that somewhere someone is taking advantage of the system, there are countless others who prove the importance of flexibility, trust and performance in the marketplace. 

With that said, office time can be overrated.  While I am particularly blessed with a tremendous set of colleagues to work with, someone should also study the time wasted within the course of the standard work day.  The number of activities and initiatives to build staff connectivity, might be better spent allowing people to connect with their own families.  A good working relationship doesn't mean that you spend every holiday in celebration, celebrate every event with food or foster team-building by mandatory time together. Team-building can be an important aspect of any work environment, and it starts with a respect for each persons contributions, skills and talents.  We could eliminate a fair amount of activities if we simply held performance in very high regard.  The value of time is lost in our society. 

Job-Sharing, Telecommunity, Virtual Offices and a regard for online operations matters in today's society.  Being an effective team player doesn't mean you see my face each day, it should mean that you see my value.  At least that is what I hope.  I am reminded on this day to not only be thankful for good leadership, but to also be persistent in what true communication and dialogue is all about.  If we put down our phones, walked away from email, stopped a hyper sense of organization based on technology, maybe we could foster a real conversation - about productivity, work/life balance, and achievement.  Those things matter regardless of where you are working from.  Maybe it is a bigger question, who are we working, or something, or someone, greater! 

What are your thoughts?  Share your comments - as long as you are not wasting work time doing so.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seeking Joy

The 6:30 a.m. prayer call required boldness in God today.  I was feeling anything but bold.  It should have come as no surprise that on the day that I was feeling anything but bold, fierce or phenomenal I heard by name called to pray.  This was an opportunity to walk in faith and a reminder that it isn't about how you feel at any given moment.  I thought I had pretty much walked away from writing, journaling, aspiring, seeking....I just started walking away, a trail of resignations in my path. 

I don't believe in having a mid-life crisis, I don't believe in speaking those things into existence.  With that being said, there is something going on.  So I look at a poem my father sent to me that screams at me daily, "Do It Now" by Stephen Grellet.  I wonder to myself, do what.  My commitment to blogging and journaling this time around is in pursuit of figuring out what now.

A proud mother of three incredible kidlets, my life has been largely defined by raising wonderful people.  Somewhere in that process I lost a bit too much of myself and started realizing that the pursuit of joy was a lost art.  I received a text from a friend recently that said, what have you done today to find joy?  My response was, nothing.  I have done nothing to find joy recently.  I'd like to change that today.

Wherever you are in your journey, no matter what road you are traveling, I'm wondering how are you finding and defining joy.  At this season of life I have gotten a bit too lost in the activities, actions and motions of life, without paying great attention to the overarching themes that matter.  I have gotten a bit lost and writing has typically helped me to find my way back home.  Today, I have made the decision to do it now, although I'm not sure what IT is.  I'm going to write more.  I'm going to whine less. I'm going to work on centering myself to find and seek joy.

Early in life I said that I wished that people had been more honest, more transparent and more committed to telling the truth about life.  Life is hard.  I had a mother who told me life was not fair and then encouraged, "the sooner you learn it the better you will be."  I have by many accounts a wonderful, blessed life, that has been filled with favor and guarded by the prayers of generations of women that have come before me.  As a realist, however, I recognize that somewhere in the journey I have lost my way a bit. Have you ever lost your way?  Have you ever experienced dancing so fast you lose the soundtrack of your life?  That is where this entry finds me today. 

A lover of arts, wine, music, writing, words, children and personal connection....walk with me a bit as I reignite my personal efforts to move beyond being, A Work In Progress.  You might say aren't we all a work in progress?  Maybe.  I just think there is more joy to be found, more work to be done and more reflection to live this life that I've been given to the fullest.  I'm on a quest to remember what I love, explore new things, look forward more often than I look back, and leave my past firmly in the past.  I'm seeking joy...before it is simply too late to find it.  Join me.  I'd love to have company on my journey.