21 Feb

The Emerging Pajama Workforce

Articles, Blog 1 Comment by Mary-Frances Winters

Working at home

Imagine waking up an hour later, making a leisurely breakfast and then walking over to computer to start work on Monday.

Unless your job has high security in which employers need to keep an eye on IP addresses or the  position requires routine, centralized cooperation, then you are a candidate for telecommuting (working from home).

Even though working from home clearly saves money on overhead costs, many employers still are unsure of  potential gains. However, several recent studies have found that remote work actually boosts productivity. A study by Cisco revealed that 45 percent of employees worked an additional two or three hours per day for the same salary. And this is not a case of quantity over quality—those hours worked at home are more focused and intense than ones spent in the office.

Finally, workers are more satisfied with their jobs due to reduced work-life conflicts, according a study by a communications researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In fact, 66 percent of employees would take a pay cut in order to avoid a commute. Though it is not the best case scenario, if you would consider a pay cut, keep that in mind when trying to convince your boss to let you work remotely.

If you employer is still hesitant, why not volunteer to be a test subject for a set time period to prove or disprove that remote work will increase productivity?

Here are five tips for approaching your boss about working from home:

1.    Make sure your job is a candidate for working from home. For some jobs where you work on a unique machine or you interface with different people all day, working from home may not be feasible.

2.    Do your homework first and show your boss an analysis of how much can be saved in office space, meetings, etc.

3.    Think of your boss’s possible objections and be prepared to answer them.

4.    Sometimes the reason your boss is hesitant is that he/she may fee if you are allowed this flexibility, he/she will have to allow everyone to telecommute. The answer to this one is that everyone may not want to and that it should be determined on a case to case basis given business needs.

5.    If your boss does allow you to do this on trial basis, make sure you live up to your end of the bargain. In other words, don’t let any deadlines slip. In face you should exceed expectations!

18 Feb

Five Signs Your Boss Thinks You’re Stupid

Blog, Lists 1 Comment by Mary-Frances Winters
Sure, maybe your boss earned his job through his cunning and innovative genius. Or maybe he just stuck with the company line so long that eventually his peers dropped like flies, leaving him to emerge victorious as regional manager. Either way, he thinks he’s smarter than you are, but here are some signs he’s classified you as a Grade A village idiot.

1. She tells you the efficiency expert will be following you around all day to “get a sense of the creative spirit driving this company.”

2. He encourages you to take keyboarding classes at the local community college to “keep up with cutting-edge Web tools.”

3. She tells you that the company believes in choice: you can either take six days paid vacation or a half dozen.

4. Big meeting with a client: The head honcho reminds you not to use any “sing-y, whizz-y, zoom-y, or blink-y” things in your powerpoint.

5. He outsources your work to India…you’re a high school English teacher.
17 Feb

The World of work is Topsy Turvey…Are you Ready?

Articles, Blog 1 Comment by Mary-Frances Winters

These last two years have been especially challenging for workers.  Unemployment rates are at all time highs and even those with jobs have been asked to take less pay.  Challenging times indeed!

I have heard a lot of whining and blaming during this period.  Pleas for the government to come to the rescue and create more jobs…distain for the business leaders who are the supposed culprits of all of this disorder.

I would like to suggest another way to understand our plight and to turn it around, to empower you to take charge and control of your own lives, futures and careers.

Truth be told, there is not one source of our economic woes.  The poor economic environment is a complex combination of a confluence of events for which we all share responsibility.  The problems were not simply caused by the greed of Wall Street tycoons, but also the spending habits of consumers (yes, you and me).  Sending jobs offshore didn’t alone cause the massive  layoffs here in the US. Advances in technology are  also contributing to the types of jobs and skills that we need.  While there may be a lack of jobs, there are also thousands of jobs that go unfilled because of skill shortages. If you are a nuclear engineer, a pharmacist or a software designer, there is probably work for you.  However it is true that global markets are growing at a faster rate than here in the US.

The Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, says American companies have created 1.4 million jobs overseas this year, compared with less than 1 million in the U.S. The additional 1.4 million jobs would have lowered the U.S. unemployment rate from 9.8 percent to 8.9 percent. (http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_16957373?nclick_check=1)

The trend to offshore jobs will likely continue which means that you may need to totally transform the way you think about work in the future.

Stop blaming the government, business and other amorphous entities for YOUR problems. The only one who can change your situation is you!  While every possible group you could name may have something to do with your plight, it will do you no good to expect any of them to “fix” your situation.

Understand that the rules have changed: All bets are off!  The reality is that there are no rules anymore. It used to be that you could count on there being jobs for all levels of skills. That is no longer true because automation is doing more of the routinized jobs and we now need more brain than brawn.  Technology is moving so fast that we don’t even know what skills will be needed in the future. Consider these future needs: (http://www.getdegrees.com/careers/tips/top-60-jobs-that-will-rock-the-future/)

  • Space Tour Guide (Don’t laugh. It is closer that you think!)
  • Cybersecurity Specialist
  • Computer Forensics Analyst
  • Virtual Services Worker
  • Causal Game Developer
  • Cloud Computing Engineer (not what you think! Look it up)

Conduct a personal skills assessment. Do you have the skills that the workplace will need over the next 10 years? Do you even know that those skills are?

Become a Futurist. Read and study all that you can about future trends and needs and determine what new skills you need to get to be competitive in the job market. If it means you have to totally change careers, find something that you think you would love to do and get the necessary skills.  There are programs to help people who want to “retool”. (http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/training/index.htm and/or http://www.careeronestop.org/ReEmployment/JobSearchHelp/GetMoreTraining/ShorttermTraining.aspx)

Adapt a Global Mindset:  Don’t rule out the possibility of seeking opportunities outside of the US. For example, more US citizens are heading to Australia where nearly 7,000 Americans are currently working on long-term visas, an 80 per cent jump over the past five years.

US citizens are now the third-largest group applying for work visas, after British and Indian nationals, the Wall Street Journal said, quoting Australian government data. (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/jobs/more-us-job-seekers-head-to-australia/articleshow/7176767.cms)

Become your own corporation—“Me Inc”: This doesn’t necessarily meant that you start your own business but it could be that too. I am referring more to a mindset. “Me Inc” essentially means that you hold yourself accountable for your career. You have established a plan B should you lose your job.  Your livelihood is not dependent on your current employer.  You have several skills that are marketable.  You see yourself as self-sufficient with the wherewithal to earn a living regardless of the economic situation.

The world does not need buggy whips anymore because we replaced horses with automobiles. Do you have a skill that is obsolete or will become obsolete soon?  It’s 2011. What’s holding you back?  (Nothing or no one but yourself).

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that things are difficult.” Seneca, Roman Philosopher (3B.C.-65 A.D.)