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From Gen Y Women to Employers: What You Need to Know about Our Work Values

Posted by knbarrett on November 22, 2011

Last week, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation released a new report – From Gen Y Women to Employers: What They Want in the Workplace and Why it Matters for Business. The results from a national survey of Gen Y (born 1978-1994) women challenged popular perceptions of Gen Y women in the workplace. Over the next two weeks, we’ll explore some of the key misconceptions across four thematic areas: work values, work-life balance, gender in the workplace and intergenerational workplace dynamics.

By Kara Nichols Barrett, lead project researcher

Today’s topic is work values. Over 660 Gen Y told us about:

  • how they view work;
  • their most important career values;
  • their “must have” benefits;
  • what motivates them to produce results at work; and
  • what enables them to do their best at work.

Here are the top four messages for employers about Gen Y women’s work values.  

  1. Same Same but Different. Yes, we belong to the same age group. We were influenced by the same historical events such as September 11th, the dot-com bubble, the Columbine High School shooting, and the controversial 2000 elections. Sharing a particular historical period, however, does not translate into shared work values. Literature on Gen Y often suggests that our values are uniform. But, it’s not true. We are more than our age group. Who we are and what we value is also shaped by gender, race, education, and our occupations. Our most important values range from achievement to creativity to altruism to compensation. You’ll be hard pressed to determine a core set of career values for us. If you’re hoping to make an employee/employer values match, it’s best to start by articulating your organizations values and then look for Gen Y women who share those values.
  2. Work ain’t about the cha-ching, cha-ching. We hold work in high regard. Most of us believe that work can be enjoyable and meaningful. Few of us perceive work as drudgery or believe that work is simply about picking up a paycheck. That doesn’t mean that money isn’t important to us, though. In fact, increased pay is one of our top motivating factors for producing results. If you’re looking for strategies to motivate us, here’s our top five: give us a new challenge, increase our pay, increase our responsibility, say “thank you” when we do good work, and consider promoting us.
  3. Please meet our basic needs. We know there are lots of different ideas about our “must have” benefits. Some authors suggest that you should focus on non-traditional benefits to attract us such as: game rooms, exercise rooms and free movie tickets. That may be attractive to some, but it’s important to remember that we’re real people with real needs. We want our basic needs met: health insurance, paid leave and retirement.
  4. You can create an enabling environment for us to succeed. We may have different career values and motivations, but there are five factors that enable us to do our best at work:
  • Having a clear understanding of goals and expectations
  • Having open communication channels with co-workers and supervisors
  • Receiving encouragement from co-workers and supervisor
  • Having our voice heard
  • Having a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities

If you’re serious about creating an enabling environment, you’ll have to explore how gender and age impedes our ability to do our best at work. It’s hard to feel like your voice is heard when you’re referred to as a “girl” or “kid” at work. Be sure to check out chapters three and four of the BPW Foundation report.

This research, funded from the Virginia Allan Young Careerist Grant, is part of BPW Foundation’s ongoing “Young Careerist” research project that since 2005 has been exploring the career opportunities and challenges facing today’s young working women.  The research gives voice to a distinct group of working women who are vital to developing a diverse and skilled workforce.  Research has been conducted using social media, focus groups and this national survey. To find all of the research and this report, visit our Young Careerist website.

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Posted in Gen Y, Research, Uncategorized, Workforce Development/HR | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Break Through Achieved for Women Veterans

Posted by YWM on May 25, 2011

This is part two of a two part article on a special training session for women veterans.

By Monica Chenault-Kilgore

Tell me three positive things about yourself. 

In the sessions and days that followed participants were asked to stand up and energetically state three positive adjectives that best describe themselves.  The catch:  they could not repeat an adjective that someone else had said. Knowing that the task would get harder if you waited to respond, one woman jumped up, I am smart, friendly, and professional.”  The next stood up and proudly stated, “I am dependable, a team player and helpful.”   I wrote all their responses on the white board.

As we moved around the room it became harder and harder for some to come up with three unused positive adjectives.  (We drifted away from adjectives a bit and the responses became more short phrases)  Something interesting began to happen in this short span of time.  The group began to help each other with positive responses, even adding a few more than three examples.  If someone hesitated, another would add, “You can say you are capable…computer literate…a good counselor…creative…detail oriented.”  The list of positive adjectives and attributes grew long, but most importantly, group members who initially distanced themselves from others by sitting in the back or using the seats around them to build invisible fortresses, spoke up to provide positive reinforcement for their veteran sisters.

Although we went on to explore communication skills, write accomplishment oriented resumes, practice interview skills and discuss job search strategies, we kept that list of positive adjectives on the board throughout the  sessions as a reminder.

Over the four sessions, the group voluntarily discussed their personal and professional challenges as we went through various topics.  The sessions evolved to group brainstorming tackling issues ranging from how to best apply newly learned communication strategies to how to resolve long standing family issues, or use a current peer leadership role as experience for a resume, and how to grow an idea into a profitable business.  We shared stories of rejection and situations that didn’t go as planned in order to recognize how negative experiences are also earning lessons and a natural part of the process of moving toward success.

One participant stated that she hadn’t worked outside of the home for a long time and didn’t feel she had any experience on how to go about finding a job.  After participating in the discussions and exercises on identifying accomplishments, she said that she enjoyed, and is extremely good at, cleaning.  She expressed a desire to start her own cleaning business and took the initiative to find information on programs supporting women entrepreneurs. She also stated she could start by getting referrals from people she had provided cleaning services in the past. 

Lessons Learned: What Worked…

To help create a comfortable learning environment that contributed to the programs success in building confidence and self-esteem, materials were presented in a manner that:

Maintaining or Enhancing Self Esteem

Take time to visualize, acknowledge, write out and share skills and abilities learned from military experience in order to transfer value, build a strong resume and interview to compete for job opportunities.

Listening and Share Feelings and Rationale

“It was good that you asked us…allowed us to talk.”

Create a safe environment for open dialogue to discuss practical applications of newly learned development tools.  Doing so helps veteran sisters to trust and build supportive networks to learn about opportunities for jobs, and access resources and services.

Ask for Help and Encourage Involvement of Others

Asking for help can be difficult particularly if the act of asking is seen as a position of weakness.  Building confidence, setting SMART, inspirational goals and examining the art of communication helps our veterans move forward from a position of strength by rephrasing “asking for help” to seeking valuable information to facilitate transition.

Build Ownership and Self-Confidence by providing Support without removing Responsibility for Action.  

Set the tone.  State that the outcome of the sessions rests with the participant’s commitment to continuous improvement and learning.  Give plenty of homework that involves self-assessment, writing and sharing.  Use every opportunity to have participants articulate their goal.  We ended the sessions with each participant completing a Motivation/Career Goals Questionnaire.  Participants completed the statements:

In the future, I want…

The chances of this happening are…

The first thing I need to do in order to achieve this is…

It was an honor and privilege for this civilian to serve the veterans at Mary E. Walker House who defended our country.  The program, on paper, was one that integrated exercises to identify accomplishments and build confidence with traditional job attainment strategies – resume writing and interviewing skills.  The learning sessions were to be an informative series of workshops that  bolster self esteem re-energize efforts to overcome obstacles to adjusting to civilian life and secure a position of most opportunity for a satisfying career.  The program became a rewarding opportunity for all of us to embark upon a new path of personal and professional growth.

 About the Author: Monica Chenault-Kilgore, PHR

As a trainer, coach and challenge-driven human resources consultant for over 18 years, Monica Chenault-Kilgore has helped individuals move through every phase of their career and assisted major private and public sector organizations build human capital to achieve stabilization and business continuity.

Monica founded The Chenault Group, a human resources consulting consortium and has held positions ranging from HR Internal Consultant with The New York Times Production Division, Director of the nationally recognized Retail Skills Center, HR Director for The Image Bank, and served as SME on numerous global curriculum and certification design initiatives.  Monica holds her BA in Journalism from The Ohio State University, and Professional Human Resources (PHR) Certification from Human Resources   Certification Institute.

       Email:  Monica.kilgore@thechenaultgroup.com   http://www.thechenaultgroup.com   Twitter: @thechenaultgrp

Posted in Career Advancement, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, multigenerational, Veterans, Women Veterans, Workforce Development/HR | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gen Y Women: Does this sound like you?

Posted by knbarrett on April 26, 2011

Over the last year, we have benefited from and appreciated expressions of interest by Gen Y women in BPW Foundation’s Young Careerist Research Project. Thank you to everyone who has provided us with information and feedback. The result of our last round of research is the new BPW Foundation publication – “Gen Y Women in the Workplace.”

The report summarizes key findings from a series of employer-based focus groups conducted with Gen Y women and their managers. Through the focus groups, we sought to move beyond stereotypes on Gen Y and better understand your workplace needs and priorities.

We know that our sample was limited and may not reflect the broader population of Gen Y women. So, here is your chance to tell us what we got right and what we got wrong. Here are the top 20 characteristics of Gen Y women based on our report. Does this sound like you?

Gen Y Women : Top 20 Characteristics

1. You’re tired of the “live to work/work to live” debate. You have one life and work is an integral part of that life.

2. You assume that work does not have to be drudgery. In fact, you expect to enjoy your work.

3. You believe that having a successful career means making an impact.

4. You don’t want to have to forfeit or neglect other areas of your life (e.g. family, friends, hobbies, volunteering, spirituality, etc.) to excel professionally.

5. You’re looking less for a particular work-life policy or program and more for an overhaul of the workplace structure – today’s workplace should match today’s workforce!

6. You feel that work-life programs and policies are often limited to women with children.

7. You feel that existing work-life programs and tools do not necessarily provide an enabling environment for women with children.

8. You value self-direction, results-orientation, and advancement opportunities.

9. You are driven more by intrinsic rewards (sense of satisfaction) than by extrinsic rewards (money).

10. You are able to do your best at work when you: know what’s expected of you, have autonomy over your work, receive frequent performance feedback, have open communication channels with your manager and co-workers, know that your voice is heard, and receive competitive compensation.

11. You’ve observed generational differences at work but don’t believe that they are insurmountable.

12. You often feel that your actions and decisions are doubly judged. Not only are you young, but you are a young woman.

13. You appreciated older colleagues for their: professional experience, institutional knowledge, and broader perspective.

14. You feel that Gen Y women can teach older colleagues how to be: flexible, open to new ideas, and embrace change.

15. You don’t always know how to capitalize on the experiences and knowledge of older colleagues.

16.  You are optimistic about your workplace prospects, but don’t consider the workplace to be gender neutral.

17. You believe that you can do anything, but it doesn’t mean you won’t have to overcome some hurdles because you are a woman.

18. You experience performance pressure in the workplace. If you want to gain recognition, you feel you have to be a “rock star.”

19. You are frustrated and worried that you may have to choose between work and family in the future.

20. You feel that women have been welcomed into the workplace, but the structure and rules haven’t changed to facilitate their success in the workplace.

So. . . how did we do? Of the 20, how many did we get right? Let us know. Leave a comment or email youngcareerist@bpwfoundation.org.

We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface on workplace issues of importance to Gen Y women. That’s why we want to corroborate and build upon our preliminary findings through a national survey on Gen Y women in the workplace. Stay tuned to learn more about how you can participate!

Posted in Gen Y, Gen Yner, multigenerational, Research, Successful Workplaces, Workforce Development/HR, Worklife Balance | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

The Sad Irony of a Lesbian Commissioner at EEOC

Posted by gansie on January 5, 2011

Chai Feldblum, EEOC Commissioner

Just before Christmas, Chai Feldblum was confirmed for a full term as the first openly LGBT Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Obama’s choice for a woman in this role is key as more and more women enter the workplace, and as such, need the proper protections.

However, there is a sad irony in the appointment of Feldblum. For if she was discriminated against at work for being gay, she wouldn’t have any rights.

The EEOC enforces laws that make it illegal to discriminate in the workplace. Discrimination – whether during hiring, firing or promotions – can not be because of: “race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.” (Source: EEOC)

What it lacks, however, is the ability to protect workers that are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. According to the Human Rights Campaign, a whopping 29 states allow legal firings if an employee is lesbian, gay or bisexual and 38 states allow the firing of transgender people.

With the much needed repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell behind us, shouldn’t the rest of the country finally decide that it is wrong to not allow LGBT Americans to become productive workers in this country? If the military, known for its conservative values, makes it illegal to fire LGBT citizens, than it is surely time for the private sector to follow its lead. And for Congress to enact the appropriate laws. (>>>Learn More about Employment Non-Discrimination Act)

This is also one more hurdle placed on women veterans. Besides the host of other issues that women veterans face when transitioning to the civilian workplace – such as unequal pay, as women and men are paid equally in the military – allowing lesbians to safely work in the military, and then be wrongly fired in the civilian world, is another setback.

While Felblum as a Commissioner of the EEOC does not have any power to make laws, she does have a pulpit. And as a gay woman she should make it her priority to advance the cause to end LGBT discrimination in the workplace.

photo credit

Posted in Diversity, LGBT Rights, Politics, Successful Workplaces, Workforce Development/HR | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Harnessing the Strength of Veterans

Posted by egehl on September 27, 2010

I am jealous of anyone that got to attend the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting held last week.  It sounds like such a powerful event that brings together the world’s top leaders and thinkers to discuss our most pressing problems, and how to maximize human capital to solve them. 

At this year’s meeting President Clinton asked participants to address the challenge of harnessing the human potential, asking participants to consider, “What can we do to get more people involved in our common endeavors?” The meeting also looked at women’s empowerment.  

Members of the Clinton Global Initiative have made commitments valued at $57 billion, bringing hope and opportunity to more than 200 million people around the world.  This year, commitments were announced to support the long-term recovery of the Gulf Coast (which makes me happy!).

The annual meeting must be an amazingly informative, energizing and empowering event to witness firsthand.  In addition to the star studded line up of talented speakers, attendees had the privilege of hearing First Lady Michele Obama give the closing remarks.

She spoke about a topic near and dear to her heart which is how to address the many challenges veterans face as they transition to civilian life.  In particular, she’s interested in how to fully utilize the unique skills and talents of veterans so that they can be successful when they return home.

The First Lady called on business and non-profit leaders to harness the potential of veterans and military spouses.  She went on to talk about how military families often have trouble transitioning to civilian life.  Sixty-one percent of employers say they don’t understand the skills our veterans have to offer.  Therefore often veterans find themselves under-utilized or out of work for months on end.  

Mrs. Obama asked the audience to reach out and engage veterans and military spouses and to take advantage of their talent, dedication and experience.   She emphasized that hiring veteran’s and military spouses is good for an organization’s bottom line because of what they have to offer due to their unique background and experience.  They have highly valuable, transferable, and marketable skills that can benefit any business or field. 

It’s been wonderful for the First Lady to prioritize and be so vocal about this issue.  For years, the BPW Foundation has been talking about the importance of transitioning women veterans to civilian life through the ongoing work of “Women Joining Forces”, an initiative that provides programming and resources to veterans.  I applaud the First Lady for giving this issue such an important place in her platform, because the attention she’s giving it will bolster this important population.

Posted in Career Advancement, Economy, Feminism, Global, Veterans, Women Veterans, Workforce Development/HR | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

You’re Invited:Where are the Green Jobs for Women?

Posted by gansie on September 10, 2010

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
The United States Studies Program
Where are the Green Jobs for Women?

By all accounts, the “Green Economy” holds out great promise for the United States—not only for the nation’s natural environment but also for its economic climate. Policymakers assert that government investments in green initiatives can produce 20 percent more jobs than traditional economic stimulus measures. Women, however, are not finding as much employment in the green economy as men. Why is this so? The United States Studies Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is planning a conference to explore this question.

Monday, September 13, 2010

1:00 p.m. Introduction
1:15 p.m. National Trends
3:00 p.m. Coffee Break
3:15 p.m. Women’s Pathways to the Green Economy
5:00 p.m. Adjournment
All panels will be held in the 6th Floor Auditorium
This is a free public event, but RSVPs are requested.
Please respond with acceptances only to usstudies@wilsoncenter.org

Program

Panel I: National Trends
Sara Manzano- Diaz, Director of the Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor
Debbie Frett, CEO, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation
Yvonne Liu, Senior Research Associate, The Applied Research Center
Joan Kuriansky, Executive Director, Wider Opportunities for Women
Wanda Ward, Office of the Director, National Science Foundation
Shari Shapiro, lawyer/author, Philadelphia
Panel II: Women’s Pathways to the Green Economy
Camille Cormier, Director of Local Programs and Policy, Wider Opportunities for Women
Michele Parrott, Green Program Coordinator, Women in Non-Traditional Employment Roles
Kit Williams, Project Manager, Green Jobs Pipeline for Women, Alliance for Sustainable Colorado
Tiffany Bluemle, Executive Director, Vermont Works for Women
Virginia Williams,  Senior Director for Green Jobs and Special, Initiatives, ResCare, Inc.

Posted in BPW, Economy, Environment, green, Misbehavin' Notification, Sustainability, Workforce Development/HR | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

A Workforce that Punishes Worklife Balance Choices

Posted by egehl on August 16, 2010

I don’t have kids and love my career, but that doesn’t prevent me from thinking about the future and how it would be nice someday to take time off to focus on a family.  However already I have doubts about whether I would ever make that decision for fear of inevitable career and salary reprecussions. 

No matter how much you love your job and career the grind and intensity of it can get wearing, and what’s important  gets clearer as you get older.  It’s the relationships you create and build, both family and friendships, over a lifetime that matter and to get the most out of them you need the space to devote adequate time and energy. 

I think instinctively most people know this yet somehow our society never changes when it comes to cultivating work-life balance opportunities, and having an open and supportive mind to those who have decided to take time away to raise children or tend to family needs. 

A number of my female friends who are all working mothers have said they are scared to leave the workplace to stay at home for fear they could never find another job, or one that compliments their abilities, background and worth.  If they felt safer and more assured to leave the workplace, they would take the leap because they want to spend more time with their young children.

A recent New York Times article entitled “A Labor Market Punishing to Mothers” builds on this notion by focusing on the ways the labor market pushes mothers out of good jobs.  The author argues that the labor market is structured in ways that artificially penalizes mothers, and goes on to say that our economy extracts a terribly steep price for any time away from work in both pay and promotions.  If you leave the workforce, people often cannot just pick up where they have left off.  Entire career paths are closed off and the hit to earnings is permanent.

Therefore it isn’t just about whether worklife flexibility choices exist out there, but the choices women can’t make because they know how unsupportive our workforce, especially during this economy, will react.  As the article argues, “the main barrier is the harsh price most workers pay for pursuing anything other than the old-fashioned career path.”

A 2004 study by Stephen Rose and Heidi Hartman with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that American women who took one year off lost 20% of their lifetime earnings, while women who took off two to three years lost 30%. These plummets in women’s earnings seem completely out of proportion to any subjective deterioration in experience based on time away from work.

Many women instinctively know the penalties they will face if they decide to leave their jobs for a career break, part-time work or to raise children.  A flexibility stigma persists in our culture even though companies and workplaces talk about supporting it.  The worklife dialogue and policy conversation needs to go beyond simply how to create more flexibility options in the workplace, but also ways to change our attitudes about taking advantage of them.  Only then can a true cultural shift take place.  

Otherwise it will not matter how many flexibility options and benefits exist if no one feels comfortable to take advantage of them.

The bottom line is that the flexibility stigma impacts everyone, not just women, because flexibility is important for the family as a whole.   And nowadays with more men leaving their jobs either for a short-term break or to stay at home to oversee the household while their wives work, this stigma isn’t just a “woman’s issue”.  With the burgeoning trend of “house husbands”, men need to equally care about how the labor market reacts to people who’ve chosen to take time off to care for their family. 

The stubborn views regarding anything not full-time work related are outdated, and wrongfully judgmental about a person’s potential worth to an employer.  Thankfully there are groups out there working to bust through this stigma by showcasing the value of women who’ve been out of the workplace.  One in particular, Momentum, is educating employers about the advantages of hiring mothers and helping those mothers find part-time work that best suits their talents, skills and schedule. 

With groups like Momentum and a concerted effort by women, men and policymakers, hopefully barriers and attitudes will continue to break down and finally shift.

Posted in Career Advancement, Economy, Families, Successful Workplaces, Workforce Development/HR, Worklife Balance | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

A Forever Changed Workforce

Posted by egehl on June 9, 2010

Just the other day I was having lunch with a friend who lost his job last year and for the past few months has lined up a number of contract gigs to bide time until he finds a full-time position.  He is not alone in this job market. 

Last month’s job report was seemingly positive however it had more bark than real bite.  The economy added 431,000 jobs in May, pushing the unemployment rate down a little, but the government was responsible for most of the new hires as it brought on temporary workers to complete U.S. Census efforts.  Unfortunately these federal government positions will evaporate this summer which raises the question what is happening with job creation and the millions of unemployed people in this country?

As we all know U.S. Census jobs, while giving a temporary boost to the economy, will end this summer.  Unfortunately only 41,000 of the new jobs in May were in the private sector which included jobs in manufacturing, mining, the service industry and temps, according to the Labor Department.

As the unemployed can tell you, what few jobs are coming back they aren’t what they used to be.  Many of the jobs employers are adding are temporary or contract positions, rather than traditional full-time positions with benefits.  The change is due to employers’ desire to limit their costs and because they can be picky with hiring. With unemployment remaining near 10%, employers have their pick of workers willing to accept less secure positions. 

Over the next 10 years, temporary and contract workers will grow significantly which will deny many future employees the ability to enjoy the benefits they have today.  It’s scary to think that full-time employees could eventually become the workforce minority leaving many people without traditional benefits such as health coverage, paid vacation and sick leave, and retirement plans.  Job benefits are one of the most important aspects to any position and often if they are exceptionally good they can make up for a weak or less desirable salary.

Over time more employers will increase their demand for contract workers so that they can afford to hire more people yet not be strapped with the high costs of benefits.  As a result, there will be a shift in the workforce with more people exploring their entrepreneurial goals and deciding if they want to establish themselves as a solo entity, or start their own small business.  The shift is already happening with the majority of positions being filled by employers being on a contractual basis.  This has its pluses and minuses. 

For those people who have been in the workforce for a significant amount of time, have built up their resumes and networks, are close to retirement, and desire a more flexible schedule contracting work can be very appealing and fulfilling.  As a contractor, you can seek out your desired clients, juggle a variety of different projects and not be confined to a traditional 9-5 workday. 

However for workers, especially younger ones in their first ten years after college, they will need to build up their resumes and may not be ready to work on their own.  Granted everyone is different, and I am sure there are many young workers out there open to the idea of contract work, but I can’t imagine doing that so early in my career.   Personally I needed the experience of my full-time positions over the past 13 years to hone my skills, build my networks and confidence, develop work ethic and reaffirm what I want do in my career. 

In addition, some contractors without full-time status may feel like “second-class citizens” and really miss the full-time benefits beyond just the paid vacation leave.  There are perks to working in an office that full-time workers are privy to which contractors may miss.

Unfortunately employment laws are behind the times and too slow in recognizing this shift toward contract work.  For example, independent contractors aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits and they have to pay both the employee and the employer match on their Social Security taxes, which adds up quickly.

At this point, many people don’t have a choice whether they want to be a contractor or not.  They have to follow the work and bide time until they can find a full-time job or decide they can survive on their own doing individual gigs.  Whether we like it or not, the workplace is changing and all of us have to be nimble to its evolution.

Posted in Career Advancement, Economy, Families, Financial Security, Gen Yner, Successful Workplaces, Workforce Development/HR, Worklife Balance | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Working from Home

Posted by egehl on April 21, 2010

In our modern age more employers are seeing the business advantages of home offices for their bottom line, and as a way to offer flexible work policies for their employees.  However what are the pluses and minuses of working from home?

The shift happening in the workplace with more people working remotely is due to employers wanting to cut back on office expense, modern technology that allows us to work anywhere and employees wanting more time at home so they can better balance work and family.  Employers see advantages to home offices because it cuts down on costs and produces happier, healthier employees. 

With the “virtual office” becoming more popular, it will impact how we do business and ways that employees relate to each other.   Proponents of working at home and other virtual offices tout that it will reduce business overhead costs, raise productivity, save jobs and improve family life.  These are all true however there are some downsides to this way of working as well.

Working remotely can create feelings of isolation and anxiety, and it requires self-discipline and focus to be successful.  If you have an extroverted personality where you gain energy from other people, working from home can be especially difficult and you must be mindful of other ways to keep you motivated. 

For those people that may feel starved for human contact and miss working in an office, spending more time in a coffee shop or public library may help.  It will get you out of the house and around others working in a similar situation. 

Many people love working from home and find it an effective way to handle their family responsibilities in a less stressful way.  Other benefits of working from home include not being distracted by coworkers and other unpredictable occurrences that inevitably happen in an office.  You miss the surprises that come with an office environment and get more done in a shorter amount of time. 

Whether you work for yourself or an established employer you could fall into some common pitfalls when you work from home.  However there are ways to overcome these obstacles by keeping the following in mind:

1. If you start to feel isolated or antsy seek out alternatives to only working from home.  Ideally this would entail a location that serves food, coffee and has wireless Internet connection. 

2. Connect with others who are also working in a virtual office and plan times to meet for lunch or check in with each other. 

3. Many women find dressing professionally makes a difference when you work in an office so you may want to do the same even while you are at home.  Granted you may not want to put on a suit, but get out of the pajamas!

4. Set up a functional workspace which should include necessary equipment.  Decorate your workspace so that it is aesthetically appealing but try to keep distractions to a minimum.

5. Establish a working schedule and regular hours when you work.  This will help you to be more efficient. Be sure to schedule work time as well as break times so that you will not become overwhelmed. One of the pitfalls of being at home is working too many hours because you aren’t in an office where there are sest times to start and end your day.  

6. It’s important to set realistic goals for what needs to be accomplished everyday.  You must discipline yourself to keep on task, communicate openly with coworkers, report to your manager and gauge your success through accomplished deliverables.  Gain a keen sense of what motivates you in case you get distracted.  Also if possible check in with your supervisor and co-workers which can help give you structure.

7. Continue to maintain a professional attitude even while at home. If you have frequent client interactions, be careful to answer the phone or respond to their emails in a professional way. Professional interactions should be businesslike and this will also ensure that the client does not begin to doubt the quality of work that is being put into their projects.

8. For those with children, consider hiring a day care provider. Those who have young children may find it difficult to attend to the needs of their children while fulfilling their job obligations.  Therefore it may be worthwhile to have a day care provider care for your child during working hours.

9. Avoid volunteering for too many activities. Many people assume that because you work from home you are free to help them do non-work related activities.  Therefore it’s important to establish boundaries.

Posted in Career Advancement, Economy, Families, Successful Workplaces, Workforce Development/HR, Worklife Balance | Leave a Comment »

News to Chew On: Link Love for Lunch

Posted by sherrysaunders on April 16, 2010

Why there are hardly any women founders and Venture Capital leaders [ReadWriteStart]

Health care reform gives women a boost. [Modern Medicine]

Millennials and personal finance. [Washington Post]

 Australian Gen Y study says they bring hope. [The Epoch Times]

Women in business still face sexism. Are you surprised? [Huffington Post]

 Men and women – differing views of happiness.  This is an British study.  [PsyOrg.com]

Equal Pay Day is coming.  Here are your facts and arguments.  [Main Line Times]

New best chefs announced.  Why only one woman?  [Eater.com

What happens when you put a woman in charge: success [Optometric.com]

Domestic workers want bill of rights. People we often don’t “see” but should not forget. [Feministe]

Five tips to retain Gen Y talent.  [Fox Business]   

Opinion: Matriarchy could solve many world problems. [OU Daily]

This is good news. Maternal deaths drop worldwide [New York Times]

Op-ed: Why a clean economy means security. [Croscut.com]

Business schools need to better engage women [Forbes]

Is a woman’s MBA worth less? Sounds like it.  [Harvard Business Review]

Women have to work harder to be equal.  Even truckers know the truth.  [The Trucker]

 Women need to negotiate to make more money. No one is going to take care of us. We need to take care of ourselves.   [About.com]

Commentary on need for paid days off. [Womensnews.org]

Health care reform means mew rules for breast pumps at work. [NYTimesBlog]

Women in Federal workforce still experiencing discrimination [Govexec.com]

Debunking the Millennials work ethic issue. [Havard Business Review]

Women reflect on role at Supreme Court [Legal Times]

Obama’s judge picks more diverse than Bush’s [Legal Times]

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