Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Flexible Workforce Discussion Forum

A discussion forum for all your questions and commentary on flexible work arrangements, family friendly business, and work life balance has been established at the QuickTopic discussion site. Join the discussion by posting a suggestions or comment about your experiences in the workforce or by posting a question or topic of your own.

Discuss Flexible Work

Flexible Position: Director/Minister of Christian Education

Exciting position for the individual interested in working in a Christian environment with children, youth and adults. You will work in conjunction with our current teaching staff, Christian Education Commission and pastor to enhance our Sunday School program, and all programs/activities for our children through high school. Will work with youth directors to coordinate and enhance our youth programs. This is a part-time position with flexible hours.

Preferred requirements include prior experience in public or Christian school/church environment. Must be energetic and flexible, and provide employment/personal references. Degree in Christian Education or relevant experience is desired.

Please forward resume including salary requirements to:
Bush Creek Church of the Brethren
Attn: Pastor Charlie Beekley
4821A Green Valley Road
Monrovia, Maryland 21770
Inquiries: 301-663-3025
Inquiries/Resume: email –

Please mention Flexible Workforce when responding to this ad.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Making Flex Hours Work

Flex scheduling is a popular alternative scheduling option among those caring for young children with various after school commitments and those caring for aging adults with multiple doctors appointments each week. Any schedule with hours that diverge from the standard 8:00 am to 5:00 pm can be considered flex hours, with most arrangements falling into one of two categories, standard flex time and daily flex time.

Flexible Scheduling Options

Standard flex time is an alternative scheduling option consisting of rigid hours that are none-the-less nontraditional. While a condensed work week would certainly fall into this category, standard flex time allows an employee to work for example, 6:00 am to 3:00 pm every day, or work 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Thursday, but 6:00 am to 3:00 pm on Fridays. This schedule, once established is constant from week to week.

Conversely, daily flex time allows an employee much latitude in scheduling each workday. Work hours are set according to the scheduling needs of that day, whether they be personal obligations or work requirements. Daily flex time will allow for a morning doctor’s appointment on Monday, soccer practice after school on Wednesday, and a long lunch with friends on Friday, while also accommodating for a conference call through lunch on Tuesday and a dinner meeting on Thursday.

The problem with flex time is that the nontraditional and variable hours can leave coworkers searching for you in an empty office and picking up extra responsibilities in your absence.

Making it Work

The keys to making flex time work are planning and organization, communicating your needs and plans well, and always respecting your coworkers.

  1. Planning and organization: When possible, plan your schedule well in advance. Stay organized by scheduling all work and personal events and deadlines on one calendar so that you can constantly reassess if this week’s schedule will accommodate your obligations. Even if you work standard flex hours, keep track of any modifications you make to your schedule to determine if the hours you scheduled continue to address your time needs.
  2. Communication: Communicate your needs and plans to your boss and coworkers allowing them to plan for your presence or absence. Consider posting your schedule somewhere in your office or sending a weekly email with your schedule to those who will be affected.
  3. Respect: Respect the needs of those you work with. Consider working core hours at the office in order to tell customers and coworkers, I will be most available at work between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Pay attention to whether or not your schedule is leaving extra work to others in the office and possibly rework the division of responsibilities so that everyone can get their own work done while in the office.
Flex time is a brilliant strategy for juggling work and personal obligations. With a little respect for coworkers, careful planning, and great communication, flex time can be easy for everyone involved.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The successful mentoring relationship

A mentoring relationship can be incredibly informal but must include three aspects of accountability. The less experienced of the pair establishes goals, while the more experienced provides training and evaluation.
  • Goals: the goals are yours to set, but as always when establishing goals, your goals should be well defined, measurable, and have a set timeframe. For example, if your schedule leaves no time for exercise, an appropriate goal would be to learn to incorporate more activity into your daily routine. More specifically, by the end of the month, I will schedule fifteen minutes breaks into my day, 3 days a week for a short walk.
  • Training: the mentor in the relationship should provide insight into how to achieve these goals. For example, providing advice into the best time of day to fit in these breaks or the best way to ask your boss to accept your new schedule.
  • Evaluation: the mentor in the relationship will be responsible for providing evaluation and praise when goals are met. This is the mentor’s opportunity to provide feedback and continued guidance or reevaluation of your goals along the way.

The mentorship relationship works well because one (the mentor) can provide formal or informal guidance toward common goals they have already achieved, along a familiar path. The mentor can help you to foresee bumps in the road and appropriate diversions, all the while providing necessary support.

Do you need a work-life mentor?

With all the roles we tend to juggle -- mom, employee, fitness guru, and friend -- there is often little time left to be most importantly a healthy, relaxed individual. Managing multiple roles can leave you feeling pushed to the brink of sanity. Although there are innumerable resources available in the form of books and websites, a personal resource can be a very effective solution. Any counseling relationship between two people with differing levels of experience is a mentoring relationship. This helping partnership, even as informal as two friends, can be very effective in transferring skills and coping mechanisms to help one better balance multiple roles.

If you are looking for an informal mentoring relationship, you probably already know your potential mentor. Consider your own challenges in life and begin to look there for your mentor. Remember, each person’s roles and challenges in life are different. You are not looking for someone just like you to solve your problems, but a successful role model, who has faced similar situations as you having achieved optimal results. Look for someone with similar roles, challenges, or priorities as your own.
  • Roles: a mentor juggling similar roles as your own can speak to how they have found balance in their own life. Look for other parents at work or other volunteers at soccer practice who may share other roles in common with you.
  • Challenges: a mentor who has faced and surmounted similar challenges as your own will be able to guide you toward successful coping mechanism and problem solving techniques. Determine where you struggle the most and look for others to build a relationship. There are likely other moms at your child’s daycare who have struggled with the guilt of leaving a child. There may be others at work that have negotiated a flexible schedule to fit their needs.
  • Priorities: a mentor with similar priorities will be able to help you find solutions that honor your values and priorities. There may be someone you run into often at the gym that has struggled to find time each day to exercise. Or look for someone from church to help you honor your spirituality throughout life’s other roles.
Once you have identified a like minded individual strike up a conversation, ask questions about their experiences juggling multiple roles and finding appropriate solutions. Ask them directly if they are willing to support you in your own efforts to manage life’s challenges. The helping relationship will benefit each of you as your mentor revisits and reevaluates past successes and current coping skills.

Mayor Bloomberg's Advice: Be the first to arrive, last to leave the office

Mayor Bloomberg began his commencement address to the students of the College of Staten Island with a lot of jokes about himself. He was evidently one of the students who made it possible for other students to be ranked in the top half of their class.

However, when Mayor Bloomberg delivered his advice to the graduating students he was no longer joking. His advice, it's simple -- the world is becoming more competitive. In order to succeed, you must work hard, which means longer hours in the office with fewer vacation days and no sick days. His own father worked seven days a week until he died.

Noting that his father would have been proud of the success his son and his granddaughters have become by following his own example, I felt as though even Mayor Bloomberg knows that his father sacrificed too much toiling at work to appreciate the fine legacy he left for future generations.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Resume Makeover Contest

If you have been job searching for over one month or are anxious to begin your job search, now is the time to polish your best self-marketing tool - your resume.

We are currently running a Resume Makeover contest. All resumes sent to Flexible Workforce through July 15th for a consultation, update, or writing will automatically be entered into the contest. One resume will be chosen at random for a free resume makeover by the end of July.

Please submit entries including your resume and an email contact to before July 15.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Finding Flexible Work in Frederick, Maryland or Anywhere

The search for flexible and family friendly work can be a frustrating process that may result in a lengthened job search and introduce unnecessary stress into your life. While job markets and employer needs are constantly changing, employers within certain industries are generally better equipped than others to provide flexible scheduling options and family friendly benefits to employees.

Large corporations
Large companies tend to have large budgets to service the work life needs of a larger, more diverse workforce. These companies may be able to allow daily flex time with employees working core hours. They may also be able to support telecommuters with a competent Network Administration department.

If you are looking for work in a large company in Frederick, Maryland you might consider:
Long and Foster
United Healthcare and Home Call, Inc.

Small businesses
Small companies may require minimal coverage allowing for job sharing or permanent part time positions. Efforts by business owners to reduce overhead costs may also provide employees the opportunity to telecommute. Individual needs in these companies are constantly changing with few positions per company. Keep an eye on local resources for openings.

If you are looking for work in a small business in Frederick, Maryland watch listings in the Frederick News Post jobs section.

Service providers
Companies with a service to provide tend to have extended or irregular business hours requiring flexible coverage by employees. Consider a position in retail or the restaurant industry. Also consider a health care setting that may require staff coverage 24 hours per day.

If you are looking for work within the service industry in Frederick, Maryland you might consider:
Frederick Keys
Frederick Memorial Hospital

Educational establishments
Schools and daycare centers are often a favorite employer among parents with work hours matching school hours of children. Additionally, employment in education often means holidays and summer hours off when kids are home from school.

If you are looking for work in an educational establishment in Frederick, Maryland you might consider:
Celebree Learning Centers
Frederick Community College
Frederick County Public Schools
Hood College

*This article is not intended to guarantee open positions, flexible scheduling, or family friendly benefits available at the above listed employers. Rather, we hope to provide resources of potential employment to our readers. We do not endorse any of these employers.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Resume Pet Peeves

With the popularity and ease of use provided by online recruiting sites like CareerBuilder and Monster, recruiters at large companies can be left feeling as though they see thousands of resumes each day. Here are a few of my personal pet peeves when reading resumes and cover letters:
  • Generic cover letters. Many job seekers will write something to the extent, "I am responding to the position posted..." leaving me thinking, "WHICH POSITION!"
  • Cover letters that acknowledge a lack of qualifications and provide a concession. Never, never say anything that may lead a recruiter to believe you are not qualified for the position. The point of a resume is to sell your qualifications.
  • An implied sense of expectancy. Statements like, "I look forward to hearing from you to schedule an interview" just rub me the wrong way. It is the job of the recruiter, after all, to determine if you are worthy of an interview.
  • Very, very long resumes. You have probably heard to keep your resume to one page. Please do not submit seven pages of projects, publications, and past work experience. All that can be provided, if requested.
  • Resumes without pertinent information. I understand a desire to maintain some sense of privacy, but there is certain information a recruiter needs to set up an interview. Yes, I have received resumes without a name. No, those candidates did not make it past my initial screening.
  • Resumes with too many methods of contact lead to information overload when resumes are parsed by database software. You only need to include the best way for a recruiter to contact you. A phone number with an answering machine and email is usually sufficient.
  • Contact information provided for past employers and references. I will generally not contact references, including past employers, until I have first spoken with you. This information can further confuse a resume database attempting to extract pertinent information automatically.
  • "References available upon request" I view this as an entirely unnecessary disclaimer, and therefore, one that irks me. References should always be provided when requested by a potential employer, no need to state that up front.
Fix some of these grievances in your resume and cover letter and you may just make a recruiter very happy - it's the first step to getting a call back for an interview.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Life on Balance, Part 3

Achieving Work Life Balance

When you are left feeling pulled in too many directions or neglectful of one particular area of your life, you may need to reevaluate your time commitments to regain balance. Take baby steps to achieve better balance and over time you will appreciate a huge difference.

If you feel you have been neglecting family time, start by designating 15 minutes with each family member, including you, each night. Commit a little more time to particular relationships by scheduling a date night with your spouse or a family craft project of movie night with your kids. Try to have dinner as a family each night, and do not answer the phone or the doorbell during this time.

If you feel that your to do list at work has gotten out of control, divide tasks into things to be done right away, things to be done tomorrow, and things to be done eventually. Start each day by tackling your list of things to do right now and those things set aside from yesterday. Designate a time of day to check email, return voice mails, check your blackberry, otherwise, switch them off. Reduce your to do list by delegating or automating whatever daily tasks you can.

If you feel that you never have enough time to exercise, cook, or walk your dog, go ahead and schedule 30 minutes early in the day to pay attention solely to this task.

Finally, learn to define success over time. Your family may take priority now, your career next decade. You will be able to look back and know that you accomplished your goals in each era of your life achieving a greater balance overall.

Balance gives rise to triumph.

~Sun Tzu

Life on Balance, Part 2

Hallmarks of a Balanced Life

Balance will mean something different to each person with multiple roles to juggle. However, there are several common indicators of balance that can help you structure a pathway to better work and life balance.

  • Knowledge of self: create a list of goals and priorities, and then rank the items on your list. Priorities should be broad and general topics while goals should be specific and realistic. Align your to do list with your priorities and acknowledge that you can’t have it all, all the time. Naturally, more time should be invested in those tasks that align with the highest ranked priorities. Remember to reexamine your list regularly as goals and priorities change more regularly than you would think.
  • Healthy boundaries: when you are feeling especially taxed, say “no” to those things that don’t help you achieve your goals or align with personal priorities
  • Organization: be constantly ready to move completely from one task to the next. Keep the information and materials you will need at hand so that your time and energies are not wasted on unproductive tasks, like looking for that permission slip at the very last minute. Also, know exactly what you have going on whether at home or at the office. Keep work and home responsibilities on one calendar. Schedule time to transition between tasks. And try not to over schedule yourself.
  • Focus: stop multitasking! How can you pay attention to your daughter’s dance recital when you are constantly checking your blackberry? Or get work done when you are constantly reading email from home? Leave work at work. Leave home at home. Don’t take your laptop on vacation. Don’t eat lunch at your desk. You will be happier, more productive, and will feel more balanced.

Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.

~Brian Tracy

Life on Balance, Part 1

Defining Work and Life Balance

Balance is often thought of as an even distribution of weight, as if on a seesaw. However, when speaking of work and life balance, we are speaking of multiple roles to be balanced. Balance, therefore, cannot be an even distribution of any two elements, leaving the other elements of life untouched. Balance becomes a more complicated act requiring steadiness and integration of roles and priorities.

When considering the multiple roles you juggle, ask:
“Am I happy?”
“Am I accomplishing what I should?”
“Do I feel pulled in too many directions?”
“Am I leaving a particular portion of my life neglected?”

If you can answer yes to the first two questions, you are probably balanced. More importantly, if you answered no to the last two questions, you are experiencing imbalance in your life.

The perfect balance should be a lack of competition among priorities. Consider all aspects of your life: career, personal development, family, finances, physical health, spiritual health, and community. Each person will have their own balance to achieve. Further, each day and each era of our lives will necessitate a reevaluation of balance. Some will thrive working 80 hours a week. Some will be fulfilled relishing a child’s every milestone. And you can do both over the course of a lifetime, but probably not at the same time.

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.

~Thomas Merton quotes

Part 2: Hallmarks of a Balanced Life
Part 3: Achieving Work and Life Balance

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Kid Friendly Offices

We have all experienced the intersection of work and children at one time or another. You may work from a home office that you share with your children everyday, bring your children into work occasionally necessitated by an illness and no back up care, or possibly you have experienced a coworker's children playing in the office next door. But as Penelope Trunk explains in her post, Blending my kids and my career (ugh), sometimes a serious conversation with kids in the office is simply impossible. Having a kid friendly office, whether your child is welcome at work everyday or tolerated occasionally, is a sure way to survive the workday when any random Tuesday (or Wednesday) becomes Take Your Child to Work Day.
  1. Inform you boss and coworkers that your children will be at work with you. Do not let your neighbors find out that your children are with you by overhearing your children playing and talking, or worse, your child's misbehavior and your attempts at very quiet discipline.
  2. Stock up on some essentials to keep them busy. Bring several coloring books or books of puzzles and games that they can complete on their own. Buy a new quiet toy or two. The best toys are ones that do not restrict them physically; remember it will be hard for little ones to sit still for eight hours. Try an inexpensive game of jacks with a ball that is not too bouncy. Fill your desk drawers with snacks and juice boxes, because full mouths are generally quiet mouths. Include healthy snacks like dried fruit, granola bars, and nuts that will last in your office between visits. Lollipops are great but often leave sticky messes.
  3. Foresee any disasters. Keep a pack of baby wipes in your desk to clean up messes quickly. Try not to disrupt your child's eating and sleeping schedule. Nothing is more disruptive than a hungry or overtired toddler.
  4. Adjust your schedule to accommodate your child's needs. Try to structure your workday around your child's sleep schedule, working at nap time or after bedtime if at all possible. Consider shortening your workday when kids visit. Leave your office to eat lunch together and take an afternoon walk for another change of scenery.
If your child seems irritable, take a short break to spend some time with him or her. A little genuine attention goes a long way toward keeping little ones happy and well behaved in the workplace.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

An Ideal Career Path for Working Mothers?

When I was pregnant and grappling with the idea of being a working mom, I had millions of people tell me, "My mom worked and I was just fine." After considering a few examples I realized that our mothers, the women who experienced the Women's Movement first hand, did do it all, just not always all at once.

Women today need to have it all, right now. We need prestige, a perfect body, a perfect family, and that piece of! I came up with a career trajectory with women in mind who want a healthy family and a healthy career. Is this the only way? By no means. This is not even the way I chose to handle my career. But, could this be the "ideal" career path for women who want it all? You be the judge.
  1. Graduate from high school and get a job...any job. This is a time of exploration, not a time to worry about long term. Just work, job hop if you must until you find out what you love. Make sure you pay your bills and avoid debt. This experience will help shape the rest of your career.
  2. Get married, have babies, raise and nurture a healthy family.
  3. Get a college degree. While your kids are young, go to school and take classes you truly enjoy. Enjoy the flexibility afforded by the college schedule allowing you to be home with your kids while working to better yourself in the long run.
  4. Start your career. Consider those aspects of your work experience and education that you loved. These are the clues that will point you toward a truly satisfying career. Hopefully at this point in your life, you have had the opportunity to work with many people in your field, through part time jobs, internships, research projects, or volunteer opportunities.
I speak from experience when I say this does not always seem the practical way to live and make money, but the benefits are far reaching. This path through education and work ensures that you can spend time at home when your kids are young, that you can find a career you are truly passionate about, and one that does not interfere with your values and home life. This is also not the shortest path to your dream career, but hopefully it is a sure one.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Dads in the Workplace

The issues that working mothers face in the workplace have for years been addressed by the media (see the New York Times' controversial Opt-Out Revolution) while the plight of their counterparts, working fathers, has been vastly overlooked. Working fathers are equally eager to spend more time at home with their children and achieve a better work and life balance as working mothers. Their needs can be addressed by a workplace culture that accepts flexibility in scheduling for family and home obligations. Workplace benefits that help fathers may include:
  • Paternity leave: while unpaid leave is often not taken by men, the mere availability of paternity and adoption leave policies for fathers will help to enforce the acceptance of a father's responsibilities at home
  • Daily flex scheduling: fluid start and end times will allow fathers to attend school plays, soccer games, and doctor's appointments. Flexible scheduling needs to be offered without stigma. Eliminate stigma by redefining corporate values in support of productivity, not face time.
  • Inclusive language: offer family-friendly benefits and parenting support groups. Using this inclusive language will avoid alienating working fathers from programs generally marketed for working mothers.
  • Education and support: opportunities for education and support groups will bring fathers together and help them see that they are not alone in facing issues of fatherhood at work.
  • Provide positive role models: management should provide good role models for other working fathers by working reasonable hours, involving their own children at work, and remaining understanding about father's changing daily needs at work and at home.
Is your business father-friendly? Take this Business Check-up offered by the National Fatherhood Initiative.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Monthly Tip: Summer Vacation

If you are planning a vacation this summer that will require you to take some time off from your work schedule, make it easy for coworkers to continue work in your absence by requesting time off appropriately, talking about your upcoming trip often, and taking enough time off to fully disengage and reengage.

First, when you request time off, try to do so in an email so you have written approval from your supervisor. As the time for your trip nears, remind your supervisor of your time off. In the weeks and days before your trip, do not attempt to go over and beyond your required duties in order to get everything finished. This will only leave you exhausted and increase the expectations others may have for work to be completed.

Coworkers and supervisors, however, are likely to forget you will be gone leading to requests for work up until the day you leave the office. The more you talk about your upcoming trip, the more likely it is that others in the office will remember your impending absence and adjust their own workload in preparation.

Taking time off for a well-deserved vacation does not need to be a harrowing task. Go ahead, ask for one more day off at the end of your vacation. Take that extra day to unpack, check your email, return phone calls, and readjust your sleep schedule. Then you can return to work refreshed.
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