Friday, August 31, 2007

Frederick Chamber Expo

The Frederick Chamber of Commerce is hosting a breakfast and 7-7-7 seminar. Seven local business leaders will speak for seven minutes on seven different topics all of which fall under the theme, "Do the Right Thing." Speakers will address legal issues, employee benefits, and environmental friendly methods of doing business. Additionally, Laurie Holden, director of Frederick County Workforce Services will give a seven minute presentation entitled, "Alternatives to Commuting." The breakfast and seminar is open to the public but requires preregistration and costs $10 for breakfast.

To follow will be an expose of over fifty local businesses. The expo is a free and public networking event. For more information about this and other events, visit the Frederick Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tele Work is BIG News

I was thrilled to see this story featured not only on ABC primetime but also on the Drudge Report!

ABC's World News with Charles Gibson aired a story tonight featuring IBM's corporate flexibility policy as the workforce initiative of the future. Nearly 42% of IBM employees rarely enter a corporate office reducing IBM's real estate budget by $100 million dollars.

The ABC story and corresponding article explains the fairly obvious benefits of a remote workforce - reduced corporate costs, increased flexibility enjoyed by employees - in addition to a few methods to achieve flexibility - office space for "rent", virtual staff meetings. One major drawback to telework is also discussed. IBM combats feelings of isolation among employees and fosters sense of community among coworkers by scheduling periodic lunches at a common locale.

*Corporations can continue to focus efforts on connecting remote workers through establishing an online social forum or employee blog. These tools can also serve as a strong marketing tool for potential candidates to learn about the corporate values and culture.*

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fall Projects - Excuse my Absence

The Flexible Workforce blog may have been fairly quiet this week but I have been working hard on several projects that I am excited to share with you throughout the upcoming fall.

Site Makeover: Thanks to our good friend Alex at Whiterock Enterprises for the purchase of our new domain name, (and .org and .us), I have been looking into ways to improve the aesthetics and functionality of the site. We are continuing to use the blogger platform and I will be adding more information about Flexible Workforce and cleaning up the sidebar. Thank you for all your recent comments and suggestions. Your ideas for improvement and development are always welcome.

Return to Work Gift Packs: Fifty gift packs are being assembled for distribution to local moms returning to work after a period of time at home with a new child. We are coordinating contributions from companies such as Glorious One Pot Meals and among others. As this project continues through the fall, look for more information about our sponsors and profiles of some excellent local moms returning to work and managing their families with ease.

While these projects are keeping me very busy, I am continuing to research and prepare new articles for the blog. Look for upcoming articles about fathers returning to work after paternity leave and issues of faith at work as well as a review of Julie Lenzer Kirk's great book The ParentPreneur.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Seeking Contributions for Return to Work Gift Packs for New Moms

After the birth of a new baby, a mother's return to work can mark a dark and lonely period in her journey through motherhood. Whether she returns six, twelve, or fifty-two weeks later, whether she works full or part-time, it is never easy for a new mom to leave her baby for the workplace.

Flexible Workforce is committed to supporting mothers in their exploration of working motherhood. Return to Work Gift Packs are distributed to working mothers returning to the workplace after a period of time at home with a new child. Gift packs serve to uplift mom's mood, nurture the mother and child bond, and educate moms about resources and tools available.

Be a part of this effort to support new moms returning to work by contributing your business card, promotional material, coupons, or free samples highlighting products, resources, and services indispensable to working mothers. Past gift packs have included hotline and support group contact information, child care resources, coupons and calendars for mommy and me classes, nutritional bars and shakes, etc.

For more information about how to contribute to our Return to Work Gift Packs, please contact Amy at

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Flexible Position: Account Manager/Recruiter

ESG Consulting is looking for independent self-starters, Account Managers / Recruiters to assist in the growth of our staffing divisions in metropolitan areas such as Chicago, Boston, D.C., Phoenix, Dallas, New York, Detroit, Houston, Austin and more markets.

This is a full-time, telecommute only position.

View the full job description.

Monday, August 20, 2007

How can I make Flexible Workforce better for you?

It is time for a reader site survey and I am excited to hear all your feedback in order to improve Flexible Workforce for each of you.

I am looking to improve the layout of the site as well as update my content focus to best meet your needs as job seekers, flexibly scheduled employees, family friendly companies, and most importantly, readers of this blog.

Please feel free to suggest any areas of improvement including:

  • Content: Are the article topics specific enough? diverse enough? What future topics would you like to see addressed in blog posts?
  • Posting frequency: Are you happy with the frequency of new posts? Would you like to see new posts more often?
  • Website design: Do you like the current layout? Are articles and tools easily accessible? Are any features missing from the website design?
  • Any other ideas or feedback to improve the Flexible Workforce blog site?

Please feel free to leave a comment below with your suggestions or send an email to While I can assure you that every comment and suggestion will be read and considered, I cannot promise to respond to every comment or implement every suggested change.

I expect improvements to the website to be completed by the end of September. Look for improvements to begin soon and always feel free to contact me with comments and suggestions.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Non-Traditional Work Schedule Nightmare for Moms

Spain is known for its easy going culture where coworkers linger at lunches that last hours, employees pause to nap in the middle of the workday, and bosses never balk at these behaviors. In the corporate world, this schedule is relished by upper management who often work into the early evening hours. However, as commute times rise, workdays lengthen, and more women join the workforce, families are finding that Spanish two-year olds will not wait patiently for a relaxed family dinner at 9:00 in the evening. Spanish women's efforts to secure a more family friendly workday were futile until a new conservative government mandated 9 to 5 core hours for government employees (who ever thought we would applaud 9 to 5 here at Flexible Workforce?). Other employers have begun to follow suit.

Women in the corporate world everywhere face longer workdays often with no sign of reprieve from what is considered traditional work hours. If your work hours seem to be increasing at the cost of your family and personal time, consider shortening your workday. Rationalize the change in schedule by applying Pareto's 80/20 principal. The premise of Tim Ferris's recent best seller, The 4-Hour Work Week, Pareto's principal posits that 80% of results come from just 20% of efforts. Applying the 80/20 principal to your workday means that you complete 80% of your to do list in 20% of your traditional day. The other 80% of your day is virtually unproductive, lost to email programs, chatty coworkers, and the internet for example.

To make your workday highly productive in fewer hours learn to work smarter:
  • Make an effort to keep phone calls short and on topic
  • Do not check personal email while at work
  • Check work email only at designated times of the day
  • Use folders to organize incoming emails
  • Saving reading and researching for times you know you will not be interrupted
  • Be selective about what files and papers you keep avoiding unnecessary clutter
  • Store all incoming mail and email in either an Action or Reference file
  • Buy in bulk supplies that you use often
  • Combine similar tasks
  • Focus your efforts on tasks that utilize your strong points. Delegate tasks that rely on your weaknesses.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Is Sunny Weather Bad for Productivity?

With the sun shining brilliantly and the weather still warm, I have recently found myself more motivated to get outside than to get any work done this summer. Judging by the RSS feeds of my favorite blogs, I am not the only blogger suffering from a lack of productivity this summer. Curious about whether this phenomena was real or a fabricated excuse to work less, I went in search of scientific evidence. Not only were my suspicions about warm weather productivity correct, but I was pleasantly surprised by the industry suggestion - combat summer laziness with flexible work schedules!

A few years ago, the Huntress Group of London conducted a survey of employees regarding their summer plans and workplace productivity revealing some interesting statistics:
  • 58% of employees planned to take time away from the office for a summer vacation
  • 68% of employees admitted to daydreaming about plans for summer travel while at work
  • 60% reported they would leave the office for a lunch break outside during the summer months
  • 63% reported they would leave the office earlier than normal in order to spend more time outside
  • 24% of employees felt that their productivity levels actually dropped during these sunny summer months
Julia Vassie, Commercial Director at Huntress, presented the results of the study along with the advice, employers should offer flexible scheduling options to employees allowing them to arrive late or leave early in order to spend more time outside in the summer sun.

In fact, many corporations do allow employees to take advantage of summer scheduling. Many accepted plans involve a condensed work week allowing employees to leave early on Fridays or take every other Friday off entirely. Ideally, employees with extra time to enjoy the summer weather will be more motivated to work while in the office boosting productivity in fewer or simply nontraditional hours. If your employer does not allow a flexible summer schedule be sure to get outside during lunch time or for a short walk in the afternoon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Headlines from the Work World

Living near work? Great idea, in theory
Developers describe the vision behind urban villages and why they are not working, yet. Three master planned communities in the Seattle area with theoretically self-sufficient economics are examples of communities where residents were intended to be able to work and live without the hassle of a commute.

Congress finding value in unpaid leave plans
The democratic-led congress explores legislation extending FMLA benefits ensuring leave to families of injured soldiers, new parents, and caregivers of sick family members.

Workforce housing key to healthier economy
With the high cost of housing, moving or commuting for a job can be impossible. Broward county, Fl businesses explore employee housing as a key to recruitment, retention, and growth. Could this be a successful workforce trend?

Growing sectors: Where the boom will be for Frederick County's jobs
Discussion about the state of jobs in Frederick County led to an analysis of six industries that face the challenge of a shrinking workforce and inexperienced job candidates.

Work and humor do mix
Does your boss have a good sense of humor? Does your employer value humor in the workplace? A survey by temporary staffing agency, Robert Half International claims that humor has a place in the workplace.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Weird" Benefits

The key to hiring, retaining, and motivating a modern workforce is in the culture and benefits offered by a corporation. In his book, Get Weird! 101 Innovative Ways to Make Your Company a Great Place to Work, John Putzier offers a multitude of weird techniques to inspire a creative and productive workforce. How about these ideas:
  • Provide a room for employees to temporarily escape their office, a place to meditate, play ping pong, or take a nap
  • Offer a regular prize drawing for those who refer new employees to the company for prizes such as trips, concert tickets, etc.
  • Take new hires out with existing employees after their interview for a chance to get to know their coworkers and experience the company culture
  • Training exercises through puzzles, quizzes, and games
  • A Wall of Fame to showcase individual successes, especially in the customer service realm
  • Take home gourmet dinners for employees and their families
What are the best and most innovative benefits you have encountered?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Business Benefits of Flexible Scheduling

Lori Long, author of the blog Family Friendly Work and the book, The Parent's Guide to Family Friendly Work, recently reported some amazing statistics highlighting the business case for flexible work arrangements and raising the question why do more businesses not take advantage of flexible scheduling benefits. While many businesses still do not offer much variety of flexible scheduling options, the resulting increases in productivity experienced by those businesses that do are apparent. Lori's statistics speak for themselves:

  • 73% of flex employees reported a willingness to stay with their current employer.

  • 39% of flex employees reported high levels of loyalty and extra drive to help their employer succeed.

  • 33% of managers reported increased productivity from their employees due to flexible work arrangements.

  • Cisco's telework program netted a $195 million increase in productivity. Deloitte estimates they have saved $41.5 million in turnover costs since offering flexible scheduling benefits.
Thank you Lori for shedding light on these concrete examples of the positive impact flexible scheduling can have on a corporation's productivity and bottom line. Hopefully, continued research and publicity of the results will encourage a continued adoption of flexible scheduling options by companies everywhere.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Child Care Options for Flexible Schedules

You have secured your ideal schedule at work maximizing the amount of time you have available to spend at home with your children. However, you still need reliable child care for those hours spent at work. Unfortunately, flexible schedules can reek havoc on daycare arrangements which often require regular hours and full-time costs, regardless of mom and dad's schedule. Consider the following daycare options with regards to your own flexible schedule:

  • Babysitters, Relatives, and Friends: enlisting the periodic services of a local teenager or someone you know can buy you a few extra quiet work hours at a relatively low cost. Such babysitters are paid hourly and can be hired to work a few hours here and there to extend your work day.
  • Nanny or Au Pair: usually a young adult with or without a college degree, a nanny or au pair is generally hired to work full-time hours but can provide the flexibility of watching your kids in your own home. As full-time employees, some nannies may require you to also provide benefits including housing in a live-in arrangement.
  • Child Care Cooperative: coops involve a group of parents who swap childcare responsibilities. Often involving a network of several families, coops will provide several options for care at varying times. The only cost is an exchange of equal childcare hours at another time.
  • Family Child Care: in home care provided by a licensed provider can offer flexibility to working parents who work longer hours as in the case of a compressed work week. Since family child care providers work from their own home, a provider can watch your child as one of her own brood without interference into everyday activities.
  • Child Care Centers: some centers offer part-time rates but usually require regular hours. For example, your child can attend a child care center for preschool only, but the daily class times are rigid, for example 3 hours each morning.
  • After School Programs or Summer Camps: activities and camps can keep children occupied for a short few hours, again with a rigid schedule, providing extra hours to get work done.
Each of these daycare options may suit varying flexible schedules with mixed success. Finding your ideal daycare to match your ideal work schedule will be a constant exercise in balance and discernment.

To search local child care options visit the Maryland Committee for Children. For a nationwide search of childcare providers visit SitterCity (Don't forget Fido. SitterCity also has pet sitter resources).

Monday, August 6, 2007

Monthly Tip: Scheduling for Work Life Balance

A flexible schedule at work means that work and personal commitments can be more cohesive throughout the course of the day. However, if you find yourself constantly checking a work planner and a personal calendar to schedule to do items, separate calendars could be causing complications in your ability to maintain a cohesive schedule of all life's tasks.

Imagine this: You are working at home for the day when your boss calls at 11:00 to see if you will be able to finish a presentation before close of business today. The presentation will take only 2 hours to complete, so you agree and write the task in your work planner. At 12:30, your husband calls to remind you to pick up the children at daycare at 3:00. You set a reminder on your personal calendar. At 2:00, a quick check of your to do list reveals the presentation still to be completed. At 2:45 you get an automated reminder to pick up your children. The presentation is still incomplete and your home office is about to become a playroom.

To avoid conflicts like the one described above, consider keeping one all inclusive calendar. Write work events in one color and personal events in another. That way, when you work a flexible or changing schedule and juggle childcare or other personal responsibilities, one quick check of your calendar will let you know exactly what your schedule will permit.

Go Mom Inc. sells planners that help busy Moms keep track of their own work and personal obligations as well as the activities and important information for multiple children.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Free Wi-Fi in Frederick, MD

Workspace with free internet can be an indispensable resource for those seeking an office away from the corporate cube farm. For telecommuters and work-at-home employees who thrive in an environment free of personal distractions, free wi-fi spots scattered around the country and the world are growing in number each year. If you have not already experienced the freedom of free wi-fi, enjoy one of these local spots:

Barley and Hops Restaurant and Microbrewery
5473 Urbana Pike

The Coffee Table
2401 Whittier DR, Unit A

Daily Grind
2198 Old Farm Road

Davidus Cigars
1015 West Patrick Street

Fairfield Inn
5220 Westview Drive

Loco Jonny's Coffee
177 Thomas Johnson Dr

Panera Bread
5600 Urbana Pike
1700 Kingfisher Dr

If you know of other free wi-fi spots in Frederick, leave a comment below. Enjoy this free resource.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

World Breastfeeding Week: Corporate Lactation Programs

World Breastfeeding Week is August 1 - August 7

It is recommended by doctors that infants be breastfed shortly following birth and then exclusively for at least 6 months. Breastfed babies are healthier in infancy and throughout the rest of their lives with lower instances of allergies and obesity. For those women who choose to breastfeed exclusively, infants nurse every 2-3 hours for the first year of their life. So where does that leave working mothers?

In the past, we have discussed workplace lactation programs as a key ingredient to a working mother's success in continuing to breastfeed her infant once returning to work. A lactation program can be as simple as a place to express breast milk and acceptance by management of regular breaks. A mother working 8 hours a day, needs approximately three 15 minute breaks throughout the workday to express milk. Corporations can go further and provide working mothers with access to lactation consultants and subsidies for purchase of a hospital grade breast pump.

According to Medela, the benefits of a corporate lactation program to an employer include a 27% decrease in maternal days off to deal with infant or maternal illness. The benefits to mothers and her children include a myriad of health and psychological benefits. The maternal/child bond is enhanced. Breastfeeding mothers heal quicker from childbirth, are less likely to suffer postpartum depression. And the list goes on.

Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week by exploring the availability of corporate lactation programs at your company. Or let us know what experiences you have had as a breastfeeding, working mother.
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State College, PA