The Changing Face of the Workplace – Part Three

Please note: this blog post is part three of a three part series. Read the first post on what it’s like bringing my baby to work with me here and the second post on starting your own business and working from home here.

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Emma Willard School – 285 Pawling Avenue, Troy, NY

Still pondering what it means to create and work in a nontraditional workplace, I reached out to, Julie Clancy, Head of Admissions at Emma Willard. Julie is an amazing YWCA-GCR board member, one of the smartest people I know, and by far the most organized. Emma Willard is uniquely situated as not only working to provide a flexible, progressive work environment for its employees, but also is helping to educate and prepare the next generation of women for their careers. In today’s global world, schools are preparing children for jobs that do not yet exist.

Julie says she see students preferring versatile workplaces, and more so than ever, employees need flexibility in what defines “office” and what defines “workday.” She also sees a trend with more and more organizations and companies recruiting candidates who can work remotely; who can join a meeting virtually; who can keep deadlines; and who can keep their own schedule all the while being productive. This saves companies money (less office-space) and these companies are finding their employees are happier, more productive, and more accessible.

Julie believes that skill sets are ever-changing, yet strong communication skills will always be the hallmark of a highly competitive candidate. That means speaking, digesting information, and responding articulately.

“We live in a world that is deeply inter-connected, so relationship cultivation and management is key. The workforce also needs to be prepared for jobs and careers that are cross-disciplinary, otherwise known as “wearing multiple hats.” Very few jobs exist in silos, so the workforce needs to be dynamic, brave, and nimble,” says Julie. These are some of the skills Emma Willard works to develop in their students.

When asked how Emma Willard is helping to prepare its students for the workplace of the future, Julie says,

“You can’t be what you can’t see. At Emma, we consistently expose our girls to examples, representations, and experiences that showcase what is possible. We cannot know what the workforce will look like in 20 years, let alone 40 years, but to leave Emma with a toolbox of the essential skills highlighted above, plus self-awareness, curiousness, and drive, these girls are able to see what kinds of life-paths are very possible. Also important to keep in mind is that humans are living longer than ever now and are staying in the workforce well into their 70s and 80s. This means that people are having multiple careers, multiple chapters of their lives, and even more experience under their belts. It is exciting to know that at 50 years young, one might embark on a new job opportunity and stretch themselves in ways that hadn’t happened in the first 25-30 years of working.”

Julie thinks one of the biggest challenges her students will face in these nontraditional settings is fear of the unknown, but she believes there are several tools that are hugely helpful in understanding unconventional or new experiences.

“First, of course, is an open mind. Soak in all that is happening; be sponge-like. Then, ask questions, and let them bubble up from a curious place instead of a place of judgment or fear. Consider asking your questions based on what you are observing- as if you are a journalist. Be ready to change course several times as you find your way. I also think everyone needs to be prepared to put on overalls from time to time and do the heavy lifting. Organizations are multi-layered and rely on the full participation of all employees to get small and big projects done well. Lastly, it’s important to be ready to feel very invested in your work. Career and work should be energizing and should light up the brain.”

As the above examples illustrated, we are all trying to Lean In in our own ways – trying to find that delicate work-life balance. Yet, for many of us the boundaries that used to exist between home, office, passion-projects, co-workers and friends aren’t as relevant anymore. And in workplaces where those formal barriers do exist, many of us are finding they no longer work for us. I think what’s important is to identify your priorities, whether that’s job stability, compensation, flexibility, etc. Once we know what’s important to us and our motivations, it can be easier to find a workplace that fits our needs. Many people ask me how I found a job that allows me to bring my baby to work, right at the exact time I needed it. I didn’t know an environment like that existed, but I did know that in order for a position to be right for me, it would have to allow for an extreme amount of flexibility. Knowing what I wanted (and more importantly what I didn’t) allowed me to focus my job search and to know when I had found the right place. But, as Julie tells us, it’s not just about finding the right fit for you, you have to possess the skills necessary to succeed in these new nontraditional workplaces.

 

The Changing Face of the Workplace – Part Two

Please note: this blog post is part two of a three part series. If you would like to read the first post on what it’s like bringing my baby to work with me, you can check it out here.

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Richard Nacy Warner in his home office

Bringing your child into the office is just one way path towards a nontraditional workplace. Starting you own business or working independently is another option for people looking outside of the traditional workplace mold. Ten percent of all adults are self-employed, including four percent who own their own business. What’s really interesting is that if given the choice, fifty-seven percent of Americans would opt to work for themselves. I believe that self-employment, business ownership and consulting are going to continue to grow, especially with the millennial generation. My mentor, friend, and former boss, Richard Nacy Warner started his own consulting firm a few years ago, and I wanted to hear his take on this trend. He and I worked together at a local nonprofit more than five years ago. The organization does amazing work, but we both felt the traditional work culture did not fit our personal life.

“There was a mixture of several factors that caused me to seek out a nontraditional workplace arrangement, says Richard. “I’d wanted to work as a consultant for years, with the hope that I could focus on the aspects of development that most appealed to me; I’d moved from a five-minute commute to my office to a sixty-plus-minute commute and was growing increasingly disenchanted with the drive; the idea of working from home at the times when I felt most productive was a huge draw. I also felt the desire to control my own destiny for a bit – to put myself out there without a safety net and see if I could do it.”

Richard says that one of the biggest advantages is that “I can wake up early, brew coffee, and start working immediately in my pajamas.” He loves that he can get my work done and have the flexibility to break up his day as he chooses.

“Before I started working from home, I was afraid that I’d procrastinate or get easily distracted. That hasn’t been the case – I’m more productive and more efficient and I find that I can make better decisions because I’m working when my mind functions best. I find it very civilized: I manage my work, and my work no longer manages me. It allows me to have true work-life balance,” he says.

He says one of the biggest learning curve for him was learning to set limits. Early on he was tempted to look at himself as being available to clients 24-7, and that every single project had to be top priority (the most common drawback and challenge when working remotely). He found that was not sustainable, nor was it practical. He also finds himself missing an office atmosphere from time to time, But then he’ll get work done early on a Wednesday and go to a matinee and I’ll think,

“Yeah, this really isn’t so bad…”.

Richard enjoys the flexibility that starting his own business has allowed him and says he would enjoy working from home for the rest of his life.

“Even if I were to pursue an opportunity where I was once again an employee (as opposed to a consultant), I would only consider working for an organization or company that had a very liberal work-from-home policy, and flexible in-office hours. Being able to stop in the middle of the traditional work day to get in a workout or spend an hour pulling weeds is incredibly empowering, and allows me to reboot and revitalize – which makes me perform better in my work.”

Be sure to check out part three on the skills students need to learn today to succeed in the nontraditional workplaces of the future of this three part series which will be posted soon.

Don’t Miss Out on the “Inclusion Revolution”

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The Inclusion Revolution presenter, Sujata N. Chaudhry, Founder and Principal, Tangible Development LLC

Diversity inspires creativity.  Is it time for change in your workplace or organization? 

Join guest presenter, Sujata N. Chaudhry, Founder and Principal, Tangible Development LLC on March 14, 2017 from 11:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. as she discusses cognitive inclusion and diversity (CID).

What is cognitive inclusion and diversity? CID, or cognitive inclusion and diversity, goes beyond such visible aspects as race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual orientation (compositional diversity).  It encompasses the diversity of thought and perspective each individual brings to the workplace (cognitive diversity).

Why is CID important? CID is important because Millennials are now the largest labor force and view cognitive inclusion and diversity as a necessary element for innovation and  71% more likely to focus on teamwork.

What are the benefits of CID? Embracing diversity and promoting inclusion in all its forms allows us to:

  •  Attract and retain top talent
  •  Better understand our clients
  •  Collaborate and perform at our highest levels, and
  •  Deliver the innovative solutions and value necessary to succeed in a complex interconnected world

How does the definition and implementation of CID differ between generations and business types? Older generations view diversity as a representation of fairness and protection  to all, regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation (the traditional view of diversity). Compared to the older generations, Millennials feel it’s unnecessary to downplay their differences but embrace them as a strategy for value creation and innovation. The implementation of CID can be unifying for all generations by retiring the generation gap.

Learn more about CID and how it can help you and your business at the WBC’s  March 14, 2017 program from 11:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Don’t miss out -register for the program today!

The Changing Face of the Workplace – Part One

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Me and my son, Tyler, volunteering at YWCA-GCR during the 2016 Victorian Stroll

If you missed the February 14, 2017 WBC program, The Evolution of Women in Business, then you missed a good one. Moderated by Alissa QuinnSenior Vice President, UBS Financial Services, The Quinn Wealth Management Group, the three panelists, Joanne KuglerSenior Executive, Global Operations and Integration, GE, Paula A. StoperaPresident and CEO, CAP COM Federal Credit Union, and Marcia WhiteFormer  President, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Inc. each shared words of wisdom and advice from their many successes and illustrious careers. I left feeling empowered, bold, and ready to take on the world. Peppered throughout the conversation were statistics about working women in America. For me, one of the most thought-provoking topics that arose was the idea of job-hopping. It’s estimated that forty percent of America’s Baby Boomers will stay with their employer for more than 20 years, while ninety-one percent of Millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years – meaning they would hold 15 – 20 jobs over the course of their working lives.

The workforce is changing – younger and older generations (I happen to fall right in the middle as a Gen X) are facing new challenges and demands. We are all being asked to do more with less; needing to be adaptable, technologically savvy, and driven. But, it’s not just the workforce that is changing; businesses and organizations need to change as well to keep up with this new reality and to meet the needs of their employees. Research continues to show that money is not the number one motivating factor for happiness in employees (especially Millennials); instead, people want to know they are making a difference and are looking for creativity and flexibility in their workplaces. Companies and organizations that understand this will be able to recruit top-rate talent and keep them. Those that are not changing with the times are suffering and shuttering their doors.

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Me and my two children, Riley (L) and Tyler (R), at YWCA-GCR Annual Resident Holiday Party

I learned this first-hand almost four years ago, when I began working at YWCA of the Greater Capital Region, Inc. My son was just barely two-months old when I received a job offer to become their new Director of Development and Marketing. I was eight-months pregnant when my position at a small, private school in the area was eliminated. I was undecided about returning to work as I was a typical nervous new mother and couldn’t imagine leaving him so soon. Every daycare I visited felt wrong and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Would I be like the forty-three percent of women leaving their careers (at least temporarily) when they realize that their old jobs do not allow them the flexibility to create true work-life-balance?

After receiving an offer from YWCA-GCR at the interview, I asked for some time to consider it, when the former Executive Director said to me offhandedly as I was leaving,

“You can bring your baby with you.”

“I can bring my what, where?” I stuttered.

“Here, you can bring your baby here. Your predecessor did so. In fact her office is still set-up. Check it out,” she said.

And I did. When I walked into the office, I saw a pack ‘n play, baby swing, high chair, and about a million toys. I called up my predecessor and off-the-record asked her about bringing the baby into work. The first question I asked her, which is by far-and-away the question I get asked the most was,

“So, can you actually get anything done with your baby there?”

She laughed and then assured me that she never had any trouble getting her work done. After asking her a million questions and stealing a precious hour out of her Saturday morning, I called YWCA-GCR back and accepted the position – and it was by and far the best decision I have ever made for myself personally or professionally. It turns out you really can get a lot done with an infant at work. I have learned to prioritize in a way that I never had before, and procrastination is no longer a word in my vocabulary. I now know how to delegate, and have finally learned that done is better than perfect, and sometimes good enough is good enough. Plus when it comes to fundraising, bringing a baby to a meeting is a sure-fire way to get a yes, just ask some of our sponsors. My son is now three-and-a-half and is happy in full-time preschool and my infant daughter has taken over his position in my office.

YWCA-GCR gets it, especially as a nonprofit. They cannot afford to pay huge salaries, but they more than make up for it with flexibility and some of the most progressive family-friendly policies around. They are consistently able to attract top talent, and are asked to let people know when they have an opening – which happens very rarely as staff is so happy, there is extremely low turnover. Besides happiness, their policies allow their staff to be more productive as well. This week is winter break for most of the local schools. I am sure that many offices in the area are partially empty because their employees had to take the week off from work or are frazzled and stressed after cobbling together last-minute childcare. In contrast, my office is full, not just with workers, but with children playing in the computer lab and concocting elaborate games of hide and seek throughout the building. While I know that bringing children into the office is not an option for all workplaces, I think many more could make this option a reality if they were willing to let go of the notion of the old traditional workplace and worker.

Be sure to check out part two on starting your own business and working from home of this three part series which will be posted soon. And stay tuned for part three on the skills students need to learn today to succeed in the nontraditional workplaces of the future.

 

A Healthy Place to Live, Work, and Play

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If you live, work, or play in the Capital Region, you know that the sidewalks throughout town can be, let’s call them challenging, at times. Capital Roots is on a mission to change that. Capital Roots’ Healthy Street’s program is their latest venture in ensuring our neighbors have the opportunity to live well. This innovative program is designed to help create cities and neighborhoods that are safe and enjoyable for pedestrians and bicyclists.  Following Complete Streets guidelines – New York State laws that encourage all municipalities to consider all users’ needs when developing or redesigning roadways and sidewalks – Capital Roots is working with communities across the region to give residents a safe place to recreate, commute and get the recommended amounts of daily physical exercise.

While this program may be new, their work in this arena is not.  Capital Roots has been playing an integral part in the Transport Troy citizen-action group which not only developed and helped to pass Troy’s  Complete Streets Ordinance in 2014, (ranked the 2nd best policy ever by Smart Growth America!) but has continued to champion on-the-ground bike and pedestrian projects around the city, such as the redevelopment of the Riverfront Trail, redesign of the Uncle Sam Trail, creative crosswalk and bike rack installations, addition of new bike lanes and a city-wide alternative transportation festival called the Collar City Ramble.

The innovative Creating Healthy Schools and Communities Grant which they have been awarded, in partnership with St. Peter’s Health Partners, by the New York State Department of Health, will allow them to expand their successes from Troy, to cities around the region.  Specifically, they have begun working in Albany, Schenectady, Cohoes, Watervliet, and the City of Rensselaer. Capital Roots is not only developing a citizen-action group to champion Healthy Streets projects and educate the larger community, but also to get complete streets policies adopted by each municipality. Ultimately, their goal is to connect all of the trail networks that crisscross our region, making the Capital Region a truly walk-able and bike-able place to call home.

Capital Roots: Perspectives from a Volunteer

Volunteers are the lifeblood of almost every nonprofit. Without them, most nonprofits would be unable to function. Yet, how many of us ever take the time to check-in with our volunteers and find out how their experience is going? Capital Roots did just that. Below is Jane Husson, a  Capital Roots’ Veggie Mobile® Volunteer, sharing her thoughts on the process in her own words.

Jane Husson

“Who would’ve thought this gray haired lady would be riding around town in a big colorful truck filled with fresh fruits and vegetables?  My introduction to the Veggie Mobile® was at the fabulous Spring Brunch that Capital Roots hosts annually on the first Sunday in May, and I decided then that this is where I wanted to volunteer once I retired. What a wonderful and simple idea: bringing fresh, healthy food at a low cost to those who do not have easy access to it. While I knew that the benefits were great for the customers who came to the many Veggie Mobile® stops in Albany, Troy, Cohoes, Rensselaer and Schenectady (and now in Watervliet!), I had no idea how it would impact me.

A typical day starts with loading the truck after culling old and bruised produce, and then we’re on our way to the scheduled stops, where often people are waiting for us to arrive. While the staff sells produce inside the truck, I am outside at a table giving out the week’s “Taste and Take”, which is a sample of a simple, healthy recipe and a bag of the ingredients, along with the recipe inside.  I also take orders and shop for those who aren’t able to get onto the truck. Over these last three years, I’ve developed relationships with these folks and it has brought such joy to me. I’ve often said of our customers that our visit may just be a major highlight of their week… but I’m speaking for myself as well.”

To learn more about volunteering with the Veggie Mobile® or with any of the programs at Capital Roots, contact volunteer@capitalroots.org. And for the full Veggie Mobile® schedule, visit www.capitalroots.org/programs/veggie-mobile.

Clean Out Your Closet for a Cause

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Imelda Marcos is famous for her shoes. She has amassed a collection of more than 3,000 pairs and she’s still collecting. My closet has nowhere near that many, but I certainly have more than I should (and definitely more than my husband thinks are necessary). And if you’re anything like me, you probably only really love and wear at half of them all the time, and then all the rest sit there unused collecting dust.

This spring is the time to do something about that. What if you could clean out your closet and help empower women locally and across the globe?

The YWCA of the Greater Capital Region, Inc. and the YWCA of NorthEastern NY are conducting a shoe collection drive from April 1 – May 20, 2016. The YWCAs will earn funds based on the number of pairs collected, as Funds2Orgs will purchase all of the donated goods.  Those funds will benefit their programs and services, helping to empower women locally. All donated shoes will be redistributed throughout the Funds2Orgs network of micro-enterprise partners in developing nations. Funds2Orgs helps impoverished people start, maintain and grow businesses in countries such as Haiti, Honduras and other nations in Central America and Africa. Proceeds from the shoe sales are used to feed, clothe and house their families. One budding entrepreneur in Haiti even earned enough to send her son to law school.

Anyone can help by donating gently worn, used or new shoes at 21 First Street, Troy, NY 12180 or 44 Washington Avenue in Schenectady, whichever is most convenient for you. For more information, please contact Malissa Pilette-McClenon at 518.274.7100 or malissap@ywca-gcr.org.

Now that you’ve cleaned out the shoes from your closet, what about the rest of your stuff? Check out Habitat for Humanities’ guide: Where to Donate Anything and Everything in the Capital Region.

Perspective from a Capital Roots Intern

Looking for someone to help out around your office and bring new, invigorated energy and ideas to your company or organization? Bringing in an intern might be the solution.

Capital Roots has a fantastic internship program. Here, Liza Morgan, Capital Roots’ Communications Intern, talks about her excellent internship experience. Read on and see if you can implement some of Capital Roots’ best practices at your own company or organization.

For more information on Capital Roots’ Internship program, visit: http://www.capitalroots.org/donate/internships-at-capital-roots/.

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Finding an internship that believes in everything I do in regards to the community, health and food seemed impossible. Yet, I remember reading about Capital Roots in The Coop Scoop (Winter 2015), eventually finding myself wandering on their website (www.capitalroots.org), and coming across opportunities to get involved. Within the next two months, I was sharing office space with Rebecca Whalen, Capital Roots’ PR and Marketing Coordinator, and learning the ins and outs of the organization. With a major in Communications and a minor in Business at SUNY Albany, my interests and skills were finally piecing together and now put to the test as a Capital Roots intern.

To be able to see this organization in action here at the Urban Grow Center, whether it’s with the Virtual Veggie Mobile®, Community Gardens or Squash Hunger, has been inspiring and informative to say the least. I specifically admire the Taste Good Series, a program designed to teach our young ones in the community (grades pre-k through second) that healthy food tastes great. Nurturing the bodies of young kids with education programs and healthy food is only the beginning to the empowerment and growth of developing a wholesome community. Capital Roots’ educator travels to inner-city classrooms throughout the Capital Region engaging with kids about fresh food during a six-week series. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to tag along and document one of these important lessons with my camera.

Education is the key to success in helping our community access fresh food and understand its importance. But it’s just one piece of what Capital Roots does to aid its neighbors. To learn more about the nine distinct programs, or to find out how to get involved on many levels, be it internships, volunteering, or sponsoring an event, head to www.capitalroots.org

Conquer Your Spring Fever at Capital Roots

Spring is just around the corner, and if you’re anything like me, you have spring fever (despite our extremely mild winter). If you’re looking to get your hands dirty for a good cause, now’s the perfect time to take a look at Capital Roots’ two hands-in-the-dirt programs: Community Gardens and the Produce Project.

When Capital Roots was founded back in 1975, it started with just a singular purpose: to provide our neighbors with the space and resources to grow their own food. Forty years later, the Community Gardens program continues to thrive. Nearly 900 plots are available today in their 51 community gardens in Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, and Saratoga counties. Nearly 4,000 people are serviced through this program, given everything they need including water, seeds, seedlings, and garden education.

In 2007, Capital Roots launched their Produce Project, a 2.5-acre farm right in the city of Troy where inner-city teens learn job and life skills, using agriculture as the vehicle for education. Students work on the farm under the guidance of the Produce project staff and learn everything from sowing seeds to harvesting, on top of many important job and life skills. Students take home a small stipend and a share of the crop to bring home to their families and during the summer they sell their produce at their Farmstead at the farm as well as the Delmar Farmers Market.

While both of these programs are unique to one another, they both utilize agriculture as a means to improve the lives of Capital Roots’ neighbors. Gardeners and students not only go home to their families with fresh, local food, but they are able to take satisfaction in knowing that they themselves helped to nourish those products from seed. Capital Roots is thrilled to be part of this incredible process.

For more information about Capital Roots or to volunteer, please visit www.capitalroots.org.