The Way We Work

oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on labor markets, talent management, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 8/23/2013:

CNN Fortune | Toeing the Work-Parenting Line: A Harvard MBA Mom’s Take
Executive recruiter Lindsey Mead shares her personal story of pursuing flexible, meaningful work and the challenges she’s faced along the way. After graduating from Harvard Business School, Lindsey chose jobs that allowed her to work part time and from home when her kids were young. Though she’s grateful to have been able to spend more time with her young children, her decision to work flexible jobs had its challenges too — Lindsey recalls often feeling like she didn’t have enough time to work or parent as well as she would have liked. As her children get older, however, Lindsey is increasingly convinced that her decision to neither “lean in” or “opt out” was the right one for her.

The Wall Street Journal | Home Offices: How to Stop Working
Working from home is a privilege that comes at a price, explains Laura Kreutzer, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal who often brings her work home. Realizing the harm that always being “on” was causing her personal relationships and mental health, Laura sought advice from her friends who work from home about how to “turn off.” Their suggestions closely mirror time management skills used at most offices — including keeping track of hours worked, monitoring how much time is spent on each project, and setting a cutoff time to end the workday. She was also advised to restrict her work to a certain part of the house, to associate mental boundaries with physical ones. By implementing these suggestions, Laura has found that she is more aware of — and has better control over — when she’s working.

Forbes | Why Workplace Flexibility Is Smart Talent Strategy
Meghan Biro presents five reasons why businesses that want to attract and retain top talent should offer flexible work options. She says new hires appreciate working with their manager to establish a flexible work plan that’s right for them, which typically makes them feel more invested in the organization. Studies have also shown that workplace flexibility boosts morale, which results in increased worker engagement and productivity. Given the many advantages of flexible work, forward-thinking companies are beginning to see workplace flexibility as more than an employee benefit — it’s a smart business strategy.

Business Insider | How to Convince Your Boss to Let You Work From Home
Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban working from home failed to take into account that some people are more productive and engaged when they work remotely. For those who think they could benefit from flexible work arrangements, Megan Rose Dickey advises following these three steps. First, assess your work style and make sure you would work well from home. If you believe that you have enough self-motivation to work without the structure of an office, then you should explain to your boss that you can produce the best results from whichever environment you choose. Once you have permission, the third step in your work-from-home transition is to devise a strategy to stay productive, to ensure you deliver on your promise of producing the best results.

Huffington Post | Flexible Working’s Not Just for Females
A recent study revealed that more than half of UK managers believe flexible work is something to be tolerated, and nearly 20% of them actively discourage it. Donna Miller, the European HR director at Enterprise Rent-a-Car, argues that these prevailing attitudes about flexible work need to shift if companies want to best leverage the available talent. Donna uses her own company as a case study to demonstrate why flexible work makes sense and how it can help scale a business; Enterprise Rent-a-Car started using flexible work 10 years ago, and its flexible policies have been crucial to retaining top talent — both male and female. This brings an important point to the forefront: flexible work is not something only women and new moms are asking for, as a number of talented men and young professionals have come to expect flexible work arrangements so they can lead more balanced lives.

Did we miss anything? Are there any insights you find particularly interesting? Let us know in the comments section below!

Amy Partridge

Communications Manager

Amy Partridge is the communications manager at Upwork. In this role, Amy is focused on supporting and accelerating Upwork’s global PR efforts. She brings with her a valuable combination of PR agency and client-side experience. Most recently, Amy was the communications director at tech startup Grubwithus. Amy holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Communications.