The Lessons of 2020
It has been a rough year by almost any standard, and on almost every front. We have experienced disequilibrium fueled by a global pandemic and the turbulence it has created for work, schools and families, an unprecedented response to racialized violence and a call for equity and justice for Black Americans, an economic meltdown in many industries bringing unemployment, homelessness, hunger, and the demise of many small businesses, and sharp increases in mental health challenges and addiction.
A year ago, this all would not have seemed possible. We took a lot for granted. Going to work, kids off to school, visiting our parents, going shopping, dining out, holiday family gatherings, and enjoying the company of friends were luxuries many of us didn’t fully appreciate until they were taken away. Read more on LinkedIn.
Challenging Men to Step Up: This is Our Moment
As we enter month nine of the shutdown, there is finally some reason for optimism. Two major drug companies, Pfizer and Moderna, are reporting very high rates of effectiveness with their vaccines in clinical trials. While too early to declare success, the likelihood that these vaccines will be released by year’s end suggest that we may be on our way to defeating this terrible virus that has cost far too many Americans their lives and far more their livelihood. This good news is beyond welcome in a year that has seen far more than its share of bad news. Read more on LinkedIn.
The Ultimate Test of Work & Family: A Year Without Child Care
Each day it seems, a host of articles are published about school and day care closures, how parents will be able to manage their jobs while caring for and facilitating the learning for their children, and the long-term impact of all of this on women’s careers. There is an endless stream of thoughtful commentary examining the issue from different perspectives - employers, community, school systems and parents.
As the pandemic spread and the quarantine began, parents who were fortunate to have job flexibility were somehow getting through day by day working from home, caring for their children, monitoring their schooling, and putting in endless days to get it all done. Read more on LinkedIn.
If We Look for Common Ground, We'll Find It
2020 has been a year like no other. Never has there been a time when our entire country sheltered in place to avoid the onslaught of an unknown virus. Yet in spite of the measures taken, over 110,000 Americans and more than 400,000 people worldwide have succumbed to Covid-19 in just a few short months. And as we faced this health crisis, the actions aimed at limiting its impact resulted in the worst employment meltdown in American history with over 40 million individuals losing their jobs. As always, the hardest hit were those who could least afford it.
There was a moment at the end of May when I remember thinking, “It can’t possibly get worse.” Then Minneapolis happened. Read more on LinkedIn.
Returning to the Workplace: Navigating the Hazy Medium-Term
It has been a busy few weeks at the Center for Work & Family with conversations and concerns among BC Workforce Roundtable Members not surprisingly focused on returning to the workplace. While weeks ago the dominant theme was managing the transition to remote work, now both employees and leaders are planning and preparing for a return to the workplace. But huge uncertainty and very real barriers to returning persist: a lack of child care, still-evolving protocols to ensure safe work environments, a fear of returning among employees, and above all the trajectory of the virus and the local public health conditions, which will dictate when a phased re-opening can take place for employers. Read more on LinkedIn.
What the Pandemic Has Taught Us About What is Essential
For the first 20 years of my career, I worked in corporate roles in human resources, quality improvement and management education. While my roles were interesting and, I believe, impactful for the organizations I worked in, I always felt that my contributions were a bit out of the mainstream. After all, I wasn’t engaged in the core mission of those businesses - making, selling or supporting the organization’s products and services.
For the last 20 years, I’ve dedicated myself to directing the Boston College Center for Work & Family and teaching students at our university. The genesis of the Center resulted from the large influx of women entering into professional and managerial roles in corporate America in the mid-late 1980’s. At that time the work of the center focused on issues such as child care and flexible work options. Read more on LinkedIn.
A Missing Ingredient in Our Messy New Reality: Flexibility
For nearly two decades now at the Boston College Center for Work & Family, we have studied the issue of flexibility and remote work and collaborated with organizations on the development of their flexible work programs. The very first concepts I introduce when speaking with individuals or groups are the two most common components of flexibility: flextime and flex place. The concepts are pretty self-explanatory: flex time refers to when you get your work done and flex place refers to where.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been asked to help organizations and their people adjust to new emergency remote work requirements. As with any drastic and unexpected change, all parties -- employees, managers, and leaders -- have been experiencing some bumps in the road with this transition. Add to the mix that for most parents, caregiving support, whether through daycare, schools, or babysitters, is no longer available. Employees whose caregiving responsibilities and home life were mostly invisible to the workplace are now feeling exposed, vulnerable, and overwhelmed. Read more on LinkedIn.
Adapting to a Remote Workplace
Well, it’s been a month like no other. I hope that you are staying healthy and, like all of you, I pray this terrible crisis passes soon.
Because of the outbreak of Coronavirus many employees have been asked, or more likely told, to work from home for the coming weeks (or possibly months). While work from home programs are the norm in many organizations today, for others this is a new undertaking. History has shown that organizations that have developed the competencies to manage a remote workforce are in the best position to maintain business continuity when a crisis strikes - think 9/11 or Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy. Read more on LinkedIn.