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(October 24, 2007) I have been working with Bay Area SCORES for about 6 weeks. The staff and organizational culture are fully supporting my transition into the "real" 9 to 5 world. However, there were lots of things that I was nervous about.
After a year of diverse project-oriented work, taking me all over, and demanding that I constantly switch gears, I was nervous to start working in one place, 5 days a week, with supervisors and co-workers watching my work style.
In many ways, the desk-oriented design is a nightmare for me - or at least I thought it was going to be. I like to move around. I like to interact with lots of different people. I like lots of stimulation. For other young adults, transitioning from the university setting (where you have to move around to get from class to class and are constantly changing up the folks you are working with), sitting at the same place for much of the day is daunting. I have been readily available to my friends and family during the day since I got out of high school (and for my sister's generation, they are available all day now thanks to text messaging and the ever-present use of laptops in high school).
How was this lifestyle going to work within the confines of a traditional day? What about doctor's appointments? Talking to my friends and family? Haircuts? Errands that have to happen during the workday? My favorite dance class? My work with the local hospice?
I'm not sure if it's the Bay Area, non-profit culture, or simply specific to SCORES, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the organizational culture I walked into. I am encouraged to take walks, to move, to take a yoga class mid-day if necessary. Work hours are constructed around getting the work done. If there is something pressing that needs to happen during the day, its okay to come in a little late, extend lunch, or leave a bit early. My friends and family can call (even when my boss is sitting next to me) and I don't get embarrassed. I even have instant messenger, myspace, and my personal email up over the course of the day.
This flexibility signifies the trust that is granted to me when I walk in the door. It wasn't earned after months of grunt work. It is a part of the deal from the get go. Working from a position of trust facilitates work relationships that allow for open and honest communication. I am not expected to leave my friends and family at the door or to fit in every important appointment after 5 pm. There is an understanding that for me to be my most productive I have to move around and stretch. If I am working on a writing project its better for me to have headphones on or work out of the office (where I am surrounded by new people, outside stimulus, and good coffee). I, also, work from home some days.
This freedom is granted to me because it was made clear in our interview process that the fit was right. We, mutually, wanted to work together. And we wanted it enough, to be open to what everyone needs.
I work on weekends. I bring my community into my work in a way that builds the organizations network and base. I talk up SCORES and my work at bars, online, and with friends and family. I answer emails at 9 p.m. on a Saturday.
The work-personal life boundaries are blurry. All of it is happening all the time. The traditional balance of job/life are rapidly changing. Or maybe, just maybe, they have changed. Then question becomes, are you caught up? Can you support the work/life culture that is demanded by the nearly 76 Million Gen Y's entering the work force?
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