Monthly Archives: June 2011

Working from Home…for the Environment

Telecommuting emerged in the 1970’s with developing technology allowing for employees to work from remote locations, such as their homes. Working from home can have many benefits for the community, the employer and the employee. The main issue, and the reason why many companies don’t allow it, is the lack of trust between management and subordinates. For telecommuting programs to function successfully, performance must be based on results and not on supervision.

It is estimated that about 40% of the US working population (more than 50 million people) could potentially telecommute. Currently, only about 2.3% of the US works from home. A recent article from the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that San Diego is the top city for telecommuting, with 4.2% working from home. The other cities in the Top Five include Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle and Phoenix. Cities at the bottom of the list were Detroit and Houston.

The United States is lagging behind other countries in their telecommuting population. Canada has 3.2% working from home, and the United Kingdom is at 5.6%. In order for telecommuting to work on a grand scale in the US, new management styles must be adopted to measure employee results and not clock hours spent sitting at a desk.

With our increasingly advanced technology these days, telecommuting should become more popular. It’s much easier to monitor employee performance with devices such as webcams and online services like instant messaging. If supervisors cared to do so, they could potentially monitor their work-at-home employees every second of the day.

With our national desire to be greener in all aspects of society, telecommuting should be viewed as a viable option for cleaning up the environment. Allowing employees to work from home greatly reduces greenhouse gases by keeping more cars of the road. Telecommuting also reduces energy costs such as electricity in the workplace, decreases the chance of spreading illness and boosts company morale.

For the individual employee, working from home reduces their carbon footprint and fuel usage by working from home in addition to saving money on travel expenses and daycare in some cases. Allowing employees to work from home also greatly increases the pool of potential employees. Telecommuting enables caregivers, the disabled, retirees, those living in remote areas and other parts of the population that cannot otherwise travel to work on a day-to-day basis to become important contributions to the workforce.

If the 50 million Americans that can work from home are actually allowed to do so the environmental benefits would be monumental. If supervision is an issue, then management teams must come up with technologically-advanced methods to keep an eye on their workers. Increasing the telecommuting population is a step in the right direction in saving our environment, and it might be just what we need to make the world a better place; for the community, for the company and for the individual employee.

Service Industry Jobs to Fall Back On

As our economy is in the process of pulling through what has been called the Great Recession, there are still many people out there looking for work. Even though the job market is slowly but surely getting better, unemployment is still about 8-10% (depending on the region), and times are still tough.
Some have resorted to switching career paths to deal with the high unemployment rates. Perhaps they couldn’t find a job in their field so they decided to try their hand at something else. Experts might argue that taking a job that will not advance you in your career path may actually hurt you in the long run.
But not everyone can afford to be out of work until they find the perfect job. Some of us out here actually have bills to pay and no savings account or rich parents to cover them. For those of you in this same boat, you may want to think about taking a part-time or something else that you might be relatively qualified for.
One sector of the workforce that is almost always hiring is the service industry. Most restaurants have a big turnover rate for their waitstaff, so they are always looking for good, solid, dependable servers and bartenders.
These types of jobs may not appeal to everyone. The idea of clearing peoples’ plates and waiting on the public might seem repulsive to some. But a job is a job, and sometimes you just have to make some money.
Contrary to popular belief, there can be many advantages to working in the service industry. One big benefit is the hours. Working in the evening, as most waiters and bartenders do, can free up your day to look for other jobs within your field. Or you can just simply enjoy the day for once. Not being involved in the hustle and bustle of the rat race might actually seem nice for a change. You can go to the bank or grocery store without being a part of the 9-to-5 mob. And you actually get to enjoy the sunlight. Working the normal week usually leaves one’s weekend with a long list of errands they could not accomplish during the week. Now you will have your normal weekdays to make it all happen, leaving you to enjoy stepping out into the day.
Another big advantage is that you get paid in cash. Most of your pay comes from tips, and many restaurants will cash out your credit tips at the end of the night. Although you are technically supposed to claim all your earnings, it’s pretty easy to claim well below what you actually made. This way you end up paying fewer taxes and therefore save some money. Also, it’s nice to have a wad of cash in your pocket at the end of the day.
Unbeknownst to most, working in a restaurant can actually provide you with skills that look good on a resume. First of all, you are gaining customer service skills, useful in almost any field. Second of all, as a server you are multi-tasking. You constantly have to think about and manage about ten different tasks at once, timing when food should go out, when different tables should get their checks or drinks and such. Multi-tasking is a valuable skill that many people do not possess. You also work as a team member when you are part of a waitstaff. Before hiring, most employers want to know that you will function well as part of their team. If this something that you have not done already, working in a restaurant will help you gain this skill.
Of course there are disadvantages to working in the service industry. You can never really count on a steady income. Since you pretty much receive your pay directly from the general public that walks through the doors, you never know how much money you will make and every day is different.
Another disadvantage is the obvious fact that taking a service industry job is not a step in the right direction of your desired career path. But when it comes down to it, any income is better than none. Also, most businesses like to hire people that are already out in the workforce, not those that have been sitting at home twiddling their thumbs and waiting for a job to fall in their lap for the past eight months.
So before you dismiss taking a job out of your field and working in the restaurant industry altogether think about the benefits.

Go Green or Go Home

Image representing Al Gore as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

It’s nothing new that green is the way of the future. This is not something that just sounds like a good idea or some harebrained scheme by some tree-huggers that love the Earth. It’s something that we must do in order to preserve our world and reduce our nation’s dependence on oil.

With the cost of gas prices teetering around $4.00 a gallon around the country, we need to figure a healthy alternative. In addition to hurting our pockets, the fact that we use so much oil on a daily basis is greatly impacting the environment. Global warming is not just some theory from Al Gore. It is a harsh truth, and we need to do something about it.

People are catching on to this sentiment, and one of those people is pretty much the most important person in the US; President Obama. A recent article by USA Today reported that the Obama administration is buying up 116 electric cars, mostly Chevrolet Volts and also some Nissan Leafs.

This is the first step in a long term plan to have the government buy only fuel-efficient cars by the year 2015. It’s also aimed at inspiring consumers around the nation to do the same in hopes to have 1 million electric cars on the road by that year.

The facts are staggering. This small fleet of cars purchased by the US government is expected to benefit the nation in a number of ways. It will cut gas usage by 29,000 gallons a year and save taxpayers over $100,000 in fuel costs. As an organization that has over 650,000 vehicles in its repertoire, the US government can easily make a huge and beneficial impact by purchasing only fuel-efficient and electric cars. Think of what the benefits would be if all of those cars were electric.

In addition to this purchase, the Obama administration will install charging stations for electric cars in five different cities; Washington DC, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.

So what does all this have to do with the job market? Well it basically just shows the shift in our economy to becoming a green nation. And this affects the workforce by providing plenty of new opportunities in that sector.

The possibilities for environmentally-friendly jobs are endless. To be considered green, a job really just has to benefit the environment in some way. Obviously, this can entail positions in the production of fuel-efficient vehicles, but also other jobs such as those in solar panel production and installation, at wind farms and really anything you can imagine that might have a positive effect on our Mother Earth.

So when you are out there looking for jobs, pay attention to the green ones. They will hold our world together for the future, they will be stable and they will be bountiful.

Green is indeed the way of the future. President Obama has got the right idea. Do you?

A New Breed of Lawyer

Lawyer

Image via Wikipedia

We are finally starting to pull out of the recession, but we are not totally out just yet. The tough times have had lasting effects on the job market and on the general attitude of Americans as well. Some people have adapted to the tough times by switching careers, taking second jobs or even moving down the ladder in the workforce.

One sector of the workforce in which the effects of the recession have had some impact is the law business. The fact that clients are not spending nearly as much as they were ten years ago has prompted big law firms to spawn a new breed of lawyers to compensate. Known as career associates or permanent associates, these legal workers make almost half as much as legal associates.

Some see it as a sign of the times. There are lawyers out there who regret having to take a step back into one of these positions, but it’s not all bad. According to the a recent article from the New York Times, these career associates generally earn about $60,000 a year, but they do not have to put in the long and strenuous hours of legal associates.

Career associates typically perform a lot of the same tasks that legal associates do, including writing briefs, visiting clients and prepping witnesses before court hearings. So they are lawyers. They do a lot of the same work. But the good news is they don’t have to work as hard.

The career associate path is becoming a popular option for those that like to spend more time at home and do not desire to live at their job. This is definitely a more family-friendly position than that of a legal associate, enabling one to work from home and travel less.

Law firms have essentially operated on the same structure for the past fifty years or so. Clients pay big fees for legal services, and legal associates can earn up to $160,000 a year fresh out of law school. But the legal business has transformed to cope with the fact that people are spending a lot less in all aspects of the economy.

This also helps to keep jobs within the US. A lot of the legal work that career associates are doing can be out-sourced to workers in other countries, but this is not necessary. This job title also helps to bring this sort of legal work to cities that do not exist within the realm of massive law epicenters like New York or Los Angeles.

Since career associates make less, a lot of them live in towns with lower costs of living. There’s no reason to uproot the family and move to some big city with all the smog and traffic when you don’t have to.

The career associate offers a lot of the same services as legal associates, and they do get paid a whole lot less. But this is good for clients and for people that do not want to dedicate every second of their day to the legal practice.

So in terms of adapting to the circumstances of the economy and providing opportunities that did not exist before, the career associate is a beneficial addition to the world of law.