Workplace 2030: Tales from the Coalface

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” - Leo Tolstoy

Have you ever looked at the couple that seems to have it all – lovely children or even lovelier pets, dual incomes, seeming tranquillity? I’ll be honest. These people fascinate me as I imagine the technology breakthroughs, prescription drugs or extreme sense of humour they must have to juggle it all. So, in true Harriet the Spy mode, I tracked down some of these role models. Here’s what I found:

Redefine 9-5

S is the head of legal at a large accounting firm. Finding herself at the top of her game within her firm, she has optimized by working 7am-3pm and spending after school time with her three children.

"My husband does the morning run of getting the kids to the bus, making sure they have their homework or sports equipment in the bag. Then I do the afternoons." In the evening she gets on the computer to wrap up the day and sometimes will have to be out for work functions, but feels it is a small price to pay for the chance to participate in her children's lives. It took several years to negotiate but she is now a beacon for female talent at the firm."

We’ve debunked the myth of having to work 24/7 to succeed. In a world of virtual teams and outcomes based work,

Redefine the Work Week

Mei, a sales director, started working Wednesdays at home so that she could volunteer at lunch in her son’s classroom. When she couldn’t make it work, her mother or husband would fill in. Eventually she found she was so much more productive, she negotiated for the entire day off, at the same pay, by simply agreeing her targets wouldn't suffer (and they don't). As her son gets bigger she says she already spends some of that day catching up on work but at the end of the day, she prizes the flexibility and it has kept her loyal to her company.

Redefine Success

How will you measure your life?”, asks Clayton Christiansen, Professor, Harvard Business School. As a mentor at The Women’s Foundation in Hong Kong, you can hear echoes along the corridor about how to redefine success. These are women in their 40s and 50s that were destined to break the glass ceiling but instead opted to walk right out of the glass box and invest in a bungalow with a better view.

Many contribute to boards, both for and not-for-profit. Other women I know have made peace by starting their own firms, going half time at full pay (yes, that actually did happen, which really makes you wonder about your initial pay!), or leaving full time work and opting for board positions, a portfolio career or “sequencing” work strategically to ensure an onramp when children are grown.

Most realise that true luxury, when you have that option, is time.

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Read the complete Workplace 2030 Series: 

Part 1 of Workplace 2030: Do You Know What Success Looks Like?

Part 2: This Article

Part 3 of Workplace 2030: A Parent's Place Is In...

Part 4 of Workplace 2030: What's the ROI of Your Life Partner?