Liveable Lives - Regus

Liveable Lives - Regus

Liveable Lives - Regus

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internationalcontext:living and workingFamily demographicsYouth-dependency: proportion of young people reliant on adultsHigh youth population:increased responsibilityand pressure on parentsLow youth population:children are very preciousThe reality is even more demandingthan the data suggests. Young peoplein urban educated populations areeducated well beyond the 14 to17-band shown, placing additionalloads and requirements for careand attention on their parents, oftenwell into the children’s 20s.Percentage (%) of populationPercentage (%) of population100806040200100806040200Mexico City26.09%Beijing10.20%1008060400(2000) 1 2010080604020(2005) 4 0Istanbul24.38%Shanghai11.46%1008060400(2008) 2 2010080604020(2006) 5 00 - 14 years(Shanghai: 0 - 17 years)Los Angeles20.61%Tokyo11.80%15+ yearsCaught in the sandwich: increasing dependency from both endsof the age spectrumWorkers who want the best for theirchildren and their parents have multiplepulls on their time and responsibilities.Being physically located close to workand family minimises conflicts betweenthese realms, reducing strain inemployees’ respective roles.Challenge to work and family alignment: the physical distancebetween zonesLondon‘Travel to work’ time11Employees’ average travel time clearly varies acrossglobal cities. City size, metropolitan spread, and extentand quality of mass transit infrastructure are integral inevery situation. Travel conditions will change in responseto significant public transport investment. These areespecially prone to improvement in emerging markets,as well as in cities poising themselves to host majorinternational events.(2008) 3 0(2007) 6‘Extreme commuting’Average commuting time data eclipses the very longjourneys that some workers make routinely. For example,one in five City of London workers has a journey towork of 40km+, and almost half (47.0%) of New Yorkworkers spend 40+ minutes travelling to work, with25.5% travelling for 60+ minutes.Percentage (%) of population10080604020Manchester14.89%19.86%New York 12Chicago 14Manchester 15Belgium 16Los Angeles 18Mumbai 19Frankfurt 20Luxembourg 2110080604020Belgium17.60%14.80%16.10%18.50%00(2001) 8 (2009) 9 (2009) 10Paris 13Berlin 17London: 16.2kmCity worker: 25km65+ years1 in 5 City workers: 40km+London1008060402015 - 64 yearsLuxembourg0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40Average journey to work time in minutes (one-way)0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40Average journey to work distance in km (one-way)0 - 14 years(1991-2008)(2007)Global ageing population: increased responsibilities for eldercareThe dramatic increase in longevity andthe scale of pension and social servicesrequirements puts significant pressureon economically active adults toprovide quality care for their elders.Percentage (%) of population100806040200Shanghai19.40%10080604020(2006) 5 0Tokyo18.90%10080604020(2007) 6 0Berlin18.40%(2009) 7Journey to work time (minutes)60+ 40 - 59New York Chicago Manchester0 5 10 15 20 25 30 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 0 5 10 15 20 25 30(2006-08) 24(2007) 15(2006-08) 23 Percentage (of total) workers with challenging travel times65+ years(Shanghai: 60+ years)0 - 64 years8 9

Home-worknot an option:spouse’s home-basedbusiness in full swingMaurice – Managementconsultant, age 29A star at school and university, Maurice’s careerhas moved from one red carpet to the next.After training in accountancy, he was recruitedto an international consultancy firm. Some of hiswork involves international travel, but most of it is‘in-country’. He spends, on average, two or threenights a week in a different town or city, working atclient sites and in a local hotel. For the rest, he isback at base. Maurice’s challenge, however, is what‘base’ means – to his employer and to him. Beforehe joined, his company had instituted a policy of‘agile working’ – people whose work is not tied to theoffice don’t have a desk. Instead, when they aren’taway ‘on the job’, they’re meant to work anywhere– at a coffee shop, library, home or wherever.They can come into the office to ‘hotdesk’, but thisis crowded and too noisy to concentrate. On thosedays, Maurice would rather work at home, but heand his partner have a tiny apartment, and she’srecently started a business there.In his own words:Work’s great! You deal with deeplyimportant client issues, you have yourantennae out to make relevant observationsand ask the right questions. And the varietyis fascinating – no job is the same as any other.Frankly, it’s thrilling – the level of stimulationis very high, but so is the responsibility. I feelthe weight of this for myself and the company.Everyone’s heard of the management consultantwho comes in and impresses, then leaves theclient with recommendations that don’t work.That’s not who I am or want to be.So it’s not just when I’m face-to-face with clientsthat my performance matters – the analysis andreporting are vital. This is where the real valueaddlies. When I’m working out of town, thehotel room is perfect for these tasks, but whenI’m not travelling, finding suitable workspace isa real issue. To be honest, I’ve got nowherewhere I can do this work. Coffee shops andlibraries are out – they’re too noisy, plus theyinvolve risks to confidentiality and restrictions onphone conversations. The office is impossible –it’s dense, very distracting – more like a railwaystation! You couldn’t do thoughtful work inthat environment.And home’s out of the question. Since mypartner Ginny began her internet sales businessfrom our place, she’s taken it over. Phonesringing, products spread out everywhere,couriers coming and going. She’s got off to abrilliant start – I’m proud of her and it’s greatfor us both. But it’s like I’m living in her office –I eat and sleep there, but quality thinking andhigh-level report-writing just aren’t feasible.I’m struggling to meet my standards.But I’m beginning to think that I care more thanthe company does. If quality matters, theyshould provide the framework and resourcesto deliver it. I’m starting to feel that theydon’t really value us or whatwe do – a bit disconnected.1213

high stressinterface:Nursery-office-nurseryLiza – Corporatecommunications copywriter,age 31With her language degree and skills in verbalcommunication, Liza has developed a strongcapability in corporate communication. Followingtwo positions in advertising agencies after university,she has worked for a utility company for the pastsix years. The increased profile of the greenagenda has generated particular pressures andopportunities for utility operators, and Liza’sprofessional ability has grown with this addedscope. She has thoroughly absorbed thecompany’s culture, promoted by the fact thatfor the first five years – whenever she wasn’t atconferences, press briefings or industry events– she worked at the HQ. The big change camewhen Liza had a baby. Now she gets highlystressed about getting to work on time, andreaching the nursery in time to collect herchild in the evening.In her own words:I love my job and do it very well. This isn’t justself-praise; every evaluation I’ve had has beenpositive. The aspect that I especially like is copywriting– I have a knack for getting the message right.I also love the company. Working at the HQ all the time,I really understand our corporate DNA. It’s so important.There are sensitive reputational challenges that oursector faces these days, with the spotlight on everymove that a utility company makes. By this stage I cananticipate a PR flurry before it hits the fan, and I am ableto head off potential negative publicity as well as captureopportunities for positive press cover.But now there’s Timmy! He’s 11 months oldand I love him more than I could have imagined. I don’tlike work any less, but getting the two in synch is provingvery stressful.There are three issues. One is leaving Tim the whole day.If the office weren’t so far, I could pop into the nurseryat lunchtime like some other parents do. Even if I didn’tactually do this, it would be a psychological relief to knowthat I could get there quickly if he were ill orfretting. OK, I accept that I may get more used toleaving him as time goes by, but in the five monthssince I returned to work from maternity leave,the daily wrench and the anxiety I feel haven’tdiminished.In any event, the other issues won’t go away.Both relate to the length of my journey to work– an hour-plus door-to-door from Timmy’snursery to the office. This has two awful impacts.First is the morning panic – getting him readyand at nursery so I can get to work on time.Sometimes he’s niggly or messes after he’s alreadydressed, and the delay is just so stressful. Butworse is getting back in time to fetch him. You’remeant to be there by 6pm, and if you come after6.30pm they make you leave the nursery – threestrikes and you’re out. I accept that the nurseryworkers need a life too, but leaving the office is anightmare – being organised about stopping whatyou’re doing in time is one thing, it’s the colleagueswho approach you on your way out, and thosewho have an attitude about you leaving earlierthan they do.I just can’t handle this. If Timmy were at a nurserynear the office it would make a big difference,but who would choose to take a tiny child on acrowded train for two hours a day? And thoughmy manager wouldn’t mind me working at home acouple of days a week, home’s just not conduciveto work. That’s where I zone out. That’s myfamily space. I need a professional arena tofunction as a pro!1415

IT seems LIKEWin-win:but work’s the loserJoe – New marketapplications, global logistics,age 36Working for a blue chip company through itshighs and lows, Joe has evolved his responsibilitiesfrom internal resourcing to developing externalapplications for the company’s products andservices. During the boom periods, he took all thetraining opportunities he could get, and by now heis fully conversant with ‘organisational speak’ andnimble in presenting a case. His partner also worksfor a blue chip – in IT. The couple have recentlystarted a family, and both of them are using thescope their employers offer to be home-basedworkers on two days a week. While they fulfil thereporting requirements defined by this remotework-style, Joe privately acknowledges that hisbaby-minding impacts on his work.In his own words:As a logistics company, our organisationpromotes home-working as an option.Not everyone can qualify, but there’s a businessbias in favour of it to show our customers thateffective organisation and deployment of IT canbring benefits.Face-to-face contact is useful – when I’m withmy colleagues, we pick up much more on who’sconnected with various possibilities, and we’reoften able to give and get the missing nuggetof information to advance a prospect, but youcan get similar results from posting questionsor news on leads on our electronic bulletinboard. So I don’t need to be on site todevelop business.Though, there’s a twist – things changed whenwe became parents. The truth is that childcareis so expensive, Tina and I would have todownscale our standard of living to pay for it.But my manager has agreed for me to be homebasedtwo days a week, and Tina’s agreed thesame with her employer. My company supportsthe arrangement because it demonstrateswhat we’re about and promotes our corporatemessage that intelligent organisation reducesenvironmental waste. Her company supportsit to ‘walk the talk’ that IT enables remoteworking. The upshot is that we only have to payfor childcare on one day a week, which makesa huge difference to our family balance sheet.But anyone who’s had small children and isrealistic about it would recognise that mixingchildcare with work is wishful thinking. To betruthful, our son’s not yet at infant school, andnow that our daughter’s on the way, it will beyears before I do as much work as I could andshould. Home’s just not a business environment,and small children need attention. Of course,my manager and colleagues know that I’m a dad,but no one has asked what that means whenI work at home. Fortunately, the indicesto measure my output are so vague andopen-ended, that both our kids will be at schoolbefore the company has cracked it.1617

dread of‘Home alone’:worse than bad commuteFlora – Company reporting,age 35Employed by a large listed consumables company,and following her initial role as an auditor, Flora hasdeveloped specialist technical expertise in corporatereporting. With the current strong emphasis oncompliance, her contribution is highly valued. Whileher role is essentially an HQ function, Flora doesher work largely on her own. After a thoroughreview of drafts and checking data on the companyserver, she makes follow-up queries to colleagues byemail or phone. Recently Flora has moved hometo an outlying town to be near her partner’s newmedical practice, and she now faces a long, arduouscommute to the office. She hates the journey,and given the nature of her job, her company hassuggested that she does most of her work at home,dispensing with the trip except on days when thetasks require her to be in the office. But Flora getslonely and phobic working at home, and she feelsexposed by having to reveal this.In her own words:This is so embarrassing – I feel really sillyand deficient. My company is a greatemployer and absolutely appreciates me andwhat I do. While my work’s critical from anorganisational point of view, it’s surprising howmuch of it I undertake on my own – for a lotof the time I work like a one-man-band, goingover sensitive company information with afine toothcomb.I like working like that – more engaged withinanimate text and numbers than with people.Except there’s a big ‘but’ – I don’t like being onmy own. I need people and activity aroundme. Even though I’m not sociable, I get verydownbeat and anxious when I’m by myself.So work’s an important channel for me – it’ssomewhere to go and to be in company fivedays a week when Rob, my husband, is working.But now we’ve had to move – Rob’s become apartner in this new clinic. It’s a great opportunityfor him, but it’s so far away! It’s really toodemanding on me going back and forth to workeach day. The company recognises the problemand couldn’t be nicer or more supportive insuggesting that I work at home most days.It’s completely feasible in terms of what I doand it makes perfect sense.Except that I’m such a loser – I can’t cope beingalone all day. I’ve tried it a couple of timesand got very distressed, phoning Rob all thetime, in tears. So I’m still doing this ridiculousjourney, and it’s costing a fortune in fares, letalone the personal wear and tear. But I don’tsee an alternative, apart from maybe quittingand finding a job locally. I’m just someone whocan’t function on her own – I need a setting withother people.2021

Companypropertysavings:impact on home-lifeFred – IT sales, age 42Hard-working Fred pulls his weight in IT sales,with a performance record that has stood himin good stead through boom and downturn.Marrying in his mid-thirties, he and his wife Yenbought an apartment, despite the high cost ofhousing in the congested city in which they live.Now they are gratified and continually delightedby their five year old son.Recently, with the overall decline in marketconditions, Fred’s company has been looking tosave on real estate. As his team’s function is tobe out and about selling – the more the better,they have all been declared ‘home-workers’, andno longer given workspace in the office. Instead,they’re expected to do all their desk-work fromhome. But this impacts on Fred and Yen’s homenorms, and they see the basis on which theirfamily life is structured as under threat.In his own words:I’m pretty pleased with how things have evolved.I’ve worked hard and been lucky – good job,supportive wife, and a comfortable apartment. Butnumber one is Johnny, our son. His presence makes ourfamily complete and endorses everything I’ve workedfor. It’s such a fulfilment knowing that we’ve producedthe next generation. We’re like a model family, with aharmonious home life and success in my job – at least wewere until recently.My employer is a global company, and with the depressedmarket that everyone’s facing, they’ve started to lookat ways to cut costs. That’s normal – we shouldn’t bewasteful, and I respect their position. But there arereasonable savings and things that should be off limits,and in my view they’ve gone way too far.The new company line is this: as the sales people are withcustomers a lot, they say that our space in the office isn’tused enough, so they’ve removed desks from everyone inour team except the secretary. We’re meant to do all ourorder documentation and processing, as well as calling,from home. From the company’s perspective itmakes perfect sense – at least in theory. Theysave on real estate, they give sales people thestrongest possible message that our job is outthere to sell, and they tell us how supportivethey’re being by enabling us to avoid the travelinto and out of the office. But who’re theykidding and who’s paying for what?My apartment is as good as I could hope tohave, given my position and the expensive citywe live in. But it’s hardly spacious. So while it’sbeen the perfect haven for my family up till now,this new work regime is changing everything.It intrudes on our home world. We have totell our son he can’t play or do puzzles or drawat the table when I’m working at home. He hasto be quiet. And my wife can’t invite her friendsto tea or other children to play. It’s just notright or fair, and it’s not what I’ve worked for.I understand that this sort of policy started inEurope and the US. But from conversationsI’ve had with colleagues over the years, I don’tthink that employees with young families arethat different wherever they live, whether theirhomes are bigger or smaller. As far as I’mconcerned, expecting me to work at homeis an unreasonable imposition.The irony is that my brother is envious of mysituation. With his son being 16 years old, hewould welcome it if he had to work at home, sohe could use it as an opportunity to oversee mynephew’s school-work and help ensure that hegets the best grades to secure a university place.But that’s just another angle to prove my point.Family life is so important and we want the bestfor our children – at every stage. Right nowYen and I want our child to continue to live in ahappy home, with the freedom to talk and playwhen he wants to.2223

Large,consolidatedoffice:magnifies distancefrom homeCharlotte – Insurance,age 46Charlotte works for an insurance company witha strong sales focus on employee wellbeing.It encourages its corporate clients to takeproactive steps in reducing workplace stress.Her role is to identify management measuresfor clients to offer their staff in order to optimisework performance. Most of Charlotte’swork involves reviewing company HR data,recommending appropriate strategies andsourcing potential programmes. Ironically, sinceher own father has become ill and frail, Charlottefinds herself in the precise position she aims toavoid for her clients’ employees – a sense ofimpossible conflict between her professionalrole and her role as a daughter.In her own words:My situation is so ironic, you couldn’t make it upif you tried. There I am spending my weekdaystrying to help companies ensure that their people managethe respective demands of work and family, while in myown life I’m shovelling water out of the boat almost as fastas it’s sinking.At the heart of it is my dad. He’s been a great father andwe’ve always got on really well. He was very active till hislate 70s, doing volunteer work in our local hospital, butthings started unravelling a few years ago. Now thathe’s frail, weak and essentially housebound, he’s alsoisolated socially.But he’s feisty at heart, and still very independent-minded– the very last thing he wants is to enter a care home.Nor should he. As long as the day is broken up, he canget by acceptably until the evening. I live close by, sopopping in after work isn’t a problem, and the weekendsare easy – I’m very available then. I’m not suggesting thathe’s demanding. He just needs some contact during theday – to see that he has his medication without muddlingit up, to have a fresh hot drink, and a little chatto punctuate the long stretch between morningand evening. And I think I should do this; in myfamily, there’s still a strong ethos that the seniorgeneration is important, that elders shouldbe cherished.So what’s the problem? Everyone has alunch hour and my company is good aboutthat – it doesn’t just pay lip service to people’semployment contracts. It’s considered fine totake a break and do your errands or whatever.But the office is just too far from where we live.Like many ‘back offices’ of insurance companies,it’s based out of town, and though we live atroughly equal distance between the office andthe city, it’s in another direction from where welive – the wrong spoke of the wheel! So myjourney between home and work is orbital.I drive, and even though there are fewerhold-ups at midday than in the morning orevening peaks, it would take me more thanmy lunch hour to drive there and back, withoutcounting time with dad.If only I could go to work closer to where welive, but of course the business doesn’t revolveround me. Before the company consolidated allits operations on one big site, there used to belocal or branch offices, and you could work in adifferent one if the main office was problematicfor you.There are big disadvantages from the staff pointof view that they don’t consider when theycreate these mega-offices. It makes for longjourneys to work for so many people – I knowthat I’m not the only person with issues at home.At the same time, being at work is so importantto me – the contrast that the work environmentoffers me from home and my dad. It gives methe energy and support I need to meet my otherresponsibilities well, let alone the self-esteem andmoney. I can’t face the thought of having to quit,but it may be forced on me if I have to choosebetween my work and putting my dad into ahome. He’ll come first. I owe it to him.2425

Tornbetween:office buzzand ailing spouseRichard – Manager of aconsumables company, age 53Richard has talent and valuable experience inproduct positioning. His colleagues respect hisskill and frequently use him as a sounding boardand mentor. Richard’s company supports remoteworking, mostly for its people in sales, althoughexperienced employees in other functions can alsowork at home if they’re trusted to be productive.Richard blossoms in the workplace environment,but his wife has a degenerative condition, and theyhave moved to a village because it offers a gentlerenvironment than the inner city setting where theylived before. Travel to the office is manageable, butit’s far, and since his wife lost her local friends whenthey moved, she copes better when Richard is ineasy reach.In his own words:Work’s a major part of my life – thestimulus and the sense I get thatcolleagues value me. The satisfaction is huge.My background has given me a different way oflooking at things, and this often sparks a usefulangle for our team, suggesting a point of entryinto a market situation or a way of developingit. I guess it’s also my experience that counts –something the younger people in the companyjust don’t have. So I have this guru-like role– and I make a positive difference to lots ofbusiness pitches.But that’s just part of the picture: there’s alsomy wife. She’s got this cruel illness, which iswhy we moved from the bustle of the city.She’s wonderful and tries to cope, but there’sno question that she flags when I leave for theoffice. The difficulty is that while the team’sbuzz buoys me up when I am there, anotherpart of me feels guilty that I am out of rangefor her. It all worked better before, when sheknew I could pop back home if she neededme, without full scale disruption to my work.But now we’ve moved, this isn’t feasible. Thesituation drags us both down. When I go intothe office, she puts on a brave face, but I knowthat she suffers, and my own mood and focusbecome clouded by guilt and concern.So I stay home some days, on the understandingthat I’m working. But working at home justisn’t the same. I see the things she struggles todo, and so I do them for her. In the end, whatI’m really doing is keeping my BlackBerry on sopeople can find me if they get in touch, but I’mnot really engaging proactively or developingideas. In fact, I’m hardly working, and I feellike a fraud. If only the officeweren’t so far from home!2627

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