Who ME? Allow remote working?

#remoteworking at CoVort in
Bangor, Maine
Yes, Maine, I'm talking to you. It's continually disappointing to listen to the loop of the workforce conversation in Maine. Our population is aging, our young people are leaving. We're the oldest and least diverse state in the country. How do we get those youngsters to stay, to come, or to build businesses here?

We know, statically, empirically, that diversity actually equals better financial performance for companies. Don't believe me? Here are a few resources that may just change your mind:
While I'm on the higher end of the "young" age range, in Maine, I'm still younger than our state average. I followed a typical Maine path. Early in my career, after attending the University of Maine, I left seeking greener pastures. I only returned when family reasons and an already established career allowed me to work 100% remotely.

My early career experiences took me around the country and the world. I was committed to working for small, family-owned companies. I enjoyed these experiences. I was hoping for the same thing when I came back to Maine. Then, I discovered an uncomfortable truth, Maine's companies and corporate policies trend about 20 years behind what's going on in the rest of the country.

Me, working remotely,
in my living room!
I'm constantly baffled by the "Maine's Best Places to Work" list. The companies on the top seem to offer "perks" that are just basic expectations elsewhere. One of the biggest gaps Maine loses its young workers to? Flexible and remote working arrangements. I've been working 100% remotely since 2008, nearly a decade and more than half of my post-college career. Since returning to Maine, it's been a goal of mine to work for a Maine company.

While many companies worldwide offer remote or flexible work arrangments, Maine's companies still bristle when you bring up working remotely. I know this from first-hand experience. "Remote working" is widely touted in many a Maine company's hiring materials, yet when you drill down with the hiring manager or HR, it becomes something "you-might-do-after-working-here-a-year-or-two-and-only-if-your-child-is-sick-or-it's-a-state-of-emergency". That, my Maine friends, is not remote working. It's a tagline in your marketing materials.

Please don't mistake what follows. There are many wonderful, talented, smart, and ambitious people working in all of Maine's companies. However, many Maine companies complain about a lack of technical talent. Of having difficulty filling certain positions and concern about the coming shortfall of employees. Guess what? People with computer, technical and sought-after specific skill sets are here. We just don't want to work for you!

We work for national or global companies that value WHAT an employee does not WHERE they are. We work at home, at the coffee shop, or in a CoWorking space, such as CoVort. Sometimes we work 9-5, sometimes we work 6 am to noon, break for volunteering and continue working 7 pm to midnight. Maine being the geographically disperse state it is, we may not want to commute an hour or 45 minutes to work one way, wasting precious hours we could be productive or enjoying our leisure time. We and our millennial brethren would love to work for you if you'd only let us work the way we want.

Queue, Work in Place. a group of wonderful folks based in Portland, Maine, who are doing their part to encourage remote working This new nonprofit out of Portland has a mission close to my heart and one that's sorely needed in Maine:

Our mission is to change the culture of work
through programs and policies that benefit
remote workersorganizations, and communities.

Maine, you need younger workers. You need diversity to compete globally. You need to move your workplace policies into this century!

Join Work In Place at their launch party, June 20th, from 5:30 - 7:30 PM, Ocean Gateway in Portland.


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