How to Campaign for Flexible Working Conditions (Or, How to Change the Company Policy That Requires You Lug a Heavy Laptop Around)

How to Campaign for A More Flexible Workplace (Or: How to Ditch Your Company Laptop)How do you campaign for accessibility and flexibility in your workplace when the policies are less than ideal?  Yesterday’s post on how to lighten your tote bag got me thinking — I was so intrigued by the commenters who noted that they have to carry a huge, bulky laptop to and from the office because that is the the only approved way to get access to the office system.  When I was working in BigLaw, my firm used Citrix to give everyone access to the Docs Open system and other office programs — there were even times you could access document review programs from home.  (Ah, glory days.)  The only thing we needed to access the system was a small, flat device (a 2″ by 1″ fob) that displayed a long number that changed every thirty seconds. When you needed to log into the system, you entered the current security number.  That was five years ago, so it honestly didn’t occur to me that companies with information security issues would not be using something similar to Citrix in 2013.  (Even the Department of Defense has a better remote access option, according to a 2011 Lifehacker article.)  Maybe there are good reasons Reader R’s company isn’t using a secure remote system — but maybe it’s just an old policy that hasn’t been reevaluated in a while or from the right perspective. 

So readers, let’s talk about this — how do you change an office policy to make the conditions better for you (and those who come after you)?  Sheryl Sandberg talked a bit about this in Lean In — regarding how she insisted that the Google parking lot have spaces reserved for expectant mothers — and this was kind of mentioned in a recent NYT article about workplace flexibility  — but I can’t seem to find much else about this topic on the Internet.  For my $.02, here are some ideas… [Read more...]

How to Lighten Your Load

how to lighten your loadIf you’re carrying a million bags, how do you look professional?  How can you lighten your load and reduce the number of bags you’re carrying? Reader R wonders…

I work in a large corporate environment and recently had a daughter. I’m back at work, but I feel like a bag lady. I’m only 5’3″ and have to carry in my laptop, purse, pump, lunch, and coffee. (Not brave enough to add my gym bag to the mix, although I’d like to.) I feel like the bags overwhelm my frame and generally make me look smaller, younger, and unprofessional. How do others juggle all this STUFF?

Congratulations on your daughter, R!  Great question — I can see how this is a problem for new mothers, but also for other people carrying too much stuff.  We’ve talked about what your tote bag says about you, as well as how to save your back while commuting, but we haven’t really talked about a) how to lighten your load, and b) how to balance your load (particularly if you’re petite) so it looks more managed.

From my perspective, most of reader R needs to do is to reduce the amount of stuff she carries.  Some tips: [Read more...]

Coffee Break: Jet Set Travel Tote for MacBook Pro

MiCHAEL Michael Kors Macbook Tote | CorporetteI am always interested when I find a working girl’s cult item that I hadn’t known about before — it seems like the Jet Set tote from Michael Michael Kors might be one of them. A few readers sung their praises on the best interview totes thread, it’s highly rated at all of the stores that carry it, and the bag is so popular that it’s available as a special Macbook tote through the Apple Store (which also has some from Cole Haan and Kenneth Cole) and Michael Kors for $299. The non-laptop version of the bag (dimensions: 14.5″ x 6″ x 10.5″) comes in black, white, brown, and a ton of colors at Nordstrom, Zappos, and Piperlime for $189-$278. Jet Set Travel Tote for MacBook Pro

Readers — are you fans of the Jet Set tote (either as a laptop bag or not)? Which is your favorite laptop tote? Or — do you prefer laptop sleeves?

(L-#)

OMG, LOL!!! How to Convey Tone In Email Without Seeming Childish

How do you convey tone in email without seeming childish or girlish?  Can you ever use exclamations in emails?  Reader C wonders…

I’m hoping you can address the issue of using !’s in emails at work. As we all know, tone is hard to convey properly via email. However, whenever I am inclined to use an ! to convey a positive tone, I get the sense that it actually reads as childish or immature. I also never seem to notice men using !’s in emails, either…. I’d love to hear yours and others thoughts on this!

Outstanding question, and I can’t wait to hear what readers say.  A lot has been written about overuse of exclamations in emails — with some people even suggesting that one exclamation mark per email is a good rule to follow.  There’s even an app to help you check the tone of your email!  My best general advice is that abbreviations, multiple punctuation marks (!!!), and overly casual phrases (“amazeballs!”) have no place in professional emails.   Beyond that, I think a lot of this depends on why you want to use a positive tone.  For example: [Read more...]

Tales from the Wallet: How to Manage Many Financial Accounts

kate spade new york 'signature spade - quilted lacey' zip around walletHow do you manage your money without getting stressed out with a million accounts? When we talked about automatic investments a few weeks ago, some readers noted that having too many accounts was stressful to them. So let’s talk about some easier ways to manage the money, how to get a bird’s eye view of your holdings, and some tips to make your general financial life easier. [Read more...]

Tales from the Wallet: On Bad Financial Decisions

bad financial decisionsSo. I recently did something fairly dumb, and I thought I’d share. I normally follow the advice given to novices, and the bulk of what I’ve invested is in index funds or Vanguard lifecycle funds with very low fees. But occasionally, I like to walk on the wild side and put a little extra money in stocks. Now, over the years I’ve always regretted not investing in certain stocks on Day 1 — big stocks, whose products I was extremely familiar with and knew the value of, to me at least. For example: I remember when Google IPO’ed. I’ve heard tell of people who bought Apple on Day 1… and I remember vividly my mother asking my brother if she should buy him stock in Nintendo (he was 11 when it IPO’ed, and said no).

So, I thought, wouldn’t it be great to buy Facebook on the day it IPO’ed? I could even buy some for my son, and tell him that we bought it on the very first day. I know I’m on Facebook several times a day, and as a publisher I know how Facebook is completely changing the way people read and acknowledge news. So what if Facebook hasn’t totally figured out how it’ll make money, I thought. Big deal. (Hint: allow bigger ads bigger than 125×125.) On the flip side, as a consumer, I don’t trust Facebook farther than I can throw it, and I don’t like to post pictures of my kid on it — but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize it as a significant force in the future of publishing, friendships, and life. (Pictured: Forehead slap, originally uploaded to Flickr by chizoo.)

[Read more...]