Ask Czarina Live: The State of Working Parenthood


Ask Czarina- The State of Parenthood

I am coming at you from IBM Insight in Las Vegas. I promise you I will be back to churning out more than just Ask Czarina Live posts soon, but I am on the move a lot this month. Before I proceed, I want to thank everyone who joined me last week. It was great to have you and I am inviting you to join me this week and bring a friend.

Which brings me to our topic for this week’s Ask Czarina Live. This week’s topic is: The State of Working Parenthood.

I won’t spoil what I will share this Thursday, but I had a lot of hustling to do to be able to not only make it to Vegas for IBM Insight, but to be able to go to my speaking gig later in the week.

Ask Czarina Live Blog Tile

As a business owner, professional and mom of 3 who also happens to be in the midst of picking up steam as a speaker- my travel is picking up and responsibilities at home remain the same. I know all about the opportunities in front of me and I know what I stand to gain. At the same time, I am forever calculating the risks and cons to what I do. As such, I am calling all working parents and that includes stay-at-home moms and dads. I’ll explore the following:

  • Why I stopped making a distinction between these two groups of parents even though society continues to drive a hard line.
  • Whether it is easier now or in past generations to be a parent.
  • What I do to release present day parenting pressures making life bearable for everyone involved.
  • Is work-life balance attainable?
  • Is the request for “more flexibility” new or are we in a time and place where it is more accepted?

In addition, I will be exploring a few articles that summarize the state of working parenthood. Here are the links to the articles, should you be interested in checking them out in advance:

Kids of working moms are better off

How working moms define success

What workers around the world want: More flexibility

 Stay-at-home moms are on the rise

Join me on Thursday at 11pm EST/10pm CST/8pm PST for my second  “Ask Czarina Live”. Last week I promised you that I would be posting the replays of “Ask Czarina Live” to “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel for those of you not ready to take the Periscope plunge. Unfortunately, Periscope has a bug that is preventing my broadcasts from properly being saved in my gallery, so I am currently unable to share my shows in both places. They are working on it and I will let you know when I am able to do it. For now, you can continue to view replays on Periscope, within the 24-hour window allotted,

As usual it will be fun, fresh, and insightful. I look forward to seeing you there.

Want more? Click here to watch the latest “Ask Czarina” episode. Subscribe to “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel to be notified when new episodes are published.

Technology and HR Revisited: Cease the Flexible Work and Collaboration Excuses

Technology and hr revisited- Flexible Work

Why does your entire workforce need to be seen in the flesh? Can you provide three reasons why you need to have your staff physically present themselves to work that doesn’t begin with “Our internal customers” and end with “need facetime”? Among the other excuses for why flexible work arrangements can’t happen are:

1) How will I know they are truly working?

2) If I allow one person to a flex work arrangement, everyone will want it.

3) I need my people here doing the work.

The Supply and Demand of Flex Work and Collaboration

According to , 50% of the US workforce holds a position that is compatible with at least a partial telework arrangement. goes on to report that 80-90% of US workers would like to telework or flex their schedules at least part-time to allow for concentrated work at home and in-person team collaboration via the office. Technology has made it so that we can be productive whether we are sitting in an office or at the doctor’s office. You need to check emails- our mobile devices make that possible on-the-go. Is there an online meeting coming up that you need your staff to attend? Most online meeting platforms have an or mobile optimized site for people who need to a join meetings from where ever they are. Many years ago, we could say “no” to telework, because the technology wasn’t there. Now that we have virtual workspaces, cloud storage, and video technology that allows us to collaborate and remain connected with our teams- what is the excuse?

The Telework and Flexwork Challenge

Image courtesy of

If we are honest with one another, the nature of work is changing. It’s changing at an uncomfortable pace that appears to threaten our traditional way of doing things. Change is both uncomfortable and inevitable. However, the case of telework and flexible work arrangements seems clear. The workforce wants it, the technology is ripe for facilitating it- yet organizations are still relying on antiquated ways of thinking to approach this topic.


As Human Resources professionals, it is key that keep a pulse on what is needed by our workforce versus constantly campaigning for what the organization needs. No one wins when there isn’t some compromise. The issue around telework isn’t with the employees wanting it, but with our reluctance to evolve with the times.

Let’s be clear, not everyone in your workforce will want to work from home. Working from home requires discipline. There are employees that will naturally prefer to come to the office for a more structured environment. This puts to rest the idea that if you offer one employee a flex arrangement that suddenly a stampede of employees will be outside your door. For those that either need or want to telework or flex work, it is as simple as sitting down with them and figuring out a schedule that not only helps the employee, but compliments the needs of the business. After teleworking two days a week for two years at my previous company, I can tell you that my internal customers were well taken care of, interviews conducted and projects were on target. Granted, my then employer had me filling out work plans to show “proof” of my work from home; but they could never deny the fact that I was productive. Which brings me to the point of trust. Much of the challenge with managing a virtual or mobile workforce has to do with a lack of trust. There is a lack of trust with the collaboration tools and technology that make these arrangements possible and in some cases not semblance of faith in your employees. Think of it like this, if you are asking for a telework arrangement and you choose to abuse that privilege by not working as you would in the office- who loses? In some regard, the employer loses due to lack of productivity. However, most people who ask for flexibility need it more than it being a “want”. That said, the egg is on their face if they fail to work to standards and do what is expected of them.

What’s my Call-to-Action?

Cease the excuses for why telework and flexwork arrangements can’t happen. Instead, look at all of the instances where it is possible. Use a mix technology to keep your team engaged and connected. The need for face-to-face interaction isn’t going away yet. In the meantime, look at the endless possibilities on-demand video technology provides. Video not only makes it possible for teams in different parts of the world to meet and collaborate, it allows candidates to record an interview without missing a day of work and tipping off their current employer. I’m certain that some dedication to helping people work smarter and more flexibly can only help your talent management efforts. It’s all about adapting to what makes sense for your workforce while getting things done.

What will you do to kick the telework and flexwork excuses to the curb?

Want more? Click here to watch the latest “Ask Czarina” episode on this post on  “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel.


31 Days, 32 Revelations: Striving For Quality of Life

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 17 of 31- Living Simply

A few years of ups and downs, twists and turns and a few failures will whip you into shape emotionally and personally. It is as if hurdles were strategically placed throughout my journey to provide new insights and perspectives. This has been my life the past few years. Even my horoscope speaks about this “period of renewal” I have been dragged through for the past four years. Allegedly, I am at the end of the cycle and moving into smoother waters now. Good, bad or indifferent, I have figured out that I want to live a simple and peaceful life.

I am convinced that the pace here in the US allows for one scenario for us working Joe’s and Jane’s- you work and work and work, pass go retirement and then you die. I know that sounds terrible, but the reality is we live and work in a country obsessed with work, material possessions and money. Don’t get me wrong I have an appreciation for all three. I just think there is more to life than racing around frenetically trying to be the fastest, the best, or appearing to be successful when all you’re really doing is killing yourself.

Before I started working for myself, my schedule was frenetic and unsustainable. My days went like this:

I was up at 5am. Had to bathe and dress three kids. Drop my two little ones to day care (on days when my husband was held over- my trips were in three because I had to get the oldest to morning care), deal with the daily HR headaches, breast-feed, pump additional milk so I kept enough for home and work, leave work at five pick up the youngest two, then race across town to get my oldest from after-care with sometimes a minute to spare before I was charged a late fee. I would get home have to do homework at 6:30pm- while finding out how school was and cooking dinner. After we read, said prayers and everyone was settled, I started my second job which was to continue building my current business- writing blog posts, creating scopes of work for potential clients, taking client calls and working until approximately 2am many days.

To be fair, I knew my first full year in business was going to be rough because I was working two full-time jobs. Ultimately, my intended rise up the ranks at the day job wasn’t worth it and neither was the paycheck. I have not only gone into business for myself, but I am altering my life for simpler joys these days. I meditate, I’m having fun, I’m more alert and attentive where my children are concerned and  I work how and when I want. In return for a simpler life, I made a lot of sacrifices. I never knew that was part of my journey when I left my day job. Apparently, I was due for a complete overhaul.

I am grateful to finally be living and not just existing. I used to feel like I barely had time to enjoy my home (that I pay quite a bit for). Now I’m enjoying it.  Life isn’t a complete bed of roses, but I am finding ways to make things simpler and less frenetic for myself -because I deserve a better me and so does my family. I guess I am striving for a better quality of life.

I know I’m not alone in having experienced this frenetic lifestyle that we all have grown accustomed to. To prove my point, check out the chart below from Social Progress Index to see how the U.S. is lagging on quality of life. Pay particular attention to “Health and Wellness” as well as “Tolerance and Inclusion” along with other indicators .


What kinds of things are you doing to make your life simpler? 


Czarina’s Lesson: Life should be an inner-body experience not an outer-body experience. Live-don’t just exist.

Getting Back To Me

Hey HR Aristocrats! It has been awhile- two months to be exact. As many of you may know, I recently had my third child. With the busy schedule I had at the end of my pregnancy doing speaking engagements, putting things in place both in my day job and business and just being plain tired-it wore down my writing mojo. I had nothing. Everything I thought of I started to pen only to find that I hated the idea and it felt forced. Note:  Nothing I have ever written anywhere has been a forced idea. I write from a purely organic place where things inspire me and I feel the need to share my thoughts.

Most will say that it is blasphemous to allow you blog to go dormant for two months, but I really needed to step away and get back to me. A house in shambles, new baby, child in school, another being potty-trained (or so I thought) and a road to recuperation that had me feeling less than inspired were the realities I needed to live with.

Once I walked away, there was inspiration popping up everywhere. Additionally, it allowed me to think and remember that life takes precedence over churning out content. It was never my intention to be a content mill. I just want to write and do things that are meaningful and helpful.

That said, sitting back and enjoying the sight and smell of my new bundle and just enjoying my family allowed me something greater than creating and that was to watch. What I found is that every social media platform is over-saturated with content. There’s a content rat race going on.

Some of it is fantastic and other stuff is just not useful. That said, my evaluation of the social landscape and what I am doing has me prepared to get back to writing but also to explore and further fine-tune some other projects I set out to do. There’s a lot more to me than HR and I am on a mission to pull it all together.

The moral: those of us in business have to be ready to pivot as I mentioned earlier this year. That means remaining open to new or modified ideas, different approaches etc. The beauty of stepping back and learning is so you can become better. I can tell you in two months I have become better just by watching and taking time to get back to me, my interests and life.

I look forward to wooing you all back here for great content and my beautiful journey.

New post drops on Monday, June 23rd and look out for new content from me on the Performance i Create blog on Friday, June 27th.

Oh and I should mention that I have been having a ton of fun with Instagram lately. For pics of me post-partum, my little ones, and a sprinkle of inspiration in pictures follow me on Instagram.


Enjoy the weekend!



HR’s Role in Making Work-Life Balance


photo credit: Kathy Colaiacovo

Work-Life Balance. Its on the mind of your managers and employees, especially now that we are on the brink of summer. I’ve always thought that people think of “work-life” balance as options for working from home or the freedom to “come and go” as you please. Its really much more than that to me. Its the opportunity to work and recharge at my pace and with some flexibility in regards of what is meaningful to me. While I think that ultimately it is up to the individual to strike the right accord in regards to work-life balance, I do think that HR professionals have a role in helping to set the standard.

 Lay the Foundation

Laying the foundation of programs that offer better work life balance and flexibility may be easier said than done. First off, one size does not fit all. We all come from different industries and businesses — half days, working from home, flex schedules, job sharing will not work for everyone. Even within a single organization one option will not work for all jobs. I think that the biggest mistake in starting these types of programs is that managers or HR come up with a list of possibilities for flex programs and find that its poorly received. It could be due to the rollout or the change management — but I think its even bigger than that. Ask your employees what do they want and value. What helps bring balance to them? It may be volunteer time, on site day care, a concierge service — its not always in the bucket of “how do you get people time away from work to do other things.” Several years ago, as recognition of work that I was doing on a large project implementation, I got two weeks worth of prepared meals. Talk about bringing some balance back to my life! The convenience allowed me to put my time and energies elsewhere when I was at home with my family and to this day is one of the best rewards that I’ve received. Not having to get groceries, meal plan, or prepare meals went a long way to my “balance” during that project. If someone had just given me time off, I wouldn’t have gotten the same relief or feeling of balance at that time.


The point is, HR should do a thorough review, including a survey of employees’ desires, to help create a program for managers and employees to follow. One more note — lay the foundation means just that — help get things going, but allow employees and managers actually build the program. It will be much more successful if the program is developed by the people and not just another HR thing. Be a champion of work – life program options.


What are your thoughts on work-life balance and who owns what — does HR still have a role or is it squarely on employees and managers?


Andrea Devers (@thegirlinhr) is an expert in HR Technology, HR process and programs, HR Service Centers, Shared Service, change management,  project management, and six sigma. Feel free to connect with her on her blog, The Girl in HR, or follow some of her musings on Twitter.


Flex Work- Are You All-In or Being Trendy?

Image Courtesy of

Image Courtesy of

I was inspired by the TLNT wrap-up written by John Hollon last week discussing the demographics of people participating in flex work and questioning why there is a lack of women teleworking. For more on what he said- read here.

As someone who considers herself fortunate to telework, I can tell you that merely referring to the arrangement as “fortunate” is part of the problem. You see there are many employers that still see this flex work as the ultimate privilege. It is almost as though they should be crowned best employer and have employees kneel before them for bestowing such an honor. They put unnecessary and onerous hurdles in front of employees that are afforded flex work and in turn it becomes a less desirable option.

Women in particular have been made to disclose every nook and cranny of their home arrangements. Some are subjected to presumptuous questioning regarding whether or not they have a nanny to watch their kids during telework time. While other flex work infractions have to do with being exclusive to a certain subsection of employees- leaving those with other non-familial obligations feeling singled out from the possibility of teleworking.

When the strategy becomes this entitled all or nothing process, you have to ask yourself are companies really all-in regarding flex work or are they slapping a policy together to appear as though they are a part of the growing trend?

I like what Cali Yost of CEO of Flex+ Strategy Group said in a recent press release, “Telework is not a perk and it’s certainly not just for moms and Gen Y. Rather, it’s an operational strategy.”

If you have a flex work option for your employees, is it being treated as an operational strategy or is it a wild-card policy that you pull out of your bag-of-tricks to appease employees?

It needs to be an operational strategy. Your employees both men and women are stretched at home and at work; with or without children. If the job lends itself to some flexibility- give it to them. Like most concepts of giving- try to give flexibility without ultimatums and ridiculous demands in return for this alternative.

Here are some rules of engagement if you are serious about offering your employees more flexibility:

1)  Focus on results. It is none of your business who watches their kids, if a nanny is present during telework hours, spouse’s work hours etc. As long as you are receiving their work and it is quality, focus on the results; not how they got there.

2) Trust your employees to do the right thing. If you don’t ask your employees to document what they do every minute of the day in the office, why would you do it when they flex work? Trust your employees to do the right thing unless you find out otherwise.

3)  Do not offer flex work unless you believe in it as an “operational strategy”. Everyone wins when trust and flexibility are given. The second you start to micromanage or make your flex work policy an elitist offering it will do more harm than good for the company and your brand.

According to a recent infographic by Flex+Strategy Group, 31% of workers are working from home, a business center or another location. Employers can expect decreased absenteeism and tardiness, less employee burnout, increased employee productivity as a result of offering flex work.

So I ask employers that are still hesitant about flex work- what are you really losing?

Need some innovative ideas on flex work strategies- contact us.


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