Hot Topics: Debunking the Flex Time Myth
Corporate flex-work programs -- often cited as a way for companies to hang onto midlife and boomer workers -- aren't as widespread as they appear, according to Stephen Sweet, a visiting scholar at Boston College's Sloan Center on Aging & Work.
Some companies with flex programs, which allow employees to work where or when they want, only make them available to a fraction of their staff, in some cases as few as 1 percent, Sweet writes on the center's blog.
"The question today concerns how to expand the bright side of flexible work to wider segments of the work force -- especially the options to reduce work," Sweet says. "Until we are able to do this, lives will continue to be reconfigured to match the workplace, rather than workplaces configured to match lives."
In other news this week:
FBI Reveals Secret Steve Jobs Dossier: The Apple co-founder was once considered by George H. W. Bush's administration for a position on the president's Export Council, according to previously secret FBI files released earlier this week. The files also reveal a $1 million bomb threat against Apple in 1985, shortly before Jobs was forced out of the company. The threat came from an "unidentified male caller" in a series of phone calls, though an FBI probe turned up no unusual activity, according to a HuffPost story. The bulk of the file is related to a 1991 background check for the prospective presidential appointment, including interviews with more than 29 people. Friends acknowledged Jobs' previous drug use, called him "spartanlike" and "monastic" and predicted he would "make a positive contribution on the national scene," according to the report.
EBay Founder's Philanthropic Second Act: Since becoming "ridiculously rich" after the online auction site he created went public, 44-year-old Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam, have committed more than $1 billion to hundreds of charitable causes while maintaining a low-key, modest lifestyle, according to a rare interview with USA Today. For the past decade, the technology billionaire has been largely quiet about his philanthropic activities, which include running four charity organizations, a nonprofit investigative news organization covering Hawaii, and an emerging leaders program in that state patterned after the White House Fellows, according to the newspaper. Why talk now? "I'm worried about the American dream," Omidyar says. Despite his status, Omidyar drives a Prius, his wife drives a minivan, and they and their children live "in a modest home in Honolulu," according to the story.
From Police Officer to Bereavement Organizer: During 19 years with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Kim Watt-Senner often collected evidence at sudden-death crimes scenes, where she saw overwhelmed families grappling with funeral arrangements and how to deal with the estates of the victims. When she retired from the force, the Kamloops, British Columbia, resident used her experience to become a bereavement estate liquidator, helping families sort keepsakes from junk, auction off valuables and clean up homes for sale, according to a Globe and Mail article. "Nobody had been doing what I wanted to do," she tells the paper. In three years since starting her business, Watt-Senner has opened Everything Organized locations in several western Canadian cities, and branched out into other types of organization, including helping older adults downsize to condos or nursing homes.
Travelers Take to Tablets: At any given moment, one in 12 U.S. airplane passengers is using a tablet computer or e-reader, according to a new study from the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University in Chicago. Tablet computers account for close to 30 percent of devices used on commercial flights, as well as 13.5 percent of devices used on inter-city trains and 12.9 percent on commuter buses, according to the report. Even though the number of airlines offering power outlets in gate waiting areas and on-board WiFi has increased significantly in recent years, train and bus travel remains more tech-friendly, according to the report.
The End of House: The quirky medical drama headlined by a grouchy, pill-popping, cane-wielding genius played by Hugh Laurie will end its eight-year run in May. The popular Fox TV show's producers said in a joint statement with the 52-year-old actor that they always imagined Dr. House as "an enigmatic creature; he should never be the last one to leave the party. How much better to disappear before the music stops, while there is still some promise and mystique in the air."
Deadline Nears for 2012 Purpose Prize Nominations: Innovators over 60 are eligible to apply for the $100,000 awards, often referred to as the "genius grants" for second-acters. The San Francisco-based Civic Ventures bestows the annual prizes on five social entrepreneurs who build organizations that help their communities or the world. Nominations are due March 30. In 2011, Purpose Prize winners included the founder of an organization that helps Chinese orphans, the head of a group providing safe stoves to people in developing countries and the leader of a Detroit business incubator.
Last Word: "I am here to say that anything, really, is possible...if you want it badly enough, you WILL find a way to get it done. Whether it's getting your pilot's license or doing your first stand-up gig or composing a song. I'm living proof. And I'm certifiably over 50. Fabulous freaking fifty." -- Lee Woodruff, on completing her first novel, at HuffPost
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