Work Evolution: How One Tech-Savvy Edmonton Mom is Helping Professionals Find Flexible Jobs

Edmonton Mamas, meet Tara Dragon.

While Tara and I have only met online, not yet in real life, I am a huge fan.

This ingenious and tech-savvy entrepreneur (and toddler mom) has developed and launched an online database of flexible jobs across Canada, called Work Evolution.

Work Evolution is evolving the traditional “9 to 5, Monday to Friday” into something more forward-thinking. Just because someone drives to the office each day, puts in eight hours, and drives home, doesn’t mean they are more productive than someone doing the same job with flexible arrangements. In fact, according to Forbes, flexibility could be the best perk that companies aren’t considering — to find and keep top talent.

The site is for both organizations and professionals. If you’re an organization, you can post a job. If you’re a professional looking for flexible work, you can register to use the website and find several positions that fit your lifestyle.

www.workevolution.ca

So where did Tara’s idea come from? She explains it best in her blog post, What’s Next? My Employer Declined My Request for Flexibility.

A friend of hers reached out for guidance.

My friend gave birth to her first child approximately one year ago and is at “decision time” regarding her work. Should she go back to her old job? Return full-time? Try to negotiate flexible arrangements?

Ultimately, she decided that she DID want to go back, but not in a full-time capacity. When she approached her employer, the strong message was “full time, in the office only”. In other words, no flexibility.

After discussing this with friend after friend, colleague after colleague, and hearing story after story, I decided to take matters into her own hands and started to craft the idea that would eventually become Work Evolution.

In Her Own Words: Tara’s Personal Story

[The below excerpt is from Why I am Passionate About Flexible Work]

My IM/IT consulting career started in one of the big firms where I learned a lot about process and methodology, gained a lot of experience working with individuals and teams, and met many amazing folks. I loved it, loved the people, loved the projects, loved the travel, and loved the non-stop challenges.

And then… life changed and I didn’t love parts of it anymore.

I didn’t love the hours, the 7-days/week schedule, the lack of control of my personal time. So…I took a deep breath, took back control, and set out on my own, this time as an independent contractor providing services through a small consulting boutique.

In that phase of my career, life was more balanced. With some careful schedule management and prioritization, I could take on enough work so that I was fulfilled and challenged, but not so much work that it would interfere with the rest of my life. To me, the balance was perfect.

And then my son Alex was born.

Everyone says the birth of your first child changes you, and it did.

Tara and her boys. Photo: Cindy Huynh Photography

Sleepless nights aside, it changed my view of career and the role it plays in my life. I returned to work after six months (when 12 months is the cultural norm) and found work and roles that allowed me to balance time at home with time in the office. I found work that also gave me enough flexibility to attend my son’s activities and appointments when I wanted.

For me, the balance worked. But for so many others, the balance wasn’t possible.

Photo: Cindy Huynh Photography

Looking around at one of my peer groups – professional women with young families – I know that many were not able to find a balance that worked for them. Some asked their employers for flexible arrangements and were denied, forcing them to make a decision about what to do. Options that they reviewed included returning to the same role and same circumstances, not returning at all, or returning to a different role with more flexibility, sometimes in a different organization.

Some of the factors that were frequently under consideration were cost of child care, ability to spend time with their family, income, opportunity to use their experience/education, and their ability to stay in a job they considered meaningful.

At the end of the day, the decisions were very important, extremely personal and often very stressful. If your question is, “What do I do now?”, the answer is, “it depends” — because it’s so unique for each of us.

Keep reading Tara’s article to glean advice about work considerations, what a bridge job is, the many different paths to choose from, and some fantastic resources to check out.

Tara also shares some excellent tips in her article Marking it Work.

A peek inside www.workevolution.ca

Tara firmly believes that work-life balance is crucial — to both individuals and organizations. Her goal is to help organizations hire professionals in flexible jobs. This means helping organizations recognize the value of flexible work and what opportunities may exist within their organization for professionals. It also means helping professionals learn about and discover flexible jobs, while building a strong community of flex-working professionals.

Learn more at www.workevolution.ca.


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