It’s another work week here at the newspaper, and then next week we will work some more. For almost all of us, our lives get defined by the kind of work we do. When we have steady jobs our daily habits, travel patterns, alarm clocks, meal times and relaxing moments are all fit in around what we do to get paid.
Here in Sonoma County, we have a big diversity of workplaces. We work in vineyards, commercial kitchens, retail shops, on the road making deliveries, in large or small professional offices, schools and government, on a tractor, at a hospital, a solitary art studio, a noisy factory, a cozy home office in slippers, or sometimes in places where we feel more like a number than a person.
All workplaces have bosses. But there are also team leaders and followers. Sometimes there are co-workers who don’t easily fit a mold or who have taken on multiple roles. These are the people (usually younger) who are a big part of the changing definition of work and our workplaces.
We call these new workers “Chelseys,” named after a wonderful young woman who worked with us at this newspaper for the last few months until being recruited away from us just last week.
Chelsey had a job here that didn’t exist until quite recently. She was our Digital Media Specialist. Lots of workplaces have new job positions and need workers to do new tasks with new skills. Much of this change in our workplace is caused by computers and the internet, but not all of it.
In a world or workplace with lots of rapid changes and new challenges that need new solutions, we all need more Chelseys. While most of us cling to daily routines, we need daring co-workers to help us through disruptions and all the uncertainties that are invading our 21st Century jobs and careers.
Newspapers are one of the world’s oldest businesses but we’re also a business that is changing rapidly now in the digital revolution. We hired Chelsey to help manage our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter communications with our many thousands of readers, or whatever new name we should call our public. She also expanded our online presence and taught us to value “SEO,” “click-throughs” and “page views.”
Chelsey was not a journalist. She came to us as a stand-up comedienne with college degrees in psychology and philosophy. She sought work where she could “positively connect with others” and “promote community through various network strategies.”
Chelsey delivered; she converted our unknowns and uncertainty into new and expanding audiences, newspaper users and “friends” from Facebook and beyond. Other newspaper workers kept us on deadline and following our weekly routines. Still others brought donuts and extra fruit to work. Chelsey brought the new energy, questions and creativity that all workplaces should be looking for these days.
Chelsey’s very short tenure with us is another part of our changing workplaces. Fewer and fewer workers stay in a single job or career path anymore. We know we live in a much more mobile and temporary society in 2018. We see this pace of change, innovation and unknowns getting faster and crazier. We used to say, “go with the flow.” Now, maybe the better career advice is “be the flow.”
Workplaces need to be open to all kinds of innovations and invitations in the digital age, but we need to keep valuing our longer term, steady and reliable workers, too — perhaps more than ever. Just because workplaces need to add new skills and talents, doesn’t mean the old skills, past lessons and sage advice is being replaced.
These are great times to be part of a workplace. We now have the opportunity to be a Chelsey and generate our own self-worth and not let our daily jobs do it for us.
— Rollie Atkinson