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Contest

Congratulations to Lauren Maher, our Solutions From The Trenches Contest Winner.
We loved all your solutions from the trenches we recieved from all over the country telling us how you advocated in your workplace for solutions to the never-ending workday. Check out Lauren Maher's wiining essay below.

FROM LAUREN MAHER AT ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION NYC I work at a foundation in New York City- my colleagues are great- dedicated, smart, hard working. The work is demanding yet rewarding and the pay is non-profit. Hours are long and many employees are stressed and over-worked.

We'd been going through a year-long restructuring, with new senior management, new roles, responsibilities, a lot of uncertainty, etc. This restructuring has taken its toll on morale and added to the already heavy workload.

During the Summer of 1999, I looked around at the stressed-out faces and had an idea to brighten them with my true passion. Sailing. One of the benefits that the foundation offers is tuition reimbursement, but not enough people take advantage of that. I teach sailing on the weekends and decided to inquire if a sailing course would qualify. I got a positive response from Human Resources; they felt it would help with team-building and morale. People at the foundation were needing a morale boost and meanwhile, there was a lot of talk about the need for team-building exercises. So, along with another colleague, I organized colleagues at the foundation to take 'team-building sailing lessons' which would be paid for by the foundation as well as justifiable as a team-building exercise.

This idea was so successful that we had more teams take the lessons this summer and fall. So far about 16 colleagues have taken my course together, learned a new skill that requires cooperation and communication, grown as a team, and some have even taken up sailing as a hobby. This activity certainly helped boost morale and team spirit, which makes for a more productive and more pleasant workplace. It's also pushed the boundaries on the thinking of team-building and experiential learning and training, which sets a precedence for similar exercises and training.

Testimonials: From KP, a colleague who participated in the team-building sailing program: "At the start of day 2 of our sailing lessons, we were informed that due to a motor boat race on the Hudson River, we were stuck out on the water for six hours until the boats cleared. The thought of spending six hours straight in a 24-foot boat with four colleaguesfrom work, on a windless day, was at first, not so appealing. As the day progressed, however, the wind picked up and my colleagues began recounting stories about their travels,interests outside of work, and friends/families. The time flew by and before I knew it, it was time to lower the sails and head into the harbor. By the end of the day, I felt that though we had focused our energies on learning to sail, in the process, I had gotten to know four people from work better in an environment that was neither forced nor superficial. I had a great time, brought some new friendships back to the workplace, feel more positive and productive while at work, and hope that we can all sail again next spring."

Solution of the Week
Eric Bayliss - Acme Bike Messenger
The simple pleasures, like time for a morning cup of java. That's all Eric Bayliss, a veteran bike messenger, wanted. But while Eric loves zigzagging through San FranciscoÍs famously hilly streets, twelve-hour days and constant tension with management were giving him daily tension headaches.

"You could have the flu or a nagging injury and need some rest, but if you missed a day or needed some time off you always ran the risk of being fired. And the worst part was the bickering with dispatchers. You already have a lot to deal with as a messenger: road rage, smog, traffic. You don't want your job to be an us versus them kind of deal."

Eric tried to bring up restructuring ideas with management and when that faltered he even organized a strike. Finally Eric, along with seven other bike buddies, started ACME Messenger Service. Along the way, the biker owned company reinvented the way messenger services work.

Utilizing the latest technology, all-in-one cell phones that also send and receive emails, the bikers also act as the company switchboard, taking calls from customersÍ curbsides.

Since each ACME biker has his or her own territory, the company has also cut down on mileage. And ACME doesn't take just any client. Eric even has a rule that a lot of Americans would like to have: no lawyers.

"We cater mostly to the design world; they're nice, happy faces, not stressed out lawyers who always love to blame the messenger," Eric said.

Of course, by cutting out the middleman, ACME bikers are earning about forty percent more these days. But, for Eric, it's not just about more dollars, "itÍs about saner days, about feeling in charge of my daily routine. And we're all pulling and covering for each other. It's a better vibe."

By Dean Adams and Joe Rubin


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