We founded the Work in Place initiative to provide opportunities for the national, regional, and local multi-sector conversations that will make possible smart new ways of working. A new geography of work is emerging — and it’s time for new programs, policies, and practices crafted around it.
Through these conversations and the solutions they generate, we aim to consciously change the culture of work — for organizations, individuals, and communities.
In 2007, Michael Erard and Misty McLaughlin were living in Austin, Texas, when Misty’s software company employer told her she could work anywhere she wanted. They moved to Portland, Maine, for its quality of place, cultural vibrance, and proximity to natural beauty.
Working in place in their home offices over several years, they had some insights. As a manager of a remote team, Misty learned the benefits (and challenges) of weaving remote work into an organization’s culture. Meanwhile, Michael discovered that the economic contributions by people working remotely were not being captured at the local, state, or federal level. Michael has written about the lack of data in op eds for the Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald. Because work-in-place types are an invisible group, their needs and interests went unrecognized by political candidates and civic leaders alike.
In 2014, they met Jennifer Hutchins and Andy Graham, who had been building Portland, Maine’s creative economy through their work with Creative Portland, whose goal was to bring 10,000 new “creative class” people to Portland. Together, the four began talking about how recruiting people to work in place in Portland could be a viable strategy for growing the state’s economy.
They also realized that many other places would benefit from this strategy. However, increasing the viability of work-in-place arrangements requires widespread changes in the culture of work. Making such changes require multi-sector conversations that have not yet happened.