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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, November 19, 2017 1:00 am

Retailers hiring staffers to work from home

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Welcome to telecommuting, retail workers.

Some managers may have more reports who are working from home this year. J.C. Penney, Williams-Sonoma and Amazon are among the employers who posted listings for work-from-home seasonal retail jobs, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. And the Chicago outplacement company said more retailers might follow suit if the strategy proves successful.

Most of the jobs will be answering customer questions and concerns through phone, email or web-based chat services.

“These types of positions are great for older job seekers or those who may have a difficult time getting to an office or being on their feet,” said Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

For the Williams-Sonoma jobs, employees were expected to attend paid virtual training before starting work. The Home Shopping Network was also hiring for similar positions in Florida and Tennessee.

The rise of at-home retail jobs is due partly to low in-store sales figures compared with the rise of e-commerce transactions. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, in-store sales fell 7.2 percent in December 2016, marking 23 consecutive months of declines. Non-store retailers – catalogs and online – experienced a 10.4 percent gain during the same period, Challenger said in a news release.

According to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, 3.9 million U.S. employees, or 2.9 percent of the total workforce, work from home at least half the time – meaning there has been a 115 percent increase in telecommuting from 2005 to 2015.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also found that 22 percent of workers did some or all of their work at home, compared with 19 percent in 2003.

Find the Fire

Inspiration. It's a choice. So says Scott Mautz, the CEO of online training company Profound Performance. I like the way he thinks.

Mautz last month released a book titled “Find the Fire: Ignite Your Inspiration – and Make Work Exciting Again.”

Sure, leaders play a role in the culture and atmosphere, building or reminding employees of their potential and the goals. But I've always believed there needs to be some fire from within.

Mautz rejects the notion of inspiration as some “elusive, external force – something mysterious that happens” to those who are lucky.

“The problem with being inspired by is that, by definition, it's passive,” he says in a pitch about his new book.

There are nearly 10 forces, Mautz suggests, which kill inspiration. They range from fear of failure, change or criticism to inundation, which requires breaking habits such as procrastination, letting go of perfectionism and mastering the art of pushback.

Mautz, who lives in Cincinnati, has been a Procter & Gamble executive, an adjunct professor at Indiana University, contributor to Inc. magazine and author of “Make It Matter.”

YLNI's '18 Institute

Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana last week announced it is accepting applications for the 2018 Leadership Institute program.

The Leadership Institute “connects emerging leaders with their peers and their community as they gain career skills,” the organization said in a news release. Hands-on instruction, small group activities, and personal reflection allow participants to develop their skills. More than 350 people in northeast Indiana have benefited from the program since 2006.

The Leadership Institute meets every other Friday from January through April, beginning with a Jan. 17 welcome event.

Applications are due by Dec. 8. For more information on session topics, dates and times or to apply, go to

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at