Work 2.0 – What We All Can Learn from Newark, NJ

Regan Parker, Director of Workforce Innovation and Advocacy

Regan Parker, Director of Workforce Innovation and Advocacy

In my role with LiveOps, I have been evangelizing about the future of work for years. Our company has been committed to this idea since it was founded, and despite some roadblocks and challenges, we’ve continued to pursue the idea that people should be able to work on their own terms. Freelancing is where work is headed. But this is a big change to traditional notions of employment in this country. And change is not always easy.

I have just returned from visiting Newark, New Jersey for the first time. I was there for the State of the City address where the Mayor, Cory Booker, announced that we have partnered to create work opportunities for his city’s residents. Newark is a brick city. Vastly different from the landscape of Silicon Valley. Yet, here they are, taking the best that technology and innovation has to offer, and offering its residents a different kind of future. Newark surprised me. At every turn, the city is teeming with hope, the cityscape, in the midst of a harsh East Coast winter, brightened by the spirit of its residents and the future they are running towards. Newark is changing.

Our partnership is an inspiring project, and one that LiveOps has been working towards for many years. LiveOps has long strived to bring change through work to the people who need it most. And we have done so for the thousands of people who use our platform to run a virtual business. But for years, cities and states have shied away from partnering with us because what we do is different. We don’t offer a 9-5 traditional job. What we offer is hope. We offer freedom.

LiveOps and Mayor Booker of Newark

LiveOps and Mayor Booker of Newark, New Jersey photo by Anthony Alvarez

I have to say that I was greatly humbled by my visit; I felt like I was surrounded by greatness at every turn. The Mayor and the people working with him are passionate, smart, and driven to make Newark a great place for business and a wonderful community for its residents. After working on developing the partnership for several weeks, we had a meeting in City Hall, simply to focus on identifying potential roadblocks and finding ways to clear them. I was shocked. I have spent a lot of time in Washington, and have interacted with many politicians and their staff. I am often disappointed by the power struggles, the games and the showmanship that often gets in the way of the real work that needs to be done and shifts focus away from what should be the true mission of our leadership: the needs of our people. In Newark it is different. In Newark, it is not about power or politics. It is about change.

I know that LiveOps made the right decision in joining with the city of Newark for this first partnership. The people of Newark are hungry for change, ready to meet the future that they so greatly deserve. To see a city embrace innovation to better its residents is a powerful testament to its leaders. The city is changing, and you can feel it when you walk the streets. You can hear it in Mayor Booker’s speech. He is not afraid to try something different. He is not afraid to step outside of traditional notions of employment. He is the first to embrace this opportunity, and I hope that many more follow in his bold footsteps.

The world of work is changing, and if cities and states want to lift their people out of unemployment, out of a recession, and into a future ripe with possibility and opportunity, they will have to embrace change.

As Mayor Booker said in his State of the City address, “I know Newark. Our city has a more than 300-year history that is a glorious and glowing testimony to the achievement of the impossible. This is Newark, New Jersey.”

Who’s next?

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One response to “Work 2.0 – What We All Can Learn from Newark, NJ”

  1. Kya says:

    This is truly inspiring. I grew up in Camden, New Jersey, but had the opportunity to leave and see what the world had to offer. Camden, New Jersey is in need of help. I am an agent and recently helped my mother who is 58 on a fixed income begin her business as an independent agent. Although becoming an agent may be easy for some us, there are people that aren’t as computer savy or just need some guidance to get started. It was truly gratifying to help my mother start and I would love to help guide others who think they could never do this.

    Congratulations on starting with Newark! There is more to come

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