Does the 9-to-5 Workday Still Exist in the Hudson Valley?

A panel of forward-thinkers met at SUNY New Paltz to discuss the future of the Hudson Valley workforce.

Do the 9-to-5 workday and brick-and-mortar office have a place in the future of the Hudson Valley? Local movers and shakers, who met at SUNY New Paltz on June 23 for a panel discussion titled, “Disrupted: The Future of the Hudson Valley Economy,” said that evolving technology may disrupt those norms.

“Disruptive technologies,” such as the Uber car service and the Blue Apron dinner service, have challenged traditional services such as taxis and grocery stores. Most disruptive tech grows “organically” in response to a need, said Dennis Crowley, the event’s keynote speaker.

Crowley, co-founder of the popular location technology Foursquare and founder of the Kingston Stockade Football Club, noted that nearly 100 percent of new jobs in the Hudson Valley involve alternative arrangements such as part-time, contractual, or consultancy work.

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His observation was applauded by panel member Melanie Axelrod, a recent SUNY New Paltz grad and graphic designer, who said that she tried working in an office and “hated it,” preferring the freedom and flexibility of working from home. The culture of working project-to-project — in a  “gig economy” — is a growing trend.

The panel of regional tech and gig-economy experts also included Garnet Heraman, founder of Anvil Venture Partners and co-founder of Karina Dresses; Kale Kaposhilin, co-founder of Hudson Valley Tech Meetup and co-founder of Evolving Media and Moonfarmer; and Johnny LeHane, co-founder of CLUBWAKA and Managing Partner of Hudson Valley Startup Fund.

Laurence Gottlieb, president and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation (HVEDC), which sponsored the panel as part of its Thought Leaders Master Series, said disrupting norms in the economy and workforce may be the wakeup call that some companies need to freshen their perspective.

Using a freelance workforce can broaden the pool of skilled workers as well as boost the company’s collective knowledge, panelists added. What’s important is that employers understand what makes the Hudson Valley unique: “That has a lot to do with agriculture, community values, and social justice,” said Kaposhilin. The people we employ care about these issues. They want to work for a company that’s creating meaning in the world; they want their efforts to have meaning.”

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