I shared the Future of Work Manifesto a few weeks ago as a starter for a series of discussions around the Future of Work. Last month, we talked about a new definition of work. In that definition, I actually left out this clause from the Manifesto so we could discuss it on its own:
- The distinction between "work" and "life" is artificial and a barrier to leveraging both the power of the individual and that of the organization.
One of the most wide-ranging effects of the internet age has obviously been our ability to stay connected anytime and anywhere (at least anywhere with wifi) to the office, meaning that we don't have to be sitting at our desks to be doing the work we need to be doing. Now, there's an internet full of opinions about whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, which is not what this post is about.
In the context of the Manifesto and the future of work, however, this weird transition phase that we're in, between traditional, mechanical management systems (where you clock in and out between 9 and 5) and new more human ecosystems (where results matter more than process), the objective of this change is for organizations to understand that whole lives matter to the organization.
It matters for people to be able to spend time with their newborns. It matters for people to feel like they are supported in taking time off to recharge. It matters for people to be able to pick up their kids from school or go to the dentist in the middle of the day and not have to justify that. It matters for people to be able to get work done in hotel lobbies and on airplanes and in cafes and from their home office.
It also matters that a few of those people, maybe, prefer to work at the office between 9 am and 5 pm - and that's totally ok.
As we explained in our book When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business, a key capacity of true digital organizations is the adoption of a digital mindset - which means a relentless focus on a customized and personalized user experience for BOTH the employee and the customer, in order to DO BETTER WORK. What that means is that the individual worker should be able to define their own work experience, to take into account all the non-work things that matter, and be a more engaged employee for it.
Now I hear you thinking, what about those who will game the system? What about people who can't be trusted to manage their own schedules? How do we know our employees aren't goofing off instead of working? My answer to that is, why are you hiring people you don't trust? That's on you, not them.
Organizations that understand that it's not about some mythical "work-life balance" but about each individual person being able to be supported in putting into effect the conditions that allow them to do their best work - that's what the future of work is about.
Exploring the Future of Work is a new Social Media Today column looking at how work is evolving, and can be changed for the better - other posts in the series can be found here.