The way we work keeps evolving so stay alert to these 3 shifts - whether you're using them yourself or noticing them in colleagues, clients or competitors.
Whenever. Wherever. However.
Also known as the 'non-linear workday'
Many job roles are increasing in flexibility. That means work is less about starting at 8.30am and finishing at 5.30 - or whatever you’d consider your normal or regular, linear start and finish hours where you work throughout.
With a non-linear work day, it's not a straight line from start to finish but more of a dotted line of starting and stopping several times throughout the day as it suits you.
Your preferences might be to work from 6-8 am then take two hours break to go for a swim or walk the dog, get the kids ready and take them to school. Then do a 9-12pm slot of work. Have some lunch, do supermarket shopping and take a quick nap, put on some laundry, pick up the kids, get dinner started and then work from 4.30-6.30 and another slot from 8-9pm after dinner. It might not suit you but it might suit someone else. And it might not be every day but it could be several days a week.
There's any number of combinations of work hours that can work for us when we work in an organisation or industry that is becoming more flexible and allowing, letting and welcoming staff to work in a non-linear way.
The old 888 hours of work rest and play is evolving to 2 1 4 1 3 1 3 2 7 hours or something non-liner in a single block of time.
Of course this may not work for scheduled shift workers or people who are rostered on in sectors where work remains linear with set start and finish times.
But non-linear work is shaping up as a huge flexibility for people and a highly attractive recruitment incentive and a rewarding job benefit that just makes life better. Particularly when the choice is yours.
This could be known as 'choice of place'
Where you work is becoming less important because of the rise in asynchronous and remote work; we don't all have to be in the same office at the same time.
The number of times people are returning to the office but sitting on a full day of remote calls reveals the opportunities for greater choice of where you work.
Plus the rebound in co-working places -- not just for entrepreneurs but employees of companies who find the local co-work place convenient -- and the birth of businesses like Third Place -- who have membership options to work flexibly and be fed in pubs, cafes, hotels and other hospitality venues (who are loving the business BTW) -- are increasing signs that people want to work wherever is comfortable, productive and suitable to them.
I recently worked a day at a Hyatt Hotel where you can book a room for an affordable day use rate and still access all the beauties of the gym, room service and other features ... but just not stay overnight. The peace and quiet was perfect to manage some audio recording, rest, attend a couple of remote meetings and finish a batch of writing. I couldn't have done that at home and certainly not in an office.
There are parents who are on the sidelines at the swimming pool and listening to a team meeting, or driving to a weekend away and staying connected via a client workshop. It's wherever your best work gets done: on the couch, in the car, on the bus, in a cafe, in a plane (if you know me, you know I'm an #avgeek and am comfortable and productive above 30,000 feet) -- it's the environment where you do the work of your employment that is convenient, timely and works for you.
Hello, hat tips and shout outs to friends and colleagues like Jane Anderson CSP and Gabrielle Dolan who have belted out big writing tasks on long road trips and got through several hours of work while their co-driver drives. Snacks and singalongs become important breaks!
When work doesn't require particular equipment or is dependent on other people e.g. medical and health care services often need to be where the patient or client is -- hey, but even telehealth services have boomed since the pandemic -- wherever work can be a liberating way to work.
Also known as 'asynchronous work'
If synchronous work is now, all together, in a meeting, asynchronous work is how I'd like to do it, and a bit of when I'd like to do it thrown in.
Async work is delivering people an immediate reduction in meetings and an increase in available time to do Cal Newport-style deep work.
Why should we all have to sit through listening to a long-winded and detailed presentation? Why not record it and I can watch it on 2 x speed later? That's HOW I'd like to do that piece of work. Or perhaps I'd prefer to READ a transcript of the presentation because that works for me. Or you could pre-record a video and we can all watch it, listen to it, read it or hear about it from someone else, when and how it suits us.
For many people, asynchronous work is the biggest of the three shifts.
People might love a bit of non-linear work and they understand the increase in wherever/location-based work, but how-work, asynchronous work, can be more of a mindset and cultural change... not to mention a further shaking of those controlling structures and systems that have kept people in boxes and following wasteful rules for way too long.
More modern work is most certainly more asynchronous.
I’ll do it when it suits … not in a rude way but in a flexible way. We still meet deadlines and delivery but all 6, 8, 16 of us don’t get on a boring status update meeting that could’ve been a chat message or a spreadsheet entry.
Why do we have to wait for a meeting for work to begin or progress? Begin it when you’re ready and progress it asynchronously.
You can read more about the practicalities, tools and techniques of how to work asynchronously in my latest book, 'Sync Async : Making progress easier in the changing world of work' - it's available as an ebook or paperback wherever you get your books).
Read more: To Make Better, Easier Progress, Go ‘Async’ More Often
These are just three driving changes that are impacting how we work today.
They're EVolutionizing work, via a slower steady change perhaps via a pilot or trial with feedback and more go-slow progress. And there's still a REVolutionizing of work that's happening - which is a switch, an 'as of x date we will do this' kind of change.
Even if you think your industry can't evolve anymore or 'it just isn't possible', there could be flexibility available in one of these ways to bring greater choice, service and wellbeing to the team and your customers/clients ... and greater progress to the work that needs to be designed, done or delivered.
However you change, make sure you change towards more modern work, and away from dated, older ways of working.
These more modern changes to work are impacting careers, productivity, recruitment, sales, leadership and teamwork. And most of all, our enjoyment and quality of life ... and for many people, that's the best and biggest change of all.
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