There is no shortage of literature and views on, “the future of Work.”
Several prominent consultancies and organisations have popped up helping people to adapt and address the changes to “Work,” which are now filtering into their organisation, either by default or design.
The following web pages and blogs are particularly interesting and forward-looking in this regard, making intriguing reading.
They both attempt to define “Work,” by talking about outputs (Occupiers Journal) and work as an activity, not place. (www.agile.org.uk) Where the focus is on performance not presenteeism; centered around trust based relationships.
Clearly there are a number of developments which have enabled this. Not least the advancement of Web 2.0 technology and the instant availability of data, connectivity and news feeds thanks to the introduction of 3G, wireless technology and the increased portability of communication devices such as BlackBerry’s, iPhone’s and more recently the iPad.
Enter…. the knowledge worker. Someone who when twinned with the connectivity and technology which is now widely available, becomes a very powerful organisational asset and investment. In essence they are able to carry out their role from anywhere based on mobile connectivity and the subject knoweldge they have.
It is true to say that the ‘newer’ generations are more open to sharing knowledge and uploading information into the public domain via the various channels that are now available to them. The talent / differentiation now, i think, is all about knowing where to find the data and information that you are looking for. Research skills are no longer reserved for the student working towards their final year degree thesis.
They are also becoming an essential skill required in modern-day “Work.”
One easy way of doing this and the most effective way is to follow industry blogs, newsgroups, business networking sites and RSS feeds and develop an online identity and take part in the debate, knowledge sharing and opinion forming that goes on. They are for the most part very rich and inspiring.
What better benefit and perk for an organisation to give an employee. Control over when and where they work and over their work life balance means they have the ability to better align their lives at home and work. For some this will mean a blurring of boundaries, taking phone calls and emails at weekend and evenings…that’s their choice… Whilst at the same time the organisation benefits from lower overheads because they’ve managed to close offices and shift everything to a larger, more efficient back office function… A win-win for Facilities Management if ever I have seen one !
What better way of keeping an employee ‘on-board’ by providing the flexibility for them to have full control over when and where they work – as long as the work is done, the ‘way,’ in which it is done doesn’t matter one iota. (Metaphorically speaking)
The dichotomy here of course is that whilst the technology advancements have in some ways helped to shrink our World and facilitated Globalisation; work can now, just as easily, be carried out on the other side of the world, from home or the local Starbucks coffee house. It is no longer centered around the ‘Workplace,’ and the ‘Work station.’ So we are still communicating, sharing knowledge and information very much at “arms length.”
When did we last see such a large shift in how work was performed and carried out in this country? Yes – the industrial revolution, around 1750 – 1850 (depending on your opinion)
Is this not akin to that? A revolution in the way that modern day “Work,” is now being carried out.
The caveat to the above is that I believe that there will always be a place for the ‘Work place,’ because we are human and people need people. Fact. The day-to-day interaction and informal water cooler chats form such an important opportunity for us to develop purpose and identity and although might only last
five to ten minutes max….
they provide opportunity for an important exchange of ideas, knoweldge and information. Thought… Why can’t every business meeting be as quick and concise as a water cooler meeting?
In summary, the world is becoming faster and the pace of change quickening – people are far more productive today than say 25 years ago, more is expected of them whilst less is prescribed. In order to do this they need to be mobile, flexible and know ‘where to find,‘ the answers because they can no longer be found in a pedestal draw or a filing cabinet…
In answer : A ‘Work station,’ is somewhere today where ‘Work,’ stops too.