Written by: Adam Lloyd
Can you relate to this? I was pressing my phone to my cheek while unloading items onto the checkout counter at the grocery store, part of me was thinking: where’s my daughter?; another was saying please don’t drop another new phone; and another part was creating a very relaxed and casual dialogue, a discussion any real human being could relate to. Daughter nearby, check, phone was in hand, but also the conversation was a success. One that would be classified as a professional victory.
But this took place in a grocery store, not the confinement of an office. You might think, how great could that discussion be? By interchanging the elements of a standard professional call from the office setting to a looser environment, it created a less guarded and more humanizing interaction for the other party. A scenario was created that most people can relate to and precious extracurricular time was being used just for this individual. Nothing forced or rigid, just two people talking and relating to one another.
Taking calls in the grocery store. Scheduling and responding to emails during kid’s sports practices. Cooking dinner while skyping with colleagues…this is becoming our new norm. Most of us often feel like we’re on a reality show, engaging from our personal home life and private surroundings. We’re all doing 3 things and being in 3 places at once.
It’s the new nature of work-life and we should embrace it. The key is that when work calls to remain professional, prepared and never sloppy while in our real-life relatable scenarios. And there are factors today that make it easier than ever to integrate.
If you ask the younger generations “what is face time?” like most of us, they’ll tell you it’s a feature that allows you to visually collaborate. Face time used to mean being present at the office. Remember Bill Lumberg in the movie Office Space? He valued face time. In reality, both the term and concept are eroding due to the flexibility companies offer workers today. Flex and mixed schedules are allowing employees to balance their time amongst office, home and travel. It improves work productivity, employee morale (assuming employees are engaged in the first place) and well-being. Just like clear objectives, people value options in how to meet these goals. So structure loosely. Organizations that provide flexibility with purpose often attract desirable talent.
As the world becomes smaller every day, organizations are reaping the value of leveraging employee input from around the globe. And as we continue spending time in different regions, working within different cultures and boundaries, we become more comfortable and effective at working in transit and in the gray. By taking advantage of flex time, there’s a conditioning that takes place resulting in accomplishing work outside of the typical work environment. With increasing travel and movement, comes more practice at completing tasks on the go, soon enough becoming very natural.
Technology & Social
It’s pretty simple, with more advanced tools and features, it becomes easier to attend meetings, craft proposals, lead trainings and join chats. Technology and social platforms can’t keep up with themselves and their competitors. This is one race that is to the advantage of business professionals [consumers] that need products to help complete work at home, from the airport or wherever we may be. Connectivity is becoming a new norm and now social and professional media outlets are making constant updates to not only improve the ability to communicate and get information, but also the ease of the experience.
Organizations can’t afford to rely on 9-5, in-office, work schedules anymore. The professional world is more competitive today, we’ve become more efficient and are working in flux as a result of it. Guilt is often associated with extended vacations, so we take micro vacations and combine business and leisure trips. As discussed in The Neverending Workday, the notion that our competitors may be outworking us has led to a mass panic of unplugging. Although we feel lost without being connected, we have also loosened the reigns on having to be in a particular work setting at all times. Competition and advancements have resulted in a new form of work ethic, one that centers on work day longevity, but finds balance in the “where” element.
Don’t feel bad for responding to emails and taking calls when you’re not in the office, this is the new norm. The key, however, is to keep in mind that all work does not get done in the office.