October 10, 2008

“People get to be people all the time”

More and more experts are starting to say work-life balance is no longer 'the thing'. We now need work-life intergration, as work and life should be in harmony.... therefore removing the need to 'balance' the two. Makes a lot of sense. Scott Ginsberg of http://www.hellomynameisscott.com/ commented recently on the question he is frequently asked at airports "travelling for work or pleasure?" To which he responds "both" or "no difference for me". Having your work be a natural and enjoyable extenstion of yourself is how it should be. We need to create workplaces where "people get to be people all the time". I've just finished a book written by two wonderful ladies who are taking on that mission! It is called "Why Work Sucks and How to Fix it". Cali and Jody have created a framework called ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) which they have implimented in US Fortune 100 company Best Buy very very successfully. Staff are paid for work done, not hours worked. These women are fantastic and doing to the workplace what it called for years ago. I hope they conquer the world fast! I love how they think. They say millions and millions of objections have been thrown their way about ROWE but they have never had anyone disagree with the radical statement "adults deserve to be treated like adults". Damn right they do! ROWE requires trust, new thinking, commitment and open mindedness. Some people do get very anti this kind of movement, which I'd personally put down to fear or lazyness. Scared of what could happen, or too lazy to make it happen. They can't hide from the fact that this is where the future is taking us. We just need to tackle such workplace innovations (or revelations!) the same way you eat an Elephant. One bite at a time.

Cali and Jody believe it is not the bad boss or unfair break policy that makes people keep switching jobs. It is the very nature of how we work, which is flawed. These days we don’t have to wait until the store opens to buy something or watch TV when it airs or come down from Mt Everest to make a phone call. Yet at work we have given up all these freedoms. The nature of our workplaces force us to be slow and tradition bound at work. 20 years ago you had to go to the office because that is where the resources, phones and liquid paper was. This has been not the case for quite some time now.
A powerful insight for me from the book was "flexi time can make work suck more". As "Nothing can make you feel more out of control than to be given the illusion of control." There is a story of a worker who achieved flexible hours but: got stressed, questioned her own competence, had colleagues say sarcastically every time she was in the office "oh your here..." and being left out of decisions. It appears flexitime is not the answer! The workplace has outgrown it already.

ROWE also kills presenteeism (being in the building but not working) as slackers cannot hide in a ROWE. I highly recommend this book. It is the future of workplaces. It is powerful and fun. It is laden with fantastic real employee examples that illustrate what it is like in a ROWE.

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