Thursday, August 18, 2011

Working 9 - 5 Ain't The Way to Make a Livin

The 9 - 5 in a building setting (or whatever inflexible structures you have in place) isn't only an issue for student learning as I wrote about here yesterday.  Heck part of the reason the school day is so rigid is because many businesses are unnecessarily stuck in the industrial model and parents need someone to care for their kids.  The fact is we needn't be working in buildings 9-5 when we can access everything in the cloud and connect with anyone, anytime.

If businesses let go of the structures and time zones, we open our doors to many more opportunities for all.  For instance dropping old constructs would result in happier, more productive, and more creative workers and a reduction in operating costs. Here's why: 

It's not surprising that creative people often say their creativity doesn't happen on demand or just during 9 - 5.  It often happens late nights, early mornings, the middle of the night. When we disconnect work to a time or place, we can enable individuals to connect with creativity as it comes.

If we unbind workers from hours (known in school as seat time) and instead tie it to the work completed we are measuring what really matters and employee turnover decreases.  In fact, for many flexibility is more important in a job than money. Additionally, there are days in places like where I work where extreme conditions such as snowstorms, flooding, train derailments, etc. make it nearly impossible to get to work.  Rather than endangering staff or requiring extremely extended commutes, staff can be more productive by staying off the road and getting to work and they'll thank you for it. 

Reduction in Costs:
I worked at Coopers & Lybrand more than a decade ago (I think it's Price Waterhouse Coopers or something now).  During my stint there, they told most of their managing staff to go home for good.  Much of their work didn't require them to be physically onsite so they told them they could work from wherever they wanted. On those rare times when they needed to physically be at work, they would check in and be assigned an office or conference room.  As a result they got rid of an entire office building and had happier employees! Another way costs could be reduced is because if given the choice, many employees would pick flex time over a raise

New Opportunities
When we move our work from places to people and let go of the clock and space, suddenly we open ourselves up to global connections and collaborations.  For instance, because I don't confine myself to an exclusive 9 - 5 schedule I have the wonderful opportunity to connect and collaborate with members of my personal learning network from around the world.  I know longer know people as being from a place but rather as having certain talents, passions, and interests.  In fact, I recently met Erica O'Grady who is what she calls home free.  In the 21st century we need no walls, clocks or permanent homes.  With a laptop and internet she can work from anywhere and live with anyone either via barter, friendship, or negotiating a good rate for the night.  Her possessions consist of one suitcase worth of belongings. She explained that letting go of traditional constructs has made the world her workplace and any spot on the globe her home.

What Next?
The 21st century is a time when we must STOP doing things because it is the way it's always been done and START thinking differently.  There is no good reason not to do so and lots of reasons why doing so is detrimental.  Next time you're tethered to a desk and a clock ask yourself if your doing this because it is necessary and best or if it's because it's the way it's always been done.  Chances are it's just monkey business and you're trapped in a cage without good reason like the monkeys in the story below told via video and powerpoint.

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