So sang Dolly Parton back in 1980. And in those days, before the Information Age, she had a point.
31 years on and a revolution has taken place in the world of work. We’re constantly connected in a 24×7 world where customers expect instant responses via Facebook, Twitter, or plain “old” email.
But here’s the thing. Unless you’re in retail, or you’re a tech startup, then the world of work is still organised around those “core” hours that the Queen of Country sang about way back then.
Well, we’ve moved forward in leaps & bounds in those 31 years. Those were the days of Command & Control structures, where staff were there to be bossed around & shouted at and in many ways abused. Nowadays that behaviour would see you in court! The computer has transformed our working lives and we’re all way more productive. Some jobs have been consigned to history, and being networked and connected is where it’s at.
But actually, as employers, we’d quite like it if everyone could still work when it suits us. 9-5 please, ‘cos that’s what we’ve always done and it works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Do you think we’d have an iPod or an iPad if Steve Jobs thought like that?
I had a coffee this morning with a good friend of mine, Mark Griffiths, the MD of Aberdeen-based Codify and we were discussing this very point. We both work flexible hours, we start early, maybe take some time out during the day to swim or ride the bike, and then we’re back online until we go to bed. Working, socialising, connecting & engaging. For us it’s 24×7 because we love it. But we also get the balance that suits our own style & habits.
But in both of our companies we still ask people to shoe-horn into our “Business Hours”. However we’ve both realised that if we want to get the best out of our people, then we need to give them that same lattitude. We’re not asking them to work 24×7, far from it. But we’re both going to look at how we can make the working day better for them.
If you live out of town, hate the traffic, and aren’t a morning person, why not start at 10 and work through to 6. In fact, why not start at noon and work until 8? Likewise, if you’re like Mark & I, a morning person, then come in at 6 and finish up at 2. As long as we’ve got cover to support our customers throughout the day, then why not? We pay the rent for 24 hours, so why are we only using a third of what we pay for? That doesn’t make sense.
And what about you? If you’re running a business what do you think? If you’re an employee, what would you like?
It’s time to re-invent the way we work.