We headed back to New York and North Carolina for a long weekend to see great friends and visit old neighborhoods. It was incredibly refreshing, energizing and eye opening.
Even if our flights were delayed in both directions.
While we were walking around the Warehouse District in Raleigh, I started thinking about our workplaces.
- The shift in culture
- The acceptance of an asynchronous communications
- The change in how work gets done
And as we start heading back into the office, how will companies and individuals respond en masse?
Doing 90% of our work.
A decade ago, I first wrote about the idea that we should be able to do 90% of our work 100% of the time.
(Wow. A decade ago!)
I had picked up the original iPad (2010) and had been using it as a primary travel device for a few years. If my memory holds up, I wrote that decade-old article (see links below) shortly after a three-week business trip across Western Europe.
The only ‘computer’ I brought with me was that iPad.
- I used it on trains
- I used on planes
- I used it at conferences
- I used it in meetings
Knowing I’d hit some bumps along the way, I was confident this was the right time to experiment and experience using a tablet as a primary device.
While the experiment didn’t start out well–there wasn’t enough memory to send emails that were created offline when I connected to wifi and I lost 20+ emails–the pros far outweighed any cons.
Namely, portability and battery life.
During that time, I was working with a software development and integrations firm. My role was business development, marketing, product, sales and a little media relations activity. We were a small company doing really big things.
After discussing this experiment with our head developer, he let me know it wasn’t something he could try on his own.
I realized the 90% model wouldn’t work (at the time) for every role.
Our roles were too different.
While I agreed, I knew it was only a matter of time before his role would be able to take advantage of the same freedom.
A decade later.
It was almost a decade ago when I first wrote about this topic. Yet, we’re still looking for ways to be more portable and do more things with less.
And, after ten years has passed there’s been one big change: A forced-reason to begin finding ways to make us more productive when we’re not at the office.
Maybe it needed to be forced at the corporate level for it to be taken seriously. And a reason for the powers-that-be to take this topic more seriously.
Instead of only thinking about remote productivity for those who travel, which were likely managers and above, everyone was taking part in a remote work lifestyle.
This may seem like it’s a full time employee transition only. However, the impact of the pandemic has moved many FTEs in my network to rethink their relationship with work.
(There are some folks in my network that went back to the corporate world after a freelance stint.)
And in doing so, how freelancers operate at scale without having company-level operational resources behind them became a new business challenge for those individuals and small teams.
There’s even an entire series of YouTube videos dedicated to this very topic.
(If you don’t think folks like Joe Allam are the next wave of businesses, you haven’t been reading the news carefully enough.)
The next ten years.
I was talking with a political consultant over the weekend.
He asked this question:
What happens when we are all freelancers?
It feels like we know what’s now more important to make our lives more, um, livable.
- Better healthcare
- Better support for freelance services and businesses
- Better focus on our personal lives
So what’s in store for the workplace over the next decade?
- More stationary ‘computers’ for the 10% work
- More applications built from the ground up for tablets
- Longer battery life in mobile devices
However, my guess is the big shift has already happened. And that’s a culture shift, one that we won’t be able to put back into the bag any time soon.
And that may mean more support (financial, health, etc.) for those workers who fall outside of the FTE designation.
I took this photo while we were walking back to our hotel.
We were still in the Warehouse District (I think), walking by a food market.
This photo reminded me of that decade-ago post and how far we’ve come.
And how far we still have to go.
Links and references
- I’m trying to get into Formula 1 this year. I’m not so interested that I’ll block out my Sundays for the live races, however I am following a new YouTube channel (The Backmarkers) and signed up with the F1 mobile app.
- My Sundays (and, increasingly, recently, several weekdays) are saved for Liverpool FC.
- I was really hoping to write less in these new-style articles. While I initially targeted 1,000 articles, I figured the photo-focused articles would be much less. I’m at 978 words now.