Refining What “Work” Means in An Agency

Thought Legion Blog AuthorBy Jody Thompson
Culture RX
Refining What “Work” Means in An Agency

The idea of the workplace needs to change. Showing up at work has never been, and will never be a guarantee that work is getting done.  Oh, something is getting done, but it’s not always what we’d like to believe.  Presenteeism is alive and well. And unless we tackle the outdated, outmoded and out to lunch industrial-age platform of work, we’ll be left scratching our heads wondering why engagement is flat, performance is sub-par, and people are leaving for greener pastures.

We’re all competing on a dying platform

The 1950’s workplace is colliding with the 21st Century workforce. Everywhere you look there’s another article about generations colliding, competing in global business markets, creating internal resiliency, adaptability and innovation engines, and surviving change. And the information is numbing. Where do you start?

The place to start is well . . . in the office. Do you have (loose) office hours? Are some people allowed to work from other locations? Do you pretty much know where people are during business hours? Do you have a vacation policy?  Are people complaining about who gets to leave early, work from home, or get that coveted promotion?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. The workplace is built on a foundation of Time + Physical Presence = Results.  And even if we believe we’re contemporary – ‘look at our cool lunchroom, fitness center, couches from IKEA, open workspace’! – we’re just window-dressing the idea that what really holds us all together.

The entire foundation of work needs to change – and will change with or without us. The glue that once held us together – the office’ – is now hindering our ability to be agile, nimble, focused, innovative and intrinsically motivated.

Gen Y is saying NO

That’s right. No matter how glitzy and fun you make the workplace, eventually people will leave it.  Because it’s not the workplace that’s the problem, it’s the way people are forced to do work. In an office. Most of the time. Unless we give you permission to do it another way. Where you’re more productive. But we need to see you in the office at least 20 hours a week.

Sound familiar?

Differentiate, don’t imitate

The entire platform of work needs to change, blowing away Time + Physical Presence as a relevant measure of work. It’s not.  Today, the measure of work is about one thing only: Results. In a results-driven workforce, each person is to do whatever they want, whenever they want as long as the work gets done. It’s 100% autonomy.  Think about a workforce where rather than worrying if everyone is ‘on deck’ management was tracking to make sure everyone was ‘on point’?

The workplace of the past will not thrive in the 21st century.  Agencies who have the courage to shed old beliefs about how a workplace should operate will be pleasantly surprised by how the future workforce will operate.

Thoughts?