Creating Value Is Intimate Work
Doing rewarding work is like art in the sense that its value is completed through contact with the intended or incidental audience. In some organisations, the perceived distance between inputs and outcomes can be so great it’s difficult for those doing the work to see this equation. It’s a well-documented phenomenon in the post-industrial narrative of Management Science and system improvement philosophy. Then, the battle cry was standardisation and operational efficiency. More recently discourse has been focused on the “future of work” and what characteristics best define the workability on a human scale. The subtext of the discourse is not so much the fixtures and fittings of “place” but the mindset required to apply the latest tools and techniques in order to participate, contribute and, most importantly, collaborate.
The term “asynchronous working” has come to describe the capacity and willingness on the part of the employer and employee to expect the whole self in the workplace. This understanding being, it leads to a more authentic and mutually beneficial experience and fuels the emotional supply chain that connects services and outcomes with beneficiaries. It’s an idea that transcends the conventional employment relationship in so much as it also encompasses a whole range of scenarios from freelancing, creative collaboratives and cooperatives. It is at the core of what often gets referred to as the “gig economy” and the same dynamic is propelling a seachange in community activism, where a growing number of groups are tuning in and collaborating in new ways to make an impact in their chosen field of interest or concern.
The tools that enable asynchronous working have erupted out of the corporate world and into our daily lives with a Vesuvius-like ferocity. Start-ups, interest groups and semi-formal organisations now have at their fingertips an unprecedented array of integrable tools that enable them to handcraft delivery systems to match (and even outpace) those of the most established corporations. The term “outpace” is no hyperbole here. Quite often, established corporates are weighed down by arcane legacy systems with layers of retro-fitted interfaces and workarounds which at best allow them to limp along doing what they’ve always done. If called upon to do something new, it’s most often a case of “sorry, computer says no” and then yet more workarounds.
“Work-Life Balance is Fast Becoming a Whole New Ball Game”
Working asynchronously is nearly always what makes sense for a start-up because it has efficiency and productivity built in from the outset. Much the same way a modern middle-of-the-range car will invariably outperform a 30-year-old top-end model simply because time and technology have moved on. Similarly, asynchronous working has moved beyond our social needs for watercooler chats to lubricate the grind of the working day because it’s best achieved through mastery of some basic yet essential skills and tools that support our ability to simultaneously work, rest and play.
The main benefit of these tools is you get to have full control over your time in and around your work. These same tools offer access to networks, online communities, support and learning opportunities. They also allow a very important dynamic to surface in the 21st-century workspace; the ability to bring the whole self to the value-creating process of collaborative working. Gone are the clunky 20th-century workarounds of “work-life balance”. Now it’s about how we balance our personal wellbeing needs (and those of the people we care for), with the demands of these new ways of working. The key to this new world of possibilities is to come to the understanding that working is learning and collaboration is, therefore, an opportunity to learn and thrive together. When sustained over time, it’s the most intimate of experiences.