This is the third piece in an essay series on bringing humanity back to life and positively transforming the way we live, work, and operate in our always-connected 21st-century environment. You can explore the rest of the series here!
Clarity — Realizing your potential
Let’s go on a journey! A journey into the future, where we no longer use phrases like “Work-Life Balance” and “Company Culture.” Where the lives we live are full of enriching experiences accompanied by fulfilling human connections, and our days are spent working with our favorite people in happy, positive environments that empower us to produce our best work while living our best lives.
Just imagine that!
The world we live in is rapidly evolving, and this vision of the future is becoming a reality for those at the forefront of the modern workplace. A future where people choose purpose over profit, lifestyle over “jobs,” and new explorations over lunch eaten at desks.
At first glance it seems as though these changes must come from the top, since they’re the ones “in charge.” In order to be in an environment that empowers us to be autonomous, efficiently integrate our work and life, and find the joy within our lives, we must surely be a part of an organization that believes these are important, yes?
No! Well, not entirely.
These changes are coming whether people at the top like it or not.
They will adapt, or they will disappear. Simple as that. The future of work is clear, and it’s going to be employee led. We’re the ones with the power, now that we’re fully connected, have access to knowledge and information, and make up the future of the workforce. The odds are now in our favor, which means we have significant leverage and bargaining power. And for those who don’t believe, just reference any Deloitte, McKinsey, or ResponsiveOrg research and it will become crystal clear — change is a comin’!
From where we stand, this is a great thing! We as individuals are in control of our mindsets, and mindsets are the key to creating our futures. If we become self-aware, embrace positivity, express gratitude, disconnect to recharge, live with intention, allow ourselves to be creative, and make small yet meaningful changes in our daily routines, we’ll become empowered, excited, and driven to create change throughout our lives, our teams, and our organizations. It’s inevitable!
If we start with changing ourselves, we’ll end up driving change through organizations — and lifestyles — as a whole.
Early in 2016, advertising mega-agency Wieden + Kennedy — a leading creative shop in an industry known for exhaustive working hours, unfavorable company culture, and endless weekends surrendered in the name of creativity — announced some new initiatives to empower their employees to disconnect, recharge, spend time away from work, and get their creative juices flowing properly. They implemented these changes knowing people are overwhelmed, exhausted, and over-stimulating their brains, which directly hinders their creative output. While a different focus than employee happiness, they recognize that these negatives are direct effects of our modern, always-connected lifestyles. In fact, they specifically call modern life “the enemy,” thus further perpetuating the need for immediate changes to the way we work.
Regardless of the driving force behind the change — happiness, engagement, creativity, etc — employers are catching wind of the need to adapt and support the future of work. At Wieden + Kennedy, the implemented changes are designed to “show they trust their people to be the bosses of their own brain-time and brain-space.” An excellent reason for change, this gives the employee power over their lives, thus positively affecting their performance, happiness, energy, and the human elements of work and life. In actuality, giving employees autonomy and freedom within their working lives is really the core focal point of change within modern workplaces.
To further understand what changes we’re talking about, here’s what Wieden + Kennedy’s Executive Creative Director Iain Tait wrote:
- We’ve asked people not to email in the evenings (between 7pm and 8am).
- If we ask people to work evenings or weekends they can claim the time back.
- You may now only book meetings between 10am and 4pm. This means early birds can come in early, and night owls can stay later. And everyone has at least a bit of their day completely free from meetings.
While these may seem trivial at first glance, they are already said to be having “massive impact” on the lives of W+K employees. A win for everyone! Employees, employers, and clients alike.
While your current employer may not yet have implemented policy changes as direct as these, I’m here to let you know you can find your own ways to approach your work and life that lead to similar effects. From there, you’ll empower yourself, and maybe even your colleagues, peers, and friends, to create changes in their lives, thus leading to a massive revolution in the way the individual works — and lives — which will ultimately lead to change being driven across organizations. Again, it’s time to adapt or disappear!
So where do we go from here? Excellent question!
Up next in this essay series we will explore key changes you can make in your life that will lead to more mindful experiences throughout your day, both at work and at home, with the ultimate goal of making your workplace, and your working style, more human. Here’s a glimpse at the topics we’ll explore:
- Mindset: How positive perspectives unlock your potential
- Creativity: Why gap time is so important
- Awareness: The power of the present moment
- Gratitude: One simple trick to increase happiness
- Disconnection: Letting go to feel better
- Acceptance: Being comfortable with the beautiful person you are
- Empathy: Why relating to other people helps you grow
- Learning: The importance of opening yourself up to learn
- Intention: Small practices lead to big results
- Change: Let’s do this
By bringing new perspectives, mindsets, and practices into our daily routines, we unlock our incredible potential and empower ourselves to approach life in new ways so we can create the changes we want to see in our world.
At the same time, organizational leaders are actively adjusting policies and creating changes that enable people to live their best lives, contribute to meaningful organizations, and have positive effects on the world around them.
But once again, it all starts with us, as we’re the ones with the real power.