The Fluidity and Demands of Social Business Work

The Fluidity And Demands of Social Business Work - Brass Tack ThinkingFew of us work a 5-day, 40-hour week anymore.

So if that’s true, and we’ve largely accepted that, why are we still trying to force social business evolution into the bounds of those days and hours?

Fluidity is a continually emerging reality in business. I struggle mightily with this personally, because I don’t believe that even the most entrepreneurial of us are winning medals when we get out there and flaunt our exhaustive, 80-hour workweek and lack of weekends as some kind of masochistic badge of honor. In fact, it tells me that we simply aren’t being smart with how we work, not telling us that we should just keep working and working and working until we break.

Stack that, however, against the ever-present reality that the online world does not tick according to the industrial era clock. We had metered, 8-hour days for a reason. Assembly lines needed to meet quotas and factories needed to meet the demands of their customers but without endangering their workforces.

Yet, the web is a fluid thing that rarely collectively sleeps…

On the one hand, if we force 24/7 accessibility with the same size, scale, and shape of workforce that we’ve always done, we’ll be back in the spot of creating a danger to our workforce, even if – or especially because – it’s knowledge work.

On the other, “9 to 5″ simply isn’t how people work, shop, buy, decide, research, connect, talk or function anymore. So we’re faced with a building friction between what we do and how we do it that needs some radical innovation.

Part of the adaptation resistance we feel in businesses trying to become more social is that they’re taking an old model – the 5 day week fit into a daytime 40 hours – and desperately trying to fit it around the inconsistent and differing patterns that define a connected, networked and vastly more nimble global network. Strapping hours on your Twitter bio will not forever meet the needs of customers, employees, partners, supply chain, and the people who deliver on the work we’ve ultimately promised.

Here’s where I have some questions for you.

  • What do you think defines a professional commitment in today’s era? As a worker of any kind, what should you expect to commit? Is it different than it has been? If so, what will make that commitment worthwhile?
  • How can companies adapt an industrial-era mindset into a modern one while surmounting the challenges of sheer scale and cost of having a larger, more distributed and flexible workforce? Or are there savings in there instead of costs?
  • What does that mean for the education and induction that we’re giving to the next generation of workers, whether skilled or knowledge based or both?

I’m thinking a lot about this because as we work with clients atSideraWorks, one chief emergent challenge is the rather immense implications of evolving customer, partner, and employee expectations. We approach each case individually and methodically, but I’m really curious to hear what the world at large is thinking about this challenge (or whether they are).

Have ideas? Points of friction? Challenges of your own? Sound off. The comments belong to you.

Lo importante es el camino que recorremos, las metas son apenas el resultado de ese recorrido. Llegar generalmente significa, volver a empezar!

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Gabriel Catalano

marzo 2012
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