What if our conditioning to productivity and the race to do more is the very thing stopping people in their mid to late careers from being able to adapt to the future of work?
Our working lives are all about efficiency and productivity. Technology has allowed us to work from anywhere, anytime and with a time pressured environment pushed to deliver more with less and as quickly as possible. There’s also been a shift in the last five years away from talking about work life balance as the distinction between ‘work’ and ‘life’ is now too hard to discern, to work life integration. Work life integration is about being able to integrate work in your lifestyle and family life. To maximise our work life integration we’ve embraced personal productivity, life hacks and squeezing as much as possible out of every day. But when you combine work life integration with the pressure of productivity are we just trying to be uber efficient human robots?
Personal productivity and time management is not a new phenomenon, ask Alan Lakein in the 70’s, Pomodoro Technique in the 80’s and Stephen Covey in the 90’s just to name a few. Combine the theory with technology and we have a plethora of apps to systemise our time, maximise personal productivity and create increased outputs.
Technology has also assisted our productivity by automating all the repetitive tasks both at work and at home in order to drive everything forward. The problem with focusing on productivity and doing, it’s very difficult to slow down let alone switch towards creativity, thinking or just being. As technology manages an increasing range of tasks and interactions, human value won’t be measured in outputs but instead in solving social and economic problems, finding new ways of doing things and ideas that are not yet imagined.
So if success of human outputs isn’t measured in volume but instead in innovation and scope of the problems to be solved, while technology manages productivity and repetitive tasks, are we at risk of making our human robotselves redundant? Think about all the career paths and roles that were designed for efficiency and processes. As well as those who specialise in efficiency, what happens to all the people that have been conditioned by management practices to follow processes? Trained and rewarded their entire careers based on productivity, following processes and KPI’s. After years of conditioning, this is not a behaviour that can be redirected quickly. It requires a systemic shift that measures employee value differently by supporting creativity and exploration in a safe to fail environment.
How do we support and lessen the impact of change on those people conditioned to productivity who may face uncertainty, loss of confidence and perceived value to their organisation, fear of being left behind, sense of losing their place in the world and maybe their livelihood? How do they reprogram to then reinvent a long and productive career?
In upcoming articles we’ll discuss shifting from process driven to creative adaption and unlock hidden value in an organisation.
WiserLife Australia provides employee wellbeing and outplacement programs for organisations to support whole life wellbeing, career longevity, creative adaption and resilience.