The Future Of Work: Welcome to All Live, All the Time
The World Of Work Is Now 24/7 No Matter Your Business
Remember downtime? You know, evenings and weekends where your typical 9-5 job would let you have some spare time? Those days are gone.
As work has exploded into small Lego blocks, not being completed in specific time frames, but in chunks, here and there, interspersed with life, email and other asynchronous communications allowed us to be able to respond to messages whenever we had the time to do so – you could respond to an email after your days of meetings were over, and you could leave voicemail, relaying useful information.
Of course, ever since ICQ and instant messaging took off, we use live messaging to typically capture short bursts of data, ask quick questions, and quickly and lightly be in contact with people. The unwritten rules are that if someone isn’t responding to an IM, then they are probably busy.
However, with the advent of smartphones and the ability to determine someone status always (Available/Busy/Away) then all business becomes a 24 hour, 7 days a week thing.
Setting aside the question as to whether this is good or not, I’ve recently noticed that there have been many new services which leverage this always on, status showing a set of services.
For example, Slack has become a huge business off business messaging, driving many companies to use Slack instead of all other forms of communication. Its ability to be on all devices make it very effective in keeping a team always informed.
Additionally, the ecosystem of plugins adding new functionality continues to expand. I would almost suggest that one of the reasons that remote work has taken off as quickly as it has is the ability to have an immediate conversation with anyone, anywhere and at any time.
Tools like Slack, Skype, and Google Hangouts allow us an adequate amount of telepresence (do we really need super high-resolution 4k TVs and full wall monitors to collaborate?) We can now collaborate at anytime from anywhere on any device.
This has had the useful effect of tying a team together always, no matter where they are. We have finally, truly become the virtual teams that we envisioned years ago.
If I were to start a new company today, it would be completely virtual, with no campus, no offices, employees working from their homes, using their own equipment (which they would probably prefer anyway).
These tools have finally given us the ability to create truly virtual corporations. We can instantly have a sales conversation with a visitor to our website from our smartphones while we are waiting at the doctor’s office.
We can immediately connect a customer with a customer service rep in Hawaii while they are enjoying their time away from the office.
On the possible negative side, vacations, weekends, as we know them, will literally disappear, as we travel whenever, do whatever, bringing our work with us wherever we are.
Taking some downtime from the office will be as easy as switching a switch in your work app. All work will be uberized.
Is this a good or a bad thing? Either way, it’s the likely inevitable future of work.