Time on over time off

Posted on February 7, 2011

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So, I was doing a speech on the Future of Work at the IOIC and started to think about policies that shackle us. We all think it’s right to have employment policies in place – to protect employees; ensure fairness and consistency and create order and alignment. That seems right. But is it getting in the way of a different way of thinking?

What if we were to challenge some of the basic policies that are there. I mean, is it a case that they are there because, well because they have always been there. For example, I was at work recently booking some time off for holidays when I suddenly asked myself, “why am I booking time off for holidays?” Why couldn’t I have all my time off and not have any scheduled work hours at all? OK, so I’d be poor, but what if I could then book time on instead? What if I was an application that each week enabled me to book time on for the following week – it would make me more accountable for filling my time productively and give me the freedom to work when it felt right. OK, I could still have my personal measures/KPIs/call them what you will, but it would give me ultimate flexibility and make it my responsibility to work. I’d be accountable. I could still have a contract with an employer to give me certain rights, but my remuneration could be more directly linked to time put in.

Creating flexible space to think outside of work is not unusual – look at Google’s and 3M’s 20 and 15% of time dedicated to innovation policy. In fact Stefan Sagmeister on TED goes further to talk about how he closes his business every 7 years. Chef Ferran Adria, allegedly closes his restaurant every 5 years. These stats may be true and they may not, but what is clear is the need for greater flexibility – not for work life balance issues – but to stimulate creativity.

What if we were to start creating businesses that could act as a feeding ground for workers and entrepreneurs? What if every employee was in effect a franchisee of the brand? Not a freelancer, as they could still be entitled to certain protections and to their company undertaking all the ‘admin’ for them that so many other freelancers have to deal with. Such freedom could create community companies where workers are all pulling together for the greater good, but also have the freedom to recharge and the responsibility to perform.

I reckon this is the physical and mental conditioning we could see more of in thr future if we’re to create a more entrepreneurial culture.

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