We hold these two truths to be self-evident, that
1. we are working together like never before; and
2. we are working apart like never before.
Oh, and we’re doing both simultaneously.
The reason – today, we’re all working in The Long Hallway – a singular passageway that brings us together, provides limitless information, delivers endless goods and services, and introduces us to a plethora of new ideas, perspectives and experiences.
Think about where you, or your colleagues, or your staff, found yourselves working just today. At home? The office? A ‘third space’?
It’s probably all of the above – and somewhere in between, too. Because today’s workplace can be, really, just about any place. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that in the United States, 43% of employed Americans spend at least some time working remotely – four per cent more than in 2012. For workers, it’s more convenient – no commuting, fewer distractions, and flexible hours. For employers, it’s more profitable – less staff turnover, happier employers, and – with open plan spaces, hoteling, and hot desking – lower real estate costs.
Can we get away from it? Can we ever shut down? Not possible – or at least, never completely. We’re always on. Never more than a click away. Work/Life Balance has been replaced with Work/Life Harmony. Both have blended, by necessity, into one. Jeff Bezos agrees. “I like the phrase ‘work-life harmony'”, he says. “Balance implies there’s a strict trade-off.”
Working for a tech start-up, we’re well acquainted with The Long Hallway. Our colleagues are in Zurich, New York, Bangalore, Singapore, Las Vegas, Toronto, Sydney, and London. We almost never see each other in person – but we work with each other, closely, every day. Working this way gives the best available talent at the most optimal price, and also not to be locked into inflexible agreements. We make a significant effort to find people who, like us, choose to be in The Long Hallway as their preferred way of working – and not one forced by economic circumstance.
There are all kinds of benefits to working in this global gig economy. Not being restricted by time zones and borders gives us the advantage of working with the best people, wherever they may be. It allows us to take on clients anywhere in the world. It gives everyone the freedom to work when and how they like to work. It engenders trust. It enforces responsibility. Arguably, it makes us more effective and more productive and ultimately, feel happier, more content, and more fulfilled in the work we do.
Our Bangalore colleagues are a great example of how The Long Hallway really works well. They’re able to price themselves competitively, yet choose to work with whom they prefer, from anywhere in the world. The Long Hallway may be long, but the ability to move within it is instantaneous.
So is it all roses? Hell, no!
To go back to how we led off this article, there’s a great paradox inherent in The Long Hallway. It’s a place that enables us to work together – yes – but also, to work apart. We end up working in collaboration and isolation simultaneously.
This connected-yet-disconnected circumstance can bring a whole lot of challenges. How do we find a sense of place? How do we build our own personal communities… relationships… alliances? How do we define ourselves?
There are, after all, endless choices in The Long Hallway. With endless choices, endless stress can follow all too easily, and a kind of FOMO follows. How do you choose? How do you focus? How do you know you’ve made the right decision? What if, right now, you’re missing out on something really, really good?
It’s easy to move onto something new in the long hallway. It’s just as easy to move away from what you’re doing (and perhaps should keep doing).
The key, we believe, is finding purpose in what you do. With purpose comes action. With action, comes positive results that you can profit from. And with positive results, comes peace-of-mind – for your business, your team, or for you personally.
In The Long Hallway, everything is in constant motion. It presents infinite opportunities to find purpose – but because of its transitory nature, you can also easily lose your way. And that raises some critical questions.
Where should you go? How long should you stay? Who should you work with? Who should you associate with? What should you learn next? Where should you go next?
We’d like to help you answer those questions for yourself. In the coming few months, we’ll share with you our research, advice, direction, and coaching for how you can best navigate The Long Hallway, and find purpose – your purpose – in the on-demand workplace.