Almost everything around us is in flux. Every aspect of life is being examined. If you pay attention to our work-life today, almost everything has changed in the last 30 years or so. How we communicate with each other has changed, right from long conversations over a telephone to multiple people texting on a platform, or from making food to ordering food. Sleeping is perhaps the last priority for few of those who binge on online series. How we buy and sell has also changed. You avoid the rush and prefer shopping at the comfort of your home. Societal laws have changed; same-sex marriages are now common globally. Shouldn't we pause for a moment and question how much we have changed?
Newer business models have challenged the older ones and in many cases have disrupted them. How a loss-making company can have a higher valuation is a common question amongst the older entrepreneurs. The expectation of people working in companies has changed, from the era of mass unemployment to an abundance of choices available today. The way we live our life has changed. We are more concerned about our health and fitness than ever. At the heart of this change is technology, which itself has evolved multiple times within the last three decades. Not just Information Technology, every form of technology has transformed. Technology is invisible at its inception, and then it takes over the world. It lifts those who are ready and makes it difficult for those who were caught unprepared. But how do you keep yourself updated with technology?
Despite these changes, there are questions that linger. How much of these changes will have a positive impact on society? In the beginning, Facebook was a great place to reconnect, but with data privacy issues and Cambridge Analytica fiasco, we became aware of the potential threat arising from cybersecurity. For any common man in the society, these may not matter, but we know that technology can be manipulated for profit and power. How prepared are we towards such risks?
As Robin Sharma said "Change is messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end," being an optimist, I believe that we are crossing the messier phase of technology. In the next 20 years, society will probably be able to resolve many of these challenges. And for that to happen, we need to act today. All the societal changes have emerged from workplace. Every technology that has been used to kill or save humanity is developed in a workplace. The companies that can make cars can also make battle tanks. So isn't it essential for people to know why they are doing what they are doing at their workplace?
There is a need to evolve workplaces, and the good part is that today, many organisations are going beyond profitability and working for a purpose, challenging the old norm and daring to create a new future. As more and more organisations proceed with purpose, they rise above all. They are transforming the perception of work. A good question today is ‘should we focus on profit at the cost of environment and screwing the health and well-being of the people?’
The workplace is more than just walls and desks, and primarily it is defined by the people who give their day and night in the environment. In my two decades of professional career, I have witnessed the three types of people at work. Firstly, those who love to work, second type are those who work for money, and finally, those who are forced to work. Then why should we have the same organisation polices when the kind of people and company varies?
The ones who love to work are the people who believe that their work has a meaning. They work for fun, and the pleasure of work drives them to work. They have a sense of autonomy and ownership. They are not willing to compromise their quality of work and often work in a team. The second ones are those who work for money; their sole ambition is to fulfil their desires and wants of life. These are the people who are mostly exploited and also exploit others. They wouldn't hesitate to take short cuts to make money. They would do anything in their capacity to earn money. Finally, are the people who are forced to work, they virtually have no choice. Either their parents force them, or circumstances force them to work. They don't draw any satisfaction from their work. They find all the joy outside of the workplace or believe that life has more than work. Now imagine if you have all the three types of people in one team, what do you think the output of the team would be?
This is perhaps every organisation's story today. Those who love to work are overloaded with work, so much so that love and joy is gone. Riding on them are the people who are chasing money. They are mostly blue-eyed managers who push the workforces to drive more profitability, and the third category keeps moving from one company to another. As they drive no satisfaction from work, their co-curricular activities like socialising and partying consume their day and night. What if an organisation driven by a mission gets all the people who like to work? What would such a company do in the world?
In an overtly commoditised world, finding the profit margin is not that easy, so those who work only for money will find it difficult to retain talent and market share. If we want to create a better future for our society and future generations, we need to rewrite the rules of the workplace. All businesses will need to evolve; they need to align themselves towards their belief system, which will act as their navigator to find a new playground. Companies who are currently working only for money will find it increasingly difficult to sustain and will attract criticism from all walks of society. People are driven by their belief, so if we have to unlock their potential, we need to start working on their faith. A workplace is a crucial place for all transformations to happen. Isn't this obvious that if we wish to unlock the future, we need to unlock the workplace?
Workonomics is, therefore, the study of untapped opportunities of an organisation with a simple motto - how to make organisations relevant for the future.
How do we create sustainable economic business models? We need to rethink why we work? What are the business models most suitable for the future? How to develop and nurture the workforce of the future?
There are many questions left unanswered, and many new questions will crop up. Join me in the conversation around the future of workplace. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org