A generation here counts for 10-15 years.

Each family contributes in some way to a generation lost.

The reason is that organisations have mostly catered for the individual rather than family needs.

The right intention but the wrong emphasis.

An all-inclusive strategy, made possible by new technologies, is to focus on quality of time in office, not quantity.

The upshot of these Corona times is that our ways of thinking, operating and working are changing rapidly in a positive way.

A more hybrid model where location, presentation or face-time is of lesser importance.

It is substance or impact that counts.

A more harmonious relationship between environment and the completion of tasks, actions or activities.

Based on individual needs, some things are completed remotely, on the move or in office.

Work becomes a more integrated part of our lives.

The office no longer represents the default option.

In commercial terms, this means that less space is required to service our daily necessities, generating no direct profit anyway, to focus instead on aspects or tools that truly motivate us to deliver productive work.

The picture enclosed illustrates what aspects in our daily lives demand time to nourish our mental, emotional and physical well-being.

A ‘Paper Clip Strategy’ involving multiple jars, labelled Work, Exercise, Social and so on, quickly highlights how time is allocated throughout a working week.

Some of the jars being empty or one completely full at the end of the week does not benefit anyone.

Organisations must not try to compete but work with the family unit to create a working environment that services our needs more broadly.

The returns generated by a family friendly strategy will be far in excess of those produced by existing operating models mostly serving a single person.

Not only expressed in numbers but also in terms of having a truly dynamic, productive and motivated person, work force or culture.

To show the issue at hand, please find enclosed an example of a weekly calendar for a working parent who is single with children going to (primary) school.

This situation is likely a familiar one to many of us with plenty of other permutations to highlight the complexity of our lives.

The time allocation blend may differ per person with a few stretches here and there to combine a few things.

Yet, anything too different has a detrimental impact somewhere longer term.

Having covered some of the caveats, this calendar illustrates that a working parent, who is single with young children at a regular school, has about 5-6 hours per day dedicated to work.

Given that we are all truly productive for about 3 hours per day, this situation should not pose too many problems by itself.

Effectiveness improves with experience.

The issue is that working patterns often do not accommodate for these kinds of situations with too many dynamics at play.

And two working parents does not solve but exacerbates the problem due to multiple spinning cogs competing for time.

Too little flexibility, too many demands.

Pressure overload.

There may be room to involve external parties to distribute the workload, however this has an (emotional) cost associated with it and is not a perfect replacement for a family unit longer term.

To help navigate this situation, calendar control is a must.

All this means is introducing a bit of structure into our daily lives, not rigidity as this creates a situation where the calendar controls us.

A few things can always be swapped around or combined without sacrificing the moment.

What can ‘we’ do to make our working lives better:

  • Block (work) calendar with time dedicated to each of the pillars including time for messages, projects, thinking and other stuff.
    • Impact: We own our time
  • Allocate regular breaks between tasks
    • Impact: Our minds open up
  • Synchronise working patterns with others
    • Impact: More gets done
  • Be transparent regarding whereabouts
    • Impact: Improved understanding

What can ‘organisations’ do to make our lives work better:

  • Support flexible working arrangements
    • Impact: 3 days in office, 2 days remotely
  • Protocols for message type & medium used
    • Impact: 48hrs for e-mail response
  • Organise ‘in person’ meeting days
    • Impact: Structured agendas
  • Focus on book of work rather than hours
    • Impact: Increased flexibility

We must become more sensitised to how our life mix shapes our ways of working and vice versa.

These seemingly minor changes in working patterns can cause (un)predictably large, sudden and disproportionate reactions. 

It is the accumulation of these many small steps, measures and practices that makes us more effective.

Productivity is a habit.

This newly found freedom coupled with increased responsibility is also attractive to those with less complicated lives, if anything they may have seen or experienced the other side.

Or know it is just a matter of time.

Other side benefits of this strategy are as follows:

  • Life events no longer deprives a workforce of experienced talent
  • A panoramic view facilitates transitions to board level
  • Diversity does not get stopped by the bottleneck of two working parents  

It is in a government’s interest to support organisations where necessary to make this way of working the norm to prevent, save or recover generations lost and accelerate progress by decades.

Less pressure on infrastructure due to peak hour avoidance, intellectual capital is less centralised to make sure knowledge is better distributed, localised and responsive whilst city centres are regenerated in the process.

Senior business leaders often talk about giving back.

It is time to implement this type of system supported by a ‘Talent Pool’ and ‘Optimal Reward Structure’ to maintain oversight where appropriate (click here).

A legacy that is not only commercial but is more powerful than money can ever buy.

It may all sound too basic, simple and straightforward.

But it is good to hold things together.

Like a paper clip.  

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