For many of us, work-life balance used to mean getting home from the office at a reasonable time and putting in some evening or weekend time in the home office in exchange for leaving work early for a personal or family commitment from time to time. We’ve all known the idea of work-life balance as some inter-mingling of personal and work related activities throughout the day, but still looking at work and ‘life’ as discreet blocks of time and focus.
However, with today’s always connected, mobile world, work life styles have evolved to a truly blurred and blended model, where the dominant mantra is that work is something that gets done, not a place you go to, or a particular time of day.
With the proliferation of powerful mobile devices and ubiquitous connectivity, work lifestyles have evolved quickly. Interestingly (or amusingly) a recent study published in UK asked what people would take with them in the event of a natural disaster evacuation. Water came first, followed by their mobile device – food came in third place!
Collectively, we have arrived on another major turning point in flexible work lifestyles – one that has recently been dubbed ‘work-life integration’. There are a couple recent articles that do a great job of illuminating the whole work-life integration phenomena here and here. Our own Unify CEO Dean Douglas recently published an article on this topic as well in Fast Company.
Check out the links at your leisure, but the net of it is that the rise of remote working, Gen-Y’s in the workforce, smart mobile devices and being always connected have made the lines between work and personal time almost invisible (even as it relates to ‘off hours’, weekends and vacation time). Given this is the new reality for many of us, the next question is what are the critical tools to enable and support this new work lifestyle?
We’ve spent a lot of time enabling exactly that for our customers, and here are some key capabilities that can make the new way to work most productive and engaging:
- Our recent research shows that only about one third of workers have all the apps they need to do their job enabled for their preferred mobile device. Given a majority of workers use their smart mobile device for both work and personal use, look for communication and collaboration solutions that work on your preferred device, whatever that might be.
- The same research showed that 87% of mobile workers have to connect, disconnect and reconnect across different devices and networks during the course of an online session or conversation at least sometimes, with almost half saying they need to do that awkward reconnecting either frequently or always. There is a fix for this though – we call it seamless transitions, and you can read more about it here.
- Given the intermingled nature of work and personal activities, being able to pick up where you left off on team activities and work projects makes a lot of sense. This means getting an instant grasp of context, conversation and content – and easily accessing the people that matter. Tools that enable that, called ‘intelligent spaces’ can create a whole new way of working.
- Users are often hindered rather than helped by the array of disparate communication channels, applications and media they need to learn, use, and keep track of. In fact, our studies show 43% report feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. The answer? Look for a solution that is purpose-built to unify and harmonize your communications into a single, intuitive view. You can learn more about that idea on the Project Ansible microsite.
In the end, we believe that the right tools will make a big difference in enabling anywhere workers to be fully engaged, and thrive on work-life integration. We’re interested on your views on what makes your flexible work lifestyle successful – feel free to leave your comments!