This final post on the topic will be focused on the employee’s standpoint. Thus, while work-life balance efforts have become a common place in organizational behavior, the most interesting, yet untapped, approach by far lies in the answer to this question: which are the incentives for workers regarding the new job models? As we mentioned in the past articles, there’s an unstoppable drift towards embracing flexibility and customization at the expense of security and stability. In general, our current lifestyle demands breaking with old reigning paradigms (traditionally prevailing in Europe, as the model is quite different in the US and Japan): an eight hour, face-to-face workday with fixed weekly rest period, a monolithic annual leave during summertime and a full separation between working and non-working periods. This is an obsolete model: both self-employed (working on a project basis) and an increasing number of wage-earners are nowadays indistinctly working from home, office or even while walking in the streets, based on ubiquitous computing and a flexible schedule to better serve a customer that might very well be living in another time zone, together with team members whom they have never personally met.
This progressive liberalization and adaptation of the model, however, has been wrong-footed by many companies and workers alike. The formers are timidly exploring these new trends in a confused way (I was told about a company offering the possibility of home working to its employees…along with an equivalent salary reduction: insane), the latter watch their traditional set of skills go obsolete (and I am not just speaking about tech skills) or mistake a higher autonomy and flexibility for a gravy train by which a lot of money can be made with much lesser work (the success of books like The 4-Hour workweek is revealing) or even no work at all (see the attached photo). Talk to any self-employed or entrepreneur and he/she will tell you that is nothing but a fallacy. Though enriching, being your own boss does not diminish the workload and exigency: it’s just that you take it gladly. Do you think this could suit you? You may want to read this interesting article 13 Signs You Are Meant To Be Self-Employed to help you give it a thought.
However, if the answer is negative and you do prefer to be on payrolls, many of the aforementioned trends are equally valid. Among them, the urge for an approach that focuses on work-life balance is to be highlighted. It’s definitely a complex debate, and we’ve lately seen disconcerting measures about it with more than debatable results. The Yahoo decision to ban homework has been very polemic, but pilots like the one taking place in Goteborg (working less hours while keeping the same salary) have been tried and dismissed before (ironically, in Sweden as well). Be that as it may, this is an unstoppable change that shall bring a more efficient model, better adapted to both the current scenario and our needs and aspirations. In order to reach it, however, we’d better stop asking what the labor market has got for us and start questioning what we can really offer instead. And that means be willing to engage in competition based on a different set of personal and professional skills (much more commercial-focused, accountable and proactive), and, of course, also enjoy new and better working conditions.