By Ryan Healy — College taught me the true meaning of independence. I attended classes when I chose, I studied at my convenience, I partied at my leisure and I relaxed when I needed to relax. You would assume that since I am now an “adult,” I would at least have this same sense of independence in the corporate world. But working in this antiquated “count-the-hours” corporate structure, I am controlled and monitored more than I was by my parents in high school.
“I’m going to leave at 3:00 pm today, my wife is out of town and I need to pick my kid up at school or he will miss baseball practice.” This is just one example of the countless excuses to leave early that I have heard from my superiors.
Why do my managers and superiors feel a need to explain their need to leave early to me? I don’t care! Leave early if you have to. You have a life! I have a life! Work is just a part of life! I don’t need to know if your kid is sick or if you have a doctor’s appointment. We are all grown-ups here…I trust you.
I can’t blame my coworkers for this. I find myself coming up with ridiculous reasons for leaving a little early as well. We work in a corporate culture that believes more time equals more productivity and the people who work the most hours are the ones “going the extra mile.”
Best Buy has instituted a program called Results Oriented Work Environment (ROWE), to combat this antiquated, assembly-line way of thinking. Workers come in when they want, they leave when they want and they don’t make excuses. Major deliverables are known in advance and management trusts its employees to get the job done. This may be an elaborate PR stunt, but if Best Buy actually practices what they preach; they are embracing the blended life.
I am absolutely convinced that this is the future of work. How refreshing would it be to have no idea how many hours you worked because there is no distinction between work hours and life hours?
It’s a new way of thinking, and like my buddy Ryan Paugh said, “change” is a dirty word, but it’s necessary and it’s logical. My peers entering the workforce are not preprogrammed to make a giant distinction between work time and other time. Now is the opportunity to make this very simple change in thinking. It’s a win-win situation. Half of the American population will no longer hate their jobs, which will inevitably lead to increased production for the corporations. The only sector that could possibly lose out is pharmaceutical, when clinical depression reaches an all-time low. And that’s just fine by me.
I’m amazed that a program such as this can be considered revolutionary. To me, it just makes sense. Apparently some older workers equate not having strict business hours with working around the clock. This is completely understandable. If you have been controlled by the clock and overly concerned with hours for years, then it may be hard to differentiate productivity from hours worked. When I have had enough and am struggling to concentrate on my work, it seems pretty obvious to me that I need to shut it down and do other things. The work can be finished later.
Of course, it will not be easy to implement this new way of working for every type of job. Hourly workers actually need to record their time, doctors need to be around in case of an emergency, stock brokers must be available when the market is open and I’m sure there are other examples where this would not work too easily. However, a Results Oriented Work Environment for the average corporate Joe would be a beautiful thing.
Best Buy (or at least their PR department) is redefining the meaning of work-life balance. Simply put, they have created a blended life culture. The wheels have been set in motion; it’s only a matter of time before everyone hops on board.
Ryan Healy’s blog is Employee Evolution.