Those of us who live and work in large urban centres are, by now, probably very familiar with some aspects of “flexible working” – though we might not even notice it. For those who live in rural communities and smaller villages, however, “work” has more or less the same definition as it did 100 years ago: you get up in the morning, go to work all day, and come home in the evening.
Thanks to the rise of fast broadband in the UK over the last 10 years, it’s now much easier to be connected at a fast enough speed to exchange meaningful data with your workplace, wherever you are. While many businesses have carried on as usual, and simply extending the amount of time they can make use of your services, others have embraced what technology has to offer and used modern connectivity to create a more harmonious work-life balance for their employees.
Here are some of the upshots of the rise of flexible working:
Some of us work more, not less
While being able to Skype into a meeting while wearing a shirt, tie and pyjama bottoms is great, it also means that a lot of companies, and employees, use their Blackberries, laptops and iPads to do more work out of the office, and just as much as they used to while they were there.
10 Years ago if you were sent on an 8 hour flight, you would spend that time drinking free tiny wines and reading the paper. Now you can keep working if you like – and you probably will.
Some of us are getting better at multitasking
If your job involves you travelling around the city visiting clients, and you use public transport to get around, you suddenly have a couple of hours each day where you can get stuff done. Before widespread broadband and wireless devices you had to do your work in the office, and then go and see your clients. Now you can do more of both, squeezing more productivity out of fewer hours, and leaving people who run their own businesses more free time.
Some of us have become very good at working less
A perfect example of someone who took advantage of the rise of workplace technology is Timothy Ferriss, author of “The Four Hour Work Week”. In his book he explains how, by combining clever time management, outsourcing, the internet, and self-discipline, he managed to make many times the average person’s salary while living in exotic locations and working one hour every other day.
This kind of behaviour is the extreme, but it shows us just how much work we could get rid of by taking advantage of what is all around us – labour cheaper than our own, instant communication, and less need to do things by hand.
The prevalence of broadband and wireless devices has created many opportunities to improve the quality of our lives, while allowing us to work less. However, the opposite can also be true, and it is up to you how you use modern technology to change your working habits.