Tuesday, 21 August 2018 19:44

How The Knowledge Economy Is Redefining Work Featured

3026566 poster p 2 how the knowledge economy is redefining work

Our conceptions of work have shifted, and work is more about finding meaning and independence. Companies that refuse to offer flexible, autonomous, and creative work environments, won’t be able to attract the best people.

Where does a day at work rank in things you’d like to do?

According to a 2013 study by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and Political Science paid work was ranked lower than any of the other 39 specific activities the survey respondents quantified, with the exception of being sick in bed.

The researchers found that there is only one aspect of work that “results in happiness levels that are similar to those experienced when not working”–casual interactions with colleagues. In other words, the only part of work we seem not to rank above the flu is socializing at work.

So if the best way to be happy at work is to chat with your colleagues, why aren’t we encouraging more socializing? Well, because it’s business. And business, for the most part, still operates under the principle of efficiency to drive productivity.

But some startups are starting to see things differently and conceive of the workplace more as a social arena and less as a conduit for productivity. At the open-source code sharing and developer community GitHub almost all of the staff works remotely. In its early years, the company didn’t even have a physical office. After finding a loft-like space and making it the company’s headquarters, the company turned the front third into an employee lounge, bar, and party area filled with funky furniture and a DJ setup. According to Scott Chacon, co-founder and CIO of GitHub, the “headquarters” is primarily a social hub, not a work place.

GitHub’s definition of work space is even more extensive. Chacon points to an experiment called GitHub Destinations where the company rents an Airbnb apartment in a location to which people have always wanted to go, say, Tuscany or Montevideo. “They choose to live there for a month and have serendipitous interactions because you can get just as much done there as you could anywhere else,” Chacon said. GitHub’s structure acknowledges that delight at work is a social event and largely about small moments of attachment.

GitHub’s structure acknowledges that delight at work is a social event and largely about small moments of attachment.

It also illustrates that the concept of having to be a different person during work hours seems to lose relevance for today’s purpose-driven work force. As digital economy observer Stowe Boyd points out: “In the new way of working, work isn’t a place you go, it’s a thing you do. It is you.” Today’s knowledge work can happen anywhere.

The startup Somewhere aims to help these sorts of knowledge workers replace their traditional CVs with a different way of representing themselves in a business context. Justin McMurray, the cofounder of Somewhere, observes that the main job application still shows what you did, not what you do or who you are.

Read 675 times Last modified on Wednesday, 29 August 2018 07:44
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