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#WFH: Are You Always Connected?

We are always “on” and always connected. We are connected by technology that knows where we are and can recommend what we do next. Over two-thirds of us report feeling totally overwhelmed. We rate everything. The judgment is public and constant. It gives us a sense of “control” in an environment that is overpowering. In a hyper-connected world, with emails and messages bombarding us day and night, with advertisements smart enough to be tailored to our “personas” and personal preferences, we feel the need to control, maybe more now than we ever did, because this nonstop work environment makes us feel so out of control. Improving productivity and the work experience are top priorities in the virtual workplace. Open feedback is trending, but like all change that breaks down the barriers between employees and leadership, it requires honest and new ways of thinking.

Beliefs that don’t empower people disempower people. In the virtual workplace, it is easy to feel disconnected, disempowered and dismissed. There is a lot of conversation these days about empowerment, critical thinking skills and innovation, but few companies embrace these. These ideas are discomforting for management. By empowering people to think, do and act autonomously, we are relying on their ideas, thoughts and hearts to deliver the results. Most managers perceive innovation as a loss of control. It is much easier if people look like us, think like us and follow our ideas. After all, we have our beliefs and we believe them! Innovation and creativity are just the buzz words of the present moment. In time this too shall pass…or will it?

Autonomy gives people a chance to be who they are. Diversity and inclusion used to be lip service but have grown into an integral part of the business plan. Why? Because it is profitable. Younger workers and older workers bring new and different ideas, experiences and ways of working. Some only want to work part time and others want flexible sched-ules. How to keep this diverse workforce focused and engaged is the topic of many business discussions. The definition of engagement, the work day, the project and the terms of employment are also evolving. We are more network-oriented and less physically attached. Companies like Uber, AirBnB and others have redefined “worker” and outsourcing. Almost 32% of the workforce is provisional. The sense of ownership has changed. It is time for our beliefs to change too (Bersin, 2016).

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