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#WFH: Blurring the Lines and Defining Success

The Pajama Effect has redefined our idea of success and what it means to be a productive employee. Your contribution level, as an individual, is more important than ever. Organizational success is now a bottom-up phenomenon. Institutional structures are falling away, replaced by a workplace where collaboration and contribution are praised and rewarded. Formalized structures are being eliminated and new social communications allow for more horizontal and equal contributions. Collaboration has long been recognized as a critical component for business success. The truth is, most people are not very good at working alone. You need other people and they need you.  You need these other people because you are human. Dependence means you change your state of being and act or react based on what others do. You are conditioned from childhood to react to others. Interdependence means the quality or condition of being mutually reliant on each other. Collaboration helps virtual workers pick up on changes in the workplace and changes in mutual awareness. Intrinsic inspiration leads to independence and autonomy. Independence and autonomy, in turn, lead to success. Steve Covey says you go from being dependent to independent, and then to a state of interdependence. This is one reason why acting with autonomy is so important in the digital world. Collaboration with others is imperative, but to collaborate it is essential for you to act with autonomy.

This requires a sense of self-reliance, self-sufficiency and self-governance (Covey, 1989). In the digital world, it is way too easy to close yourself off.

When organizations implement new processes that include virtual teams or remote employees of any kind, their leaders must take proactive measures to create a support system for these workers. The support system can include technology support but must also support the human connection. Very few organizations have a proven method of training and supporting virtual employees or a method for leading and managing them. This opens the door to a Pandora’s Box of problems, because a leader cannot lead the virtual worker if that worker does not understand whatit is that helps achieve success. It used to be when you worked, you worked, and when you played, you played, but those lines are blurring. Blurred lines make it more difficult to define success.

You can show up physically but not mentally. More often than not, people partially show up. They may be physically connected to work, but not engaged or attentive emotionally, not fully present. It is easy to disengage, to hit the “mute” button and go change the laundry, feed the dog or make lunch. You may feel free to act and do things that you would never do in the office. You comb your hair or pick your teeth. You are physically present, but mentally distracted.

Driven by cheap connectivity, virtual meetings and conference calls have become the norm. No one is really sure what the correct and ethical protocol is when meeting n the pajama world. Because communicating in the virtual workplace involves anonymity, miscommunication is one of the biggest challenges you face. You want to be able to think, manage and inspire yourself. This is nothing new: humans have been doing it for an eternity. On the farm, things were done creatively in a self-reliant, self-inspired atmosphere. Even in the age of hunter-gatherers, humans had to be flexible and inventive. It wasn’t until the transformation of the agrarian age into the industrialized age that we went from creative jobs to thoughtless rote jobs that lacked spontaneity.  With The Pajama Effect you are psychologically in a more vulnerable state. Think about being in your pajamas. How do you feel? You are alone or at least in the company of a few comfortable friends or family members. You are more open, more susceptible to being seen just as you are. You are more exposed to your own idiosyncrasies and excuses. You do not have on your work persona and have not dressed in the related armor – either physically or psychologically – to do battle in the outside world. The lines between public and private, work and play, home and the office, are blurred.

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