Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Work When You Do Your Best Work: Is It Possibe?

One of the great things about being an entrepreneur is having the flexibility to make my own schedule. Though I have an office to go to because of my other business and leadership interests through my other companies, Ripple has been allowed to evolve naturally on my own schedule and on my own time. Yeah right....

The funny thing is, despite the great flexibility that entrepreneurship offers me, I still try and cram all that I need to do into a "normal workday" because...well that's when work happens right? between 8AM and 5PM. That flexibility thing entrepreneurship offers me somehow doesn't really apply because we all somehow think that if we aren't at our desks during normal operating hours that somehow we aren't really working? Because it's the "time" we attach to what our common perception of "normal" is that anyone you hear who works at night or doesn't drag into the office until 10AM is somehow labeled a slacker or worse...isn't a dedicated team player for the company!

Let me challenge you to think about something for a minute regardless of whether you are an entreprenuer, business owner, company leader or just plain worker ant: When do you do your best work? Seriously think about the times that you get the most done and you are at full throttle and really cranking work out, having the best conversations with customers or coming up with the best ideas for your company. Just because "the man" says you have to do these things between 8 and 5 does that mean your best effort really happens then? I doubt it.

For me I do my best work really early in the morning and somewhere around 10PM at night. That leaves me with a quandary. I either must be at work really early in the morning and make a long day even longer (because no one is supposed to leave before 5PM right?) or worse, at 10PM I have to be thinking of winding it down so I can be fresh for that 8AM cattle call with the rest of the poor saps. That means if inspiration strikes those thoughts and ideas have to tumble around my head all night because I need to be in bed getting my good night sleep so that I could rise refreshed and be a good minion for my company tomorrow morning. You know how that goes...inevitably you end up having a restless night as your brain works double time on your great idea, you drift in and out of consciousness and you wake up clearly not refreshed and probably without a clue of the very bit of brilliance that struck the night before. Who suffers in this case? You AND your company...that's who!

Here's the thing. Work happens almost anywhere and virtually anytime now. We are attached to our phones, our laptops and nary is there a spot in this world that you can't be tracked down if something of a really urgent nature required your specific attention. My iPhone allows me the flexibility to do almost anything my laptop does and yet somehow we are all culturally programmed to go sit behind our desks during normal operating hours because if you aren't then you aren't working.

What if you were allowed the flexibility in your job to get your job done in the quickest most efficient manner possible, on your own schedule The only request is you meet clearly defined and specific expectations set forth and agreed to by both you and your company? Maybe that takes 40 hours and maybe it doesn't and your company doesn't care as long as the work is getting done. Would you do it? I can hear many of you right now...where do I sign up!?!

Maybe you really enjoy cranking out those TPS reports (don't click this link if you are offended by the movie Office Space - this is a funny parody on it) but rather than doing them every Thursday at 9AM you are better suited to pull the data together and better interpret the data at 11:30 on Tuesday evenings. Perhaps those late night sessions are when your best creative work happens and you see trends that otherwise get missed because you just aren't that sharp on Thursday mornings. Doesn't your company intrinsically benefit from your better insight - regardless of when it happens? You're damn tooting.

Clearly there are limits and of course jobs that simply can't be done on one's own time. However many of the people I come across aren't attached to a call center switchboard or aren't necessarily hourly employees. Many of them, many of you, have a job that could be done virtually anywhere at anytime. A laptop with a Wifi anywhere card allows you access to the very same data you have whether you are sitting at the park watching your kids play on the playground or behind that big brown desk right? Your cell phone works virtually anywhere and if a customer or co-worker really needed to find you they could right? Your desire is to do a great job for your company so you can get recognized and hopefully rewarded right? Does it really matter that if you are a night owl and you could get the very same work done in the middle of the night instead of chained to the desk during the day? The output or workproduct isn't the same?

There is far more to this topic than I could possibly cover here in this particular post. We work to have a better quality of life and yet somehow because of work we rarely earn that. Many of us find ourselves confined to a standard that given our world's current technology and flexibility no longer makes sense. I challenge you to think about that and better yet, do something about it. People talk a good game about work life balance but if you really don't have the flexibility to have a true balance between working and living, especially in today's world, something is wrong. In the end your company doesn't get the best of you and realistically you never get to experience the best of you either.

Perhaps it's time to break up the conventional and start taking conference calls in the park and developing those creative new product segements in the middle of the night in your underwear. In the end your results are all that matter...why not deliver them when and where you do them best! Your company is happier and you of course are a happier.

What say you?

Ripple On!!!

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