First published January 15, 2009 in Mediapost’s Search Insider
I am an unrepentant Darwinist, which probably doesn’t surprise anyone who reads my columns on a regular basis. The whole topic of evolution and emergent behaviors in complex systems constantly fascinates me. As Steven Johnson pointed out in his recent book, “Emergence,” the theme of patterns rising from complexity is ubiquitous and could well define the 21st century.
The World is a Cruel Place – Get Over It!
One of the most interesting things about evolution is that the pace of evolutionary change picks up in the face of adversity. The more hostile the environment, the faster the wheels of evolution roll and the quicker we adapt. Of course, we do so in a pretty ruthless way. The weak get culled faster. There are no consolation prizes in this lottery. Winner takes all. Richard Dawkins didn’t call genes “selfish” for…
Recently, I realized that I’m coming upon 3 years of blogging about modern work-life issues and, particularly, remote work. With regard to the latter, I’ve repeatedly mentioned benefits for the environment, some employers, and some employees. However, I’ve yet to share my personal views and reasons for my insane dedication to this topic.
Some presume that I’m a lofty idealist, envisioning that everyone will be working this way in the future. On the contrary, I’m quite a realist and know that not everyone wants to. For example, some enjoy commuting for the hour or two designated to listening to their favorite podcasts. (Though, as I like to point out, one can still walk around the neighborhood for that amount of time and listen to a podcast before and after working at home or wherever one chooses to work.) Nevertheless, I’ve blogged incessantly to spread awareness of remote work as a real choice while realizing that individual preferences would, to some extent, assert themselves and determine who works remotely and the proportion of time spent doing so. Read more of this post
During the course of blogging about telework and topics related to modern work-life issues, people who’ve recently connected with me have received the impression that I “have it made,” making a living doing what I love. This isn’t the truth, so I’m setting the record straight about my experience with, and understanding of, consulting in the area of facilitating remote work arrangements at organizations. Additionally, as I hinted about undertaking a personal YouTube content creation project in an earlier post, I’ll hereby provide readers with more information about this as I’ll be integrating it as new subject matter in this blog. Read more of this post
Where we’ve been, where we are currently, and where we are heading as workers (pertinent to the United States in particular) as summarized in the image below. As indicated by the concluding remark, some things have a way of making a comeback. Emerging conditions necessitate and support people’s ability to act as free agents – this means cultivating a business mindset when it comes to your career. I’ll let this image tell the whole story. Read more of this post
In a previous post, I mentioned the possibility of a future in which a greater proportion of the population work as free agents (such as described by Daniel Pink’s Free Agent Nation). Although this is an ideal that I would embrace for myself, the picture isn’t all rosy as this also means fewer secure employment opportunities being available for those who want them. The days of having a secure job at the same organization for one’s entire work-life have declined indeed, however it’s become apparent that not everyone has made the adjustment in mindset. Furthermore, there are many who are ill-prepared for, and/or don’t welcome, the difficulties associated with more autonomy and taking a more entrepreneurial approach with their careers.
Apparently, there appears to be room for debate about automation being the cause behind the decline of jobs (see Robert D. Atkinson’s post – an explanation which, I’ll admit, is new to me). In addressing a transition to a more entrepreneurial way of life however, I agree with many of the recommendations proposed by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, authors of Race Against the Machine. In this book, they listed changes to policies and societal infrastructures to support people as conditions necessitate a greater need to be one’s own boss – subject matter that I’ll cover in a future post.
For now however, I’d like to share some tips, videos, and articles that may prove helpful in putting you in the mind-frame to think about important steps to be taken if you happen to be dealing with job loss under these current conditions. Read more of this post
Since the rise of the Industrial Age, the vast majority of the population have chosen to go with regular employment in order to make a living due to existing incentives (e.g., pensions, benefits, etc.). Since this trend has been the norm for quite some time, self-employment has become perceived as “the ugly stepchild” – something people turn to when they “can’t get a job.” It’s true that a good contingent of people are forced into this situation, however there are still many who purposely choose it. Are they crazy?
Often I’ve heard that those who prefer regular employment and those who prefer self-employment don’t understand each other. Indeed, it seems to be the case of different values, motivations, and fears. I believe this gap between those who have an employee mindset and those who have a self-employment mindset is encapsulated well by one of my favorite Aesop’s fables, “The Dog and the Wolf.” For those who are unfamiliar with this story, here it is in the video below: Read more of this post
Many of you are already familiar with the living-for-the-weekend mindset and with how fleeting weekends seem to be. As soon as another weekend creeps up, it’ll soon be over and you’ll be dreading Monday all over again. For those who experience an intense level of anxiety and stress on Sunday nights, the following tips and coping strategies may be worth trying:
To those suggestions, I’d add: Try to keep the situation in perspective. Indeed, there are worse life situations to be in, and there are plenty of people out there who have it much worse. However, the question of whether you should focus on accepting the situation or trying to break free and create a work-life that you have more control over is a personal one. Some questions you can ask yourself to clarify if making a break for freedom is for you: Read more of this post
I just love this wonderful depiction of realities associated with working from home that has been displayed by Marieke Guy. I’ve heard a lot about these same distractions and concur that such problems are very real. Regardless of distractions at home vs. at a centralized office however, what puts working at home over working at an office for me is greater freedom to exercise control over distractions at home whereas making environmental changes at an office necessitates an approval process (involving a greater number of other people’s needs and wants), the result of which might not go your way.
I’d also love for this graphical representation of work-at-home distractions to include distractions experienced by regular office workers for a visual, side-by-side comparison. I’d start that list off with frequently experienced distractions and time-wasters (cutting into time spent being productive for employee and employer alike I might add) from the beginning of the day due to the requirement to commute: (1) finding misplaced car keys, (2) getting out of car and running back to make sure front door is locked, (3) circling back around to make sure garage is closed, (4) circling back around to pick up a forgotten item you’re supposed to bring to work… I better stop here or it’ll be a long time before I get on with the rest of my life, haha! Plus, I’m sure the large numbers of office workers out there can mentally fill in the rest. :-P
Some of the issues rang true for me. Since our move almost 2 years ago we have suffered from ‘temperamental broadband’ – it’s a little like a teenager and has its good days and bad days! I also have a couple of very demanding cats (open the door, close the door, and repeat) and I’m not convinced that my desk set up is that great, so do get a lot of back pain. But I still believe the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages!
If you haven’t yet participated in the “This or That? Work-Life Preferences” survey, then you may do so by clicking here! This survey is ongoing. Although just a handful of people have given voice to their preferences so far, these early results have taken me by surprise. I anticipated that there would be a diversity of preferences reflecting the diversity of participants themselves though. Some of the participants explained their choices to me through private messaging conversations which confirmed what I anticipated. The following are just some of the factors that impact people’s preferences. Read more of this post