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From work-life balance to work-life flow
Executive Education / 10 September 2020
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Marketing & Sales Koordinatorin
Michelle Neumann is Marketing & Sales Coordinator Professional & Executive Education at Frankfurt School.

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This year hasn’t been easy. It’s difficult to know where to start – or where to stop – when reviewing all the things that have changed. And there are only a few months to go before we start a new chapter: 2021. During 2020, the COVID crisis has disrupted every aspect of our lives, driving the onward march of digitisation in particular. The world of work as we know it has changed out of all recognition, and the New Work approach has become more important than ever for businesses large and small. Over the last 10 years, various attempts have been made to replace the conventional 9-to-5 regime with a healthier work-life balance. But what we’ve experienced during the COVID crisis suggests that none of them go far enough. Modern workers now long for something best described as work-life flow.

The New Normal

The coronavirus has taught us that the only way to cope with exceptional situations is to embrace agile business practices and a 360-degree digital strategy. For many companies, the pandemic has been a survival-threatening trial by fire; for others, it’s been much less stressful. But no matter how we dealt with it, we’ve all learned some important lessons. Most importantly, that we should not attempt to return to what was formerly considered “normal”. Of course we’ve all been asking ourselves some variation on the question “when will things go back to the way they were?” But it’s time to resist this temptation – especially where work is concerned. Why give up what we’ve achieved to date? We’d do better to use our energy to build something new on the foundations of this achievement.

Microsoft is currently regarded as one of the pioneers of flexible workplaces. After building an unprecedented “smart workspace”, the company switched from emphasising work-life balance to focusing on work-life flow. Technology has made it possible to work anywhere, anytime, and because many employees were expressing a strong desire to make the most of this new option, Microsoft reacted with commendable speed. The company now gives employees the opportunity to decide how to organise their working day for themselves. This also leaves them totally flexible to organise their personal and family lives. Employees now have total control over when or indeed whether to come into the office. In principle, the company is even happy to support those who opt for a 100% mobile approach. If people prefer to work evenings rather than mornings, or break their day up into multiple working blocks, they can now do so – as long as they meet the appropriate performance targets.

Clearly this principle is a much better fit with real life – after all, important family events don’t just happen in the afternoon or evening. Previously, work and leisure time were kept strictly separate. Now, the transition is much more fluid.

This represents an enormous vote of confidence in the workforce by Microsoft. But senior management is in no doubt about the underlying principle: the opposite of freedom is control. Given that the company describes its employees as self-motivated, responsible and autonomous, this dramatic step was the only one that made sense. Thanks to the new work-life flow, employees can now focus on personal development, creativity and innovative thinking – all to the ultimate benefit of Microsoft’s business.

Smart working in action

To implement a “smart working” model in your company, you need to start with some detailed analysis and planning. In our Agile Project Management certification course, not only do we give you the knowledge you need to work out how to optimise the benefits to your customers, we also provide you with vital information on New Work, connectivity and digitisation.

And if you’d like to share related ideas or discuss best practices with other companies, you really ought to attend our FUTURE OF WORK Conference on November 10, 2020. We’ll be holding the event in a hybrid format, so we look forward to welcoming you either on the Frankfurt School campus or online. As well as plenty of opportunities for active networking, the programme includes a great selection of hot topics delivered by innovative speakers.

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