The Future of Work – The Work-Life Integration


Over the last few decades, we have all heard about this the Work-Life balance; many of us have even managed to find it. For some its about getting the right amount of family and social life to balance out the stresses of the 9-5 workday. But as workdays get longer, and smartphones and tablets become more prevalent for employees, we will definitely be seeing a new way of working. The Work-Life integration.

The Chartered Management Institute published a report earlier this month outlining some of the key work changes that will be faced in 2018, and one of the interesting things for me, was the exodus from the traditional workspace. This exodus will be partly caused by environmental pressure to reduce carbon footprints as well as demographic pressure of an ageing population, leading to a blurring of boundaries between family and career. I also personally feel that many commuters are now getting so fed up with poor transport infrastructure, whether on the road or the rail, that working from home is best way to optimise a lot of knowledge workers time.

So what does this new way of work mean to me, I hear you cry?  Well as someone who has already embraced the work-life integration, perhaps an insight into my life my help. My head office is just outside London which takes me 2hrs to drive to; I have a satellite office in Reading which is just over an hour to get to; both these travel times exclude the additional rush hour delays of course. I also have my home office in the Cotswolds that takes me less than a minute to get to; it is a nice quiet space with a Cisco home office kit including secure access into my Office network. I also have an work laptop, an iPhone and a personal iPad.

So if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I have a new West Highland Terrier puppy called Archie. He likes waking me up before 7am every morning without fail. So I get up, have breakfast and turn on my iPad to start catching up on all my project activity and messages on the Cisco Social Business portal Quad. Once I’m up to speed on activity, I put my boots on and take Archie out for a walk on Minchinhampton Common. Luckily for me, there is good reception up on the Common so I can keep in touch with email and make any early morning calls. After about an hour I come back home and work for the rest of the morning in my home office, including various video and web meetings using WebEx. If I need to have a Telepresence conference meeting, I drive to my Reading office obviously now avoiding the most of the traffic. I may stop off on the Motorway Services to have a Flat White coffee and complete some work actions on my iPad from earlier; the wif-fi is free. When I get home I often relax, go to the gym and then have dinner. In the evening I’m on my iPad working while my other half watches her programmes.

The fact is, every day may be different, but the key success behind it all, is that I can work from anywhere that has 3G or wifi access. My company has given me some tools, I have also bought my own. My office is no longer the building just inside the M25, its now anywhere I go. A lot of the baby boomer generation feel that working from home isnt really working. But for me, I am at least 20% more efficient when I work the way I do. I also think the quality of my work is better as Im less stressed and able to think outside the box better when required. According to Chartered Management Institute, we’ll all be working like this in the future, which should decrease the amount of cars on the road and increase the number of available seats on trains. We can also see an increase is trade for pubs, restaurants and service stations who will now be filled with more people tapping away on mobile devices. Just don’t forget to turn them off occasionally


Virgin Media enables Flexible Working with Cisco Social Collaboration Software

If you follow my twitter or LinkedIn, you would have seen me post this video earlier in the week. Its a great reference study for Cisco’s social and collaboration solutions. I met some of the Virgin Media guys at the Cisco Collaboration Summit in Barcelona a couple of months back and they were raving about Cisco Quad, Jabber and WebEx. They said that since they implemented the solutions, 77% their employees felt that they were more productive than before. This is a huge figure and points towards the Enterprise moving away from the inbox to a more Social, more Collaborative way of working.

If you watch the video, you can also see that many of the Virgin Media employees are using multiple devices; Macs, PCs, iPads and smartphones. This goes back to my true belief of what Cloud Computing is; a similar user experience across multiple devices, wherever you are.


The Social Network to Social Business

I’m really bored of Facebook; it just doesn’t give me what I want anymore. I find myself scrolling through lots of irrelevant pointless updates and information that I really could do without. OK, its great for keeping in contact with friends and posting photos, but the activity feed is becoming pointless bar a few exceptions. I know the new “Subscribe” button may improve this but I’m still waiting to see.

I am however, still a huge fan of Twitter. Or more realistically, I am a fan of Tweetdeck. Purely because I can split the people I follow into topic areas, Technology, Social Business, News etc. So depending on what I want to know at a particular time , I can find it or find someone who might know about it. But what Tweetdeck doesn’t do, is make the viewing user experience as pleasurable; I can’t preview photos or links so I’m sure I just skip over a lot that I may be interested in.

This maybe where Google+ will provide the happy medium? Ok, it’s not brilliant yet either, but it seems to be trying to be best both of both worlds. I like their use of circles and huddles so I can decide what information to view and with whom; it seems a more structured way of consuming the vast amount of content that is out there. At the moment thought, the users of Google+ seem to be more of a professional audience and not the GenY or Millennials that Google probably wanted. But is that a bad thing? Not for me.

As someone who is focused on Social Business Collaboration I can’t wait until we see Google+ as part of Google Apps. I’m a fan of software like Yammer and Jive that really allow employees to collaborate better. But it’s the ability to collaborate on documents that really allows social software to really enter the Enterprise. Software like Cisco Quad is where I think Social Business is really headed with the blend of social networking  but with the Enterprise ready document management. Google+ will inevitably have this is well, all in the cloud which makes it available to even the smallest company.  Then when you add in end to end unified communications such as IM and video, whether its Google Voice or Cisco Jabber, you create the optimal user cockpit for your employees.

Quad, like Google+, will also have the potential of their own  Apps Marketplace which will allow 3rd party software vendors to build plugs such as Finance & CRM apps. The outcome of this is that the whole Business can embrace Enterprise 2.0 rather than keeping it in purely a GenY silo. So when Management say that Social Business is just like Facebook, you can be confident that won’t be the case.