As unemployment rates continue to rise, it has become taboo for the employed to complain about work woes. Though they bear a lesser strain than the unemployed, those employed in realigned organizations have a unique set of challenges to overcome. Restructuring has left departments lean and created disproportionate workloads. Employees are charged with accomplishing “more with less.” It is an employers’ market, with a large pool of qualified labor. This shift in the labor pool has created tension within offices; if employees are unwilling to make bigger commitments to our jobs, they are easily replaced. These increased demands require a larger time investment. Whether it is by working longer hours, outside the office, or additional days, the employed are spending more time working. And the work environment is increasingly intense and stressful.
Although employees are overworked and undervalued, all is not lost. Monocle’s March cover story “Work In Progress,” written by Sophie Grove, shines a light on how nations are “re-imagining the work day to be competitive and compassionate.” From the introduction of micro-jobs, flextime, and siestas, the article details both global and culturally specific solutions to balancing work, rest, and play. For most nations, the current workday model is a generational hand-me down. As design managers, we must look at the benefits of a workday redesign on all levels, considering benefits to our people, the planet, and the bottom line. We have the opportunity to redesign the workday to consider today’s business needs, lifestyles, family structures, and technology.
Flextime allows employees to do a better job of balancing their personal commitments with work. With outside obligations well-managed and fulfilled, employees can be more effective in their job roles. If accepted on a mass level, flextime can affect traffic congestion. Staggered work start times can diffuse rush hour. This would decrease air pollution and lower carbon emissions as well as reduce tardiness and stress.
Employees aren’t the only ones with an interest in redesigning the workday. The potential larger benefits to organizations and society are also evident. As our economy rejuvenates itself and organizations begin to rebuild, workday models will also need to evolve.
Grove, Sophie. “Work In Progress-Global.” Monocle A Briefing On Global Affairs Business, Culture & Design Mar. 2011: 78-81. Print