Flexible work is human work

Three office workers talking together
Image from Victoria Dawe
Headshot of Sara Sutton
by Sara Sutton
23 October 2019

For too long, work and life have been treated as though they are separate.

The traditional model of everyone reporting to an office at the same time each day assumed that life and work could exist separately – that we could clock out of one area and clock into the other, and then reverse. That’s simply no longer the case.

One of the biggest reasons for this is that the line between work and life is becoming unprecedentedly blurry with the massive rise in mobile and work-related technologies. While there have always been stories of demanding bosses, it is now becoming increasingly mainstream for your boss to expect you to respond to an email at 11 pm at night, or while you’re on holiday, or otherwise supposed to “off the clock.”  

When we embrace technology to help us work in more human ways, we’re making both work and life better for ourselves and those around us.

As a result, in the past decade we’re seeing a rise in the demand for more flexible work options like remote work, flexible scheduling, and freelancing or gig work.

Woman in white dress talking to guests at an 100% Human at Work event in London
Image from Victoria Dawe

What’s more, we’re seeing people take action: the number of people who say they’ve quit a job due to lack of flexibility has nearly doubled from 17 per cent in 2014 to 32 per cent in 2017. What should we pay attention to as these intersecting trends continue?

A key piece of flexible work options is that they embrace that we are all humans, and our work lives and home lives don’t operate in silos. That when we clock in for a workday, sometimes it might look a little different than a straight eight hours at a desk, from nine-to-five, sitting in an office, and that’s okay because technology supports more customisation. It’s that customisation that can help harness both the best of what people offer, and support and even amplify it by what technology brings to the table.

A table set up for a 100% Human at Work conference
Image from Victoria Dawe

These trends are converging in some interesting ways, as Virgin has been chronicling in its 100% Human at Work initiative. When we embrace technology to help us work in more human ways, we’re making both work and life better for ourselves and those around us.

Flexible jobs help people work in more sustainable, healthier, long-term ways that benefit individuals, communities, societies, the environment, and yes – they benefit businesses, too. And technology helps support that flexibility by allowing more options in when, where, and even how people work.

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