Researching working life in the big city


My work and life have been undergoing great changes in the past year. In the spring I graduated from the Tiimiakatemia Entrepreneurship Centre of Excellence in Jyväskylä and, on top of my thesis, wrote an autobiography. In the summer I got married. Now I started researching working life for Barona. All this has happened so smoothly and the speed has been enough to make your head spin! Here at Barona my job is to sense where working life is headed and share what I see, hear and read.

The way I work

The changes happening in working life have not much concerned me since I have been undergoing big changes of my own. It would of course be wrong to say I have not been affected. However this latest disruption (for example digitalization) supports the way I like to work and therefore I find it solely positive. My style is to go where the action is,  see what happens and then report on it.

A good example is a lunch I had with Reaktor´s Hermanni Hyytiälä in Jyväskylä. I contacted Hermanni because I knew he must know a lot about the changes occurring in working life. I had first read about his thoughts on Twitter where he is very active.

Hermanni is in the business of unlearning. He wants to do better things, not just do things better. The highlight of our meeting was when he said that to make it in the future it is enough to be genuine and curious. This sentence assured me that I was on the right track.

Without realizing it many organizations are still maintaining the old ways of working. Or is it about us individuals and the way we think after all?

My personal interest in exploring the changes occurring in working life and the working life of the future is to understand the time in which we live.  In my observations I look to the future, through the lens of the present.  This memorable sentence I picked up from Kannonkosken OIVA´s CEO Hanny Jyrinki. I share it with you because I feel my values are also those of the everyman.

I have to avoid getting lost in any kind of bubble. Otherwise my exploration will be too narrow.  It is of course obvious that I will not be able to skip themes like robotization and artificial intelligence. The pace of change is much slower however. At least this is how I comfort myself!

And most importantly I always want to keep a human perspective. Is that not what we humans need the most, now and in the future? Like Mikael Jungner I believe in the power of empathy and interaction.

This evolution of working life is about the collision of former structured working life and the new, unstructured working life. Large and traditional organizations exist side-by-side with microentrepreurship, freelancing and so on. Researcher of the evolution of working life and new leadership Esko Kilpi knows how to comfort us in this time of change: in the future (meaning soon) robots will take care of our routine tasks.

Backpack on my back and off I go

In my exploration I want to remain humble and keep my "backpack on my pack" mentality. As I have already told some people, I have chosen to carry a backpack instead of a leather briefcase as a reminder to myself. This way I want to keep my mindset as a learner. This exploration of the changes occurring in working life is definitely a personal journey for me. I want to leave my cave. I will avoid handing out simple truths but instead try to bring in new perspectives that can nudge the conversation forward.

This might be old-fashioned, but for me, concrete results are one measure of success. In my own life, this change and the way the structured and unstructured exist side-by-side can be seen in how I still examine the results of my work through the filter of structured working life.  Then I measure my results solely through productivity. I look back on the times when I worked at the Port of Raahe and the work was completed for the day when the loading of a ship was finished.  Also when working in sales the results were easily measured in euros and the resulting sales kept both me and the company happy.

Knowledge work has forced me to come up with new ways of measuring my performance as now I when I leave for the day things are often unfinished. Here too knowledge worker Hermanni Hyytiälä had words of encouragement: performance can now solely be measured through the client and the impact the work has.

Present freedom of choice (read:Spotify) positions companies and individuals in such a way that each time solely the best possible team in the moment is selected. This can also be applied to recruiting. These days the best workers will not work in anything other than the best teams.

This brings us to future challenges companies face. When a company experiences success like good customer satisfaction, it must be able to break it down so it applies to each individual worker. This way the common success is also translated into success for each individual. This arises from the needs of Y and Z generations for more individual feedback.  One of the ways this will impact leadership is that we need to find new ways of managing thinking as more of our work becomes about thinking. We know how difficult it is to control - did I say control? I mean manage - the thoughts of others.

PS. This is my first blog post for Barona. I aggressively want to hear your comments, feedback, and any new perspectives. Thank you!

I was very impressed by Esko Kilpi´s ideas and would like to meet him. As as I was saying, Hermanni Hyytiäinen from Reaktor knows a lot about this topic. Check out the links!

More links:

Emerging network society is challenging our mindsets