Business World

What happened to the long-service watch?

Welcome to the new world of work. Once we could only dream of working from home, of flexi time and job-sharing, of ditching the 9-5 workday for a “what suits me and you” approach. Now, thanks to advances in technology such as fibre-optic cabling which revolutionised the telecommunications industry, we do it.

People are also living longer thanks to modern medicine. Although HIV/Aids has had a major impact on life expectancy averages in South Africa, those who are free of the disease (or on treatment) can expect to live a lot longer than their parents’ generation.

All things considered, technology and science have given us both the freedom to live and work the way we want to, and the obligation to think differently about how we do it.

Our world has also, in a sense, shrunk, turning us from a vast, unexplored planet to a global village. Electronic technology and the instant movement of information between the furthest reaches of the globe means workplaces and conditions have been transformed.

The Y-generation (born from 1980 onwards) will be leading the way in demanding workplace flexibility.  This generation, characterised by its savviness in communications, media and digital technologies, will also seek now, more than ever, to shape their jobs to fit their lives rather than their lives to suit the workplace.

Progressive companies are embracing the change, and redesigning the relationship between employees and employer to recognise the diversity of people and their individual needs. Company structures will need to transform to be, as organisational consultant Jon Katzenbach, co-author of Leading Outside the Lines says: “less like a pyramid and more like a puzzle”.

You will need to actively manage your own investment and risk profile to ensure you and your dependents are protected at all times. As Liberty spokesperson Andrew Warren says: “The cover offered through the Lifestyle Protector is designed to enable individuals to manage and change their portfolio as they move through their life stages. The flexibility gives individuals the choice to make the right decisions and to plan for a secure future.”

It is wonderful to have more opportunities and possibilities for our personal and working lives. But the shift of the responsibility from companies to individuals is both an exciting and alarming proposition and you have to work hard, as boundaries blur, at maintaining a balance between work and free time.

Your personal happiness and achievement of your goals are so much more important than a long-service gold watch at the end of decades bound to a one-corporation-culture. Seize the moment but take ownership and responsibility for the process.

The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the act of turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic. – Peter Drucker, Austrian management consultant

 

Written by Lynda Smith, CEO of Refirement Network.  Refirement Network holds workshops around the “The New World Of Work “  Go to www.refirementnetwork.com   for more details.

Colleen Larsen


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