What might the future of work look like? It's clear things will be very different when we emerge from quarantine. And I'm incredibly optimistic about how our priorities will change during and after this reset.
I talk a lot about what a fulfilling work life looks like. It’s not about relaxing our standards in pursuit of some kind of elusive work/life balance. Professionalism and excellence are still worthy goals. And while I'm all for people having easy access to all the healing tools they believe they need, I also don't buy it that good benefits and reasonable working hours are the loftiest goals we as a society can ever hope to attain when it comes to work satisfaction. A more sophisticated working world will include an understanding of how to manage our own energy, the autonomy to take care of ourselves the way we see fit (including access for all to a wide array of truly effective healthcare methods) and the satisfaction that only truly comes when we feel we're contributing to the good of other people in some way. If we collectively choose to harness this time for great global benefit, as I know we are capable of doing, we can establish new, more expansive career paradigms. Here are my predictions: 1) We will do away with unnecessary face time, arbitrary fixed working hours, and relentless productivity that never pauses to consider if there is a smarter way to get things done. We'll realize that with focus, we can get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time. We'll take enough breaks for rest and reflection to consider whether our productivity is moving us in a constructive direction. And we won't be afraid to change course accordingly. 2) We'll have a deeper appreciation for people who are multi-talented. Remember when you were younger and you read about an actress who released an album, or a model who tried to launch an acting career? Personally, I remember rhetoric around how they should stay in their lane. Who were they to think they could attempt more than one thing? Now I know that was absurd, faulty programming! We're here to expand, and have diverse experiences. We'll be more open to less linear resumes when hiring. 3) Fewer people will tolerate meaningless work (what anthropologist David Graeber calls "Bullshit Jobs") or work for companies that are downright destructive to human health and the environment. We increasingly want to believe our labor has worth beyond producing a paycheck, and in the aftermath of a crisis that brought us face to face with our own mortality, the urgency will be even greater. 4) People will be encouraged to focus on and amplify their strengths rather than try to fit themselves into roles they neither enjoy nor excel in to please other people. Of course, it’s still great training to seek to improve, and life on this planet will always require doing a few things we don’t want to do! But people will choose their paths based on what they know their souls need and want to learn, rather than what appears most prestigious. 5) We'll start to measure success by a feeling of peace at our core, successful relationships, time spent in community, freedom for creative pursuits, vibrant health and individual expression. As my friend Kimberly Hunter writes, "We are each one of infinite facets of the diamond. Each are allowed--and destined--to shine and transmit their own frequency, and it all comes back to the same message: love, kindness, compassion, service to self and others." This will start to sound less like abstract poetry and more like a practical blueprint for living. The future is bright.
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