As the #ShiftNYC conference progressed through the end of the week, the energy, themes, and connections of each event built upon the next. Attendees regularly approached the PGi and SocialPeopleTV hosts throughout the day, remarking on the positive vibe of the room as well as the candid and constructive dialogue that highlighted the sessions. The following overview of the New Work Life session on Day 3 encapsulates some of the inspiring ideas that got everyone thinking:
The new work lifestyle, which is essentially a “whole work lifestyle,” represents an entirely new way of understanding behaviors, products, the environment, and teams. In fact, as the conference proceeded, we discovered that the SoHo House and what is happening in New York City and other progressive urban environments are perfect examples of the new work lifestyle. The advent of mixed, collaborative platforms and open-plan work spaces have produced arenas where people can meet and create. Many agreed that the isolation of working alone contributes to day-upon-day disheartenment and bottlenecks creative juices. In contrast, coworking spaces are designed to foster productivity through interactions and a sense of community. People throughout the work area attend to their variety of tasks: coding, designing, brainstorming, innovating. The impulse to check Facebook or attend to other diversions every five minutes is kept at bay by the surrounding energy, which stimulates one to participate in the work space dynamic of productivity and achievement. The energy produced in such an environment is tangible and potent—a productive force that people tend to soak up.
One of our panelists paraphrased that “happiness is the biggest driver of motivation.” Coworking spaces nurture happiness, focus, and productivity in accordance with the new work lifestyle. These working co-ops are primarily driven by the surge of independent entrepreneurs and freelancers, described during our discussion as “the industrial revolution of our time.” This is no exaggeration. At present, a third of the professional population works on its own. Coworking spaces can provide human interrelations that many in this population lack and desire. The absence of the “water cooler” often drives people back into work environments; but now, the spirit of innovation drives a new space, a third space, a shared space that is neither a corporate nor a home office. We learned from the panel discussions that people have begun opening their doors and inviting others into informal work groups (Jellys). These organically evolving new work styles and spaces not only provide access to new technologies, they offer the freedom to take risks and the liberty to ask bigger questions.
That panel agreed enthusiastically that “giving people the flexibility to work on their own schedules unlocks creativity.” The corporate mother ship may be shrinking, but freelancing satellites and the spawning new work lifestyles are increasing. It’s up to you to lean in and proactively decide where you want to be, what you want to own. And whether you’re a large company, a nimble virtual team, or an individual entrepreneur, it comes down to figuring out your narrative and, by listening to your customers, understanding how to engage in meaningful conversations.
When the panel raised the topic of failure, the room filled with laughter because, as our speakers see it, failure is the precursor to success. Failures allow you to get to the one idea that will succeed, and in our new economy, the cost of failure has decreased: if you don’t fail, you aren’t taking risks. As one attendee generously stated, “Even when you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” Often, it’s by experiencing our inevitable failures that we come to understand higher values. The panel then reinforced the importance of businesses having a common set of values. Which raises a timely question: have you begun writing your personal business plan or value set? By focusing on what matters most to you, you can uphold your values no matter where you go.