I’m doing some research for an article on how trends like globalization, the need for sustainable development, and increasing connectivity, will affect IT generally and, specifically, the company who hired me to write the article. One of the trends that’s going to affect us all is the change in the way we work. My inhouse guru of all things techie sent me a link to a blog called Anne 2.1 where a tech wizard called Anne Zelenka talks about two work styles: busy and bursty.
Someone who is busy works a set number of hours, does required face time in the office, makes sure they leave later than the boss, behaves according to a received hierarchy. Some who is bursty is unconventionally productive, has flat networks, spends a lot of time online and surfing. The old paradigm does not like the new paradigm much, because it LOOKS so unproductive.
In another post on Web Worker Daily, Anne goes on to differentiate the two work styles:
Busy: Show your face during all standard working hours.
Burst: If you produce what you need to, we don’t care when you do it or how long it takes.
Busy: Immediate response to email required.
Burst: Use better ways to communicate when available including blogs, wikis, IM, chat rooms, SMS, and RSS.
Busy: Manage the hierarchy inside your company.
Burst: Connect laterally outside your department and company.
Busy: Always available during working hours.
Burst: Declarative availability.
Busy: Web surfing is bad.
Burst: Web surfing fertilizes and seeds the soil of the mind.
Busy: Long-term planning rules.
Burst: Try agile experimentation and fast failure instead.
We need the busy AND the burst economy. The busy economy gives us our groceries, our electrical power, and our newspapers every morning. However, many companies will find themselves at risk of not benefiting from the hyperproductivity of the burst economy because to the busy, it looks like an excuse for slacking off rather than blasting off.
With my declarative availability, blogging, frequent Web surfing, sporadic productivity, lateral connections, I just realised – thanks to Anne – that I am Ms Bursty. However, putting my new paradigm smugness aside, I’ve also realised that this style of work is wonderfully suited to work-from-home parents like myself. It’s a way to fit work and life together, so that the two need not be separated. I work according to need at strange times of the day and night, and in between I fit in managing a home and family. The classical divide of stay-at-home parent or working parent is being eroded, and I think that’s thrilling and amazingly empowering for women.
It’s heady but great out here on the cutting-edge.