Vibrant Phoenix Workshop: Brainstorm Central

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This morning I had the opportunity to attend an event by Vibrant Phoenix in Chandler.

The MC was Derek Neighbors, a blogger I (ironically) started following on my Google Reader about eight months ago to find story ideas for Cronkite Newswatch. He supports and hosts many of these Vibrant Phoenix events and I’m sure will blog about today’s very soon.

Anyway, there was an event this morning, hosted by Gangplank, and Retha Hill, Director at the Gannett New Media Innovation Lab at the Cronkite School, invited me to go.

We had a great time speaking about how to connect governments and communities in a way that encourages growth and expansion of cities. For governments this means filling vacant lots, recruiting people to work in the vacant lots and then creating a strategy that will sustain the growth of these lots, their employers and otherwise. For citizens and workers, this means creating a community with a slew of “essential” qualities chosen by said government – like education, entertainment, opportunity, etc.

One of the most interesting discussions we had today regards a significant lifestyle change I see in our future. Many of the generations before me have grown up with a very structured work life – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays on most occasions. With the evolution of social media and the walls of office space essentially disappearing, this structured lifestyle is fading.

Horse Running, Google Images
I like to think this photo is a good representation of our young generation's cycle: A speeding horse, running towards a destination. And yet, look at how much freedom and peace he seems to have.

I participated in a breakout session related to this topic and (as one of two people associated with the 25 and under crowd) took the chance to explain the idea of a 24/7 workday. Because of our level of connectedness (oh my gosh that’s a real word), we rarely “turn off.” So, we younger generations on this 24/7-like cycle take breaks for breakfast, lunch, dinner and sleeping as needed, instead of a massive break in the middle. In the midst of work, we talk to our friends, family and coworkers all at the same time (i.e. I don’t need to wait until I’m out of work at 5 p.m. to call my friend because that was work time. Now I will text her throughout the day or email her – you get the idea).

An older woman in the group prompted a good question. She said, well that’s good and all but what happens in five years when you want children and a family? How does the 24/7 work cycle work then?

This is a good point, however it was clear to me how differently we see our daily schedules. In her mind, a 24/7 cycle means she never stops; in my mind I see a 24/7 cycle as the opportunity to choose when I can and/or want to stop. If I need to go to my kid’s baseball game at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, I’ll take the break from work knowing I can 1. work after the game as needed and 2. take calls, emails, etc. from my phone/laptop/ipad during the game if necessary. Where she felt the cycle was too much pressure, I feel the cycle actually creates much more room.

The consequential topic discussed the idea of trust in this type of work environment. Creating a work cycle that is so limber, where employees are more free to make decisions as to where their daily priorities lie, hinges on the responsibility of the employee – can he/she schedule time effectively and still get the work done?

So, what do you think? Do you think we’re slowly maneuvering into a more freely scheduled work environment as a young generation? Or do you feel the corporate work week will still be a concrete concept when our kids graduate from college? Which one do you feel is more effective? Which one do you prefer?

I’m interested to hear feedback. It’s an incredibly transitional concept; but it’s one I believe has already begun to transpire.

One Comment on “Vibrant Phoenix Workshop: Brainstorm Central”

  1. Em- yes! The 24/7 work cycle is not something to be feared. It gives our generation a sense of empowerment to choose our workday based on what we will choose to do for a living. Are you seeing my theme here? We have more CHOICE than ever! I think this is a wonderful step forward for a new generation.

    I do see us moving toward this freely scheduled work environment. In fact, I would tell the woman you spoke with that the 24/7 work cycle may actually open up more time for us to have families and raise children. Whereas we were previously constrained by expected work hours, now we can set our schedule in a lot of situations and have time to pick up the kids from school or see them off in the morning.

    We know longer have to choose one or the other–with schedule evolving, I see it more and more possible to have both.

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