Lifeflow—How to Humanize Knowledge Work

For knowledge work, punching in and punching out is a thing of the past. But many companies still force their employees to sit in a particular chair, at a certain desk, for 8 consecutive hours a day. Putting in the hours may be a fine enough measure of success in other industries, but to get the most inspired work from your teams flexibility of time and space to get work done is essential.

At Aprimo, we call that flexibility Lifeflow.

The Old Way

The working styles many knowledge workers take as a given can be dehumanizing. Working 9 to 5, besides being a totally arbitrary window of time, puts severe limits on personal lives. 9 to 5 puts every doctor’s appointment, every necessary errand, at the discretion of a system built for mechanical, assembly-line work that doesn’t respect individual needs.

Making employees come to an office every day of the week has a pretty similar dehumanizing effect. Besides lashing employees to a particular location, even though they could do their work from almost literally anywhere thanks to modern technology, working in an office can interfere with knowledge workers’ flow, throttling their best work before it even has a chance to get going.

These styles of work that many companies employ just because “that’s how things are done” put time-spent above quality and restrict what knowledge workers in all industries can do.

At Aprimo, we do things differently.

Lifeflow: The Modern Way to Work

Knowledge workers work with, well, knowledge, so at Aprimo we deemphasize the importance of physical presence and make outputs the main measure of success. Our minds are always with us, whether or not we’re sitting at a desk, whether or not we’re physically in an office. And our minds are always working, even on the subconscious level. (I know I’m not the only one who’s literally dreamed an answer to a tricky work problem.) Even as we keep ourselves present when we’re with our families, when we’re fully living our everyday lives, our minds are still at work in the background, making connections, solving problems. Lifeflow accepts that and leans into it.

Lifeflow is about adapting to the reality that people don’t do their best work on arbitrary schedules. It’s about getting work done where you are, having the freedom to be creative about your spaces to encourage flow and effectiveness, and shifting the value of work away from “I see you working” to “I trust you to get your work done.”

Lifeflow is about putting the idiosyncratic, weirdo humans ( ) that we are above “that’s just the way we do things.” It’s about giving people the freedom to do their best work, every time.

But what does Lifeflow look like?

Workflow + Life = Lifeflow

That equation says it all.

Now, unlike any other time in the past, we have the tools and technologies to emphasize the humanity and the dignity of knowledge workers. By demonstrating trust, empathy, and a sense of practical reality, we create a safe environment for our teams to perform at their best more often. It’s compassionate working. It’s Lifeflow.

It’s more painless than ever for companies to create this environment because the incredible technologies we have at our fingertips. With the power of remote capabilities today, knowledge workers can better integrate work into their daily lives—to their own benefit and to the company’s: two-thirds of employees are more productive when they work remote.

Key point: That doesn’t mean they’re constantly in work mode, though.

Integrating work into your daily life means you take care of what your demanding life requires, but you get the work you need to get done, done.

Making Lifeflow work has several requirements:

  • Clearly communicated expectations: For Lifeflow to work, the team has to know what’s expected of them. How are meetings scheduled? When does everyone have to be available? Who needs to know when you’re out of reach? Be transparent about expectations and communicate them clearly.
  • Personal discipline: In Lifeflow, we trust our teams to do what must be done to the best of their abilities, whatever that process looks like. But the process actually has to happen! All work requires discipline, but integrating work and life is a strong self-discipline test. For Lifeflow to work, everybody needs to have a certain level of control over their processes.
  • Cloud-based applications: The enablers. Without these technologies, Lifeflow would be a lot more challenging. There are a huge range of applications that your team can use to enable Lifeflow. Just make sure you understand what your team needs and ensure the capabilities you deploy meet every one of those needs.

The Way Forward for Knowledge Work

Lifeflow is a working culture, a system of creation and development—and, for many teams, it’s a big departure from how they’re working now. But that’s the point! Technology firms need to take advantage of the incredible tools at their disposal and release their knowledge workers from the tyranny of old mental frameworks.

Help your teams do their best work by creating a safe, trusting environment that realigns the value of work, putting it squarely in the hands of your teams.

Does Lifeflow sound like a good fit for your team? Are you already putting flexibility first? Tell me your team’s story on social media — simply tag me in your post (@edbreault) or send me a message directly.

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