Opinion

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Knowledge workers influence the work-life balance concept

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In parallel with the development of “work-life integration”, we have seen the rise of ‘knowledge workers’: people who work mostly with their minds, who think about work, receive emails and consume information 24/7. This important change for the way our generation works has huge ramifications for the way we interact with colleagues, friends and family.

In the past, work hours have dictated a lifestyle involving eight hours on, eight hours off and eight hours sleep. Without mobile devices or modern connectivity, this formalised pattern made sense in structuring the working day. However, it was not conducive to productivity.

The human brain is not built to focus on distinct tasks in isolation for sustained periods of time. We are too naturally curious and inquisitive. Technology now means that our working habits are a lot more suited to these instincts.

There is a preconception that people change because of technology but this isn’t true. Technology innovations occur all the time but the ones that experience widespread adoption are the ones that improve the way we lead our lives. Mobile devices and ‘always-on’ technology allows us to work and behave in a much more natural way.

As a working mother, this flexibility allows me to leave the office to pick up my children from school, then finish my work later in the evening. The ability to work around day to day pressures such as these is a liberating change sweeping through the workforce.

One reason for this evolution is that modern professions require modern ways of working. Never before has Europe employed so many people for the knowledge and information they possess and deploy. The rise of the modern worker has been a result of the rise of market value for service professions and intellectual property. Technology has facilitated this process with the unprecedented proliferation of information.

As the emphasis has moved from products to ideas, today’s worker needs to be connected to the wider world at all times. Inspiration and results stem from the constant dialogue between individual and society in the modern workplace.

As a result, the technology we use is progressively becoming far more superior to meet the requirements of this modern workplace. Apps now allow busy professionals to manage the work-life balance far more efficiently, ensuring maximum productivity.

What will now emerge is the race to align technology with performance. The best employees will use technology to make themselves as efficient as possible, maximising available time when it most suits them. We predict that this familiarity with technology will not only lead to faster promotions and greater results for employees, but will soon be demanded by employees.

Progress continues. As technology continues to advance, things like wearable technology are likely to influence the concept of the work life balance again. This is an exciting era of flux where the workplace has never been more flexible and dynamic.

Cristina Riesen is General Manager Europe at Evernote.

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