O2 is speaking today at the IoD Women as Leaders conference about the empowerment of technology to create a better work/life balance or, in our view, for women to have control over their lives on their terms. So, still to be everything to everyone, but with a level of influence which enables women to focus on the things they want to focus on.
Up until now, the stereotypical picture for the working woman is to be everything to everyone, cutting their time up into small chunks to achieve everything at work and at home. Balancing home stuff at work and work stuff at home. A constant blur between the two, that leaves them exhausted, flustered and a slave to lists. An endless cycle of admin, tasks and work. Not much room for clear thought, creativity or leadership in either part of our lives.
Actually, we believe that things are changing in the workplace. It's being shaped by the three C's: Cloud, Consumerisation and Collaboration.
Cloud technology essentially enables us to keep our documents in a single place, accessible where ever we happen to be. Handy.
Consumerisation means that instead of being given a work phone and computer by your company, you're going to be offered a choice. Many IT departments are becoming more open to ‘consumer’ technologies in the workplace – and this will continue apace. iPads in the workplace are becoming more commonplace for instance. Our home world and work worlds are colliding from a technology perspective. The advantages are clear. Your productivity rises if you're familiar with the technology. Plus, often your purchase will be funded via a corporate contribution – meaning you, rather than the company, has to maintain the technology if it breaks down. For you… well, it’s all about self-determination and feeling comfortable.
Finally, Collaboration. We're working in different ways, across different global zones and boundaries. But also in different teams. We're seeing strong evidence that project-based collaboration brings huge benefits in terms of innovation and thinking. So instead of sitting in our traditional teams and departments, perhaps business in the future will reflect the smaller businesses in the UK, where more ideas and roles exchanged and developed in more fluid way as business dictates.
What does this all add up to? For us work is becoming not a place you go to but an activity you do. It's a state of mind, not a place. So flexible working in the future is not about just being able to decide the time you work, it's about how you work, who you work with and where you work.
And women to spend time with their families and actually be present and focused on that activity. Equally, when at work to take their place at the table and lead their business and their teams to the best of their ability.
At the end of the day, having everything on your terms is all about control. There is always an 'off button' and just sitting and thinking things through, be it work or home life, always brings clarity and perspective. Not something that technology can deliver within itself, but something it can make happen.