Are you still working for the money? I realize, this is quite a provocative question. Certainly we all work in order to earn our living, no doubt. But the longer I am dealing with senior executives, successful professionals or even young promising talent I get to the conclusion that most of us are not looking for money only anymore.
“Money has become the means to achieve
something much more important – time.”
After industrialization and globalization money has been the most important indicator for wealth and success. The one who had the most of it has been the biggest influencer. And in a way our thinking still works like this. If we think about what we would like to achieve, money still has an important role. But one thing has changed obviously: we don’t seem to be too interested in buying lots of stuff anymore. People who buy luxury goods in order to be able to show off their wealth are not the real trendsetters of our times. For those who are really wealthy, doing good seems to have become far more important. They invest money in long-term improvement projects for the major problems of our planet: pollution, poverty, climate change, illiteracy, etc.
But what is it specifically about time?
“Time is the new most precious good.”
Time has become extremely important for people. After money time has always been a clear indicator of success or failure.
Over decades we have been working on making businesses more efficient. Efficiency was defined as accomplishing something with the least waste of time and effort. So we have been working endlessly on saving time and therefore money for our businesses. Investments in automatization as well as the implementation of tools and smart IT systems have led to a lot of savings in time and number of people subsequently. At the same time, the remaining workforce got even more tasks, as it was assumed they would have lots of time over due to more efficient processes and workflows. Not completely true, as we know today. The usage of smartphones, the possibility to work at every time of the day from everywhere around the world seemed to be a convenient factor, but has led to excessive stress for many people. We seem to have even less time. Every minute is used to do something – sometimes even multiple things at the same time. Time has become scarce, so it is precious.
Asking different groups of people today about what they think is important, the answer of many of them is: Time. Young people define success not necessarily as having a great career and earning a lot of money – they describe their ideal scenario as having a job, doing something they like while having some impact and having enough spare time that they can spend with their families and friends. Older people having had a great career often talk in retrospect about what they would be doing differently, if they had the chance to. Many of them admit that they should have spent more time with their beloved ones or even have took some time for themselves. And the ones that are working day in – day out like crazy currently? They are longing for more time! By asking for more time some of them especially mean flexibility. They would love to have the possibility to work more independently, not being bound to a certain structure or time frame, but work a lot as it is needed and work less or not at all in periods of less work pressure.
So what we see happening is people starting to spend their money in exchange for more time and freedom. This happens in very different ways. Some refuse to work full-time and therefore accept a lower income. Others take periods of unpaid vacation in order to be able to spend their time differently. But also in normal daily life you can see this trend. People spend high amounts of money for anything that helps them to gain more personal time. It starts with vacuum or window cleaning robots and ends with accepting that not everything needs to be done by themselves. People dare to ask others for help and are happy to pay for these services.
For the business world this means that we need to get used to the thought that part-time work, flexible working hours as well as sabbaticals will be the norm and not the exception in the future. The new generation will make sure that they have enough room for themselves and their interests besides work.
The term work-life-balance is likely to change in life-work-balance….