Why Aren't You Seasonal?
When it comes to seasonal workforces, I'm envious. It would be a relief to work for a company that mostly employs seasonal workers. The best arrangement would be one with different workers for each of the four seasons. One of the hardest parts of work life is monotony, and is there anything more monotonous and grueling than seeing the same people every day. Talk about a drain on creativity! Innovative minds need to be nurtured with dynamic environments, and seeing the same people every day (often eating the same unpleasant-smelling health food—not a steady diet of chocolate chip cookies, unfortunately) is not dynamic.
If only the people you didn't get along with, or whose presence you didn't savor, were limited to the holiday season (maybe just a one-day holiday like Fourth of July when you won't be in the office anyway). Even if they were around for a full month (Thanksgiving to Christmas), it would be a relief to say to yourself, "Well, awful, unproductive Hal is here again, and boy, I sure hate listening to him chomping on imitation potato chips all day, but luckily he'll be gone after Christmas."
Of course the joy of keeping the non-enjoyment inducing (a politically correct way to say "really disliked") isn't as important as the quest for a dynamic, innovation-inspiring work place. So, since that's the more mature part of my vision, that's what I'll focus on.
To vary work routine and personality interplay, think about creating a post-Space Age office in which workers are given the option of signing up for varying schedules. One work group will sign up to keep the standard 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. routine; another will offer to come in from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; another will agree to come in from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and a last group will come in from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sure, you'll have to work out the schedule with your office's janitorial and security departments, but other than that, isn't it a great idea? Where do I begin with the myriad benefits to be offered by asking workers to sign up for the work schedule that would most appeal to them?
First off, you probably would end up avoiding the colleagues you're not crazy about. That's my hypothesis because I think most of the time there's a personality/cultural difference issue at play when people significantly dis-enjoy (another new euphemism) one another. "Oh, thank the cubicle gods," you would say to yourself, "irritating Irma is one of those odd people who seeks to be awake in the morning, so now, as a more-evolved night person, I don't have to see her anymore as she signed up for the 7 to 3 group and I'm safely ensconced in the 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. group."
On a more serious level, if you're working with people with inner-clocks and scheduling preferences you're in sync with, don't you think you'll be more productive? No more annoyance with those who expect the working mother to stay late at the office and give her child up for adoption; and no more horror-stricken looks from the men and women-about-town at the idea of having an 8 a.m. meeting every morning to accommodate people like the working mother.
On top of that, you've got a hook with this pick-a-schedule regimen to snag talented Generation X and Y recruits looking for an alternative to the "Oh, yes, we're all expected to be here by 8:30 a.m., at the latest" crowd. I'll bet a lot of super-high-potential 20 and 30-somethings loathe those kinds of cultures. And, of course, who could forget the advantages for Boomers seeking a more accommodating schedule as they near their creaky (oh, whoops, I mean "golden") years? "Oh, now I have time in the afternoon to go to the doctor, visit the grandchildren, and go fly fishing/play my Woodstock CDs again," Getting-Old-Lou will say to himself.
On a less fun note, your office will have an easier time spreading out ever-thinning resources with employees spacing apart their in-office time. Your IT servers won't have as much stress placed on them at the same time, and, therefore, may operate faster, and with fewer glitches. You also won't need as much physical office space if workers aren't all coming in at the same time. From a societal perspective, if cities encouraged businesses to pursue these types of innovative arrangements, traffic on the streets during morning and evening rush hour would improve immeasurably. Don't you think?
Now, nay-sayers will say the varying work times schedule won't work because as much as you don't like Snorty Sally (so called because she reminds a lot of people of a snorting dragon in her meanness), doesn't mean you don't need to see her face-to-snorty-face. And just because Pigeony Peter (spends too much time outside feeding the birds instead of doing his marketing reports) is really frustrating (especially because your boss likes him for no apparent reason), doesn't mean you don't need to ask him questions in a face-to-face meeting that allows for the reading of non-verbal language (his twittering eyelid when you ask him where the marketing report is).
Well, I'm going to be way-ahead-of-my-time, and say "not so!" You have no need to see these people who wear on your nerves and drain mental energy you could better direct towards the kinds of ideas that will win your company new, long-lasting customers. Am I right or am I right?
Thanks to the wonderful introverts who invented the Internet, nearly all work discourse can be accomplished via e-mail and instant messaging. If necessary, you can even watch Pigeony Peter's twitchy face via Web-cam.
What do you say workforce managers? Do we all have to see each other every day? Can you arrange the closest thing to making the work peers we don't-like-so-much into seasonal phenomena like, say, golden leaves, new-fallen snow—or horrible hay fever you're so glad isn't an every day/all-the-time thing?
Are you thinking about more innovative ways to manage your employees that mirror the flexible schedules offered to seasonal workers? Do you have any great ideas in this area to share?