Von Barbara Josef
Another “colorful” day lies ahead of Ella, indicates a glance on the personal assistant which is displayed on the kitchen window right behind the coffee machine. Colorful means many different time pods. White stands for allotment, blue stands for deep work, red for project work, green for personal growth, orange for socializing, amber for personal priorities and yellow for pooling time.
Getting organised for the day
While enjoying the first coffee, Ella quickly skims the special attention list. 18 out of 20 events have automatically been resolved based on the programed values and recent decision. Only two need Ella’s attention. The meeting with her practice circle lead takes place at the same time as the theatre play of her godchild. She sends a quick voice message to the practice circle lead asking whether 9.30 p.m. would work too for a brief exchange. Knowing that they are both “integrators”, who prefer off-peak time for synch meetings and, in comparison with “separators”, aim at mingling work and private life, she is convinced that this is the best of all the available options displayed. The second alert reminds her that her last sporting activity was more than three days ago. Based on the local weather forecast the smart assistant suggests a light run through the park nearby together with Amy, one of her learning partners, who lives in the neighborhood. Amy seems to be available during the same time and due for training too. The newly popped-up green amber field indicates that the suggestion has been accepted by Amy’s personal assistant.
After a quick shower and breakfast Ella takes the bicycle and heads for the local coworking space Wunderraum which she reaches after a 20 Minute ride, during which she does the allotment (correspondence, documentation, etc.) via voice control . When she approaches the building, she is automatically checked-in in the virtual community platform “G-Hub”. The software does not only show, who is in the building today, it also displays the current projects, interests, skills and free timeslots of the community members.
Working at the coworking space
Ella has 30 Minutes before the project work begins. She grabs a coffee and starts working at the work bench in the community zone. “You should meet Steven. He has just entered the space and has a similar profile like you” suggests her smart assistant. Decline. Ella continues doing her preparation for the day. Meeting new people is usually a nice distraction but today she is very focused. Or let’s say she was focused until she sees a stranger entering the community zone, dressed in shimmering green colors which is a nice contrast to her short red hair. “Forget it, you’re out of this project. Our values simply don’t match” she yells in her phone before she slams it back in her bag without any further comments. “Oh hi” she says totally absorbed in thoughts towards Ella, “I didn’t mean to disturb you. Are you new?”. After a few introductory works, Ella starts immediately talking about her projects and areas of interest, although she has never met Rose, the lady in green, before. Without the discreet reminder of her smart assistant, that her project work is due in 3 minutes, she would have forgotten the reason why she came to the Wunderraum this morning. “Why don’t you join us – we need exactly someone like to cope with the current challenges.”
Three hours later the group leaves the project room called “Wunderlabor” and heads for a joint lunch in the city farm garden, for which they just worked on a volunteer base on the new distribution strategy. The writing on the wall and smart table is automatically converted to a protocol which is added to the shared notebook of the team members, the tasks are in parallel integrated in the personal diary of each project member – not as a to do, but as an appointment in the agenda in consultation with the personal bio rhythm and place preferences. A quick video done at the end of the workshop summarizes the main output – not only to record the key findings, but also to update those members who could not participate in the session. Rose spontaneously decides to join the community on their further journey. Of course it was an intuitive decision but her learning score – a quick individual reflection guided by the smart assistant – went through the roof. Not only because the topic was new for her, but mainly based on the diverse composition and open discussion culture of the project team.
Deep work as part of a work day
The afternoon is blocked for deep work. It’s around 3 p.m. when Ella heads back to the Wunderraum. A few years ago she would have felt bad spending more than two hours for a community lunch but this was mainly due to the outdated time tracking system that still existed in the old days. Since her main employer introduced a system called “Spark” that tracks energy, output and learning, things changed drastically for the good of everyone – profits skyrocketed, the burnout rate went down and the employee engagement score continually rose. She spends two hours totally focused in the library of the Gemeinschaft – a place where automatically all incoming message and reminders are muted. When she is through with her topics, she browses through “the pool” and checks the projects, where support is needed. She assigns one task to her, that fits well with her skills set and interests. The introduction of the concept “pooling time” a few years ago helped her company enormously to gain velocity – it was a reaction to all the failed agility initiatives they tried before. Before she heads back home she has a “Feedforward Session” with a new team member in a live meeting box. It was after the Corona Pandemic back in 2020/2021 when her company stopped doing performance reviews and feedback sessions – realizing that digging in the past does not help to foster strengths and acquire new skills. And of course this proceeding helps her employer to match future challenges with individual growth paths.
Flexibility and freedom
Its already past seven when Ella comes home. During summer time she works 120% – being a passionate ice hockey player she prefers to have more time for sports in the winter season, where she usually works around 60%, depending also a bit on the nature of projects that are available in the marketplace. While relaxing with a nice tea she got as a present from the city farm, she captures her main learnings of the day in the personal growth journal. When her employer introduced the “Job Crafting Model” back in 2021 as a consequence of the movement started with the Feedforward Sessions, they agreed that they will keep a minimal form of the line organization and also main functions, based on the skill set and individual growth paths, but that everyone could choose projects in the company as well as voluntary assignments with externals in addition to their core responsibility. That was also why Ella, being a communications specialist, accepted the project for city farm. She wants to build up sales and distribution skills in a real-life environment, accompanied by a team coach, who not only joins their project sessions, but whom she can consult whenever she wants to review complex topics.
More energy to pursue personal projects
Before going to bed Ella spends an hour writing on her second novel – a habit that she truly loves, as it helps her to relax, but also deal with the rich experiences made with different people during the day. She started writing three years ago, when she realized, that due to the introduction of “Spark” she had suddenly much more energy in the evening to pursue her own personal projects. Maybe it was also because she started working at the Wunderraum during her autonomous time – back in the 20ies called “home office days” – so suddenly her home was not associated to writing attritional emails and doing presentations any longer. Before she falls asleep she glances on her smart assistant. How great, the next day is totally free of appointments as it is an “office” day. Of course her companies Community Hub has nothing in common with the headquarters of the past, where people sat at individual desks and in windowless meeting rooms, but unofficially they still affectionately refer to it as “the office”. Consequently the smart assistant has already programmed the “in the Community Hub message” to notify people that she is not available for externals that day – wouldn’t it be a pity not to spend the presence day with her team and have time for serendipitous moments?”
Barbara Josef acquired a primary teacher’s certificate as her initial training. Later she studied business administration at the University of St.Gallen, recently followed by a PhD in business innovation, with the focus “coworking from a corporate perspective”. Before founding her company 5-9 AG in 2016, Barbara worked in various functions and industries, most recently as Head of Communication and Corporate Social Responsibilitty as member of the Executive Board of Microsoft Switzerland.
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