7 THINGS I REALIZED ON THE ROAD ABOUT WORK

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Being officially jobless and on the road made me realize a few things about work. The first one is that I actually love working (good news as I will sooner than later get back to it). Proof is that even with my backpack I keep this blog running (don’t laugh, it is actually a lot of work), I am working on a website, on the marketing strategy for a start-up and helping boost the marketing of a friend’s company. None of them are in the same continent and I can do all of that with my brain, a laptop and a wifi connection. I am just struggling with time as I am supposed to be seeing the world and not my laptop in my hotel room. I am loving every part of it. This made me think a lot about why I have decided to leave on a trip around the world and if my professional experiences had anything to do with it. You have already guessed the answer. When a job takes such a huge amount of time in your life, of course it has at least a little something to do.

When I look around me I hear so many people unhappy about their jobs dreaming to try the same adventure, starting their own company or becoming free-lancers. They are mostly in the “thirty zone” and they are looking for things they are not finding in their jobs. The question is: what?

#1 – DEFINING WHAT “A GOOD JOB” MEANS

The definition of a good job in my twenties was very different from the one I am more clearly defining today.  Elements like wage, prestige, hierarchical position used to weight much more in the “good job balance” than they do now. New words are taking their place: autonomy,  creativity, mobility and perhaps the most important of them all: making a difference. This is a real switch for a lot of us out there and might also explain why so many thirty year olds have quit their jobs to start their own thing despite the economical crisis, or simply deciding to take-off on a trip around the world. This generation is now reaching middle management positions but also top management ones. So if you, companies, human ressources and managers don’t want to lose them, and you certainly don’t because you will need them, take the time to understand them. And to listen. Otherwise they might just resign and start their own company. And they might one day become your competitors. Oops.

#2 – AUTONOMY WANTED, AUTONOMY NEEDED

That we live in a fast-paced world is no news. However, everybody says that the market changes are happening too fast nowadays. That customers are getting too impatient in their communication with brands which are not reactive enough in answering them on social media. We know that, the top-management knows that but few things change in the company’s structures and in the decision-making ladders to make sure that we can be as fast as we can. Integrating more autonomy in companies means increasing the reactivity power of each team. Autonomy does not mean refusing hierarchy, it simply means reorganizing the decision-making process so that it becomes more efficient and adapted to the level of competency of each individual. Autonomy also means having a space where we can strive. Intellectually by getting out of comfort zones, creating bold concepts and trying new ideas. Accepting that in order to achieve big results, a few ones will fail. Autonomy means being able to reinvent your job everyday and not getting bored. Autonomy has a price that both sides must be willing to pay, but the rewards can be big.

#3 – “SLOW WORK” MOMENTS AND SPACES TO DEVELOP CREATIVITY 

People say that either you are creative, or you’re not. Of course there is always that girl or that guy who is annoyingly creative all the time. But for the rest of the world, creativity can be triggered. It just needs a little help. My question to you is: how can you boost creativity in your teams when their phone and cell phone are ringing all the time, their e-mail is alerting them something just got into the mailbox every 2 minutes, the internal company messenger is trying to get their attention on 12 on-going communications and the project management app is poping-up with new tasks? I really believe that in order to be faster in the creativity  department, we need to go slower. We need to foster “quiet” moments in the employees’ days. We need to find inspiration out from the office and find it where it is. In the streets, in a park, in a mall or a street market. I know what you are thinking: this is unrealistic. If companies like Google can do it, so can you. Just think of all the hours each employee loses with useless tasks and imagine them being transformed into a creative timeframe that can foster great ideas and do the math.

#4 – BRINGING THE LOVE TO THE “WORK-HARD-PLAY-HARD” PEOPLE

Apparently the hipster is dead, and that now a new type has emerged: the Yuccie (click on the link to learn more and take the test). If I have never identified myself with the hipster category, I do a little bit more with this new group. Why? Because this group is qualified as a group who cannot engage in an activity except if they are passionate about what they do. To be more precise, creatively passionate. I was lucky until now, I have always had interesting jobs. I am a marketer and I worked in luxury cosmetics, in art publishing so the subjects were always interesting and my day-to-day was exciting. Was I passionate about what I did? Yes. This is why I worked very hard. There are a lot of companies that have understood that in order to make their employees do that extra-mile they have to push the passion button. One example is the French food company Michel et Augustin. In their digital ads they use their own teams to promote their brand. They transform recruitment as a part of their brand DNA. Smart. As everybody on this planet would like to have a fun place to work at, people automatically relate to the brand. Making people feel passionate about their jobs can really boost a company as everyone is willing to do more. If you are thinking again that this is obvious, then why do so many people hate their jobs?

#5 – MANAGING THE MANAGEMENT

20th century bosses who barely speak to their teams, who lose their temper and diminish people are hopefully doomed to disappear. I won’t write about what a good boss means because we all know it. All I can say is that having a good management is something that is priceless for us. I would follow a great boss for a worse wage and a lower position in a company than a very well-paid and high-ranked job with a “the-devil-wears-prada-kind-of-boss”. Because we are not willing to take it anymore. I have turned down a great job in London because of the manager’s reputation. So dear Human Ressources, it’s education time! Manage your managers and you will have strong, powerful teams that will go the distance.

#6 – MOBILITY & FLEXIBILITY: THE SECRET WEAPONS TO CONQUER US

I started by saying that even in a trip around the world I managed to get some marketing work done. None of the people I am working with are next to me right now and yet everything works. Because internet has given us the means to be mobile yet reachable and efficient. In my previous job I lived in two different cities (two different countries actually) so I would do home-office a little now and then. Home-office once in a while should be compulsory: you can focus on tasks that require focus and concentration (contrarily to the office where I was interrupted all the time), you don’t lose time to take public transportation to go to the office and you make your teams happy. To sum up: 9 to 5 time schedules had definetly a reason to be when you needed to be at the office to work, but are they still adapted to today’s realities? And no. We will not sit in front of the telly…

#7 – BECOMING A LINK GENERATION BETWEEN THE OFFLINE & ONLINE WORLDS

According to sociologists we are part of the “Generation Y” (don’t worry I am not writing another text about it). Every generation is important, but ours has something quite unique: we grew up in an offline world and we became adults in a digital one. We are therefore fluent in both languages. In my professional life I have realized how companies often arrived too late in the digital revolution. One of the main reasons is because top management was not comfortable with this new world and therefore didn’t want to take their chances in something they did not fully understand and control. I think that we have a big role to play in how to create dialogue and promote a better understanding between the previous management generation attached to the offline world and the new recruits born in an online world. We are also fluent in their values which are quite different one from another. I know… being in the middle is always a tough job, but who doesn’t like a challenge?

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Comments

  1. Gabi

    Interesting!
    I agree with most of what you are talking about.
    But for me what I always tried to find was a job that I really appreciate (like you said) but also a job where I can also have a life outside. For me the most important thing in life is balance. I want to have a great job but I also want to come to my house and have some time to cook, eat with the family, enjoy another leisure activities, do some sports that I really like etc.
    sometimes we get to much passionate about a job that we forget we have a life outside it waiting for us…
    It is so good to be passionate about something just for the pleasure.. Like playing an instrument or drawing without any goal. No pressure. 😉

    1. Author
      Nathalie

      Hi Gabi! First of all, thank you so much for following this blog so carefully (you might actually be the number one reader) and for always interacting with it. Secondly, thank your very much for your feedback, and you are absolutely right. We definitely are a generation looking for life and work balance. Perhaps because life and work have never been so unbalanced and the limits between the two so thin. I haven’t written about it because to be honest I am still not clear about how to make that happen 🙂 To be continued in the next episode 😉

      1. gabriella

        yeah! number one reader ! before mum and dad ? 😉
        Yes finding a balance is the hard part… but that’s what I will keep trying to achieve…
        Balance and happiness are so linked !
        Bisous ! keep posting but also enjoy your trip :*)

  2. Maman

    Quelle belle analyse du monde du travail tu as faite! Tu fais preuve d’une grande maturité quant à ce sujet alors que tu n’as que 30 ans. Voyons ce que ton prochain article nous réservera!
    Je t’aime.
    Ta maman admirative

  3. Jean-Claude Noel

    Nathalie,

    In a very few months your father will start a new phase of his professional and personal life with your Mum and, obviously, you and your sister are the most important part of our past, present and future life.

    Even if sometime we have had, and I know we will still have, ´´warm´´ discussions, I know this happened because you are a challenging person, boosting your surrounding including your Dad!!

    Your article is challenging as well for young and mature (I have seen I have gaps ;-)!!!! ) leaders and, I can tell you have many of the attributes you are sharing with us.

    I am almost sure, when you will be back next year, you will be able to identify and/or create this boosting passion job!!

    Dad

  4. ChachaDiniBaruno

    This is awesome!!! Totally agree with #5 & #7!!!
    Keep writing Nathalie ❤️

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