From the introduction to “The @ Work State of Mind Project”—a joint effort of gyro and Forbes Insights. Surveying 543 business decision-makers, we found that boundaries of time and space that once defined the workplace no longer exist. To download the complete report go to www.gyro.com/atwork
In the summer of 2010, gyro, a global B2C and B2B ideas shop, assembled a group at Hyper Island, the world-famous digital training center in Karlskrone, Sweden, for what we call the gyro Academy, an intense professional development program for our up-and-comer colleagues. We exposed these students to our techniques and tools for ideation and collaboration. The group was asked to select a challenge against which they could practice these tools. They chose “work-life balance.”
Alas, I am not among our youngest colleagues. So, when I came to the session as a mentor, I was gruff and dismissive. “Quit whining! People have been complaining to me for 30 years about the long and daunting hours of the ad agency business. Do you want a job, or do you want a career? This is no business for clock-watchers. It’s a fact of life in the agency business. There’s nothing new about this work-life balance issue,” I said.
Then one of them said, “Oh, yes, there is,” and she reached in her jeans pocket and set her iPhone on the table. “This has changed. It’s attached to me. I cannot disconnect from it.”
It was for us a moment of epiphany; of sudden revelation and insight. It was not as if we had been oblivious to the spread of networked communications and handheld devices, or even how important it was to deliver new forms of communication to reach people with these media. But as people engaged in perfecting marketing communications, it struck us like a lightning bolt.
Work has changed—and people at work have changed profoundly.
Oh, we had understood for many years that it was technically easier than ever to identify targets, locate them, reach them, engage them and transact with them; even to spur them to exchange messages among themselves. We understood clearly how technology had changed, but we confess we neglected just how much it had changed them: the people to whom we were marketing.
Being at work is a state of mind; no longer a place or even a fixed period of the day.
The Internet, mobile telecom, social networking and a 24/7 global economy have eliminated the boundaries of time and space that once defined the workplace. Technology has caused work to expand to longer hours of the day and has attached work to people wherever they are.
Productivity-enhancing technology has not served to increase the amount of leisure time we enjoy—quite the contrary. It’s caused work to spill over its banks, flooding more hours of the day and more days of the week—curiously, as a matter of people’s own behavior and choices. Work goes home. Home goes to work. People are constantly toggling between working and “home-ing,”making decisions, personal and professional, at all hours of the day. They master time, rather than the other way around.
People in an @Work State of Mind today are exposed to a constant, multi-point flow of communications from not just customers, suppliers and co-workers, but also from family, friends, would-be friends and network members. They are not only engaged in considering brand messages while at work, but also championing them to their social networks. People in the @Work State of Mind represent a powerful theater for brand communications; perhaps the most powerful. They exert double purchasing power on both their own needs and those of their companies.
Their eyes are on screens: small, medium and large.
They are already in engagement mode.
They are considering solutions carefully.
They are making decisions.
And this @Work State of Mind is a shared state of mind. People today are connected to and communicating with others in the same state of mind. This makes them a switching station of enthusiasm and endorsement channeled toward decision makers and influencers, immediately.
Mining opportunity from the rich vein of the @Work State of Mind requires new methods and models. The model must be much more real-time, agile and even uncontrolled.
It is an approach that must be anchored in anthropology and behavioral science, relying more heavily than ever on understanding human-scale motives and at striking responsive chords of emotion—particularly if people are to be compelled to act and advocate spontaneously on a brand’s behalf.
Mastering the @Work State of Mind promises breakthrough success for marketers, exchanging the mediocre performance of conventional methods for the high performance of programs radically reset to the way people really live, work, dream and prosper.
Gyro is delighted to have at its disposal the amazing resources of Forbes Insights in the ongoing investigation of this profoundly important area of inquiry. This report is but the first of several products to emanate from “The @Work State of Mind Project,” a collaborative marketing R&D project led by gyro that includes participants from business, government, the arts, healthcare, NGOs, academia and entertainment. If you have an interest in sharing in this discovery, we hope you will join us.
Follow Rick on Twitter at @MrBtoB
To read more about the @Work State of Mind, here are two related articles: Who Has Control Over Your Time? and The Boardroom has Been Replaced by the Kitchen Table.