Excerpt from Executive Summary in “The @Work State of Mind Project” – a joint effort of gyro, award-winning global b2b agency, and Forbes Insights. To download the complete report go to www.gyro.com/atwork.
In today’s working world, most executives are always on. Not necessarily actively engaged in work or thinking of work, but available, reachable, aware that they may have to respond in a heartbeat. No place is sacrosanct. Not lunchtime, family dinners, weekends or vacations. Even the once relative calm of an air voyage—the business trip where fierce road warriors could unwind—was shattered years ago. Now desperate travellers hang on with their fingernails to connectivity as their planes taxi down the runway. A few minutes into flight, they’re on Wi-Fi, exchanging emails and monitoring events in real time.
Executives are 365-day, 24-hour networks, ready to parachute into any pressing issue. Technology has enabled the rapid response and made it the norm. Executives who do not engage with the information flow risk falling behind, or worse, worry about what they might have missed.
The @Work world is the result of a historic period of technological advancement. In less than 25 years, man has overhauled communication systems several times over. The past decade alone has seen the rise of increasingly powerful, more-multifaceted mobile devices that allow people to touch base and be touched any time and from nearly any location. Social media sites have simultaneously sprouted and mushroomed to encompass huge swatches of the world’s population. Facebook now reports more than 850 million users, roughly one-tenth of the world’s 7 billion people. Twitter and LinkedIn subscribers both number over 100 million and are growing rapidly. There are an estimated 5 billion subscriptions to cell phones.
Adam Swann, head of strategy, gyro New York, says this state of perpetual contact has sprouted from a growing sense of community—people responding simultaneously to the same trend and adding to its momentum. “It’s human instinct to want to be involved, to know what’s going on, to feel part of a community, a tribe, to feel like you have significance,” he says.
But Swann adds that the @Work State has grown because it has already proven a more effective way of doing business by lessening stress later on. “Sometimes when you jump on an issue, it might be in the evening and you might be at home, you can deal with something quickly, and the issue is resolved. It doesn’t explode into something more.”