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You probably heard the studies, predictions, and so forth about how we are moving from the Industrial Age into the Participation Age.
In the Industrial Age, we go to work, do our assigned tasks in an assigned time period. (Sound familiar?)
In the Participation Age, it’s a bit more fluid. There’s work-life integration (though that doesn’t mean we work excessive hours). We focus on projects and not necessarily assigned time periods. We work where we work. We work how we work. Sometimes it’s in a conference room because we are collaborating with awesome people. Other times, it might be on a beach and our laptop. Careful with that sand and the laptop.
You may have seen the reports that more and more people will be telecommuting. Now there are co-working places where people from different companies work together in a shared space. Others work in coffee shops. Many still work in cubicles, too, though!
This conversation with my seven-year-old shows the difference, impact and expectation of the different ages:
“Dad, are you coming to Missouri with us?” she asked.
“Sorry, I have to go to work and the office,” I responded.
“You don’t have to go to the office to work,” she responded. “You can take your laptop and work from anywhere.”
Technology allows us to participate socially and professionally in the Participation Age, but people sitting in rush hour traffic or cramming onto a filled subway during traditional rush hour time periods is certainly a sign that we are still closer to the Industrial Age and aren’t in the Participation Age quite yet.
Yes, that’s true even if some of us keep screaming that things have changed. We are closer to that they are changing.