The other day I found myself on a conference call talking to colleagues from across the APAC region with a person who is based out of South Africa. This got me to thinking about just how much the traditional workplace has changed over the last 20 years. No longer are most of the work relationships we have based on location or the office that you work in.
My father comes from a different generation and did like many of his friends and colleagues did in their time. That is he is working for the same company until now. The people he worked with were the people in his office location and the work he did mainly was Monday to Friday between 9:00 and 5:00 (I think it was actually more like 8:00-4:00 from memory).
This type of workplace is still prevalent in many organizations, however over the past number of years I believe we have seen a shift in the traditional workplace. As many positions become more information based or service oriented, we find what used to constitute traditional workplace boundaries changing.
I am based in Malaysia, however I have many relationships with colleagues and managers who are based elsewhere. Working with people in different locations in turn changes the hours that we work and I think we are finding a blending of work life/personal life where as once the two were very separate. VOIP and Web Technologies help us connect with people more easily than ever before and the world becomes a much smaller and connected place.
It is still important to have and develop local relationships and contacts, sometimes nothing beats talking to someone then being able to do it face to face. The great thing about the changing workplace is the chance to learn and meet so many new people with different perspectives and ideas. This was not always the case and it was limited with the technology that was available.
The changing workforce and demographics associated with it is too big a topic to cover off in one blog entry but after this conference call that I was on it got me thinking how much workplace relationships have changed and how easy it now is to work with a global work-force larger than just the physical office you work in.