turnstone choice and control

We live in an ever-connected, 24/7 universe of technology, making it increasingly difficult to pursue life unplugged. Whether shackled to a smartphone, tethered to a tablet or leashed to a laptop, we’re a nation with our eyes fixed on screens and addicted to instant access.

Considering that just 20 years ago workers typically had nothing but an anchored PC at their workstation, we often lose sight of how quickly we’ve moved into an era of interconnectedness. While maintaining a healthy work/life balance has been a catchphrase for some time, this wireless world we live in is finally giving way to something more: choice and control.

Choice and control, quite simply, gives employees the power to choose when and how they work, and it’s a philosophy championed by all Steelcase brands. As the head of marketing for turnstone, a Steelcase company creating office furniture for small and emerging businesses, I see young companies grapple with the issue of work/life balance all the time. It’s also one I deal with on a personal level. As a remote manager often working from a home office, the lines between work and my personal life are thin, at best. Work/life balance implies some sort of barrier between your working and your non-working self, requiring that you shut down after you put in a 9-5 day.  But choice and control is a philosophy that empowers workers to make smart decisions for themselves, allowing individuals to choose a work routine that best suits them. Tenets of choice and control include:

Being present in the moment. At turnstone, we want employees to be mindful, giving whomever they are with— whether at work or home— their full attention. This authenticity and sense of belonging fosters good relationships and a natural sense of balance. In my case, work generally ends at 5PM when I shift full attention to my young children. After they go to bed, I often power back on to catch-up on anything I may have missed at the end of the work day. In either case, I can focus my energy in the present.

Freedom over the where and how. Few people feel creative when they are chained to a desk. One thing I have in common with my in-office counterparts is a choice of where I physically work. For me, this means choosing between my home office, a coworking space or a regional office depending on what my schedule looks like for the day. For example, my home office works fine if I mainly have conference calls all day. A coworking space is where I go for heads-down type work, and our regional office is a great option for when I need to use video conferencing or access the company network. The ability to choose from this palette of places gives me control over how I work and ultimately makes me more productive.

Flexibility. Work doesn’t simply end at 5PM. Depending on who you work with and the type of work you do, it may not start right at 8AM, either. We hire competent people and encourage them to work where and how they want. If that means working with overseas counterparts after the kids go to bed or aligning hours with the west coast in the morning, we give employees the flexibility to do what makes sense for them.

Whether you are a business of one or 45, allowing yourself and employees to have choice and control will likely result in creative and engaged workers. For more ideas on creating an environment that fosters wellbeing and inspiration, visit the turnstone blog.