work (8)

What is good work, and can it be encouraged?

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, looks at the quality of work and how it can be improved for the benefit of both employees and companies.

The idea of looking at good work is not new but as we venture into a more uncertain future of work with the impact of new developing technology it’s said to be time to focus.

He defines good work as “Good work is work that is engaging, gives people a voice, treats them fairly, is good for their wellbeing, and helps them to progress. It should be positive for individuals, but also lead to wider positive organisational and economic outcomes: higher levels of productivity and output, and greater innovation and adaptability.”

Amongst the G20 nations the UK ranks rather low for productivity, we are also seeing a growth of work-related stress and engagement surveys are revealing worrying results. “Good work should result in positive individual outcomes, and there is plenty of evidence that points to the relationship between wellbeing and engagement to productivity and creativity, and more broadly overall wellness and longevity.”

Good work should be the real theme in addressing challenges and generating opportunities to create better working lives. More flexible working opportunities as well as considering pay and reward are crucial for many working professionals to ensure a working balance.

To make good progress around the idea of good work, we need to encourage it for both organisations and employees. “There will be critical areas that government can positively influence, from skills investment to improving careers advice and guidance.” But the responsibility for creating good work must lie with the organisation.

How do you think HR and L&D people can contribute to good work?

To read the full article from Peter Cheese, click here.

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What is the future of work?

I only started my first fulltime job just over a year and a half ago, I didn’t expect it to be in the technology / HR / learning arena but here I am. I’m loving it. I have heard people talking about the future of work since the day I started, but I hadn’t really asked the question, what is the future of work and what could it mean for me?

A colleague sent an article over to me the other day called “The Future of Work: It’s Already Here… And Not As Scary As You Think” and asked for my opinion, so here are some thoughts. 

Statistics show that the average mobile phone user checks their phone 150 time a day with 60% checking every hour. We live in a society where people are constantly looking for ways to tell others about what they have been doing, to talk about their success and achievements both in and out of work. More importantly (to them) to also get validation of this work/success from others.

Simon Sinek talks about a whole generation that is growing up addicted to notifications and short term hits of dopamine due to social media. Take a look at this video and watch from 55 minutes 

Are social tools the future of work?

With everyone having a mobile and more organisation’s looking to use social enterprise apps such as Slack, Facebook at Work and even email (which now seems so last year) we can be contacted anywhere, meaning we take work home every day. This has made work disruptive and overwhelming to some; although this isn’t a new concept, new apps and technologies do make it easier to work with more flexibility which ‘should’ give us a better work life balance. Does work life balance even exist anymore? Well worth reading this article in Forbes to get an idea. Perhaps it’s just a concept and the reality is very different.

Is always being ‘on’ the future of work?

The article goes on to discuss how people don’t follow the typical path of study, then work, then retire – we now learn work and enjoy leisure throughout our lives and how this is all part of the future of work. I hadn’t considered studying while at work a new concept, but corporate training has been around for years, so my question, is this really classed as the future of work? The concept of a job for life is something that has now evolved as organisations are changing and adapting so quickly they need a skilled workforce or bring in the skills they need on a shorter term basis. Portfolio careers supports this and seems to be growing in popularity as the world in which we live rapidly changes around us.

Are portfolio careers the future of work?

Jobs are changing, with technological advances providing the ability for organisations to use artificial Intelligence to complete more and more complex tasks.  We have seen a revolution in the manufacturing industry over the last 20 years because of technology. Is the next revolution going to be robots replacing knowledge workers? Sounds like something out of a science fiction movie but it’s happening now.  

Are the advancements in science and biology going to create a new super human? It might not be that far away until we have USB ports in the back of our heads – check this out

Are ‘robots’ the future of work?

Everywhere you look technology is driving change. Disrupting whole industries and re-inventing products and how people use and buy them. If organisations can’t keep up with this, they will go the same way as Blockbuster or Kodak. What sits behind these changes though are knowledge, skills and behaviours of PEOPLE. So how do organisations continue to prepare their people for the next product, the next technological advance – how do we keep evolving the skills and mindset to ensure they can keep up. How can they keep up with consumer buying trends and what customers need and want in the 21st century?

How do we prepare ourselves and continue to develop skills for jobs that might not necessarily exist today

The title of the article really does sum it all up – the future of work really is here, it’s no longer this concept people need to talk about to end, it here, it’s now and it’s time to embrace it. Some will see the change as scary others will see this as an opportunity.

Which side are you on?

I hope this has given you some food for thought and the links / resources are useful.

I’d love to hear about your thoughts on the subject –what is your understanding of the future of work and how it has and will change your working life? 

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Early bird or night owl?

The African Wilderness

Some time ago, I spent 4 days trekking through the African Wilderness on the ‘Umfolozi Wilderness Trail’. As we sat around a camp fire on the first night, the ranger asked us to take our watches off and hand them over.  It seemed an odd thing to do, but he explained that we wouldn’t need them for the trek.

As the journey unfolded I realised that without a watch, I was able to really appreciate the environment and listen to my body clock. People went to bed and rose at different points. I went to bed fairly soon after dark and rose when the sun was rising and the birds singing their morning chorus. Lunch and dinner were informal affairs, people ate when they felt hungry and snacked throughout the day as the need arose. At no point during the trip did anyone know the ‘real’ time.


On returning to the UK

I felt a real sense of calm on leaving the trek. I saw lots of African animals but what I remember the most is how it felt to be ‘timeless’ for a while. For days I hadn’t fought time, I’d gone with the flow.

Of course, on returning to the UK I had to be aware of the real time again, but I stopped wearing a watch, most of the time. Time is everywhere - phones, radios, walls, computers, cars, ovens etc. In fact, there is often no escaping it! Even when we can’t see it our bodies often instinctively roughly know the time.

The trek taught me to listen to my own body clock. For a long time I have woken early and used to get annoyed at the birds outside. This wasn’t aided by the arrival of my young daughter – she would regularly get up before 6 full of the joys of spring!

In Africa though, I hadn’t worried about waking up with the birds and had felt invigorated. So, I decided to embrace being an early riser, rather than getting frustrated.

I now like my mornings (well, most of the time). I creep down, usually with my daughter! I’ve found that I work well in the mornings and this is when I prefer to work on challenging tasks. I also love running in the mornings. Come the evening though and I wane, unless something really needs doing or I am out.

Friends of mine who are ‘night owls’ are the complete opposite and find they function best in the evening. They are often still on their laptops or reading at midnight, when I’ve usually been asleep for hours.

Body Clocks

Research has shown that our biological clock controls rhythms within the body, which cause changes to take place within a rough 24-hour period. These rhythms affect our sleep patterns, which are also affected by external signals from the environment, such as light. This makes our natural sleep patterns differ.

Researchers from Aachon University also believe there are structural brain differences between early birds and night owls and that approximately 10% of people fall into the early bird category and 20% the latter. Everyone else falls into the ‘normal’ category.

Of course, shift patterns and the demands of everyday life mean that often we can’t follow the sleep pattern we’d like. People often have to change their natural sleep pattern to fit in with what they do, or to suit their environment.

For me, I have learned to embrace my early bird tendencies. Whilst getting up early for a cup of tea in my kitchen might not be quite as exotic as waking up to the sounds of African wildlife, our cat at least usually greets me with a loud miaow!


  • When do you prefer to wake up, given the choice?
  • When do you work or study best and feel at your most alert?
  • When have you had to adapt your sleep pattern?

I’d love to hear from you, as long as it isn’t at midnight!

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