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LONDON: SheSays X: What does the future of work look like?

For the last 5 years we've partnered with Soho House Group in London and created 'SheSays X' – A spin off SheSays for a Soho House audience. Our events range from inspiring panel discussions to showcasing cool work from creative women in London.

Our first event of 2017 was in March and all around the new trends of working - remote working, unlimited holidays, tech etc and we had a panel of 3 amazing women who were defying the traditional '9 to 5.'

We invited one of our SheSays members Mel McGinnis, a creative copywriter from Table 19, along and here's what she thought of the night...

Advertising is an industry with no set hours. 9 - 5 is a vague timeframe that you’ll be needed, and your hours will usually exceed the basics. So it’s freeing to think in terms of being able to call your own shots and pick days off whenever you want them. Talk about saying goodbye to burnout. In redesigning their schedules and workdays, these women are doing something that’s logical, but still tends to ruffle a lot of feathers.

Our panelists come from a range of backgrounds; Ernestina Potts, Head of Campaigns at Virgin, and founder of jewellery line, Milk Tooth LDN; Emma Sexton, whose company offers unlimited holiday and flexible working; and Pippa Bhatt, co-founder of MADAM, a business run by herself and two other working mothers, and an advocate of flexible working. 

One of the overarching themes present throughout the talk was the emphasis put on autonomy. We’re all adults and should be treated as such. But this can irk the traditional system as it almost means doing away with ‘roll call’ like behaviour - like showing face at the office, and filling in time sheets accounting for every second. Instead, these women talk about the objectives they’ll set themselves and their teams each week. And ultimately, they don’t care if you work at home, or pool-side in Thailand, as long as they’re achieved.

Emma speaks at length about the 9 to 5 work hours as being a product of a Victorian era, suited to jobs that people essentially had to be ‘chained to’ to get done. Times have changed, and we’re no longer shackled to jobs we don’t want. There’s more choice and much more freedom. (For more on this, Emma recommends Daniel Pink’s Drive). In fact, new graduates are actively seeking out these new flexi- working situations in their job hunts, conscious of the fact that they don’t want to work their lives away, and they want to control their own lives.

 There were a few questions about whether this sort of free working has an impact on creativity and efficiency. Again, this pretty much goes back to autonomy. And let’s take a look at the modern world - technology has progressed substantially, and there’s no reason we can’t meet via Skype, or have a status update via email or Watsapp. Some people, myself included, might actually find this sort of working structure more efficient as you’re able to work when you’re ready and rearing to go, and break when needed. We’re adults, and we know what we have to get done.

This is a conversation we should be having a lot more. These women are exploring what the new work week and new lifestyle of workers could look like. They had the courage to question the system, reassess their priorities, and create solutions that have worked wonders for themselves and their staff. Such autonomy and trust in the workplace also offers a huge boost to confidence, which in turn impacts performance and dedication to the job. All signs seem to point towards a win, and we can only hope more companies start following suit soon.

 

Thanks to Mel for the write up and our 3 amazing panelists for sharing their amazing thoughts and future work predictions with us. Our next Soho House event is on July 3rd and all around 'Ideas that inspire positive change'. See you then.

SheSays London x