Simon Says: Workplace Revolution (A Historical View)

Simon Dudley, Video Evangelist, LifeSize

In this series, Simon Dudley, LifeSize’s video evangelist, provides his “two cents” about the video conferencing industry and why video calling should be as ubiquitous as a phone call.

In 4000 B.C., a group of people called the Sumerians started something that changed the world forever: farming. Within 500 years, they had invented villages, pots and a whole host of other things (the wheel being a pretty important one, for example). For the first time in modern man’s history, we had communities, specialization and commerce.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Once the Sumerians worked all this out, society grew and grew, but the basic building blocks didn’t change much. Then, the pace kicked up with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Industrialization allowed machines to take over much of the manual labor of farming. For the first time, people received regular money for regular work in the new factories that worked to the machines’ timetable, so the bond between the cycles of the season was broken.

Even today, people typically work five days a week from 9-to-5.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Modern knowledge workers still work on this timetable even though their best ideas may come in the shower or in the evenings. BlackBerry phones showed the first cracks in this argument about 10 years ago. Finally, one could get email pretty much anywhere at any time, and the bond between working in an office and getting work done was broken. Now we have reached the point where many feel burned out because they don’t feel like they are able to get away from it all. With globalization, we have to keep our normal 9-to-5 work hours and the hours of our international colleagues (by responding to emails early in the morning and late at night).

Hopefully our culture will soon realize that the quality of work for most knowledge workers is the key, not the hours they keep. Video communications can, if used properly, allow workers to be free to be creative, collaborate and communicate whenever and wherever they choose. Just as the Sumerians created a better way to work (using wheels to carry heavy loads), video has changed the status quo of the workplace.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t take a few hundred years to get everyone on board.

+Simon Dudley

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