The power of our Energy – The PeopleX Series Instalment 3
By Kirsten Buck
By Kirsten Buck
Energy. We all have it, use it- lose it, even. We possess energy, like some intangible source of inspiration and attraction that draws us in to certain people, others less so. But we all have it and need it.
We can harness this energy (dare I say, a power). By harnessing our energy we can be the best possible versions of ourselves. To do so, we must understand it.
Like a wave in the ocean, that then crashes onto the shore and becomes a wave no more, but the water is still there, in a different state. A wave flows, and replenishes. As does our energy. Our energy is characterised by highs and lows, and by how our internal selves and external environments affect us.
How the work environment can shape energy, and furthermore how organisations should view energy, is the topic of this article.
Energy at work is felt, but quite often is depleting in nature. In Perry Timms’ second book, The Energized Workplace, the design of organisations where energy levels drive performance, and even guide as a measure of success is illuminated.
“Energy”? A measure of output? To supercharge people at work, this has to be the case…
Time as a measure of output is dissatisfactory. The amount spent or dedicated to a task does not run a linear correlation with desired outcome being met. Time investment is restrictive in a sense. Energy investment shows us a truer measure of effort expended, but more powerfully, where passion can lie.
So we state here that the amount of time we put into something does not equate to the same quality of output. The quality of output, and the zest of the task at hand, is a consequence of energy.
And so we must find this zest at work! “Work-life balance”. A term often thrown around to denote the holy grail of fulfilment at work and in our personal lives.
The term refers to the prioritisation of our professional and personal activities and more often than not, how much time we can spend (or don’t spend) with our families as a result of this prioritisation.
The state of work we see in the 21st century workplace is at a level of intensity many feel is too much. Long hours culture, incessant demands and a general lack of appreciation of the pressures people find themselves under at all levels of work. Energy depleting.
This ‘peak work’ cannot ascend any higher! We simply cannot conjure up any more time to commit to work. Yet we see people finding this time – tipping the work life balance in favour of work – to give more to the demands of a globalised, 24/7 connected workforce who are in their hearts, tired, depleted of passion in parts, mentally exhausted… burned out. Energy zapping.
So this notion of work-life balance needs to be reset. In The Energized Workplace, Perry proposes the need for a balanced life. In a balanced life, we measure energy, rather than just time investment, and we accept the blurring of lines between our professional and personal existences. This, we have seen with the normalisation of remote working, and at PTHR, we find this blurring generates energy, allows for natural conversation where information osmosis of spontaneous conversation topics lead to creative innovation. Energy charging.
We believe there is this stark rationale to change the system many people are still working in. A system where time is valued above energy, and even profit before people and planet.
Our system of work is broken.
And where it isn’t completely broken, it is stunted or misaligned. The organisational models we see today are sometimes entrenched in a Victorian-era legacy. And the patterns of work and expected behaviours are aligned to a Capitalist system where financial profit is the key measure of success.
87% of us deem our jobs as “unfulfilling”.
Business leaders therefore have this opportunity to evolve organisations to the next stage. This is a stage where people can be fulfilled: where people can flourish. Through this flourishing a balanced life can prevail. With this balance, there is a recharging, harnessed energy.
Where does there appear to be an abundance of energy in a workplace where people are not buried in the tomb of core competence? The energy is found at the Edge.
As detailed by Perry, the Edge is where there’s the buzz of new things to discover, adrenaline to fuel our pursuit of new ventures and the vibrancy of new markets, products, customers, partners, colleagues and supporters.
The Edge is where work becomes a regenerative force for good and not a depleting routine of unimaginative graft.
This energised Edge may sound idealistic, but it exists, and it can be sparked through the organisation design you embrace.
In our small but unorthodox, connected and yes, energised, organisation, we have been very deliberate about the practices, systems, and tools used to act as a catalyst for energy. We have our paired working practice, known amongst us as Business Partnering, where we rely on a teammate for six months; truly get to know each other through weekly meetings, daily spontaneous exchanges and feeling their energy. After six months, we re-pair, and we are energised by another “Transformer”. We also use an abundance of digital tools and platforms (Asana, Slack, GoogleDrive, Huler, Spatial
Chat) but they have clear purpose and energy can be felt from the words written on the screen.
Teams of people share energy, and draw this from each other. Interestingly, the human being has finite energy each day, so how we distribute this is key to finding this balanced life. As a collective of people – at PTHR – we have a finite summated energy; but this we share and value at PTHR. We speak about where we are spending our energy, not time.
With this vocalisation of energy meaning something, along with a refocus on a balanced life, declared in an organisation’s values and purpose, as well as establishing systems where flexibility is the norm, rather than a fringe benefit, we will see better output, and of greater salience, enthusiasm for our professional capacity!
We can all talk about energy more. We can map out our energies- both the current reality and the future. And with a workflow based on energy rather than time, we see positive upturns in productivity, engagement, and fulfilment. Positive energy ripples from the Edge of an organisation to others, which has a higher energy impact. In essence, we get a boost from the work we do when we feel like this.
So our call to action for you – our hopefully energised reader – can you consider energy as a measure of output, but also speak in terms of energy to reach that balanced life? A balanced life will make for sustainability; for your people, but also, the organisation.
Energy. Don’t just recharge each day, but harness this electric and connecting power that we all hold.