Technology has brought a new sense of freedom to the workplace, but no freedom comes without a price. Signe Groth-Brodersen from Denmark has, in her PhD, written about the complexities of the limitless workload. The doubts of not knowing when your assignment is over. When is the job done satisfactorily? And simply when is it good enough?
When the finishing of an assignment is unclear, from your perspective or that of your boss, it instantly creates an unsure and stressful environment. “Can I move on to the next thing?”, “Are they satisfied with my work?” Without the limits and clear goals of our work and assignments, it gets harder to move on to the next thing with 100% focus. And you are never allowed the feeling of success, because you never reach an end goal.
The lack of structure and definition creates stressful environments for far too many people in their everyday life.
We all talk about how busy and stressed we are at work. And we seem to expect the amounts of pressure, most of us are under, at the workplace. It is just accepted. That is life, deal with it! Then, when someone breaks and gets ill from all the stress, it becomes a massive taboo. People do not know how to handle it, and most definitely do not talk about it.
Stress can in many situations be avoided. But lack of defining assignments from the leaders, and the shame of talking about the possibility that one might have that “flaw” of being able to be stressed, makes it harder to tackle the problem.
After years of stress research and studying behaviours in different businesses, Groth Brodersen is adamant that something must be done about it. Stress is being looked at as an individual journey, she explains. We all expect to be stressed to a certain extent, in our jobs. But the solutions to the stressed situations all too often comes down to the individual's psyche, robustness and possible conflict in their private life.
Flexibility is often associated with today’s modern jobs as a positive thing, which gives the working person more freedom. Actually, it comes hand in hand with the expectation that you are available at any time, Groth-Brodersen explains.
Therefore, defining the assignment and each person’s core work area allows the working person to estimate their own capabilities. It gives them the freedom to choose when to take on new assignments and when to decline them.
We need to reach a place where it is okay to say no to work which is not within your core work area, or decline work that you might not have the time for. As well as an environment where people feel safe enough to ask what the end goal of the assignment is. Clear definitions of the end goal make it possible to achieve, Groth-Brodersen concludes.
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