Asset Heavy Mary Meeker KPCB 1


Tis the season for year end reviews. And one of the more intriguing collections I have seen is the “Top 10 Trends Presentations for 2013”. A good chance to see how the pundits view the progress of the Dynamic Work trend.

One of my favourite trend-ologists, Mary Meeker, of KPCB, added an entire section to her annual trend review titled “Asset-Light Generation” (slide 59). It is essentially ‘Dynamic Work’ expanded from the professional and corporate environment to a full lifestyle perspective. ‘Dynamic Life’ if you will.

She starts off noting “Asset-Heavy lifestyle consumes space, time and money.” It is a vision of the virtualisation of nearly everything including Music, Video, Housing, Transport, Services, Textbooks, Wallets, and (of course) Employment (see below).


Asset Heavy Mary Meeker KPCB 2

Dynamic Perks

Perks of Working from Home

On the benefits of Dynamic Working, I’ve presented studies, charts, arguments, case studies. But the vogue medium on the Web these days are Infographics. Fortunately, that boundless source of material, Portfolio Working, shared a superb one (part of which is shown above…click to see entire) recently (thanks Katie).

When working on a Dynamic Work engagement with Betfair, the one group of staff that was most reluctant to doing any remote work were the developers. They enumerated reasonable concerns about the machine power required for their work unavailable on a laptop and the need for regular interaction. I wasn’t sure, but I opened my mind to possible limitations for Dynamic Working for this segment. As such, I introduced such concepts cautiously to the Red Bee Piero organisation I subsequently joined. But in the end, the results have been as strong and positive as any other team I have ever introduced them to.

First of all, not everyone wants the option to work remotely and that’s fine. Those folks just continue with the status quo as a few have. Secondly, Piero has probably one of the highest spec technical platforms of any PC-based systems (Dual Quad-cores with special graphics accelerator board), and yet we have been able to find an HP model on which it operates just fine. Finally, the team has coordinated to have days where they make sure they are all in so they can have the interactions, consultations and collaborations. But on days some choose to work from home, they report more concentration, less distractions and time/energy saved from an eliminated commute resulting in general happier staff and the productivity has been great.

Dynamic Employment

USA map of home working concentrations


What is Obama’s Achilles Heel in the current election? What is the one issue and statistic that Romney keeps returning to with the most effectiveness? Employment. It’s an equally big issue weighing over just about every world leader from Greece to Egypt. People want jobs. And young people – with energy, vigour and dreams – are disproportionately anxious for them.

Dynamic Work holds great promise as a tool for increasing employment. By allowing companies to make more productive use of workers, their ROI and business case justification becomes easier. By introducing greater flexibility in commercial terms, companies can take o more workers at less longer term risk.

These assertions were underscored by a recent statistics released by the UK’s Office for National Statistics. Kevin Green, CEO of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation commented

“More people in work than ever before and the lowest unemployment in over a year is another significant step on the road to recovery. The truly amazing thing is that during the past year of a technical recession, and in spite of austerity and public sector cuts, the UK has created half a million jobs. The job numbers are being driven by flexible working – the number of full time posts has grown but the increase in temps and part-time workers has been even greater. Too many people talk down the value of part-time work, but it’s here in black and white – over 80 per cent of part-time employees chose to work that way.

The counter claim to these promising numbers is that such ‘part time’ work is really offers less pay and less security. But, the higher pay and higher quality may come in the total ‘portfolio’ of employment rather than in a specific job. The bartending actor whose glass washing enables his dream pursuing.

A US Census Bureau report “Higher-income workers have more work-at-home flexibility” provided further evidence of standard of living quality for flexible workers in both monetary and non-monetary terms…

’Mixed’ workers who work both at home and in an office are generally affluent, with median household income of $96,300, according to census data. That compares with median household income of $74,000 for people who always work at home and $65,600 for people who always work onsite, the researchers reported. Nearly half of the people who worked at home exclusively were self-employed, but experts say there are other explanations for why those who work from home make less. Some employers are finding that especially among younger workers, the ability to work at home and forgo a gruelling commute is such a beneficial perk that they are willing to accept a lower starting salary in exchange for it.”

The morale of the story is that countries need ‘Dynamic’ leadership now more than ever before.

Without Hot Air

Without Hot Air

One of the three core drivers to Dynamic Work is Environmental especially through the carbon footprint reduction of reduced commuting and business travel. Anyone who takes a serious interest in this side must read the definitive work on the energy calculus (which being primarily hydro-carbon fed is also directly proportionate to carbon impact), must read the definitive, authoritative, objective and comprehensive analysis ‘Without Hot Air.’ It breaks through the myths of the Green movement and Establishment intransigents. It is the Rosetta Stone of the cacophonous eco-debate.

If one really wants to understand the simple, cold numbers about energy production and consumption, current and potential, in the world today, it is the definitive, objective work. It puts into perspective all of the various components of ‘greening’ one life. It takes no issue with people who want to do every little thing to help, but in the concept of broader strategy and policy, it makes the compelling point that scale and perspective are essential. One can be penny-wise and pound foolish. One can expend lots of energy and focus on low yield initiatives (or even counter productive ones), when certain other initiatives deliver much bigger gains. Author David MacKay contradicts the common refrain of activists who say ‘every little helps’. He asserts, the reality is that ‘every big helps.’

In this fully objective, very comprehensive catalogue of energy outgoings by worldwide society, the second biggest use of energy is car travel. Car travel, especially in the context of commuting and other business travel, is a major benefit to Dynamic Work where workers’ activities are more closely aligned to ‘where they are available.’

Energy Flows

Energy Flow Chart - small

The benefits to Dynamic Work are economic, ecological and social. One area of business that affects all three is transportation. Commuting and business travel cost money, cost carbon (and other environmental impacts) and cost time away from family. Showing both the scale and connection of the costs of transport in the overall economy is a truly stunning diagram by the Department for Business & Enterprise Regulatory Reform.

The left hand side shows the relative proportions of energy inputs to the UK economy with petroleum almost as large as the others combined. These are then ‘flowed’ to their respective uses with transport dominating in size. We can all switch-off lights at home and turn down the thermostats, but unless we change our commuting ways, we are not going to have much of a dent in our petroleum consumption. The more detailed chart below focusing just on the petroleum element underscores this with ‘Road’ usage of petroleum being more than all other uses combined. Lots of people are targeting the environmental costs of air travel, and this is certainly a cost, but it is a fraction of the petroleum consumed (and therefore the carbon released) versus road travel.

Petroleum Flow Chart - small



At the heart of Dynamic Work lies the notion that key resources (like office spaces and desks), need not be fixed, but are more efficient, accommodating and eco-friendly when flexible and…well…dynamic.

Part of what is driving the trend to Dynamic Work are changes in the consumer marketplace and lifestyle often introduced to the workplace by the Gen Yers. And one trend which completely reinforces the flexible approach to Dynamic Work is ‘Transuming.’

“Cassandra Smith spends $800 a month renting designer handbags and leases a luxury condo in downtown Miami. Environmentalist Zoe Turrill helped create a bike-sharing program at the University of Denver. Though they might seem to come from different ends of the consumption spectrum, they have something in common: They're not buying things. The rise of rental or borrowing services catering from everyone from fashionistas to environmentalists has even spawned a marketing buzzword: the ‘transumer’… in this global recession, people are warming to the idea of renting, and not buying, certain goods — because of cost, ease or space considerations.”

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From Workplace to Anyplace

World Wildlife Fund

Executive summary from a recent joint research project between Microsoft and the World Wildlife Fund on the benefits of ‘regularly working outside the office’ which itself contains some of the headline findings and stats…

Despite the apparent benefits offered by the “New World of Work,” the number of employees regularly working outside the office remains low:

“Microsoft recently sponsored a study by the World Wildlife Fund. The study found that 17.5% of U.S. employees work outside the office at least once a month, with the average doing so 2.7 days per month, while 8% of European employees work outside the office at least once a month, with an average of one day a month.”

This missed opportunity negatively impacts productivity, employee engagement and the environment:

  • The average commuter around the world travels 3,000-5,000 km (approx 1,800-3,000 miles) a year back and forth to the office. For three quarters of Americans, that's 50 minutes a day traveling alone in traffic. Over the course of the year, commuting results in 350 Mt of Co2 released into the atmosphere and untold hours of unproductive time spent by employees sitting in stressful traffic congestion.

The costs associated with failing to realize the benefits of the “New World of Work” will only grow as companies become more global and decentralized:

  • Collectively, air and road travel are expected to account for approximately 1,370 MMT of Co2 emissions in the U.S. by 2020.

Technology is no longer the main obstacle preventing organizations from embracing flexible work. Organizations can replace many high carbon activities with flexible work arrangements, virtual meetings and other solutions already enabled with today’s unified communications technology. While the solutions are beginning to be used on a wider basis, the enormous potential to drive down global carbon emissions and inefficient business costs with unified communications technology has yet to be realized at scale:

  • The World Wildlife Fund estimates that increasing telecommuting and virtual meetings ‘could, without any dramatic measures, help to save more than 3 billion metric tons of Co2 emissions in a few decades; this is the equivalent to approximately half the current U.S. Co2 emissions.’
  • In the US, reduced commuting accounts for 75% of the potential savings, with the other 25% coming from reduced air travel. Savings on this level are possible when flexwork is embraced at scale – with 30-45% of workers are flexworking 2-4 days a week and 1/3 to 2/3 of business trips are replaced with virtual meetings.