Are you suffering from hurry sickness?

Written by
Richard Jolly

27 Jun 2018

27 Jun 2018 • by Richard Jolly

Thanks to the advancement of technology, the boundaries between your work and personal life are becoming ever more blurred. But technology has also been our greatest downfall – it has become the ‘norm’ to always be available at the click of a button. We are letting technology control us, and how we spend our time.

It is leading to a disease I call ‘hurry sickness’ – symptoms include feeling irrational, exhausted and burned out at work. Sound familiar?

This sickness can be recognised by a simple self-diagnosis. You will know if you are ‘hurry sick’ if while microwaving something for 30 seconds, you can’t fight the compulsion to do something else at the same time. Perhaps you check your phone every seven or eight minutes. More than 95% of the executives I interview admit to suffering from ‘hurry sickness’. And technology has a lot to answer for in this aspect.

Keep on track with a growth mindset

Technology will continue to affect the way we go about our daily working lives far into the future. In extreme cases, technology could replace the need for personnel altogether; making entire categories of job roles redundant.

With this in mind, the need for individuals to be open to adapting their skill set has emerged.

In a recent research study LBS conducted, the willingness to adapt your skills and having a growth mindset was found to be one of the critical ways to avoid derailing in your career. A growth mindset, as opposed to a fixed mindset, is an attitude that needs to become more prevalent, allowing organisations to develop greater strategic agility to respond to changes in their business environment.

In an ever transient, interconnected world, dealing with differences in culture can also impact the future of work. And given how ‘hurry sick’ our technology-enabled lives are today, it’s becoming harder to bridge the gap between cultural differences. Increasingly, our success as managers and organisations is determined by our ability to get things done by others – our social capital. Greater inter-dependency between both internal and external stakeholders creates more complicated cultural interactions. But culture is not a simple, national or regional concept.

Rather, the ability to understand how people are different to us and to see things from their perspective is becoming ever more important.


Focus on the future

In a volatile market, planning ahead is no easy feat. But developing a workforce strategy that builds these changing aspects into the future of any organisation is crucial because ultimately, if they aren’t happening already, they will be in the near future.

To put this into perspective, the greatest ice hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky, once said that the reason for his success is that other players skated to where the puck was, whereas he skated to where the puck will be. Great organisations are focused on the decisions we need to make to be competitive in the future, such as leveraging technology for competitive advantage or the benefits of a multicultural workforce. However, given the need for greater organisational agility, it can be very challenging to know what employee capabilities we will need to develop.

As a leader, you need to prioritise time to reflect on the scenarios that might emerge for the firm, and to have the courage to make decisions without waiting until risk has been eliminated. Then, ensure that all your employees understand where the firm is going and listen to them and their ideas.

Increasingly, the best ideas happen ‘bottom up’ in organisations and not ‘top down’.

Be more flexible

In this era of globalisation and advanced communication technologies, it is also important to factor in employee flexibility and security. Many of the new roles that are being created in organisations have less security than in previous eras, part of the ‘gig economy’. This is not going away, unfortunately; as such flexibility is needed to be able to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace. Organisations need to ensure that their employees are growing and developing capabilities that will give them employability, while at the same time develop the capacity to rapidly adapt to external changes (an ‘emergent strategy’) to make it easier to provide job security for employees.

The future of work is brimming with technological advancements and diverse cultural mixes, which can create a wealth of opportunities for businesses and their employees. But, besides all of these factors, it is always important to remind yourself to make time to take a step back from work and switch off – a preventative measure of contracting ‘hurry sickness’.

Ultimately, the future ‘you’ will thank you for it.