What Is A Post-Office World?

Twentieth-century artists had post-modernism. Philosophers had post-humanism. Economists have post-industrialism. Each movement marked an evolution; a shift beyond the status quo into new territory.

Now, the entrepreneurial world has a movement of its own. We call it post-office.

The paradigm of work has changed radically in recent years. This should come as no surprise to anyone in the labor force. It’s a confluence of influences: rapidly evolving technology, an emerging freelance class, and a generation of flexibility-craving millennials on the verge of composing the majority of the global workforce have completely shifted our productivity and where work happens. The pendulum is swinging from traditional, cubicle-style office setups toward home offices, shared-space offices and, for some, no office at all.

What exactly is post-office, what does it mean for creative entrepreneurs, and how is it changing the way we do business? We see a post-office world defined by three pillars:

  1. Productivity is a sprint, not a marathon

Just because you’re chained to a desk from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. doesn’t mean you’re going to be productive within that entire window — quite the opposite, in fact. If you’re feeling distracted or uninspired, sitting at a desk and waiting for inspiration to strike isn’t going to work (and in fact can be a substantial waste of time).

In a post-office world, work isn’t defined by an arbitrary, rigidly enforced timeframe. In a post-office world, you seize the inspiration as it comes, whenever it comes, wherever you are. That could mean hammering out a presentation in the middle of the night on your couch, instead of staring glassy-eyed at a blank Powerpoint for half of a workday. It could mean knocking out ten important emails while you’re camped out at a coffee shop, in between grocery-shopping and picking up the dry-cleaning.

Think of it as the productivity version of carpe diem: creativity and good work aren’t site-specific, nor are they guaranteed to occur during business hours. Your brain doesn’t clock in or out. We see post-office thinking as seeing the workday as a series of sprints, rather than one long, slogging, slow marathon. It’s a more strategic, intuitive allocation of your time and your resources. It’s hyper-effectively maximizing the hours in the day to the fullest extent. It’s the very definition of “work smart, not hard.”

2. Technology enables all of this

In 2017, many of us can collaborate with our teams from anywhere in the world. The cloud means your world and your work can rest in the palm of your hand at any given time. From Slack to Sharepoint, technology is untethering and unchaining us from the need to be in the same room as our colleagues all the time.

The same goes for my employees: they might have a doctor’s appointment in the morning; they might need to pick something up from the store in the afternoon. It doesn’t matter that they’re away: what matters is that they’re making the most of the time in between, and most importantly, getting their shit done. As long as that’s happening consistently and effectively, I don’t care where they are or what time it is when they’re emailing me. Hell, they could be on a beach in Cancun taking a conference call with a margarita in their hand — as long as their Skype connection works, it doesn’t really matter.

Think about how liberating that is. We’re no longer bound to formal offices, clunky equipment, or outdated clock-in, clock-out mentalities. Tech has evolved. Tech has rendered certain aspects of the traditional office as obsolete as punch cards, fax machines, and Rolodexes. And the way we work is adapting right alongside it.

3. The aesthetic of workspaces has changed

For those of us who do work remotely: how often do you actually sit at a desk these days?

Seriously, think about it. Personally, I do my work at the dining room table, or on my sofa, or next to a beer and a plate of fries at Noni’s. I respond to emails while waiting in line at the bank. I problem-solve in my shower. I might wake up in the middle of the night and jot down a brilliant idea while I’m laying in bed. The fluidity and flexibility of post-office work means that productivity is no longer tied to place.

The trappings of traditional office life are changing, down to the furniture. Especially the furniture. In a post-office world, all you really need is a wi-fi connection, an electrical outlet, and a surface upon which to put your laptop. Where do desks, filing cabinets, and landlines fit into that equation? Furthermore, where do offices fit in? Suburban office parks are shuttering, employers and employees alike are disillusioned with cubicles, coworking spaces are becoming more ubiquitous, and nontraditional setups like open floor plans are becoming commonplace, forcing employers to rethink how their spaces meet the needs of their team. Nowadays, walled-off corner offices, cubicles, and even traditional desks feel more like a quaint vestige of the Mad Men era than a functional space for productivity.

So, what does the post-office world look like? In a word, freedom. Freedom to create, think, collaborate, and make stuff happen, without being chained to a cubicle. Freedom to work wherever you are, how and when you want. We’ll be sharing more about our vision for work in the post-office era in the coming weeks. (Probably from a barstool at Noni’s.)