I heard a phrase the other day that really made me think: laptop lifestyle. I dismissed it at first as yet again another buzzword du jour. And I hate buzzwords. But as I started to think about it a bit more, a smile came across my face.
Hmm. It started out being about making money online, not having to report into an office or a traditional reporting structure.
But I’ve started thinking about it more broadly. It’s a phrase that’s starting to make more intuitive sense as I think it through. I’m going to move it past just making money online and more about how we live our lives. It’s one part millennial mindset and one part connectivity. Now you don’t have to be a millennial (I’m a case in point), but you do have to be connected (again, I’m a case in point).
It’s all about life as we know it these days. It’s so big, it needs a hashtag without a space.
If it’s not intuitive to you yet, give it a chance. “Laptop lifestyle” basically means living your life via a laptop. Work, news, shopping, entertainment, social media, connecting with friends and family, and maybe even making money online…it’s all done on a mobile device. For many, that’s a laptop. Or a tablet or an enlarged cell phone.
PPT, Word, Google News, Skype, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon…the list goes on and on in the laptop lifestyle.
We are seeing so many of the norms of yesterday radically change as a result: retail stores are closing, workforces are more mobile and are often remote, texting has replaced talking on the phone, and the small screen has replaced that big hard-wired “device” hanging on the wall. Our lives have completely changed.
And as a result, we should change our way of thinking, particularly when it comes to managing workflows and life-flows too.
Paperless. The laptop lifestyle means that we’re not carrying lots of paper around anymore for work. We can’t…our shoulders can’t take it. We file everything onto our laptops for easy access and efficient storage. We work on multiple documents at the same time and share them around like M&Ms. We use “comment boxes” instead of ballpoint pens to give feedback. And we can reference multiple iterations for instantaneous changes back. Paper has been replaced by the “save button” in the laptop lifestyle.
Collaboration tools. With the laptop lifestyle comes the need for more collaboration tools. Since we don’t sit in meeting rooms together anymore, we need ways to replace the face-to-face dialogue of the analog lifestyle. File sharing is just the basic requirement as we find more and more ways to work on the same project together from different locations with different skill sets…revising, uploading, and saving in real time. Face-to-face has been replaced by screen sharing in the laptop lifestyle.
Flex time. 9-to-5 was a big hit for Dolly Parton back in the day, but it bears no resemblance to the workday these days. The laptop lifestyle brings much more fluidity to the day with expanded work hours that blur work and family on and off all along the way. We break for dinner and maybe a cocktail and then hit the email trail again later. Dial-in team meetings at all hours of the day bring time zones and work schedules seamlessly together. The time clock has been replaced by the conference code in the laptop lifestyle.
On the off chance you pine for the good old days, it’s time to let it go. Let It Go, as she sang in a wildly popular Disney movie. We can’t all be in one location writing on flip charts anymore. A global economy and the need for diverse perspectives has changed how we work. And we have a different point of view on how work and family need to co-exist. So, flip open your laptop and get with the program. A more fluid life and more productive work stream is just a few key strokes away.