There’s a popular definition of Insanity – It’s “doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results”. It’s one of those sayings that’s attributed to Albert Einstein without a lot of evidence to show he ever said it. But it rings true because we often catch ourselves trying to do something repeatedly in the vain hope that “this time it’s bound to work”. “Just one more try and I’ll be in luck this time” is the compulsive gambler’s downfall!

When we look at working practices we can see this happening. We continue to base our working day on fixed hours and fixed location as the norm and then expect to see improvements in engagement and productivity. We continue to have command and control leadership styles and can’t understand why people are unwilling to use their creativity and initiative at work. And we measure people by the hours they attend the workplace and then are surprised when they become ‘clock-watchers’.

We are overdue a new approach to work. Forget traditional jobs and take a fresh look. Work is the process of getting something done with a purpose. Some work may have to be performed in a specific way with all the tasks defined, but in many cases the individual can be left to decide how they would like to achieve the outcomes.

Sometimes work has to be done in a fixed place at fixed hours, but more and more tasks can now be fulfilled without being restricted in time and location.

This week it’s the letter “N for Novelty” in the WiseWork A to Z. We need a novel way to structure work so it fits in better with the rest of our lives and frees us up to perform at our best. Why don’t you start by looking at the jobs in your organisation through a new pair of spectacles? Assume all work can be done flexibly unless proved otherwise. You might be surprised at how work can be organised to bring freedom of choice for people.