Team spirit and outsiderism
Today is my last day at a long-term, on-site contract - the nearest thing I've had to a 'real job' since 2001.
It's been wonderful feeling physically part of a team. It hasn't been complete - I work shorter hours than the others, and I knew from the outset my time would be limited. But being in an open plan office, sharing secrets, and supporting those under stress - even with a sympathetic look - is quite unknown in the independent contractor's life I am returning to.
It makes me wonder - if Daniel Pink is correct and more people will be consultants rather than full time employees, how will we get around this? More to the point, how will I get around this in my first few weeks of readjusting to being an outsider?
Of course, I won't be a complete outsider. I now have a link with the team I've been with. There's a rapport there that won't really change because I'm not in the building. But the day-to-day banter won't be there.
Perhaps that's why blogs have become big. It'd be interesting to see how many bloggers are independent consultants - or employed in a workplace without a strong team spirit.
Networking groups will also never die off; instead, they'll become more vital. But the forms networking groups take - for instance, Chamber of Commerce - may be endangered as a new generation of independent contractors finds the old ways and traditions stifling, unreal and irrelevant.
I think the whole concept of Urban Tribes - as put forward in Ethan Watters' book - will take off. Social groups that just 'happen', that may only have a mindset (rather than race, religion, occupation or social status) in common.
Or perhaps that's just utopian (remember, Utopia means 'nowhere'). After all, race, religion, occupation and social status do still play an important part in who we like to talk to and who we just can't understand. But I'm starting to digress.
Recapping: More independent contractors means more outsiders, leading to increased attempts at community-building like blogging, and innovative networking groups to appeal to a new generation of businesspeople (who don't identify themselves primarily as businesspeople).
And another thing I nearly forgot - a stronger emphasis on Emotional Intelligence. (Capitalised for the Eighteenth Century people Among Us.)