In case you missed it, our fearless leader, CEO Christa Quarles, recently wrote a great piece introducing the concept of Work3. The Work3 concept dismantles old ideas about knowledge work and builds a whole new landscape anchored in freedom, trust, flexibility, and accountability.
Why Work3? We all know Work 1.0. That was the old way, when we all sat in offices from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Work 2.0 arrived (like a freight train) with the pandemic, immediately plunging us into a hybrid model that we’ve been dipping our toes into for years. Work3 is an evolution of these eras, but as Christa says, it’s Work3 and not Work 3.0 because it’s not just a new chapter. It’s a whole new playbook—and we’re writing it
How did we get here?
Knowledge workers are all too familiar with Work 1.0. Ruling our lives for seemingly forever, this byproduct of the industrial revolution and went largely unchallenged as people trudged into an office, kept their heads down, ticked boxes, and then clocked out. When the proverbial whistle blew, most of us walked out the door to get on with the things we actually cared about.
Work 1.0 was designed primarily with factory workers in mind—people who had to be in a certain place doing a certain activity at a certain time. For many of us, that structure stuck around well past its usefulness.
Work 2.0 was a long time coming, but the pandemic accelerated its arrival. With no warning, we were forced to reimagine our workspaces and navigate the realities of remote and hybrid work. In Work 2.0, people spoke less about ticking boxes and more about thinking outside them.
Coming in like a broken dam and carrying the whole world with it, Work 2.0 was a catalyst for several history-making shifts. It accelerated digital transformation with record speed. Taking away the physical office, Work 2.0 gave us a unique perspective into each other’s lives and made work feel suddenly more personal. Flexibility became the name of the game. And as the world bore witness to a social movement that bravely demanded the status quo’s attention, social justice, diversity, and sustainability entered the workplace like never before.
Over the last several years, when people have talked about the future of work, they were largely talking about Work 2.0. And that’s exciting: Work 2.0 is a huge leap forward. Work 2.0 taught us that we can embrace major paradigm shifts. “This is the way we’ve always done things,” is a feeble excuse. It proved that inefficiency and inequity can’t be veiled behind tradition.
But it’s not enough to take a leap forward—not even a big one. We need to get on a whole new path.
Work 2.0 was a watershed moment of epic proportions.
Work3 is what we build next.
Work 2.0 meant thinking outside the box.
Work3 dismantles the boxes altogether.
The Hallmarks of Work3
Work3 separates itself from deeply ingrained notions of time and space. It is decentralized. It is unburdened by artifice and intolerant of arrogant, prejudiced, bureaucratic structures that prioritize posturing over performance.
Work3 takes the best parts of Work 2.0 and makes them intentional:
- Freedom and flexibility are the default.
- Diversity, equality, and inclusion shift from PR campaigns to foundational tenets.
- Character is more important than skills.
- Sustainability is a priority.
- Outcomes matter more than outputs.
- Risks matter more than perfection.
- Health and safety are paramount—and that includes psychological safety, mental health, and emotional health.
A new structure for a new style of work
With Work3, we’ve come to realize that knowledge workers don’t need to be bound by rigid hours and physical presence. You might get great ideas in the middle of the night. You might get a burst of productivity at 5 a.m. or noon or 5 p.m.
Failing to recognize this is a recipe for poor productivity, poor engagement, and poor employee satisfaction.
Accountability for all
Critically, Work3 has a bottom-up power structure that—until this point—has been a fringe approach at best. That doesn’t mean Work3 is about anarchy; rather it’s about accountability.
In Work3, leaders set the tone and provide the necessary tools, while each individual is given the freedom—and responsibility—of achieving optimal outcomes. This involves a lot of trust, both from executives to the rest of the team and vice versa. What paves the way for that trust? Working with true purpose.
Work3 views Work 2.0 as a source of actionable knowledge. Even in the face of recession or global turmoil, Work3 bends and molds to what the world needs in the moment.
Authenticity is not only championed but expected. Company values are not posters on the wall but rather practices that break down walls and invite people in. In a world where people want to dictate their own personal productivity practices, candidates pick companies that value flexibility while giving them a sense of purpose, a path forward, and pay that communicates their value.
There’s one more element of Work3 that you’ll be hearing a lot more about from us (and something I’m particularly passionate about), and that’s how inclusive it can be. For decades, Work 1.0 could be rife with barriers for women, people of color, and individuals with disabilities, including people who are neurodivergent.
As a leader who’s neurodivergent myself, I am thrilled as I watch people excel when given the opportunity to create the workspace, working style, and schedule that suits them. Given the proven business benefits of a diverse workforce—combined with the labor force shortage and looming economic uncertainty, it seems like a no-brainer to cultivate work environments where talented, passionate people are hired and given the flexibility and freedom to create the workspaces they need to both thrive and deliver.
It starts here
We’re our own Customer Zero for Work3, cultivating this philosophy and practice right in our own backyard (literal backyards for some of our remote employees!). It’s not a static shift; it can and should evolve with technology, the market, and employee needs. We’re building Work3 not only for us, but for our customers, and for anyone ready to work better and live better.