Sunday 15 September 2019

John Daly: 'Plugging in to the 'bleisure' generation'


'In this brave new world, it's all about high-tech, low stress and consigning the outdated 'nine to five' mentality to the bin.' Stock photo
'In this brave new world, it's all about high-tech, low stress and consigning the outdated 'nine to five' mentality to the bin.' Stock photo

John Daly

There are days when all of us feel we're trapped in Slough, manacled to a boss like David Brent. "You will never work in a place like this again, and you'll never have another boss like me. Someone who's basically a chilled-out entertainer, yeah?"

That classic from 'The Office' poked out from the memory banks last week when an unexpected circumstance brought me face to face with the new world of work. Stranded in a Brighton hotel with snail-pace wi-fi, the chilled Afghan doorman directed me toward the local co-working space. What's in a name, I wondered, before stepping into a 21st century wonderland. In this brave new world, it's all about high-tech, low stress and consigning the outdated 'nine to five' mentality to the bin.

Welcome to the communal digital den that lets you work how you want, when you want. Co-working clubs are popping up everywhere, a global chain-link of dedicated spaces catering to everything from a simple half-day's use of a desk and laptop, to a meeting room for tech entrepreneurs, fashion designers and local accountants. Huge open-plan spaces, funky pod seats, whiteboards, Nespresso machines and top-notch wi-fi, they'll often include a chill-out section with a piano standing ready for social evenings. A sign over the spotless kitchen said it all: 'Our community - hard working, respectful and fun.' Shared workspaces have risen by more than 200pc since 2013, and are estimated to number five million by 2022. In cities like New York and London, the sector is expanding at an annual rate of 20pc.

In our interconnected universe where geographical boundaries and time zones are no longer a barrier to the always on 24/7 entrepreneur, the overlapping of business and leisure has now morphed into 'bleisure' - a world where the pursuit of profit and pleasure make compatible bedfellows.

Demanding greater informality and flexibility as the division between work and home becomes blurred, these new-age worker bees will no longer endure a daily two-hour traffic tailback, opting instead to plug in the laptop at the local co-working club.

This is a domain where 'solopreneurs' and business people not only work, but also mingle with like-minded souls to share experiences and advice. In an environment powered by excellent coffee and super-fast internet, a collective vibe of stimulating collaboration and good connections owns this new 24-hour day. After a lifetime of toil at narrow cubicles and pokey corner desks, I'm ready to dive headlong into this 'bleisure' community, where a kind word and a smile are always close neighbours.

A Rambo day...

While the world and his dowager countess are genuflecting before the 'Downton Abbey' film this week, I'm gearing up for another tour of duty with John Rambo later this month.

The original role was turned down by Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino before fate made Sly Stallone a star. Writer David Morrell was unable to dream up a name for his anti-hero in the 1972 novel, until he spotted his wife's shopping, which included the Rambo apple - an emigrant pippin born in the French town of Rambure. In that instant, an American legend was born.

Strange bedfellows

As Dublin and Kerry gear up for the replay on Saturday, an elderly gent recalled the halcyon All Irelands back in the rare auld times. "I woke up on a kitchen floor somewhere in Rathgar that Sunday morning and counted 13 pairs of mens' legs scattered all around me. The smell was worse than Castleisland mart on a wet Tuesday." John McGahern could not have concocted such an eloquent vision.

Irish Independent

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