Later this month, Source Code will be publishing a report on work and life in the twenty-first century. I can’t wait to share the final report with you, and so I wanted to share some of the thoughts it’s set stirring in my head.

In 2020, everyone is on call every day.  

For communications professionals, speed is of the essence, and a nine-to-five schedule is ancient history. Because businesses operate across borders and time zones, my client’s morning may be my five o’clock; when I check my email over my morning coffee, I hope that no crises have sprung up overnight.

With life and work coming at us all so fast, the natural inclination is to respond equally speedily. “Move fast and break things” was an internal motto at Facebook, and if we consider nothing but Facebook’s monetary value, it seems like a wise strategy. If we look at Facebook’s effect on the world at large though, we notice that many of the things broken while Facebook execs were moving fast have not yet been fixed. And we are all facing unanticipated consequences as a result. 

My colleagues at SourceCode are experts at speed, at working on the fly, and at improvisation. They have to be. But speed for speed’s sake helps no one, and so I find myself counseling younger colleagues to give things a little extra time, because not everything is an emergency. Doing things right — polishing a statement, punching up a press release, researching a journalist you’re pitching — takes more time but delivers better results. Some circumstances require instant action; others do not. Distinguishing between these types of situations is an essential skill in today’s workplace.

How do you balance our rapid-response environment with attention to detail? How do you assess project urgency when you’re always online and on call?