We're always curious to hear how our members and contributors tackle the challenges that the ever-changing world of HR throws at them. We've got a wealth of experience and knowledge across the site, and what better way to showcase the diversity of our community than to get them to walk us through an average day?
Want to tell us about your way of working? Email us at [email protected], or let us know in the comments below.
Erik Korsvik Østergaard is the co-founder of Bloch&Østergaard; an organisation focused on transforming organisations and supporting leaders.
So, Erik, tell us about your average day...
Two things are vital for how I structure my days: Being purpose-driven, and being self-employed.
Running a business requires focus on direction, marketing, brand management, social selling, pre-sales, contract management, administration, and so on. I use 20-30% of my time on the “being self-employed” stuff. It was a leap of faith when I left corporate life, but now – on my third year – I have come to terms with the dynamics and the gearing of entrepreneurship.
The gig economy is risky but rewarding. All the mistakes are yours to fix, but you can also celebrate in confetti and be proud of your results. It is a double-edged sword in another way too: It both allows you and forces you to focus on being your best, all the time. You cannot make it if you don’t go all in.
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I focus on understanding the Future of Work, and transforming and translating it into the Modern Workplace.
This leads me to be purpose-driven. Some five years ago I began to understand why I go to work, what I want to do, and why people should care: I want to create fantastic organisations where work is nice, great, and awesome. I strive to make every task, project, and action support this purpose and be meaningful and value creating.
I focus on understanding the Future of Work, and transforming and translating it into the Modern Workplace. This means reading a lot of articles and books, finding trends, and debating with visionary people. In turn I spend most of my working hours with leaders and employees, helping them with practical advice and inspiration.
Let’s look at my day and see how I do. Every day is different, but framed by a morning and evening routine.
06:00 - The alarm goes off. I listen to the news on the radio half awake. A key element in my morning routine is the espresso machine; the espresso doppio is my favourite. I check the social media channels and a few new emails.
07:30 - If I have time for it, I hit the gym. I busted my knee at handball when I was a kid, and I’m still struggling with it. The rowing machine is my current strategy for getting back running.
08:30 - Typical time for a morning coffee meeting with either a client or a work relation. I have 5-6 favourite coffee bars in Copenhagen, where we can sit rather undisturbed and talk. Privacy is often important for us.
09:30 - I settle in at the client. I always sit in the open offices so I can be a part of the culture and chat. I’ve learned that it’s important for me not to be seen as dangerous or “one of the bad consultants”, so I try to blend in naturally and just be there, as openly as I can.
As the first thing of any work day, I create my “could-do” list. It’s not a to-do list, but a list of things that I could do, if I want to. It was a gamechanger when I started doing that. It is a reminder to me, that life is precious, and that I want to take control of it and make it valuable. I could work for the client, or I could get on my bike and ride to the ocean. The choice is mine.
I create my “could-do” list. It’s not a to-do list, but a list of things that I could do, if I want to.
My day is always packed, and I have a very controlling approach to my calendar. The next hours are a mix of back-to-back meetings, workshops, SCRUM meetings, one-to-one meetings with managers, and facilitating processes. Also, I block periods of time in the calendar for production of material, presentations, or analysis.
I use a lot of post-its, and take a lot of pictures to document the outcome. Notes are handled on paper in a Moleskine-like book. I’ve tried a lot of digital tools, and currently I’m back on paper again. Tasks are updated in Trello or Podio.
In between all that I pay attention to our internal Slack channel, my email, and my social media. I strive to respond within a few hours; it actually keeps me calm.
15:00 - About once a week I give a speech or keynote; typically one hour plus time for either a workshop or a Q&A session.
17:00 - Maybe I have an afternoon coffee meeting. If not, I hit home. Dinner, catching up with the family. I like cooking.
19:00 - If it’s Monday, it’s band night. We’ve been playing together for nine years, and it’s a fantastic way of relaxing and focusing on a whole different aspect of life. Otherwise I spend some hours on catching up on social media, reading books (I’m currently reading four simultaneously) and magazines, writing and publishing a blog post, preparing material for the next day’s meetings and key notes.
If it’s Friday, I answer our weekly internal 'happiness survey' where we monitor how great a week it was for us.
- The could-do list
- PC and iPhone
- Dropbox, Podio, Trello, Slack, Skype, Outlook
- LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
All notifications are turned off, all the time. Phone is on silent.
Now, tell us...
What would you say are your main passions within HR?
I want our workplaces and organisations to be fantastic. Work should be nice, great, and awesome, even when the technological and societal development is immense and change is happening ever faster.
I want work to be meaningful, and we must strive to solve the global challenges together. A fundamental aspect of that is the respect for each other, and that workplaces must be founded on freedom, not fear.
Workplaces must be founded on freedom, not fear.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Seeing the managers and organisations transform and grow. It’s sooo rewarding to see them 'get it', change behaviour, and being able to measure the joy and results.
What keeps you up at night?
For a long time it was the nagging feeling of a self-employed business, with a varying pipeline and an unsecure future, but history shows that we can make a living of it.
Now it’s the feeling of “I could have done better” at a client that day.
One tip you’d pass on to your peers?
Keep learning. Stay hungry, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Oh, and keep your deadlines.
Erik (b. 1973) is partner in Bloch&Østergaard, which he founded in 2013.
He is master of Science from Technical University of Copenhagen with a thesis in chaos mathematics, and has an EBA in cross-cultural project management.
He has worked with leadership, change management, and organizational transformation in +15 years, as manager, project manager and consultant – and has a burning passion for leadership and engagement.
In addition he acts as mentor, speaker, inspirator, and motivator. He is a regular guest lecturer at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) and the IT University of Copenhagen (ITU), and is also a keen jazz pianist, song writer, and singer in his own band.