Hello home office my new friend, I’ve come to Citrix out from you again…
Also, about this whole… global situation… thing:
A YC founder once said to me that he found little correlation between the success of a YC company and how hard their founders worked. That is to say, among a group of smart, ambitious entrepreneurs who were all already working pretty hard, the factors that made the biggest difference were things like timing, strategy, and relationships. Which is why Reddit cofounder-turned-venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian now warns against the “utter bullshit” of this so-called hustle porn mentality.
There’s something especially insidious about higher-ups using their own extreme work habits as a model for their staff. I’m a big believer of leading by example, but most leaders have a support system and resources that allow them to recuperate from their hard work. They live close to the office, get frequent massages, have healthy food made for them, have really good childcare, personal assistants, and much more. That’s how they stay sane and avoid burnout.
But many of their employees don’t have the same benefits. And so after working 80 or 100 hours a week for months or years at a time, they burn out. And maybe they did productive work for a time, but they pay for it with their mental and physical health.
Jason Shen on.
Remember, kids! Burning everyone out working for capital is the number one way of reducing the general population’s ability to participate actively in democracy!
Just as the American employment picture became more dystopian around the turn of the millennium, so too have books on careers divested themselves of the optimism of [Richard Bolles’s 1970 book, What Color Is Your] Parachute. Or so it seems to me. For example, in 2007, Stanford professor Robert Sutton wrote a little book about creating civil workplaces and gave it a memorable title — The No Asshole Rule. It was, he says in the introduction, at least in part inspired by his personal experiences. As he puts it, he wished to find ways of avoiding “the petty but relentless nastiness that pervades much of academic life.” (After that book became a bestseller, he found, as he notes in his 2017 book, The Asshole Survival Guide, that he suddenly went from being known within academia as a scholar of the psychology of business and management to international recognition as “the Asshole Guy” — that is an expert on the bullies and jerks who abound in office settings.) Another perennially popular title (also from 2007), Timothy Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek caters to disillusioned workers who have ceased to believe that there is any hospitable workplace. It jettisons the idea of work as vocation, and instead encourages people to spend as little time and energy as possible earning a paycheck.
The whole world of career books, then, seems to reflect a sense among readers that a “dream job” is not a realistic goal.
Rachel Paige King on.
If employers judged HR departments by their ability to prevent sexual harassment, most would have gotten a failing grade long ago. What HR is actually responsible for—one of the central ways the department “adds value” to a company—is serving as the first line of defense against a sexual-harassment lawsuit. These two goals are clearly aligned, but if the past year has taught us anything, it’s that you can achieve the latter without doing much of anything at all about the former.
Caitlin Flanagan on.
My main dealing with HR were in a previous job where I was bullied, in an organization with a known and endemic sexist bullying problem.1 It became pretty clear pretty quickly that the company was more interested in protecting itself than doing anything about my abusers—one of which had been with the company for decades—which is why I left the organization after a mere eight months…
In a forthcoming book this spring, the philosopher Elizabeth Anderson has advanced a critique of “private government,” the concept used to express the power wielded by large corporations in the labor market. For many workers, the force that most actively restricts their liberty is not government regulations but their employer’s rules; even gig economy laborers such as Uber drivers, who unlike traditional employees have the flexibility to set their own hours, risk being put out of a job for committing relatively innocuous sins such as canceling too many rides, driving with a car other than the one registered to you, or complaining about Uber on social media. There is little doubt that modern technology allows employers enhanced surveillance power, but hypothetically, the voluntary nature of employment should limit the abuse of this power; mistreated workers can always exercise their right to “exit” the employment relationship and get another job.
This works great if you’re a superstar athlete or hotshot coder; employers need you as much as you need them, and you can always take your talents to South Beach and/or Facebook (they’re hiring!). But contemporary conditions make simply up and quitting unfeasible for a significant slice of the population — namely, those who are already the most vulnerable. If you need a job as a condition of probation, or if your visa is tied to your employer, or if you’re an immigrant working without documentation, “exit” is impossible without imprisonment or exile. Even the average low-income worker might not have the savings to ride out a short gap in employment without getting evicted or going hungry. The frictions in the employment marketplace force many of us to put up with terrible treatment by giving bosses the leverage that knows that we can’t afford to just walk out.
Kevin Munger on whose rules.
So my Baby’s First Graduate Rotation when I first started working was in the team that ran my organisation’s SAP install. If you’ve never done backend corporate logistics and/or HR work, you may have never even heard of this beast, but even if you haven’t heard of it, it’s definitely heard of you…
So asides from reducing productivity, open plan offices also apparently reduce face-to-face collaboration, which is literally the one thing they’re supposed to increase.
Technically, I currently work in an open plan office, but it’s small and there’s usually not more than about six of us here at any one time (the impacts of “open plans” start to kick in at about eight-to-twelve). Whenever I have to go on client site and end up in the middle of a floor of a hundred, I’m once again reminded why I do not miss it…1
And very specifically clean desk policies, not clear desk policies (which are about not leaving sensitive materials unsecured). Basically, not allowing workers control over their desk spaces is noticeably bad for productivity. Like, on orders of “having to hire more staff” levels of bad.
See also: Everyone Hates Hotdesking.
Well. Not quite. It’s more like France has decided that working hours are working hours, and workers aren’t obligated to work outside of them without compensation, and that “work” also includes tasks such as answering or writing emails.
The good news is that enforced work-life balance seems to cause no actual drop in workplace productivity–according to such known bastions of workplace inefficiency as, oh, Volkswagen–which just goes to show how necessary all those “urgent” 3am emails really are…