Home/Tag: work

France bans after-hours emails.

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…

2017-07-17T07:36:48+10:0021st October, 2017|Tags: work|

It is as if you were doing work.

What happens when the AIs come and take away everyone’s mind-numbing white collar data entry jobs? Well, never fear! You too can still enjoy the drudgery of capitalism with this simulator.

2017-09-25T08:21:18+10:002nd October, 2017|Tags: culture, gaming, work|

Fridgeman Returns!

On workplace vigilantes.

Once upon a workplace, I received a parcel and put the small cardboard box it came in in the rubbish bin. This was one of those workplaces with like ten million bins, each for a limited class of rubbish. I put my box in the “recycling” bin, because cardboard. Anyway, I went to lunch, then came back… and found someone had fished the box out of the bin and left it on my desk (it was a parcel, so it literally had my name on it). No note, but I got the message: I had committed the cardinal workplace sin on Using The Wrong Bin. What was the Right Bin? I had no idea. In fact, I still had no idea three years later when I left that job and left the box in my office cupboard because I’d been too scared to try throwing it out a second time.

In that same workplace, some years earlier, there’d been a Your Mothers Don’t Work Here1 fight over dirty dishes in the kitchen. At one point, a Laws of the Kitchen sign appeared that threatened any unwashed dishes left on the sink would be thrown out at the end of the day. The threat was empty, however, and no one was enforcing it. Because I’m usually the first in the office, I decided I’d be the dishes police. Except I didn’t throw anything out; every morning, I’d go wash all the dirty dishes and then hide them at the back of one of the cupboards. For those few brief, beautiful weeks, the kitchen did actually get a little bit cleaner.

It was never going to last. One of the dirty mugs I’d hidden turned out to belong to A Dude who decided to be exempt from the Law of the Kitchen. Upon finding his mug had been removed, as per policy, he flipped the fuck out, demanding to know who’d “stolen” his mug and tearing apart the entire office to find it. I did not, in fact, confess to being the kitchen fairy, though eventually Dude managed to find the stash of dishes and, thus, his mug. The next morning, the threatening sign was gone and, thus, ended the reign of the Mildly Clean Office Kitchen.

There’s just one more thing, though. I did eventually learn who’d fished my box out of the bin; it had been one of the other middle managers. The same one, in fact, who’d put up the original Laws of the Kitchen sign.

The same one the Mug Dude directly reported to.

Office life really is very petty.

  1. … I know. []
2017-07-17T11:47:29+10:0015th July, 2017|Tags: work|


I have read a lot of think pieces (by men) about why Remote Work Is The Answer, but I’ve had a lot of conversations with women about the convenience of crying at home, and the physical and emotional distance from micro-(and macro-!)aggressions.

If you’re wondering why remote work is so often wanted by women, my unscientific survey says it’s nothing to do with kids and everything to do with not having to cry in the bathroom, not having to sit next to the guy who just stole your idea in that meeting, not having to eat lunch with that guy who always stares at your breasts.

Cate Huston on distance.

I both hate and love remote work; in short bursts it can be fun, and an interesting exercise in realising just how much unproductive downtime you have in an office. What do you do all day when you don’t have meetings or walk-ups or corridor conversations? Clean the house? Walk the dog? Are you still “at work” if you do? Like, you’re not actually doing work but you wouldn’t be doing work if you were in the office arguing with Tim about the new Suicide Squad film, either.

Longer term, I find remote work very, very isolating; like a lot of adults, most of my (non-family) social contact comes via the office, and going without it can end up in a very lonely place. No one wants to cry at work, but sometimes crying alone, at home, with no one to care is even worse.1

I think it’s common for people who’ve experienced things in the workplace like bullying or harassment to be offered remote working arrangements. I never got that. Well, I mean, I do get it; it’s the easy option, in that it effectively does nothing more than remove the victim from the path of their harasser. But it doesn’t actually deal in any way with the harasser’s behaviour; it’s more like a tacit corporate approval for the victim to start looking for work elsewhere without prying eyes seeing her polishing up her CV.

Maybe things should be reversed; send the bullies to the remote work naughty corner rather than the bullied. If you can’t play nice with other adults in an office all day then you shouldn’t get to be in that office.

That wouldn’t work either, of course (too many people see remote work as a reward, not a punishment), but… hm.

  1. The worst of the worst, of course, is crying at work where everyone sees and no one cares. []
2017-07-17T11:38:56+10:0019th August, 2016|Tags: culture, work|


Campaigning is not succeeding. It’s asking for success, and for power. To campaign is to publicly claim that you are better than the others (usually white men) who want the same job, and that a whole lot of people should work to place you in a more powerful position. In other words, campaigning is a transgressive act for women.

Women often find self-promotion difficult even outside the realm of politics. For example, a 2011 study found that men are four times more likely to ask for raises than their female co-workers. Women are much more likely than men to under-estimate their abilities. When they apply for jobs, they often refuse to even submit a resume unless they’re certain they have 100% of the requisite qualifications. (The qualification threshold for men is only 60%. Think about that the next time you wonder why on Earth Donald Trump thinks he should be president–or, for that matter, when Bernie Sanders insists that his lack of foreign policy experience compared to Clinton’s doesn’t matter, because he has better “judgment.”)

 Articles on women’s workplace behavior are littered with tales of the “confidence gap” and “impostor syndrome”–that is, the recurring belief among high-achieving women that all of their achievements have been somehow accidental and are therefore undeserved. But the rare, lucky women who do manage to apply for higher-level jobs, advocate for fair wages, and feel good about themselves in the meantime may find that the “confidence gap” is less personal neurosis than sadly justified risk assessment. Women who put themselves forward in the same assertive, confident style as men are routinely found pushy, “bitchy,” or unlikable, and professionally penalized for that, too.

Sady Doyle on seeking power.

2017-07-17T11:38:55+10:0020th June, 2016|Tags: culture, politics, work|

The toxic office.

First, a toxic worker isn’t necessarily a lazy worker. In fact, they tend to be insanely productive, much more so than the average worker.


The second characteristic is a bit more obvious. They tend to have what’s known as high “self-regard” and a lower degree of “other-regardingness.” Or put more simply, they’re selfish. “All things equal, those that are less other-regarding should be more predisposed to toxicity as they do not fully internalize the cost that their behavior imposes on others,” the [study’s] researchers wrote. This characteristic was teased out in the job screening program by asking applicants questions like this one that makes them choose between two statements: “I like to ask about other people’s well-being” or “I let the past stay in the past.” Selecting the first would give them a higher other-regarding score.

Third, the toxic employee also has an tendency to be overconfident of his or her own abilities — a trait believed to lead to unreasonable risk-taking. “Someone that is overconfident believes the expected payoff from engaging in misconduct is higher than someone who is not overconfident, as they believe the likelihood of the better outcome is higher than it really is,” the researchers explained.

Finally, if a person is dead-set on following rules, there may be reason to worry. Even though it seems counterintuitive, Housman and Minor said that those employees who claimed in the questionnaire that rules should always be followed with no exceptions (as opposed to those who said sometimes you have to break rules to do a good job) were the most likely to be terminated for breaking the rules.


The consequences of employing such people can be enormous for a company. The researchers calculated that these workers can cost $12,489 due to the need to replace other workers who leave due to their behavior. That’s an almost two-to-one return as compared to their estimates for what a company gains from a superstar employee in the 1 percent of productivity — an increase in $5,303 in value.

Harvard researchers studied just which coworkers suck the worst.

2018-04-27T13:58:51+10:0014th May, 2016|Tags: work|

It’s not you, it’s your job.

Yoga classes won’t do squat to fix stress when the problem is toxic work expectations.

When I was managing staff, I had a mix of people who were strict 9-to-5ers and those who were manic 12-hour-days-plus-2am-on-Sunday-remote-login types. The thing that always struck me is that the people who worked longer hours–in a few cases, obsessively long hours–weren’t actually necessarily more productive than the people who did their 40 hours and left it at that.

The difference seemed to be that the overworkers used to be very good at finding work to fill in their time. That is, they’d obsess over tiny details in one project or work-and-rework something ad infinitum. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes this is exactly the skill you need. And sometimes it’s just self-directed makework. Meanwhile, the 9-to-5ers tended to be very focused on delivering to the scope of whatever specific task they were delivering on; no tangents, no obsessive rehashing the same thing over and over. And obviously this is one observation from one team, but… yeah. I found it interesting, at any rate.

2020-05-12T08:13:35+10:005th March, 2016|Tags: work|

Just an observation on workplace culture…

It seems to me that one of the biggest culture gaps in the workplace between Baby Boomers and Millennials is how they deal with dissatisfaction.

If Boomers are unhappy with their job or their employer, they want to change the system from within. Boomers are Union reps and they’re the ones who’ll walk into a manager’s office to give Their Thoughts On Workplace Relations. Savvier Boomers will become managers. Less-savvy ones will be That Guy. You know, Larry? He’s been there for, like, a million years and he never does anything yet can’t be fired. How does that even work?

Boomer workplace culture, in other words, is the office version of the 1960s and 70s counterculture protest; scream loud enough and long enough and eventually The Man will stop the war, then it’ll be Peace and Love forever.

Millennials, meanwhile, are the product of that failed revolution; they’re the ones who saw the Boomers grow out of flares and into suits, saw them take up the reins of the very institutions they once opposed. Moreover, Millennials saw that those institutions changed under Boomer influence… and not for the better.

Workplace Millennials know the revolution isn’t coming, at least not in any way that helps. Power is corrupt and institutions are unchanging. In the workplace, we know we’re infinitely replaceable. So, if we’re unhappy, we just leave. If everywhere is terrible, at least we can choose to escape to a new kind of terrible when we have to.

Boomers want to change the system. Millennials want to change themselves.

And it’s interesting, because I think the Millennial attitude reads as flighty and self-interested to Boomers, while the Boomer attitude reads as naive and counterproductive to Millennials. And getting the two groups to meet in the middle? Yeah. Good luck with that…

(Or, in other words: hey everyone, I got a new job!)

2015-12-02T07:59:02+11:008th December, 2015|Tags: work, xp|

Do what you do, not just what you love.

The idea that Your Work Should Be Your Passion seems empowering on the surface. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could get paid to do something they really love? How great would it be if you could spend most of your day actively making the world a better place, or whatever it is you care about most?

But if your work is your passion, then it won’t matter so much that it doesn’t pay that well…right?

–Miri Mogilevsky on the passion trap.


2019-07-31T09:29:28+10:0021st November, 2015|Tags: publishing, work|