Work Futures Daily | Confusing Control With Order

| Margaret Wheatley | WeWork Cuts | The End of Babies | Knowing Coworkers | Red and Blue Metros Differ | Worker Agency |

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

Beacon NY | 2019–11–18 | Keeping to the new program.


Quote of the Day

We have created trouble for ourselves in organizations by confusing control with order. This is no surprise, given that for most of its written history, leadership has been defined in terms of its control functions.

| Margaret Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World


Readings

WeWork May Lay Off Thousands | Peter Eavis and Mike Isaac on the continuing mess at WeWork:

WeWork is preparing to cut at least 4,000 people from its work force as it tries to stabilize itself after the company’s breakneck growth racked up heavy losses and led it to the brink of collapse.

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The End of Babies | Anna Louie Sussman details how workism — the cult of overwork — is leading to fewer children being born in developed countries. ‘It seems clear that what we have come to think of as “late capitalism” — that is, not just the economic system, but all its attendant inequalities, indignities, opportunities and absurdities — has become hostile to reproduction.’

Lyman Stone, an economist who studies population, points to two features of modern life that correlate with low fertility: rising “workism” — a term popularized by the Atlantic writer Derek Thompson — and declining religiosity. “There is a desire for meaning-making in humans,” Mr. Stone told me. Without religion, one way people seek external validation is through work, which, when it becomes a dominant cultural value, is “inherently fertility reducing.”

Denmark, he notes, is not a workaholic culture, but is highly secular. East Asia, where fertility rates are among the lowest in the world, is often both. In South Korea, for example, the government has introduced tax incentives for childbearing and expanded access to day care. But “excessive workism” and the persistence of traditional gender roles have combined to make parenting more difficult, and especially unappealing for women, who take on a second shift at home.

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Powering a People-First Culture | Globant’s new report makes a good case for the power for knowing co-workers:

Four out of five employees (83%) say knowing their coworkers better would make them a more engaged team member. And many employees are eager to get to know their coworkers better — in fact, 62% wish they did. But often a lack of time and physical distance stand in the way of forming more and deeper connections.

As to be expected, managers tend to know more people in their organizations than non-managers. (See Figure 3) The nature of managers’ work means they have greater and more frequent exposure to people across the company, which makes it easier to develop personal relationships. For many other employees, it’s difficult to connect with coworkers without investing more time and energy, even when there’s the desire to get to know others better.

I was surprised at ‘Bad Managers’ being only fifth in this list of top five reasons employees left their last jobs:

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Red and Blue Economies Are Heading in Sharply Different Directions | Jed Kolko — chief economists of Indeed — looks into the underlying differences between left- and right-leaning metros, despite superficial similarities:

At a quick glance, red and blue metropolitan areas are performing equally well on average in the most watched indicators of labor market health.

Employment growth in the year ending in the first quarter of 2019 was 1.4 percent in both Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning metro areas, and the unemployment rate in both types of places is roughly equivalent.

Silicon Valley (blue) is booming. So is Provo, Utah (red).

But below the surface, red and blue local economies are worlds apart on enduring, fundamental measures that determine their future prospects and their biggest economic challenges.

The correlations between deeper economic measures and how the contrasting metro areas voted in 2016 are striking.

In bluer metros, more residents have college degrees: The 10 large metros with the highest educational attainment each voted for Hillary Clinton by at least a 10-point margin. Median household incomes are higher in bluer metros even after adjusting for the cost of living, which is higher in bluer metros as well. (Metro area is a better measure for a local labor market than a neighborhood, city, county or state.)

And bluer metros have a more favorable job mix for the future, with fewer manufacturing jobs, a higher share of harder-to-automate “non-routine” jobs, and a higher share of jobs in occupations projected to grow faster.

These measures — education, household income, cost of living, non-routine jobs and projected job growth — are highly correlated with one another, and with voting Democratic.

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Post-productivity: Building a better way to work | Ben Taylor, in the third of a series from Dropbox:

Perhaps the most common theme among happy workers is agency. Workers who feel empowered to make changes, to choose a unique working style, tend to navigate tensions successfully. Rather than feeling boxed in, they can recalibrate and adapt as their life or circumstances change.

What are the implications for tools?

Knowledge workers use a vast array of tools at work, from mobile phones to monitors, task managers to sales trackers, water coolers to desk chairs. Sometimes, employees get to pick what they use (i.e. a note-taking app). Other times, the company must keep it standardized (i.e. the HR portal for billing and benefits).

Still, workplace tools provide dozens of opportunities for giving employees agency, and those choices can range from simple to multi-faceted. Can workers choose a preferred brand of laptop? Can they arrange for an upgrade if it might help their particular job? What about the chair a worker sits in, and for how long (or for how many days per week)? When it comes to software, can workers sub in certain tools they prefer, so long as they work with the company’s broader suite of applications? To what extent?

These are great questions, the sort that job candidates don’t ask but should.


Originally posted on Medium.

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