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Sweden’s flexible approach to working hours is one reason it was ranked best in the world for work-life balance in a recent HSBC survey. Only about 1.1% of the nation’s employees work very long hours, according to the OECD’s How’s Life survey, the second lowest share among the organisation’s 38 countries.
So with flexible hours the norm, and almost two years’ parental leave for every child, it's perhaps no surpise that Sweden’s capital boasts a happy and efficient workforce. What can other cities learn?
Discover more here.
Danielle Steel recently revealed the productivity trick central to her success: basically, she works all the time.
However, argues Oliver Burkeman, while that may have resulted in 179 novels that have brought pleasure to many, we shouldn't envy her - compulsive productivity has a flipside.
Read his thoughts here.
"For some employers, doing extensive prep for an interview and arriving on time isn’t enough. They may also subject you to some serious mind games and some have been giving insights into the tricks they use to supposedly highlight the best candidates..."
So what kind of tricks do some employers leverage as part of their interview routines? Discover more here.
"Fast-paced technological innovations mean that most of us will soon share our workplaces with artificial intelligences and bots, so how can you stay ahead of the curve? Start by adopting a commitment to lifelong learning so you can acquire the skills you will need to succeed in the future workplace."
Read what these ten key skills are, at least according to Fortune's enterprise contributor Bernard Marr, here.
"Perfection is the goal of many 21st-century self-improvers. By treating their lives as systems to be hacked, they believe they can optimise their productivity, happiness, health, and intelligence [...] However, naively optimising one’s life can be suboptimal – and even dangerous."
So argues Joseph Reagle, author of Hacking Life: Systematized Living and its Discontents. What are the risks of treating one's life as a system that can be optimised, just like the machines and devices that increasingly rule our lives?
Read the article in full here.
According to this article, a third of employees say they have suffered awkward physical greetings from colleagues – even kisses on the mouth.
So how much is too much, and to what degree might boundaries need to be re-drawn?
Read the piece here.
Many firms are converting to shorter working hours and finding out that they can be a win-win-win scenario - bringing benefits to employees, clients and customers, and ultimately, the bottom line.
The Guardian's social affairs correspondent, Robert Booth, writes that there's emerging evidence that a four-day working week can boost productivity for bosses and happiness for workers. "Playgrounds, garden centres and gymnasiums are filling up on Fridays with people extending their leisure into a five-day working week that has been a staple of western culture since Henry Ford adopted it in 1926," he writes.
Discover more here.
Fortune Magazine reports on the emergence of hybrid jobs, which we'd wager are only just starting to take shape; as technology automates the more mundane aspects of our work, many jobs will merge and transform completely.
The secret though, as Fortune suggests, is to turn yourself into a 'purple squirrel'.
Curious? Read on.
Screens used to be for the elite. Now avoiding them is a status symbol, argues NYT technology reporter Nellie Bowles: "Life for anyone but the very rich — the physical experience of learning, living and dying — is increasingly mediated by screens... Not only are screens themselves cheap to make, but they also make things cheaper. .. The texture of life, the tactile experience, is becoming smooth glass."
This article makes us super sad. The NYT is suggesting that human contact has the potential to become a premium product, only available to those who can afford it. “What we are seeing now is the luxurification of human engagement” , the suggestion being that digital interaction will become the mainstream solve-all for social issues, and VIP velvet rope human service will be reserved for the mega-rich. Not if we have anything to do with it! Read Nellie's thoughts here.
An interesting piece of research commissioned by CYBG, owner of, among others, Clydesdale Bank and Virgin Money, found that of 2000 bank customers surveyed, 81% felt that continued human contact was critically important.
Whilst a small sample group, it goes some way to show that human interaction in business will provide significant competitive edge. Hurrah!
Read more here.
Finland recently rolled out Europe’s first national government-backed experiment in giving citizens 'free cash' - and while it failed to encourage its participants to work more, as organisers had hoped, it did improve their wellbeing, making them happier and healthier.
Universal Basic Income – or UBI – has broad appeal politically, as it's seen as a route to cutting poverty and inequality, in addition to being a potential road to a leaner, less bureaucratic welfare system.
Has the experiment undermined the notion that paid employment is the cure to all ills? And is UBI likely to revolutionise the world of work? Read more here.
Despite a fall in smoking, drugs and antisocial behaviour, Generation Z teenagers face more mental health problems than previous generations, according to the latest research from the UK's Royal College of Psychiatrists.
The study serves as a wake-up call to the different pressures today’s teenagers are facing - and as more and more people from this generation start to enter the workforce, what are the issue we increasingly need to be tuning into, in order to better understand the challenges this cohort faces?
Discover more in Alex Matthews-King's article here.
"We live in a society obsessed with being exceptional. Whether it is as workers, parents, students, lovers or cooks, we are expected to be outstanding. We must strive to be the best employee, craft an outstanding body, have an amazing relationship, all while being exceptionally happy. Even the most ordinary institutions also are expected to be nothing less than excellent. Companies want to be 'world class', schools have become 'academies of excellence', and humble local GP surgeries strive to be 'outstanding”' Being good enough is seen as simply not good enough."
André Spicer is professor of organisational behaviour at the Cass Business School at City, University of London, and he argues that while striving for excellence can bring positive outcomes, it can also lead to negative ones - fuelling inequality and 'insecure achievers' among them.
So should we just settle on being 'good enough' in our ongoing quest for work/life fulfilment? Read his thoughts here.
Cal Newport is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University. His specialist area is how to maintain focus and remain productive in the digital age and his previous book Deep Work was a bestseller. In anticipation of his soon to be published latest book Digital Minimalism, Newport discusses the 21st Century epidemic of technology addiction.
"We're not properly valuing attention capital. We're not properly valuing how to get the right return out of human brains", he writes.
This is an essential read for anyone pondering the challenge of workplace productivity. Discover more here.
If you've ever been sat in an open plan office, unable to settle into your workload and wondering why everyone else things open work spaces are the best thing since sliced bread, then this article is for you.
It turns out that the trend for open plan offices was more of an accident than deliberate design and that they're far from everybody's cup of tea.
Read the full article here.
As we've thought all along, it turns out that workers and employees are more motivated by a sense of belonging within their workplaces than anything else, and that a strong sense of engagement enables organisations to weather downturns and recessions more successfully than others who merely pay it lip-service. Citing research from Gallup and referencing several case studies, this article provides compelling evidence for engagement and belonging as the essential organisational future-proofing ingredient. Go Team Human!
Read Sue Shellenbarger's article here.
"Unless you are suffering, unless you are grinding... You're not working hard enough," claimed Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian at a recent Web summit.
He went on to state that the glorification of long working hours, or 'hustle porn', has become a dangerous trend among tech workers that is putting people's mental and physical health at risk.
Read more about this trend here.
A recent study has found that a third of us say we are ‘coasting’ in our jobs.
"Perhaps coasters are not a drag on productivity. Maybe they have worked out that the secret to a productive and healthy life is not being too busy, and certainly not going on about how busy you are", ponders André Spicer in The Guardian.
Have these folks worked out the key to a good life? Read the article here.
The CBI, Britain’s biggest employer organisation, and the TUC, the UK's main trade union body, have expressed disquiet over the prospect of companies implanting staff with microchips to improve security, writes Julia Kollowe in The Guardian.
With UK firm BioTeq, which offers the implants to businesses and individuals, having already fitted 150 implants in the UK, is this a glimpse of a dystopian future that erodes an element of a worker's right to privacy?
Read her article here.
Might the four-day working week be the answer to Britain’s productivity shortfall?
"British people work some of the longest hours in Europe, but are among the least productive. Now some companies are shortening the working week to increase efficiency, health and happiness", writes Coco Kahn in The Guardian.
Read her article here.
"From Uber to TaskRabbit to YourMechanic, so-called gig work has been widely seen as ideal for people who want the flexibility and independence that traditional jobs don't offer. Yet the evidence is growing that over time, these jobs don't deliver the financial returns many expect..."
So, will the gig economy be reshaping the workforce to the extent that some claim?
Discover more here.
"People are increasingly diversifying their income sources. Contrary to prior generations, Slash Workers have shrugged the 'single profession, single employer' model in favor of building a portfolio of career opportunities for themselves.
Their happiness comes from the ability to switch gears often, try different professions, and apply and learn a broader skillset. In turn, this diversification gives them greater job security than their traditional 'one profession, one employer' counterparts. If one job breaks away, the traditional worker is out of a job, but the Slash Worker has multiple legs to stand on and therefore will likely have a smaller risk of unemployment."
Read more here.
The Fire Movement, founded by US blogger Peter Adenay, think they may have come across the magic formula.
Does the secret to never having to work again lie in a combination of diligent saving and an almost fanatical resistance to modern consumer culture: no debt, no needless or irrational spending? And does it work for everyone?
Discover more here.
9 October 2018: Robots in the workplace 'could create double the jobs they destroy'. World Economic report
The World Economic Forum report suggests new technologies have the capacity to both disrupt and create new ways of working
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), about 133m jobs globally could be created with the help of rapid technological advances in the workplace over the next decade, compared with 75m that could be displaced.
Read more here.
According to work-life guru Sheryl Sandberg, “Framing the issue of work-life balance – as if the two were dramatically opposed – practically ensures work will lose out. Who would ever choose work over life?”
Australian moral philosopher Matthew Beard of The Ethics Centre writes that the purpose of work-life balance is to help people to flourish, live happy lives outside of work and develop into well-rounded human beings – and that in order to achieve that, we need to let people be well-rounded at work too.
Read his article here.
13 September 2018: The Challenge of Scaling Soft Skills. MIT Sloan Management Review article by Lynda Gratton
As digital transformation gathers pace across all of business, we become increasingly aware that many of the tasks we held responsibility for in the past will, in the future, be undertaken by machine.
Future of Work expert Lynda Gratton takes a look at the hurdles that need to be overcome to develop en masse the soft, and deeply human, skills that computers aren't able to replicate and that will underpin career success in an increasingly digital and automated future.
Read her article here.
Jo Taylor has enjoyed a successful career in Talent Management, working for big brands including Talk Talk, Channel 4 and the BBC
As someone clearly in a position to know, Jo shines a light on what's not working in Talent Acquisition and Management and how organisations need to evolve and adapt to ensure continued access to the talent required for future commercial success.
Read her insights here.
1 September 2018: Thanks to AI, the need for humans to work for survival may soon be at an end. The Independent article by Gianmarco Raddi
The global workforce has been reduced by neoliberalism to an alienated, lonely precariat obsessed with hyperindividualism, a twisted modern spin on human creativity, argues Gianmarco Raddi, in this Independent Long Read:
"If we manage our technological development right, the 'Golden Age' of work needn’t be behind, but ahead of us. For this to happen, we might need to let work as we know it die and be reborn to reach its full potential. Then we will discover whether this 21st Century phoenix can truly bring about utopia."
Discover more here.
7 August 2018: Why you too will be working two jobs by 2030 (and probably loving it). The Independent article by Kate Hughes
As workplace and workforce shifts continue to challenge traditional employment models, The Independent's Money Editor, Kate Hughes, has written about the emerging trend for having two income streams in parallel - otherwise known as the rise of the 'side hustle'.
This goes deeper than a financial necessity and suggests we may be facing a future where having several chargeable projects running in parallel might become the new normal for some.
Read Kate's article here.
"Amazon employees sit in silence – while Tesla advocates walking out if you aren’t adding value. But how can you stop wasting your life in pointless meetings?"
Discover the new rules, as The Guardian writers Jenny Stevens and Phil Daoust provide an expert guide here.
6 August 2018: Employers are monitoring computers, toilet breaks – even emotions. Is your boss watching you? The Guardian article by Emine Saner
Ever get that feeling that someone's watching you?
As Emine Saner writes in The Guardian, "From microchip implants to wristband trackers and sensors that can detect fatigue and depression, new technology is enabling employers to watch staff in more and more intrusive ways. How worried should we be?"
Read about the implications of the emerging workplace monitoring landscape here.
Erik Larson (CEO and founder of Cloverpop, a software platform for communicating, tracking and improving workplace decisions) argues: "As people live longer and more productive lives, the range of ages in the workforce continues to expand. At the same time, the digital transformation of work is bringing new tools and systems to solve old problems and create new opportunities. It’s time to purposefully combine those two trends and unlock the power of multi-generational decision-making teams at work."
Read more here.
Technology is disrupting every industry and area of life, and work is no exception. One of the main career implications of the digital revolution is a shift in demand for human expertise. LinkedIn’s talent research shows that half of today’s most in-demand skills weren’t even on the list three years ago.
Consequently, there is now a premium on intellectual curiosity and learnability, the desire and ability to quickly grow and adapt one’s skill set to remain employable. Read about the implications of the morphing landscape here.
This study focuses on the risk of automation and its interaction with training and the use of skills at work. Building on the expert assessment carried out by Carl Frey and Michael Osborne in 2013, the paper estimates the risk of automation for individual jobs based on the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC).
The analysis improves on other international estimates of the individual risk of automation by using a more disaggregated occupational classification. Read more here.