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Get back! The hybrid experiment finally begins
ALSO: humour at work / the WFH TikTokker you need to follow / BrewDog
Some good headlines over the last few days marking the next stage of the return to the office. If you’re not back in the office this week please be in no doubt that a newspaper editor somewhere wishes you were. (Here’s a bit of a rundown of which big firms did go back this week). The Mail on Sunday story was especially eye-catching, the Whitehall Blob sounds like a Bake Off disaster that’s been co-opted into the Marvel Universe. In fact, I *think* on reading it the Whitehall Blob is the civil service organisation (although social media did report some sightings). But similar themes were featured in an article in The Times on Saturday: ‘Complacent civil servants ordered to fill every desk’.
The strange thing is that while these headlines, placed in friendly newspapers by unattributable press briefings, seem to win a day’s headlines in the culture wars, they serve to enrage those who have been toiling away for the last two years. Seems to be a strange way to motivate your team (or the wider workforce who have a more balanced perspective).
(there are some very powerful replies to this one if you click through)
Adjacent to this is the neverending story of drink-ups at Downing Ten Street. There’s definitely a weariness about this saga, but not a day goes by without my friend Matt texting me his fury that workplace drinking is being unfairly pilloried amongst people who were toiling in stressful conditions. (‘Now he’s not even allowed a slice of Colin the Caterpillar on his birthday. He almost carked it a month before, let the bloke have some cake!’) Matt’s caution aside this political blog post really resonated with me.
It is not that there is a “drinking culture” at Number 10. It is that there is a leadership culture which relies on booze and parties.
While the post is about politics how many business cultures have run aground because of this in Covid? If your culture was working people hard then going to the pub, is it any wonder things have been tricky since 2020?
If you use TikTok you’ve probably seen some of Fred Asquith’s zeitgesty WFH content providing a relatable shared monologue inside many of us. If not, there’s some guaranteed laughs below.
Pick of Fred’s best:
I loved Humour Seriously. It is genuinely the best work book of 2021. They've just turned it into a fun TED Talk.
Remote work’s hidden impact for dyslexics: The Economist writes a celebration of the rising importance of written language in the era of remote work. Conversation expands discussion, while writing reduces a subject to its essence suggests one contributor to the piece. But of course the challenge is for the 15% of the population who are dyslexic… More written words makes work less accessible, so what’s the solution?
There's something suspicious about Ray Dalio. Dalio is author of Principles and founder of the world’s most successful hedge fund, Bridgewater. The brochure for Bridgewater says the the company’s success is off the back of radical transparency and a metrics driven approach. For example, employees can rate each other in every meeting. Dalio repeatedly tells the same story how someone once gave him a '4'. He’s used the Goldman Sachs technique of throwing PR money at becoming loved by influencers like workplace guru, Adam Grant. But the truth is inevitably not quite as he tries to present it, the company has what the FT describes as ‘exceptionally high’ employee turnover, a fact that the paper puts down to it becoming ‘a Real Housewives of LA kind of place’
Where does your firm sit on the hybrid scale - this site tries to spell it out so that everyone in a team feels clear.
The BBC show about the toxic culture at BrewDog is a disturbing view - but highly recommended
Two outstanding conversations trying to make sense of what is happening around work. Firstly I chat to Brian Elliott who leads the Future Forum, a future of work group led by Slack. they released a new report surveying workers in the UK, US and other major countries. Here are the topline findings - but the conversation goes way beyond this.
UK knowledge workers are most likely to say they want flexibility in where they work (81%)
60% of UK knowledge workers are more open to changing jobs in the next year
69% UK knowledge workers say they want to work hybrid - 58% are currently doing so
Then I speak to one of the most respected thought leaders in making sense of the future of work, Julia Hobsbawm, she chairs the Workshift Commission for the think tank Demos. Her new book, The Nowhere Office is a confident reflection about how we can tackle the future - it’s out for pre-order now.
The Zenway Code: A couple of years ago my sister sent me a YouTube channel that was the purest thing I’d ever seen - the dashcam of a chill driver calmly taking in London. Only three episodes ever appeared. It’s now a BBC show. Incredibly calming viewing (apart from the crazy scooterboy interaction at the end).