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Would you relocate for a job? How about for a friend?
ALSO: two-thirds of CEOs say we’ll end up in the office for 5 days a week
Does your life revolve around your job or around your relationships. It’s worth asking yourself a simple thought experiment: would you move house for a friendship? How about for a job?
Most of us would probably say no to the former, but yes to the latter. But the evidence suggests that our happiness levels wouldn’t agree.
Reflecting on these themes is a new Netflix show ‘Live to 100, Secrets of the Blue Zones’. (It’s very much TV to cook to rather than to sit down and indulge in on a Saturday night, but highly recommended). The secret to longevity (and happiness) according to the show is social connection.
It’s probable that when making the relocation decision we would evaluate it in financial terms. We’ve all got bills to pay and student loans to pay off - money matters. However, the objective measure of value of money does help us make decisions - it’s hard to argue with a choice that nets us 20% more cash.
But how about we tried to bring some of that objectivity to the other side of the discussion. In response I offer you the work of an economist, who set about turning the benefits of friendship into financial equivalents:
‘When economists put a price tag on our relationships, we get a concrete sense of just how valuable our social connections are—and how devastating it is when they are broken. If you volunteer at least once a week, the increase to your happiness is like moving from a yearly income of $20,000 to $75,000. If you have a friend that you see on most days, it’s like earning $100,000 more each year. Simply seeing your neighbours on a regular basis gets you $60,000 a year more. On the other hand, when you break a critical social tie— [like getting divorced] —it’s like suffering a $90,000 per year decrease in your income.’
If we were to re-evaluate our lives in this way, one consequence might be that we rethink one element of modern living that we often overlook: the idea that we should maybe make more effort to live near our friends.
Most of us who live in big cities become used to the necessity of setting up home where we can afford, rather than where we choose.
Layers upon layers of compromise push us further out, and further away from people we have connections with. But maybe we’ve got this completely out of line:
Societally there’s very limited consideration for this. Telling someone you are moving for work is less likely to be regarded critically than suggesting you’re moving to be near a non-romantic friend.
Of course not this would matter if we felt able to make new friends easily. Ok, you might say, I can’t live near my old friends but I’ll set about making new ones. It’s not quite that easy. A fifth of adults haven’t made a new friend in the last 5 years. This is a nut we don’t find it easy to crack.
Last year Eat Sleep Work Repeat featured a discussion with Max Dickins. Max’s book Billy No Mates addresses the issue that men over the age of 40 tend to only have one friend in the world. Moving home for work is unlikely to be accompanied by meeting dozens of new friends.
As we come to the end of the year a lot of us spend time reflecting on our jobs. Maybe asking ourselves where we’re going in our careers. How can we be happier and more successful we ask? Maybe we’re looking for happiness in completely the wrong place.
Two-thirds of CEOs think it’s just a matter of time before we’re back in the office 5 days a week (there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence to back this hunch up, WFH days are pretty static)
On that subject this is a fun rant:
‘the main reason people don’t want to go back to the office is they’re realising what a con it is. Not being there exposes how much of their time and energy is being stolen and profited from, how little agency they have, how underappreciated they are’
One in three Brits has quit their job because of a bad boss - no surprise because 82% of new managers in the UK have been given zero training on how to manage people
The accusation of ‘shirking from home’ is gendered. In simulation games working mothers are more likely to be suspected of not pulling their weight than men or childless women…
…this is timely, this week Claudia Goldin won the Nobel Prize in economics for her work showing that the gender pay gap comes when women seek jobs with more flexibility so they can take care of household responsibilities
I found this article in one of my open tabs this week, ‘staff layoffs don’t improve company performance but are deeply harmful to employee wellbeing’
High interest rates are likely to see more inter-generational conflict (very probably played out in the workplace) says the former governor of the Bank of England
A reader of the newsletter was interviewed for a prestigious job recently, he was told by the recruiter that a smart approach might be to prepare answers for these behavioural interview questions - sure enough it paid off
‘The phrase mental health can mean everything from extreme delusional psychosis to not having a fun day at your office job’ - comedian Ed Night
I really like the team behind the EX Space, a learning community serving Employee Experience specialists inside progressive organisations. Whether you’re in Employee Experience, or just have a keen interest in the area its worth checking out their growing library of content.
I’ve offered to do a free webinar for EX Space on 6th November 2023 3pm UK time.
The session is called ‘Rethink, Refresh, Reignite: Finding our way back to enjoying our jobs in the hybrid era’. It’s a totally new bit of work reflecting on the moment we’re in at work, and how any of us can find joy in our jobs again.
This week we go deep on bosses wanting a return to the office, the gendered nature of WFH criticism and what ‘coffee badging’ is.
BTW, in this week’s podcast I mention research that suggests that 80% (!) of remote workers have done two jobs at once. I was sceptical. This (more trustworthy) research from Nick Bloom discounts that stat.