A Public World Online

We are bounded by belonging

2021–01–06 Beacon NY | A mention on Twitter led me back to a thread from early in the century, as the term ‘publicy’ seems to be resurfacing.

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Quote of the Day

The mass effect of a public world online is not freedom and self-expression, but a subtle, atmospheric repression and self-censorship, when we each internalize the limits and limitations allowed by the groups in which we share ourselves.

| Stowe Boyd, Publicy and Panopticon

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Minimum Office

24 Big Ideas that will change our world in 2021 | Scott Olster talked to a bunch of interesting people, like Ashley Whillans, about 2021:

For many workers, the 9-to-5 will become a 3–2–2

Business leaders are being forced to rethink how their companies will work in a post-pandemic world. One of the biggest questions they will face? Where — and when — employees can work.

By the time it’s safe to return to the office, many workers will have spent a year or more working from home. And many are enjoying the extra time and flexibility. Companies may let employees work from home two or more days per week, with some opting for three days in office, two days remote and then two days off — a 3–2–2 work week, if you will — according to Ashley Whillans, a professor at Harvard Business School. Some employers may even cut down to a four-day work week altogether.

“Employees will demand greater flexibility and organizations will require it,” Whillans said. “What this flexibility will look like will vary depending on the sector and geographic location. But, hopefully, if we do this right, gridlock morning commutes will be a thing of the past.”

Recent data from LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index shows roughly half (47%) of U.S. professionals believe their companies will allow them to be — at least partially — remote after the coronavirus pandemic wanes. That percentage is even higher among certain industries which see flex work as the future, including tech (73%), finance (67%) and media (59%).

Is Remote Work Here to Stay? | Livecareer survey results:

Researchers at LiveCareer surveyed 1,000+ Americans to find out how remote employees feel about telecommuting nearly a year in, whether they want to return to the office or continue to stay in a remote capacity for good.

Below are some of the key findings:

| A whopping 29% of working professionals will quit their job if not allowed to continue working remotely with their current employer. Another 62% of employees will prefer employers that offer WFH in the future.

| A full 81% of working professionals enjoy working remotely, with 65% stating that remote work has positively affected their work-life balance.

| The biggest WFH challenges include home distractions (59%)staying motivated (45%), and communication (37%).

| As many as 50% of remote staff agree (35%) or strongly agree (15%) with the following statement: “I don’t get as much feedback now compared to when I worked onsite.”

| A pay raise is the only perk that might help win telecommuters back [to the office].

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Equal Pay

Better-Managed Companies Pay Employees More Equally | Nicholas Bloom (with Scott Ohlmacher, Cristina Tello-Trillo, and Melanie Wallskog) prove a hypothesis: Companies that implement more structured management practices pay their employees more equally.

We found that companies that reported more structured management practices according to the MOPS [the Management and Organizational Practices Survey] paid their employees more equally, as measured by the difference between pay for workers at the 90th (top) and 10th (bottom) percentiles within each firm.

But all may not be as rosy as it seems. The authors admit that don’t know, at this point, what is going on. While they suggest that this effect could be the result of a/ better-managed companies — that generally make more profits — may be sharing more of those profits with employees, or b/better-managed companies may be more efficient because of higher-skilled workers whose pay reflects that higher efficiency. However, there is alternative c/ where the better-managed companies may have outsourced non-core work:

It could be that firms with more structured practices are more focused on specific tasks and rely more on outsourcing. More and more companies are outsourcing tasks like cleaning, catering, security, and transport. If outsourcing is more common for firms that use more structured practices, workers performing tasks outside of the companies’ core tasks would no longer be on those companies’ direct payrolls. If the jobs that are outsourced are lower-paying than the jobs that are held by employees, the companies’ pay data will become more equal.

I’m betting on c/, although I wish it were a/ or b/.

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Demographics

How Companies Can Meet the Needs of a Changing Workforce | Avivah Wittenberg-Cox is taking the long view on taking the long view:

The modern workplace is currently experiencing two intertwined trends: rising life expectancies have extended career trajectories by decades, while improvements in gender equality have led more women to enter the workforce than ever before. What will it take for companies to keep up with these demographic shifts? In this piece, the author offers a three-step plan for companies looking to adapt and support emerging career paths: First, build awareness within the organization around your current situation (and areas for improvement) by tracking both gender and age balance. Second, normalize flexible career path options, such as sabbaticals, parental leaves, and other detours from traditional full-time employment. Finally, make sure that internal and external communications reflect a mindset that recognizes and encourages these options. Ultimately, everyone benefits from greater flexibility and diversity in the workplace — but it’s up to today’s business leaders to ensure we build a work environment that is supportive of these new realities.

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From the Archives

This is dated 2019–03–07 in my journal: I am struck by how dated it seems, in light of 2020.

Goldman Sachs’ new “flexible” dress code is not as easygoing as it sounds | Natasha Frost unpacks a new dress code, but one that is vague:

The email from CEO David Solomon, CFO Stephen Scherr, and COO John Waldron instructed employees to dress “in a manner that is consistent” with clients’ expectations.“

Of course, casual dress is not appropriate every day and for every interaction and we trust you will consistently exercise good judgment in this regard,” it concludes. “All of us know what is and is not appropriate for the workplace.”

The shift follows in the footsteps of GM’s celebrated two-word dress code: “Dress appropriately.” But while these open-minded approaches may sound intuitive, they come with downsides.

I thought this comment by Alex Ossola on the Quartz app was dead on:

Saying “dress appropriately” is deeply classist because it assumes that everyone has the same education and upbringing to interpret what that means. I’m totally on board with the conversation the writer suggests that managers have with new hires to connect vague written expectations with the subtler, unspoken ones.

I wrote about the GM code in Yes, I’m a Deletist:

On one hand, I like the simplicity of General Motor’s new dress code — ‘Dress Appropriately’ — but I think it is too vague to actually help people make decisions.

[…]

Basically companies need to say, explicitly, what goes. Must men wear dress collared shirts and ties, or not? Are leggings ‘appropriate’? Shorts? If women can wear open-toed shoes can men wear sandals? Are sneakers and jeans good enough, or not enough?

If I was leader of a company I would create a style book that set the standard for the company, showing that, for example, torn jeans and T shirts with obscenities were out, but high heels and three piece suits were not required.

What Barra is up to is sneaky. She’s wants the cultural foundation to answer questions that need to be made explicit, and perhaps even negotiated or regulated, rather than pretending it’s all obvious.