Favorable Conditions May Never Come
So, we have to seek knowledge while the conditions are unfavorable.
Quote of the Moment
We are always falling in love or quarreling, looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering, following public affairs. If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.
| C. S. Lewis
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Kim Parker, Juliana Menasce Horowitz, and Rachel Minkin of Pew Research Center have researched how COVID-19 Pandemic Continues To Reshape Work in America. The bottom line:
Roughly six in ten US knowledge workers ‘who say their jobs can mainly be done from home (59%) are working from home all or most of the time’.
83% of those workers were working offsite (‘teleworking’, in their formulation) prior to the Omicron variant’s spread: that’s 83% of 59%, or 49% of all knowledge workers.
That’s a decline from 71% in October 2020, but much higher than the 23% who worked offsite before Covid-19.
61% of workers who could be working at the office choose to work offsite, and 38% say
they’re working from home because their workplace is closed or unavailable to them. Earlier in the pandemic, just the opposite was true: 64% said they were working from home because their office was closed, and 36% said they were choosing to work from home.
And a trend that makes this situation sticky: 17% say they have relocated away from the commutable area hear their office, up from 9% in 2020.
Some pros and cons:
Most (64%) of those who are now working from home at least some of the time but rarely or never did before the pandemic say it’s easier now for them to balance work with their personal life. And many (44%) say working from home has made it easier for them to get their work done and meet deadlines, while very few (10%) say it’s been harder to do this. At the same time, 60% say they feel less connected to their co-workers now. Most (72%) say working from home hasn’t affected their ability to advance in their job.
More signs that we won’t be snapping back to the status quo ante:
Looking to the future, 60% of workers with jobs that can be done from home say when the coronavirus outbreak is over, if they have the choice, they’d like to work from home all or most of the time. This is up from 54% who said the same in 2020. Among those who are currently working from home all or most of the time, 78% say they’d like to continue to do so after the pandemic, up from 64% in 2020.
And relative to their perceptions about their employers’ measures for Covid-19 safety?
Most workers who are not working exclusively from home (77%) say they are at least somewhat satisfied with the measures their employer has put in place to protect them from coronavirus exposure, but only 36% say they are *very* satisfied.
I will be following up with additional slices from this report, such as the difference between Republicans and Democrats, and the demographic split between Black, Hispanic, and White workers, which are considerable.
Dane Jensen offers a practical and thoughtful working model for Sustaining Hope in Uncertain Times:
Shane Lopez, who has studied hope extensively both as an academic and as a senior scientist at Gallup, defines hope as “the belief that the future will be better than the present, coupled with the belief that you have the power to make it so.” It is this combination of optimism and personal agency that differentiates hope from its lesser cousins like bravado or wishful thinking. When we play the lottery, we are engaged in wishful thinking. When we draw up a business plan and take it to the bank for a loan we are in the domain of hope.
At all stages of life, hope produces immense benefits. Hopeful students have better academic outcomes, hopeful adults report greater life satisfaction, and hopeful seniors have significantly lower rates of mortality. And in my experience coaching leaders in organizations of all sizes, I’ve found that hopefulness is an essential trait of high performers.
Bringing discipline to hope starts with conscious work to imagine a better future, continues with planning that supports that future, and is made resilient through an ability to accept that, despite our best efforts, the future is both unknown and unknowable.
I suggest reading the whole piece, especially if you are having trouble finding hope in these trying times. But the overarching action:
When you can imagine a plausible future that is better than present, identify the pathway to that future and accept that things rarely go exactly according to plan, you will cultivate hope that is both useful and resilient.
What Stops People on Your Team from Leaving? wonders Sabina Nawaz, and who recommends ‘stay interviews’ to learn why:
A standard approach is to conduct exit interviews to understand why employees are resigning and devise a solution. But narrowing in on why people leave may extract a price: neglect of loyal and engaged employees who want to stay in the organization. Instead, managers should spend just as much time understanding why employees choose to remain in the company through “stay interviews.” These discussions involve asking key questions to your loyal employees that tackle common retention issues. These questions include: What’s your frame of mind today? Who do you feel connected to at work? What barriers can I remove for you? What new thing do you want to learn that will excite you and help you grow at work?
She focuses on the powerful attraction of having friend at work, citing Gallup research on that topic, and she recommends distilling that in stay interviews:
In your stay interview, ask, “Who do you feel connected to at work?” Based on their response, explore what you can do to help them deepen those connections, say, by assigning them to joint work or finding ways to create unexpected pairings. Perhaps people from different departments can work on a company-wide event, a cross-division initiative, or take part in virtual discussion groups. The glue that connects us to our colleagues also connects us to our companies. Finding ways for people to regularly connect socially and build relationships will extend their shelf life in the organization.
I’m not so sure about the ‘shelf life’ metaphor, but the takeaway line is this:
The glue that connects us to our colleagues also connects us to our companies.
Social Now is a conference with a very unique format that delivers actual learning, many actionable tips for organizations to implement, and long-lasting memories.
The topic for this edition is Enabling engaged, high-performing teams because organizations need to sustain engagement and create the right environment for teams to achieve their highest potential, no matter where they work.
Jordan Zakarin reports on a federal complaint brought against Starbucks for union-busting tactics:
Starbucks Workers United filed the new Unfair Labor Practices complaints with the NLRB on Tuesday on behalf of unionizing employees at two Starbucks locations in Santa Cruz [California]. They allege that Starbucks management has “interfered with, restrained, and coerced its employees” who are seeking to organize stores on Ocean Street and Mission Street. Workers at those stores filed for a union election on January 21st and 31st, respectively.
Starbucks, someday, is going to have to make up a lot of ill will with its workers.
Clive Thompson debunks The Myth That Most Americans Hate Their Job:
“No one wants to work” … except for the 80-percent-and-rising share of the prime-age workforce that is already working.
“Nobody’s happy” in their jobs … except for the majority of Americans, who consistently say they’re satisfied by their job.
And “hating work is having a moment” … except that the Great Resignation isn’t so much about people hating work as it is about them switching to a job they want more.
So what should we think, then?
Claiming that all jobs are inherently terrible is a distraction from the fact that some jobs truly are awful, and we should try to automate or otherwise erase them. People who want to change the world have to engage with reality as it exists. We should all want people to be at least somewhat satisfied with their job. Shouldn’t we reckon with the fact that most of them say they already are?
As a partial counter to Thompson’s boosterism, Kim Parker and Juliana Menasce Horowitz of the Pew Research Center (who have been very busy), offer up a report: Majority of workers who quit a job in 2021 cite low pay, no opportunities for advancement, feeling disrespected.
Of course, this is about the ones who left, and Thompson seems to have been focused on the ones that stayed, or who jumped for more money. The Pew folks are more granular than Thompson’s hammer-and-tongs assertions: