October 18, 2019
Making flippy floppy with the meaning of work
Great news! No, not the Brexit deal but the reports that the US has replaced the floppy disks it uses to store the information about its nuclear arsenal with something a bit less Nineties. If nothing else, a useful reminder that even the people responsible for a potential Armageddon might not be quite on board for the Fourth Industrial Revolution just yet, and are still coming to terms with the Third.
So, you have to wonder what the people hoarding floppy nuke disks in a dusty Pentagon locker might make of the current debates about where automation is taking us. A piece from the RSA argues yet again that we should calm down and develop some perspective on the impacts of automation.
This piece in the Harvard Business Review suggests that we must all be prepared to develop new skills all the time so we can jump immediately from whatever job we might have thought we were born to do. In particular we will have to focus on human traits such as empathy and relationships to stay relevant. If it’s not the bomb, then it’s love that will bring us together.
Don’t wait for leaders to help you learn what’s to come — there are plenty of ways to teach yourself about the technologies that will continue to define the future of work. Staying curious will help you stay ahead of the learning curve and allow you to have access to new opportunities in the evolving business world. Prioritizing your own continuous re-education not only gives you an edge in the world of today but assures your relevance in the world of tomorrow.
Even us hacks will need to keep an eye on our relevance, according to this article in The New Yorker.
One can imagine a kind of Joycean superauthor, capable of any style, turning out spine-tingling suspense novels, massively researched biographies, and nuanced analyses of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Humans would stop writing, or at least publishing, because all the readers would be captivated by the machines. What then?
What indeed? Many have tried to address this question, leaving themselves hostage to fortune including this piece from Herman Miller which canvasses the views of designers about the future of work, this from Peter Ankerstjerne which considers the past, present and future of FM and this on the office of the future from a Singapore based business publication.
As is often the case, many of the characteristics of this future office outlined in such articles are already apparent and some have been for many years, but in a world in which details of apocalyptic weaponry are still stored on floppy disks, it will all be news to somebody.
Wellbeing (wellness, whatever) always features heavily on these lists right now, as it does more generally in the media. And if you can bung in some stuff about Millennials, even better. According to this piece in The Guardian there is something in the idea that Millennials are more demanding about their expectations of work generally. It interviews Simon Sinek who argues that the combination of addiction to devices and coddled parenting have created a generation who ‘rock up in workplaces where the older generation don’t tell them they are special all the time and their self-esteem is diminished’.
The real story is that people who earn so much they don’t have to worry about money would like a gym in the office
Also, taking the road well-travelled is this news story from the Sydney Morning Herald which reports on a study that suggests Millennials are more interested in wellness perks than pay.
“Millennials are eschewing large pay packets in preference to having wellness facilities, flexible hours and training”, the author exclaims for anybody who has taken time to absorb more than the headline. Then when you get into the detail it turns out that the Millennials involved earn somewhere between $150,000 and $280,000. So, the real story is that people who earn so much they don’t have to worry about money would like a gym in the office.
The eternal truism that we need to take money off the table before we can focus on the stuff that really makes us well, happy and gives life its true meaning is repeated in this article in The Economist which reports on a meta-analysis of research into the subject. We’ve always known this kind of thing. Homer describes how, after a battle, Odysseus and his comrades dine before they mourn their fallen friends. And in this famous animation Dan Pink describes how money is no longer what motivates people once it matches their needs and expectations.
Escaping the trance
We often delude ourselves about what makes us happy and gives life meaning. The always wonderful, dotty Maria Popova shares her thoughts on a simple children’s book for grown ups which sets out to remind us that we must take responsibility for our own wellbeing and seek happiness in the present.
What emerges from Weill’s ethereal watercolors and enchanting words is a secular scripture, at once grounding and elevating — a gentle prod to awaken from the trance of our daily circumstances and live with openhearted immediacy
This is as true when we are in work as anywhere else. As Derek Clements-Croome puts it in this poetic look at the links between wellbeing, productivity and creativity.
Buildings should be a sanctuary not just as a place of security and protection from the weather but should also provide a multi-sensory experience for people and uplift their spirits. A walk through a forest is invigorating and healing due to the interaction of all the senses but we need to see that the indoor environment is stimulating too. This array of sensory impressions and the interplay between the senses has been referred to as the polyphony of the senses. Architecture is an extension of Nature into the person-made realm and provides the ground for perception, a basis from which people can learn to understand and enjoy the world.
Mark is the publisher of Workplace Insight, IN magazine, Works magazine and is the European Director of Work&Place journal. He has worked in the office design and management sector for over thirty years as a journalist, marketing professional, editor and consultant.