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The Daily Grind

“Rethinking the Office…” The NYT Magazine

by Gail Rafter Meneley, Co-Founder and Principal

GailI love Sundays…curling up with the Sunday New York Times and stumbling across information that I neither sought nor cared about until that moment.  It is the serendipity of discovery that makes it so compelling.  (OK, I confess.  I worry that online delivery of information doesn’t allow stumbling.)

The New York Times Magazine yesterday was devoted to “Worklife” and delved into all aspects of our lives.  The first article, Group Study, examined what makes teams work productively and what gets in the way.  Not surprisingly, it was Google’s team that dug through a half century of research, didn’t find a definitive answer, but kept pushing the boundaries.  You’ll be intrigued by what they found.

The next topic was Meetings.  (OK. I see your face and it looks a great deal like Edvard Munch’s Scream painting.)  There are so many theories about the what, when and how of meetings, and a general conclusion that they are a waste of time.  Why is that? This article examines how to balance “asynchronous and synchronous communication” (stick with me here) that may be an approach to creating productive virtual teams.

The next article was Diversity.  (Interesting that this was published the same day that Chris Rock was rocking the house with his focus on the lack of diversity among Academy Award nominees.)  The radical solution for preventing unconscious bias involves anonymity.  Rather than showing names and other biographical information, companies create a list of skills required for the job and the candidate completes a relevant test online.  Applicants’ scores drive the follow up interview.

Other articles deal with how companies are finding a professional path for low skilled workers; the culture that integrates full lives to reduce stress and improve health; what “lunch” is all about; and what office jobs will remain when people are replaced by software.

This is a cover to cover read, each article more interesting than the next, questioning how you are rethinking the office of the future.  Serendipity at its best.

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