“Email is relentless. There’s no break. You’re on this treadmill. You’re trying to stay on top of your email, which really means staying on top of the tasks that you’re being asked to do on email, but then you keep getting more and more email which represents more and more tasks.”
If the idea of networking makes you nauseous, you’re not alone—and science backs up your disgust.
According to research out of the University of Toronto, professional networking feels icky for good reason. Relationships formed based on a career need, rather than for sincere friendship, trigger our moral disgust—linked, in turn, to physical feelings of uncleanliness. The researchers theorized that this visceral reaction makes us network less frequently, and less effectively.
Insights from the time-diaries collected from Americans over the past 11 years show we’re shifting in our priorities.
If you can’t catch a breath during the frantic daily grind, don’t blame it on not having any free time.
Americans actually have more leisure time, are less rushed, less stressed, and sleep much more than we think we do. According to sociologist John Robinson, or better known as “Father Time” to his colleagues, most people have around 40 hours of free time per week.
Robinson, a professor at the University of Maryland and director of the Americans’ Use of Time Project, has been studying how people spend their time for more than 50 years. In 1972, he became one of the first social scientists to collect detailed time diaries of people all over the country. According to his massive studies and research, Robinson tells Fast Company that modern Americans only merely feel like we are working more hours and we also tend to exaggerate about our work hours since the actual hours on the job have been decreasing steadily for the past 40 years.
If this is the case, then why don’t we feel like we have more time and what exactly are we spending our time on? Below Robinson gives us the major findings from decades of time-use and social attitudes research:
Google does it. So does Facebook and Twitter. Are free snacks and drinks making our workplaces better—or more fattening?
A couple of centuries ago, women were taught the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach. In today’s world this dating advice seems overtly old-fashioned, but the theory could partially hold true for companies wanting to retain employees.
According to a recent WorkSphere survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the staffing agency Spherion, if you want a happy worker, then feed them. Around 30% of respondents said the availability of food throughout the day contributes to their workplace happiness.
Whether you offer free cookies in the break room, doughnuts at meetings, or—following the lead of Google, Facebook, and Twitter—provide full-blown meals prepared by a company chef, smart companies should give the idea some thought, but understand that free food doesn’t necessarily equal a more productive staff. It’s more complicated than that, say experts.
“With examples like Google, we’re constantly reminded of the chicken-or-the-egg dilemma,” says Frank Bosco, assistant professor of management in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business in Richmond, Virginia. “That is—is Google successful because they offer all sorts of perks, resulting in better-performing employees? Or, do they offer free food because they’ve been so successful over the years?”
The days of control and conformity are over, and it’s within our power to bring today’s workplace up to speed. All it takes is some guts.
A young man dives from a 30-foot cliff over a waterfall inside Casa Bonita, a Mexican-themed “entertainment” restaurant in Denver, Colo. That’s his job; he dives again and again for the enjoyment of dining patrons. Between dives he admits, “I have yet to have a day where I don’t want to go to work.”
Most people aren’t that lucky or brave. We don’t often get to practice our craft again and again, let alone get cheered on to dive in or climb back up. Doing it every day doesn’t mean it doesn’t require courage, that it’s not hard, or that there aren’t risks; there are just more reasons to keep doing it in spite of the what-ifs.
Leadership, in large part, requires jumping in head first, lapping back and forth, occasionally leading a pack, but often leaping alone, usually in a race against the next guy. But for all the talk of collaboration and big ideas, new business practices, and social reach, most work hasn’t changed much.
Fundamental people practices in modern companies were forged in an era when control and conformity were thought useful. Today, we know they stifle creativity and customer focus at a time when companies fail on less.
As we seek options for ourselves, we don’t always think to remind people there are collective options to elevate us as a species. As Diana Korte, a women’s health advocate, once wrote, “If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.”
Our digital world accelerates change and gives us an opportunity to be more of who we are. With almost unlimited access to information, we also have a greater understanding that the world needs our help. We expect twists and turns in our journey, but where we are today shouldn’t suck.
It’s time for work to change. Here are four ways leaders can push work forward.
If you’re like most Americans, you suffer from the physical, emotional, and mental epidemic that the scientific community calls “sitting disease.”
But unlike many other illnesses that require a team of doctors, the cure is in our own hands—or feet, rather—and all we have to do is take a walk.
Last week we challenged readers, and ourselves, to restore some energy, focus, and creativity by taking either a 20-minute lunchtime walk or two 15-minute mid-morning and mid-afternoon walks each day.
For years, offices have been filled with the fresh-faced younger generation who fill the entry-level desks, the established middle who fill the management roles and the older senior executives who are near retirement. But as tech-savvy millennials enter the workforce causing Gen-X-ers and baby boomers to step out of their comfort zones, talk of the generational divide is everywhere.
“It’s a horrible irony that at the very moment the world has become more complex, we’re encouraging our young people to be highly specialized in one task.”
Designer, developer, data scientist are all predicted to be in-demand jobs in the coming year. How to land one? Not the way you think.
The bad news: Our brains are wired to be negative. The good news: Happiness doesn’t mean you have to be naive, just think realistically.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could hack into our own brains and rewire them to be happier?
Science has shown we actually can thanks to a phenomenon called experience-dependent neuroplasticity. “It’s a fancy term to say the brain learns from our experiences,” says Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of the bookHardwiring Happiness. “As we understand better and better how this brain works, it gives us more power to change our mind for the better.”
Hanson assures he isn’t just talking new-age mumbo jumbo. “This is not just ‘smell the roses,’” he says. “I am talking about positive neuroplasticity. I am talking about learning. … The brain is changing based on what flows through it.”
Understanding how our brains function can help us better control them. Here are some key takeaways from Hanson on how our brains work when it comes to wiring for happiness:
Sometimes a good diversion is exactly what you need to get back on track.
“In some ways distractions are a form of mindfulness—being mindful of your environment and noticing more new things. Being open to them allows for the ability to take bits of information and combine them in novel ways that are useful or adaptive.”
If you want to boost your productivity, focus, creativity, or sanity, you need to leave your desk and take a walk.
Looking for some creative inspiration? Scientists at Stanford suggest going for a walk—whether indoors or outdoors, in a green space or on a treadmill—to give your creativity a boost. Compared to sitting, they found any form of walking could increase creative thinking by about 60%.
"We’re not saying walking can turn you into Michelangelo," said researcher Marily Oppezzo. "But it could help you at the beginning stages of creativity."
This week we battled with our brains and willpower while giving up on work-life balance.
Sometimes it seems like much of work life is spent trying to find a balance that is always just out of reach: coming up with great ideas, and having the willpower to follow through, staying both productive and healthy, networking without being annoying.
While we can’t solve all of you problems, we explored ways to bring a little more balance into your work life this week.
Here are the stories you loved in Leadership, for the week of August 18.
Grounded leaders are able to do away with traditional leadership stereotypes based in gender roles.
We’re all familiar with the phrase “men are from Mars and women are from Venus.” In the business world, this has had unfortunate consequences for male and female leaders.
Male leaders were typecast as dominant competitors who played politics inside hierarchies and were great at leading with power, while female leaders were expected to understand connection and communication and lead people and teams better.
With this lens, the business world developed a whole theory of preconceived notions and biases about what to expect from men and women leaders. And like most assumptions, these supposed differences took on a life of their own. Over time, we became experts at typecasting people and, ultimately, shackling men and women to these stereotypes.
It’s time to put an end to this preoccupation with gender differences. It represents an old way of thinking and does a real disservice to both men and women.
As the latest marketable, targetable demographic, they’re easy to stereotype. But that doesn’t mean they should be.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably consumed more than your fair share of media reports, research, and write-ups aimed at deciphering the millennial mindset.
As marketers and advertisers, we may once again be guilty of overanalyzing the heck out of any and all available data points, the goal being to put everything into neat buckets for our paying clients and prospects.
In our industry, so many thoughtful insights have been published that it’s reasonable to think we’re dangerously close to, once and for all, cracking the code on this elusive species, right? Maybe not.
Recently, ad agency Pinta commissioned a research team of graduate business school students—all millennials—from Florida International University to do some cultural detective work, scour through third-party research on the popular segment, and conduct some of their own proprietary research.