Summary of “Working from home surveillance software for your boss”

In the weeks since social distancing lockdowns abruptly scattered the American workforce, businesses across the country have scrambled to find ways to keep their employees in line, packing their social calendars and tracking their productivity to ensure they’re telling the truth about working from home.
Thousands of companies now use monitoring software to record employees’ Web browsing and active work hours, dispatching the kinds of tools built for corporate offices into workers’ phones, computers and homes.
Many employees are probably working longer and more sporadic hours than ever before: NordVPN Teams, which runs virtual private networks for businesses, said in March it had seen working time in the United States climb from eight to 11 hours a day since the stay-at-home orders began.
Several companies allow managers to regularly capture images of workers’ screens and list employees by who is actively working and their hours worked over the previous seven days.
One system, InterGuard, can be installed in a hidden way on workers’ computers and creates a minute-by-minute timeline of every app and website they view, categorizing each as “Productive” or “Unproductive” and ranking workers by their “Productivity score.” The system alerts managers if workers do or say something suspicious: In a demo of the software shown to The Post, the words “Job,” “Client” and “File” were all flagged, just in case employees were looking elsewhere for work.
Pragli executives argue that emails and Slack messages, the traditional lifeblood of office communication, are socially unfulfilling: efficient but soulless, and powerless to combat the distractions and loneliness of working from home.
Pragli’s system measures employees’ keyboard and mouse usage to assess whether they’re actively working – any more than 15 seconds can shift a worker from ‘active’ to ‘idle’ – and allows anyone to instantly start a video conversation by clicking on another person’s face, similar to swinging by their desk in a real-world office.
At the High Plains Journal, one woman working from home with four kids gave her Pragli avatar a shock of white hair.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Subtlety Is Overrated”

As a workplace advice columnist and someone who coaches managers, I hear from a lot of managers who are frustrated with an employee over some aspect of their work performance or behavior.
Over the years, I’ve learned to ask these frustrated managers, “Exactly what have you said to the person about this?” More often than not, it turns out that the manager has only hinted at the problem rather than being direct about it.
I’m a relatively new manager of a small team, and while I do have a lot of strengths as a manager, I’ve also discovered that I have no idea how to communicate directly.
A couple of times those issues ended up developing into a situation where I couldn’t let them slide anymore, and of course failing to address things earlier only made the conversation even more awkward.
The reason managers do this, of course, is that they want to be kind, and they feel unkind telling someone directly that they’re doing something wrong and need to change it.
You end up prioritizing your own comfort over the employee’s ability to clearly hear where they’re going wrong and what they need to change.
Managers need to consider clear, direct communication to be a fundamental, non-negotiable part of the job, even when it’s awkward and even when it’s hard.
There’s no way to manage effectively without getting comfortable with phrases like “I need you to change X” and “Y is a serious problem that could affect your ability to stay in your job.” Employees who aren’t meeting expectations deserve the opportunity to hear that message clearly and explicitly, so they don’t have to pick up on hints or read through layers of sugarcoating to figure out how to succeed in their jobs.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Real Mentorship Starts with Company Culture, Not Formal Programs”

Here is the problem: Mentoring programs typically rely on single mentor-mentee matches, pairings that by nature are quite formal and hierarchical, when all the evidence shows that many employees – especially women – prefer mentorships with a more reciprocal and mutual character.
What’s more, even the best mentoring programs are unlikely to achieve intended outcomes when the surrounding workplace is competitive and individualistic, and when senior members of the organization only engage in developing junior talent when pursued by a prospective mentee or “Voluntold” to participate in formal program.
Mentoring programs alone won’t sufficiently engage or develop your junior talent, especially if your culture doesn’t encourage mentoring on a regular basis.
Mentors-of-the-moment help to promote a mentoring culture where all members of the organization – especially those in the middle to upper ranks – seek opportunities in daily interactions to develop or grow junior colleagues and peers.
Creating a mentoring culture and enlisting a robust cadre of mentors-of-the-moment also leads to better retention, more loyalty and commitment among employees, stronger succession planning, more organic mentoring, and strengthening of resilient developmental networks or mentoring constellations in the workplace.
In her work on gender equity by design, Iris Bohnet offers three pillars to culture change with relevance to a mentoring culture.
Conduct anonymous polls of junior employees to find out how they feel about the culture and who among your mid-level and senior leaders is exhibiting the desired mentoring behaviors.
Growing a world-class mentoring culture demands more than a matching program.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why It’s So Hard to Change People’s Commuting Behavior”

American employees spend, on average, 200 hours a year commuting to work, and 3/4 of these commuters drive to work alone.
The airport wanted to understand whether they could shift employees’ commuting behavior from driving alone to more active modes like carpooling, taking public transit, biking, or walking.
We gathered data from the airport’s employee survey on commuting, and we interviewed dozens of employees about what would make them more likely to switch to more active and sustainable modes of commuting.
Overall, we found a whole set of interventions – many of which are used regularly in corporate settings – that failed to shift people’s commuting behavior.
More substantial cash and non-cash incentives could also be used to motivate riders to shift their commuting behavior from driving alone to taking public transit.
Change the default work arrangement: You can also change the norm by only letting employees park at work three out of five days per week, and/or allowing them to work from home or work from anywhere, so they commute to the office less often.
Because people are more likely to change their commuting behavior when they move or start a new job, or when there is a serious disruption that forces them to temporarily abandon their habits, these are the times when employers could try using behaviorally informed messaging and light-touch incentives.
If an organization wanted to rely solely on “Nudges,” perhaps it could try reaching out once new employees accept a job at the firm to encourage different commuting habits from the outset.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Our Favorite Management Tips from 2019”

‘Tis the season for “Best of” lists, so we looked back at our year in Management Tip of the Day newsletters to share some of our favorite quick and practical pieces of work advice.
If you work on a team where people can see one another’s calendars, timeboxing has the added benefit of showing people that the work will get done on time.
The biggest advantage of timeboxing might be that it gives you a feeling of control over your calendar – which can help you feel happier at work.
Set Healthy Standards of Work for Your TeamWhen employees feel constantly busy, so busy that they barely have time to breathe, it diminishes their creativity, drive, and job satisfaction.
Don’t send emails or other messages late at night – it signals that employees should be working at all hours.
Talk to employees about their workloads to get a fuller sense of what they’re working on.
Did everyone participate? Were people distracted? What worked well, and what didn’t? Use your reflections to keep improving for next time.
You could tell your team that their work is important, but how can you help individuals feel it firsthand? Think about ways to show people the impact of their jobs.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What the “Best Companies to Work For” Do Differently”

What makes a company culture great? To explore this question, my colleague, Bill Baker and I spent the last three years researching the best places to work in the United States.
To make our final list, these companies had to appear perennially on one or more of the “Best Companies to Work for Lists” in reputable business publications, such as Fortune and Inc., between 2014 and 2018.
While no one formula can capture the idiosyncrasies of these companies and the telling ways that they motivate employees, below are some common themes we found.
I could go on about the stories of benevolence we have heard from our sample companies: companies that give extra time off when employees need it; companies that pay medical bills to supplement a family’s insurance; companies that put a child of a deceased employee through college.
The companies we studied find ways to rejuvenate employees by helping them identify their “Calling,” or the area of work that provides them with the greatest fulfillment.
The best companies realize that personal affinities and deep social bonds are failsafe measures against team breakdowns and are essential for top team performance.
In a word, employees within our sample of companies have found a place where they can be their “Authentic” selves.
Practically speaking, the company’s founding brothers Tom and David Gardner, dispensed with the fool and instead infused their corporate creation with “Foolishness.” The Motley Fool, which has no dress code other than “To not wear anything that would embarrass your parents,” has also enshrined honesty as one of its core values – creating a work environment in which people feel comfortable expressing themselves not just physically, but verbally as well.

The orginal article.

Summary of “6 Signs Your Corporate Culture Is a Liability”

One in five employees report experiencing a cultural crisis – a significant incident indicative of troubling workplace attitudes and behaviors – in their organization in the last year or two.
What’s more, an even greater percentage of employees, 30%, expect to experience a cultural crisis – such as sexual harassment, gender discrimination, financial mismanagement, cheating of customers, inattention to safety, or poor behavior in the leadership ranks – in the next two years based on their perceptions of their employer’s behavior.
A global creative campaign along with targeted training helped demystify the reporting and investigations process, provided opportunities for employees to get to know their HR and legal colleagues, sought to make reporting violations a normal part of every employee’s job, and ultimately replaced employees’ fear with trust in the company and its commitment to integrity.
For these employees, a focus on culture would have made a significant difference: Nearly two-thirds indicated that they would have stayed if their employers had made an effort to fix unhealthy norms and behaviors.
We all know that employees take their cues from those in authority, which is why it’s not surprising that poor behavior at the top is also a predictor of cultural risk.
Our research shows that company values – which should provide a north star for employee behavior – often don’t exist, aren’t known, or aren’t enabled by systems and processes.
One-third of employees whose companies have values don’t feel confident explaining them, and employees can’t live what they don’t know.
With a deep network of employee culture ambassadors, an annual global values week and ongoing values-driven internal communications, the company has been able to keep its shared beliefs top of mind.

The orginal article.

Summary of “An Architect’s Defense of Open Plan Offices”

In 2018, a team of Harvard researchers set out to determine whether open plan offices help employees interact with each other.
Open plan offices have come under intense scrutiny, as studies link the design to poor acoustics and employee performance, but companies continue to build them, because they’re cost-effective, and they’re believed to foster communication and collaboration among employees.
The study attracted a lot of attention, in part because it was the first to objectively measure how workers communicate in an open plan design through microphones and electronic badges.
The study had an essential flaw: The extreme open plan offices they studied.
The study only tested how much collaboration happens in poorly designed and extreme open plan offices with absolutely no walls or partitions.
As we’ve found in our line of work, designing offices for various organizations and Fortune 500 companies, a thoughtful mix of open and closed spaces is key to any successful office design.
There’s a range of potential workspace designs between traditional offices and the totally open plan.
Plus a floor plan can reflect different teams and work functions, for example by organizing open workstations into neighborhoods.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Former Away employees describe a toxic work environment at the luggage company”

Like many of the executives at the popular direct-to-consumer luggage brand, she’d gone to an Ivy League college, worked at a popular startup, and honed an intense work ethic that set her apart from the pack.
“It’s about travel.” As the months went by and she got a closer glimpse at the growth and image-obsessed culture she started to feel like the mission was just a smokescreen to get employees to work harder and longer.
Away used the popular chat app Slack, which has the motto “Where work happens.” But of course, being a startup, a lot of other chatter happened there, too.
Employees were asked to work exceedingly long hours and limit their paid time off.
From the beginning, Korey and Rubio had banned direct messages on Slack for anything related to work.
As the holidays approached, the team had to work around the clock to keep up with customer demand.
The team pulled through – many worked from airports or snuck away from planned family outings – and got customer emails under control.
“I wanted to move closer to work so I could work more, but I couldn’t afford it,” she says.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Balancing the Company’s Needs and Employee Satisfaction”

Doing what is right for their company and doing what will make their employees happiest are not always mutually exclusive.
Further complicating the issue – employee engagement surveys aggregate feedback into large clusters, making it challenging for executives to weigh accurate data into their decisions.
“The ability to connect our own purpose to the mission sustains us. When you can zoom out and see how we are making a difference, that’s energizing in the face of the day-to-day challenges. While strategy will evolve, your culture and sense of purpose should be long-lasting. Culture paired with a purpose-driven mission allows your employees to use your company platform to realize their own aspirations and passions.”
While some of these benefits certainly improve the employee experience, they do little to up employee engagement, and therefore, happiness.
A dead-end job, or feeling like you are in one, is a significant source of employee unhappiness.
Solutions like skip-level meetings – where senior leaders meet with employees many levels below them – tend to exaggerate the problem.
Executives often hear about frustrations that they are unable to fix without disempowering or sidestepping the leaders between them and the employees with whom they are talking.
The junior employees leave feeling highly regarded by the company’s top leaders.

The orginal article.