Summary of “Not even remotely possible”

I’m talking about remote work, of course, a subject that provokes surprising vituperation whenever I write about it.
Consider: “We found massive, massive improvement in performance – a 13% improvement in performance from people working at home.” Consider companies like Automattic, Gitlab, InVision, and Zapier, all of which thrive as fully remote companies.
Over the same period, the proportion who only work remotely went to 20% from 15%. The biggest transition from office to remote work isn’t the geography; that’s incidental.
The biggest transition is the mode of communication, which goes from default-synchronous to default-asynchronous I certainly concede that certain forms of work, and certain people, benefit more from synchronous communications; but I put it to you that “Most kinds of software development” is not among them1, and that an ever-increasing fraction of the world’s work can be described as “Most kinds of software development.”
Remote work is not without its flaws and challenges.
Some people prefer a tight-knit work community to the broader but more loose-knit ones that remote work fosters, which is fair enough.
There are exceptions, the kinds of people who learn better from textbooks than from classes; but as a general rule, in my experience, remote work is for people who are already fairly capable and experienced.
Looking at the increasing numbers it seems awfully apparent that remote work is the future for a substantial fraction of the modern work force.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Let’s hear it for the four-hour working day”

How much proper brainwork – not zoning out in meetings, or reorganising the stationery cupboard, but work that involves really thinking – should you aim to get done in one day? It sounds like a trick question.
Plus there are so many kinds of white-collar work: why assume the same answer for lawyers, academics, investment bankers and engineers? But the answer isn’t some sophisticated version of: “It depends.” The answer is four hours.
That, anyway, is the persuasive conclusion reached by Alex Pang in his book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.
This column has evangelised before about the truth of that subtitle, what with the nine-to-five being a relic of the industrial revolution with no relevance to modern “Knowledge work” – but what’s so striking about Pang’s argument is its specificity.
Charles Darwin worked for two 90-minute periods in the morning, then an hour later on; the mathematician Henri Poincaré from 10am till noon then 5pm till 7pm; the same approximate stretch features in the daily routines of Thomas Jefferson, Alice Munro, John le Carré and many more.
The point isn’t that the world would be a lovelier place if nobody felt forced to work long hours, though that’s true.
Adam Smith had it figured out: “The man who works so moderately as to be able to work constantly not only preserves his health the longest but, in the course of the year, executes the greatest quantity of work.” And Leonard Woolf, describing his and Virginia’s work habits, testified to the vast power of “Little and often”: “It is surprising how much one can produce in a year, whether of buns or books or pots or pictures, if one works hard and professionally for” – wait for it – “Three and a half hours every day.”
Crunching numbers from Africa and Australia, he calculated the average number of hours hunter-gatherers must work per day, to keep everyone fed.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Tech’s Damaging Myth of the Loner Genius Nerd”

The stereotype of an eccentric genius who would rather work with machines than people was born, according to Nathan Ensmenger, a historian at Indiana University who studies the cultural history of the software industry.
“These are people who aren’t doing physical labor, aren’t playing professional sports. But they can express their masculinity by intense competition, playing pranks on one another, demonstrating their technical prowess, in ways that don’t translate well to mixed-gender environments.”
People who have done both say the skills are different, but equally challenging and valuable.
Edmond Lau runs an engineering coaching business with many clients like Google and Facebook called The Effective Engineer.
At Quip, a workplace productivity company where Mr. Lau is an engineering leader, he leads circles in which engineers talk about how to work together or ask for help.
The product wasn’t one that typical people needed, or wanted.
Some people in the industry say computer science students would benefit from more liberal arts courses.
That’s why the consequences of the Google memo could reach far beyond the particular case, influencing which young people choose to go into technology, and which products they make that affect every aspect of our lives.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Claude Shannon Rebooted Information”

Though the building’s live-in super and housekeeper, Freddy, thought Shannon morose and a bit of a loner, Shannon did befriend and date his neighbor Maria.
As he proudly recalled later, “We became friends and so I was the mid-wife for a lot of his theories. He would bounce them off me, you know, and so I understood information theory before it was ever published.” That might have been a mild boast on Oliver’s part, but given the few people Shannon let into even the periphery of his thinking, it was notable that Shannon talked with him about work at all.
Robert Fano, a later collaborator of Shannon, said, “He was not someone who would listen to other people about what to work on.” One mark of this, some observed, was how few of Shannon’s papers were coauthored.
Reading the work of Ralph Hartley, Shannon said, was “An important influence on my life.” Not simply on his research or his studies: Shannon spent much of his life working with the conceptual tools that Hartley built, and for the better part of his life, much of his public identity-“Claude Shannon, Father of Information Theory”-was bound up in having been the one who extended Hartley’s ideas far beyond what Hartley, or anyone, could have imagined.
In the 1939 letter in which Shannon first laid out the study of communications that he would complete nine years later, he used Nyquist’s “Intelligence.” By the time the work was finished, he used Hartley’s crisper term: “Information.” While an engineer like Shannon would not have needed the reminder, it was Hartley who made meaning’s irrelevance to information clearer than ever.
First Shannon saw that information science had still failed to pin down something crucial about information: its probabilistic nature.
In his theory of communication, Shannon guessed that the world’s wealth of English text could be cut in half with no loss of information: “When we write English, half of what we write is determined by the structure of the language and half is chosen freely.” Later on, his estimate of redundancy rose as high as 80 percent: Only one in five characters actually bear information.
To begin with, how fast can we send a message? It depends, Shannon showed, on how much redundancy we can wring out of it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to care about work less-but not do less of it”

We live in an age of “Total work.” It’s a term coined by the German philosopher Josef Pieper just after World War II-describing the process by which human beings are transformed into workers, and the entirety of life is then transformed into work.
Work becomes total when all of human life is centered around it; when everything else is not just subordinate to, but in the service of work.
The solution to our over-worked state isn’t to do less work; it’s to care less about it.
There are many ways to train yourself to care less about work.
The better option is to care less about work because we care more about other things.
To get started, we need to become less attached to our notions of work.
Once you’ve detached the notion of success from that of happiness, you need to work out how else to find that satisfaction-but without actually achieving anything.
Or we could insist upon working less without caring less about work.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Successful People Spend 10 Hours A Week On “Compound Time””

Each morning, Benjamin Franklin asked himself, “What good shall I do this day?” and each evening, “What good have I done today?” Steve Jobs stood at the mirror each day and asked, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do?” Both billionaire Jean Paul DeJoria and media maven Arianna Huffington takes a few minutes each morning to count their blessings.
Pulling from the results of more than a decade of experiments, nap researcher Sara Mednick of the University of California, San Diego, boldly states: “With naps of an hour to an hour and a half you get close to the same benefits in learning consolidation that you would from a full eight hour night’s sleep.” People who study in the morning do about 30% better on an evening test if they’ve had an hour-long nap than if they haven’t.
Winston Churchill spent several hours a day reading biographies, history, philosophy, and economics.
Theodore Roosevelt read one book a day when busy, and two to three a day when he had a free evening.
Hack #6: Success is a direct result of the number of experiments you performThere’s a reason that Jeff Bezos says, “Our success at Amazon is a function of how many experiments we do per year, per month, per week, per day.”
“Given a ten percent chance of a 100 times payoff, you should take that bet every time. But you’re still going to be wrong nine times out of ten. We all know that if you swing for the fences, you’re going to strike out a lot, but you’re also going to hit some home runs. The difference between baseball and business is that baseball has a truncated outcome distribution. When you swing, no matter how well you connect with the ball, the most runs you can get is four. In business, every once in awhile, when you step up to the plate, you can score 1,000 runs.”No matter how much you read and discuss, you’re still going to have to spend some time making your own mistakes.
Spend almost all of his time on compound time, things that create the most long-term value.
To get started, follow the 5-hour rule: for an hour a day, invest in compound time: take that nap, enjoy that walk, read that book, have that conversation.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Dishwashers are the unsung heroes of the restaurant world. One shift is all it takes to know why.”

Plenty of bandwidth has been lavished on the men and women who cook the food, pour the wine and otherwise pamper us in restaurants.
Scant attention has been paid to some of the lowest-paid workers with the most responsibility, the ones chefs say are the linchpins of the restaurant kitchen.
“You can’t have a successful service in a restaurant without a great dishwasher,” says Emeril Lagasse, the New Orleans-based chef and cookbook author with 14 restaurants across the country.
After years of performing tasks no one else wants to do – cleaning nasty messes, taking out trash, polishing Japanese wine glasses priced at $66 a stem – the unsung heroes of the kitchen might be finally getting their due.
The Gambian native helped Redzepi open the landmark restaurant in 2003.
In July, workers at the esteemed French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., one of master chef Thomas Keller’s 12 U.S. restaurants and bakeries, voted to give their most prestigious company honor, the Core Award, to a dishwasher: Jaimie Portillo, who says he has never missed a day of work in seven years.
The median annual wage for the 500,000 or so dishwashers in the United States is about $20,000, up only $4,000 or so from just over a decade ago.
A few restaurants, including the French Laundry, give cleaners the stature of sous chefs and extend titles that capture the broad range of responsibilities.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Work with Someone Who’s Always Stressed Out”

We all know people who seem to be constantly stressed out – who claim to be buried in work, overloaded with projects, and without a minute to spare.
How do you deal with coworkers who can’t handle stress? Should you address the issue directly? Or try other tactics to help them calm down and focus? And how can you protect yourself from their toxic emotions?
“Say something like, ‘I notice you were working late last night, and it wasn’t the first time. How are things going?'” Then, after your colleague recites the usual catalog of pressures, “Say, ‘That must be hard.’ It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. That’s how this person is feeling. Acknowledging it gives you both a chance to move beyond.” At the same time, Weeks says, you mustn’t “Enable” or agitate your colleague by making comments like, “I don’t know how you can you stand it! This company is working you to death!” That’s not helpful.
“Don’t add to their sense of being overwhelmed.” You might shorten your emails to the person, split your larger requests into several smaller steps, or encourage the idea of dividing work into manageable chunks.
“When someone is toxic and draining your energy, you sometimes have to figure out how you can get distance from that person or limit your interactions with them.” Of course, this isn’t always easy – particularly if you work in the same department and are assigned to the same projects.
Think about ways to reduce the person’s cognitive load by breaking work up into more-manageable chunks.
The colleague – we’ll call her Jenny – “Was so overwhelmed and stressed out by her work that her overall performance was really beginning to suffer,” recalls Karoli.
“Everyone could see how hard she was working. But I also saw the dark circles under her eyes, her jumpy mood, and her irritability.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Make Work More Meaningful for Your Team”

Money may lure people into jobs, but purpose, meaning, and the prospect of interesting and valuable work determines both their tenure and how hard they will work while they are on the job.
Research consistently shows that people experiencing meaningful work report better health, wellbeing, teamwork and engagement; they bounce back faster from setbacks and are more likely to view mistakes as learning opportunities rather than failures.
In other words, people at work are more likely to thrive and grow when they experience their job as meaningful.
Curious leaders help people find meaning at work by exploring, asking questions, and engaging people in ideas about the future.
In a way, curious leaders help employees find something meaningful by providing a wider range of possibilities for how work gets done, as opposed to being very prescriptive and micromanage people.
Curious leaders are also more likely to get bored and detest monotony, so they will always be looking for people to come up with new ideas to make their own experience of work more interesting.
As a result employees feel a sense of progress, reinvention, and growth, which in turn results in a more meaningful and positive work experience.
In stark contrast, leaders who know how to trust people are more likely to give them room to experiment and grow.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Podcasts are getting better faster than audiobooks are getting cheaper”

Yet compared to the podcasts I’m used to, the audiobooks I’ve been sampling can feel woefully underproduced.
Consider the podcast, audiobooks’ younger cousin.
Slickly produced audiobooks do exist – including on Audible, which funds a variety of original long- and short-form works.
Yet you’ll pay dearly for the privilege: it’s not unusual for a single audiobook to cost $30 or more.
In podcasts and audiobooks, the reverse is true: the most popular free stuff all sounds expensive, and the most popular expensive stuff mostly sounds cheap.
On one hand, high-end production for audiobooks would cut into publishers’ already-thin profit margins.
Times are changing, and audiobooks have been slow to change with them.
Audiobooks have the potential to be a thrilling format in their own right – here’s hoping publishers embrace it.

The orginal article.