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BBC Worklife 16-22-Jan-2021: The Best Plan For A Radical New Workday

6 Mins read

Episode: BBC Worklife 16-22-JAN-2021

Topic 1: What’s the best plan for a radical new workday.

Extract: Work as we know it will never be the same. Most knowledge workers have toiled away remotely for nearly a year. Some are eager to get back to the office, while others have high hopes of being able to stay at home.  Or have a new type of ‘hybrid’ work future – a mix of both office presence as well as some time remote.

“Many are finding that while working remotely they’ve been more efficient, not needing five full days to get their work done.”

image credit: Alamy

Working ‘3-2-2’: Some work and productivity experts are proposing that we blow up the notion of working five days or setting standard hours and workplaces altogether and go working 3-2-2. That is three days in the office, two days remote, and two days off. That’s the premise behind ‘3-2-2’, a new work-structure proposal from academics Lauren C Howe, Ashley Whillans, and Jochen I Menges.  

Four-day workweek: The concept of a four-day workweek isn’t new. The proposal has been around since the 1970s. Some companies have been toying with the idea, or even experimenting with it, in workplaces across the globe for a few years with mixed success. However you look at many elements of our daily lives, our worklife will never be quite the same going forward. To continue reading, click BBC Worklife 16-22-Jan-2021.

Topic 2: Can Brazil’s remote workers thrive outside big cities?

The challenge of remote work in developing nations.

Extract: The pandemic has led many to swap urban living for more rural environments. 

BBC Worklife 16-22-JAN-2021_worklifefeed_Can Brazil’s remote workers thrive outside big cities?
Gated communities like these are common in Brazil, but can overburden local infrastructure (image credit: Alamy)

Leonardo de Azevedo decided to move to the countryside with his wife and two small children in May. The family ended up in a rural area, Lumiar, near the city of Nova Friburgo. This is about 150km (93mi) from the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, where Azevedo works in the public prosecutor’s office. The idea was to get closer to nature, allow the children more freedom and seek greater security against the pandemic. 

But the region had no broadband internet, leaving him dependent on mobile internet that came with speed and data limits.

“The main thing is certainly infrastructure, and this can also mean features outside of IT reliability and speed. I would also see safety, mobility, housing, schooling, health care as major issues.”

Werner Eichhorst

And, when his son had an accident and had to go to A&E, “we found out that in Nova Friburgo no service accepted our health plan”; they were forced to travel back to Rio de Janeiro for treatment. To continue reading, click BBC Worklife 16-22-Jan-2021.

Topic 3: Why you’re more creative in coffee shops

Some of the most successful people in history have done their best work in coffee shops. These include Pablo PicassoJK RowlingSimone de Beauvoir, and Jean-Paul Sartre, and Bob Dylan. Whether they’re painters, singer-songwriters, philosophers, or writers, people across nations and centuries have tapped into their creativity working away at a table in a café.

BBC Worklife 16-22-JAN-2021_Worklifefeed_Why you’re more creative in coffee shops
Although working on your own in public seems comparable to working on your own at home, the environments are much different (Credit: Alamy)

There are many ways coffee shops trigger our creativity in a way offices and homes don’t. Research shows that the stimuli in these places make them effective environments to work; the combination of noise, casual crowds, and visual variety can give us just the right amount of distraction to help us be our sharpest and most creative. (So, no, it’s not just that double espresso.)

Some of us stick in our earbuds as soon as we sit down to work in a public setting. But scientists have known for years that background noise – a low-to-moderate level of ambient noise – can benefit our creative thinking. Also, that if you’re very slightly distracted from the task at hand by ambient stimuli, it boosts your abstract thinking ability, which can lead to more creative idea generation.

There’s also the fact that in a coffee shop, we’re surrounded by people who’ve come to do the same thing as us, which acts as a motivator. To continue reading, click BBC Worklife 16-22-Jan-2021.

Topic 4: Why it’s hard for people of colour to be themselves at work

Individuals of all stripes tend to conform to corporate culture – consciously or not – which, to generalise, is systemically white. Conforming may mean putting on a persona that’s more ‘compatible’ with the environment – more likable or relatable, and thus more likely to succeed. And this can lead to emotional exhaustion and burnout.

Why it's hard for people of colour to be themselves at work
Remote work has caused Renée Jarvis to worry about being “more presentable” on camera, which has changed her relationship with her natural appearance (image Credits: Alamy and Averi Gardner)

Many employees have had to navigate the challenges of the transition to remote work. But workers with marginalised identities bear the added burden of managing how their colleagues perceive their personal spaces, which have unavoidably entered into view.

In the past, a home may have been a refuge, where self-expression wasn’t compromised. But being on camera and at work has added a surprising element and challenge to that.

Renée Jarvis, a black, 26-year-old literary agent living in New York City has natural hair which, before the switch to remote work, she would often wear in braids or twists. But seeing herself on camera has made her relationship with her hair different. “For some reason, when I get on a Zoom call, I’m like, OK, let me put on a wig. Subconsciously, it’s for me to be like, ‘Let me be more presentable on this camera’.” At the office, Renée sometimes wore wigs simply because she liked to. But until now, she had never thought of them as a prerequisite for professionalism. To continue reading, click BBC Worklife 16-22-Jan-2021.

Topic 5: Why do we still distrust women leaders?

“Public perceptions regarding women’s ability to lead is a key driver of how much power they will have while in office.”

Wilson Center report 
BBC Worklife 16-22-JAN-2021_Why do we still distrust women leaders
American vice-president, Kamala Harris. Maia Sandu, Moldova’s first woman president. Angela Merkel’s, Germany Chancellorship. New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern. (Image credits: Alamy)

Though women are vaulting to power, a pernicious culture of distrust in women leaders endures. Leaders have had to battle sexist comments, even as they climb ranks or succeed on a global stage.

So, while women are receiving votes from the electorate, why are they not also receiving votes of confidence?

The Reykjavík Index assesses attitudes toward female leadership in the G7 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – as well as India, Kenya and Nigeria. Its most recent survey of more than 20,000 adults led to some surprising and disheartening results.

Only 38% of people in Japan were comfortable with the idea of a female head of government or a female CEO of a major company. In both Nigeria and Kenya, the scores (out of 100) were 62 for government and 56 for politics. The average G7 score for government and politics was higher, holding fairly steady over the last three years at 78.

Additionally, only 41% of people in Germany said they felt very comfortable with a woman being the head of government, in spite of Angela Merkel’s long-time chancellorship.

Gender Equality And The Change That is Required

The strong performance of women leaders doesn’t appear to have improved public beliefs about women’s leadership. While women’s leadership in the banking and finance sector is associated with more stability and higher financial returns, this sector remains imbalanced in terms of gender.

“One of the solutions to gender equality is to change not the image of women or men, but to change the image of the leadership roles.”

Alice Eagly

In the US, men whose first children are daughters are more likely to support female political candidates. “That’s what happened to me as well,” says Yoshikuni Ono, a political scientist at Waseda University in Tokyo. “I started to get more interested in gender issues once I had a daughter. She’s six years old, and now I’m concerned about her future.” To continue reading, click BBC Worklife 16-22-Jan-2021.

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Welcome to Worklife Feed articles and site-files indexing and adaptation series. BBC Worklife 16-22-JAN-2021


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