Happiness At Work #114 ~ signs the times are changing

Earlier this month, in his role as guest editor for The New Statesman, Grayson Perry wrote a superb article deconstructing the default of white male hierarchical leadership (see below).  We are increasingly reading that the times they are changing and forces are converging that will spell the end of this old and increasingly outmoded form of leadership as more and more women fill senior leadership roles and the complexity of problems we have to solve demand an approach and set of behaviours that are less command-and-control and much more actively listening, collaboration, quieter social and cultural intelligent empathy and relationshipcentric.

So this week we are highlighting recent stories that seem to signal new trends in our work and lives significant enough to suggest fundamental change to how we think about  ourselves and our day-today lives.  Several of these draw from and seem to rewrite past thinking, while others point up new knowledge and trends that offer light along the path to the future we are ineluctably forging for ourselves.

Here is an edited version of Grayson Perry’s challenge to the old status quo, and why be believes things may be changing…

Grayson Perry: The rise and fall of Default Man

How did the straight, white, middle-class Default Man take control of our society – and how can he be dethroned?

Paddle your canoe up the River Thames and you will come round the bend and see a forest of huge totems jutting into the sky. Great shiny monoliths in various phallic shapes, they are the wondrous cultural artefacts of a remarkable tribe. We all know someone from this powerful tribe but we very rarely, if ever, ascribe their power to the fact that they have a particular tribal identity.

They dominate the upper echelons of our society, imposing, unconsciously or otherwise, their values and preferences on the rest of the population. With their colourful textile phalluses hanging round their necks, they make up an overwhelming majority in government, in boardrooms and also in the media.

They are, of course, white, middle-class, heterosexual men, usually middle-aged. And every component of that description has historically played a part in making this tribe a group that punches far, far above its weight. I have struggled to find a name for this identity that will trip off the tongue, or that doesn’t clutter the page with unpronounceable acronyms such as WMCMAHM. “The White Blob” was a strong contender but in the end I opted to call him Default Man. I like the word “default”, for not only does it mean “the result of not making an active choice”, but two of its synonyms are “failure to pay” and “evasion”, which seems incredibly appropriate, considering the group I wish to talk about.

Today, in politically correct 21st-century Britain, you might think things would have changed but somehow the Great White Male has thrived and continues to colonise the high-status, high-earning, high-power roles (93 per cent of executive directors in the UK are white men; 77 per cent of parliament is male). The Great White Male’s combination of good education, manners, charm, confidence and sexual attractiveness (or “money”, as I like to call it) means he has a strong grip on the keys to power. Of course, the main reason he has those qualities in the first place is what he is, not what he has achieved. John Scalzi, in his blog Whatever, thought that being a straight white male was like playing the computer game called Life with the difficulty setting on “Easy”. If you are a Default Man you look like power.

When we talk of identity, we often think of groups such as black Muslim lesbians in wheelchairs. This is because identity only seems to become an issue when it is challenged or under threat. Our classic Default Man is rarely under existential threat; consequently, his identity remains unexamined. It ambles along blithely, never having to stand up for its rights or to defend its homeland.

In her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, published in 1975, Laura Mulvey coined the term “the male gaze”. She was writing about how the gaze of the movie camera reflected the heterosexual male viewpoint of the directors (a viewpoint very much still with us, considering that only 9 per cent of the top 250 Hollywood films in 2012 were directed by women and only 2 per cent of the cinematographers were female).

The Default Male gaze does not just dominate cinema, it looks down on society like the eye on Sauron’s tower in The Lord of the Rings. Every other identity group is “othered” by it. It is the gaze of the expensively nondescript corporate leader watching consumers adorn themselves with his company’s products the better to get his attention.

Default Man feels he is the reference point from which all other values and cultures are judged. Default Man is the zero longitude of identities.

He has forged a society very much in his own image, to the point where now much of what other groups think and feel is the same. They take on the attitudes of Default Man because they are the attitudes of our elders, our education, our government, our media. If Default Men approve of something it must be good, and if they disapprove it must be bad, so people end up hating themselves, because their internalised Default Man is berating them for being female, gay, black, silly or wild.

When I was at art college in the late Seventies/early Eighties, one of the slogans the feminists used was: “Objectivity is Male Subjectivity.” This brilliantly encapsulates how male power nestles in our very language, exerting influence at the most fundamental level. Men, especially Default Men, have put forward their biased, highly emotional views as somehow “rational”, more considered, more “calm down, dear”. Women and “exotic” minorities are framed as “passionate” or “emotional” as if they, the Default Men, had this unique ability to somehow look round the side of that most interior lens, the lens that is always distorted by our feelings. Default Man somehow had a dispassionate, empirical, objective vision of the world as a birthright, and everyone else was at the mercy of turbulent, uncontrolled feelings. That, of course, explained why the “others” often held views that were at such odds with their supposedly cool, analytic vision of the world.

I think Default Man should be made aware of the costs and increasing obsolescence of this trait, celebrated as “a stiff upper lip”. This habit of denying, recasting or suppressing emotion may give him the veneer of “professionalism” but, as David Hume put it: “Reason is a slave of the passions.” To be unaware of or unwilling to examine feelings means those feelings have free rein to influence behaviour unconsciously. Unchecked, they can motivate Default Man covertly, unacknowledged, often wreaking havoc. Even if rooted in long-past events in the deep unconscious, these emotions still fester, churning in the dark at the bottom of the well. Who knows what unconscious, screwed-up “personal journeys” are being played out on the nation by emotionally illiterate Default Men?

Being male and middle class and being from a generation that still valued the stiff upper lip means our Default Man is an ideal candidate for low emotional awareness. He sits in a gender/ class/age nexus marked “Unexploded Emotional Time Bomb”.

These people have been in charge of our world for a long time.

Things may be changing.

Over the centuries, empirical, clear thinking has become branded with the image of Default Men. They were the ones granted the opportunity, the education, the leisure, the power to put their thoughts out into the world. In people’s minds, what do professors look like? What do judges look like? What do leaders look like? The very aesthetic of seriousness has been monopolised by Default Man. Practically every person on the globe who wants to be taken seriously in politics, business and the media dresses up in some way like a Default Man, in a grey, western, two-piece business suit. Not for nothing is it referred to as “power dressing”.

Curiously, I think the real function of the sober business suit is not to look smart but as camouflage. A person in a grey suit is invisible, in the way burglars often wear hi-vis jackets to pass as unremarkable “workmen”. The business suit is the uniform of those who do the looking, the appraising. It rebuffs comment by its sheer ubiquity. Many office workers loathe dress-down Fridays because they can no longer hide behind a suit. They might have to expose something of their messy selves through their “casual” clothes. Modern, overprofessionalised politicians, having spent too long in the besuited tribal compound, find casual dress very difficult to get right convincingly.

I dwell on the suit because I feel it exemplifies how the upholders of Default Male values hide in plain sight. Imagine if, by democratic decree, the business suit was banned, like certain items of Islamic dress have been banned in some countries. Default Men would flounder and complain that they were not being treated with “respect”.

The most pervasive aspect of the Default Man identity is that it masquerades very efficiently as “normal” – and “normal”, along with “natural”, is a dangerous word, often at the root of hateful prejudice. As Sherrie Bourg Carter, author of High-Octane Women, writes:

Women in today’s workforce . . . are experiencing a much more camouflaged foe – second-generation gender biases . . . “work cultures and practices that appear neutral and natural on their face”, yet they reflect masculine values and life situations of men.

Revolution is happening. I am loath to use the R word because bearded young men usually characterise it as sudden and violent. But that is just another unhelpful cliché. I feel real revolutions happen thoughtfully in peacetime. A move away from the dominance of Default Man is happening, but way too slowly. …At the present rate of change it will take more than a hundred years before the UK parliament is 50 per cent female.

The outcry against positive discrimination is the wail of someone who is having their privilege taken away. For talented black, female and working-class people to take their just place in the limited seats of power, some of those Default Men are going to have to give up their seats.


The Suit ~ a BridgeBuilders workshop Photo by Jason Owen, Nathan Owen Photography

The Suit ~ a BridgeBuilders workshop
Photo by Jason Owen, Nathan Owen Photography

Default Man seems to be the embodiment of George Bernard Shaw’s unreasonable man: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to make the world adapt to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Default Man’s days may be numbered; a lot of his habits are seen at best as old-fashioned or quaint and at worst as redundant, dangerous or criminal. He carries a raft of unhelpful habits and attitudes gifted to him from history – adrenalin addiction, a need for certainty, snobbery, emotional constipation and an overdeveloped sense of entitlement – which have often proved disastrous for society and can also stop poor Default Man from leading a fulfilling life.

Earlier this year, at the Being A Man festival at the Southbank Centre in London, I gave a talk on masculinity called: “Men, Sit Down for your Rights!”. A jokey title, yes, but one making a serious point: that perhaps, if men were to loosen their grip on power, there might be some benefits for them. The straitjacket of the Default Man identity is not necessarily one happily donned by all members of the tribe: many struggle with the bad fit of being leader, provider, status hunter, sexual predator, respectable and dignified symbol of straight achievement. Maybe the “invisible weightless backpack” that the US feminist Peggy McIntosh uses to describe white privilege, full of “special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks”, does weigh rather a lot after all.

Link to read the original article in full

The Science of Personality (video)

What is personality?

Here’s what we know from our studies thus far…

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/108898780 w=700&h=400]

A pity that all but two of the twelve ‘leading experts’ in this film are those white men that Grayson Perry is talking about, nevertheless this 40minute film is an excellent history and roundup of what we understand about what what personality is, how it affects our lives and the lives of those around us, and the impact of personality psychology and assessment on leadership and organizational success.

Well worth watching if you have interest what your personality might be made up from, how this might be affecting what you do now and in the future, and how understanding personality might be increasingly influencing the decisions that are made about us and the choices we are given.

Link to see this video and the information about it at its home site


We are witnessing a crisis of wellbeing at work. Official statistics paint a picture of a nation that is stressed, anxious, overworked and insecure. UK employees work some of the longest hours in Europe, and over half of them are worried about losing their jobs. Far from being the price we pay for a competitive economy, this is economically disastrous: sickness absence alone costs the economy an estimated £100billion a year, and longer hours are associated with worse productivity. Our relentless search for growth is not only destroying the quality of our lives: it’s failing even on its own terms.

Talking about wellbeing is perhaps less fashionable now than it was in 2005, when David Cameron first declared his intention to measure ‘GWB – general wellbeing’. There’s a general sense that wellbeing is a luxury for good economic times, irrelevant when people are struggling to get by. But this is nonsense. Wellbeing isn’t just about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens – it’s about creating the conditions for people to live better lives. This should surely be at the heart of all policy, especially economic policy.

Ultimately, wellbeing evidence encourages us to rethink economic success. Progress is not just about ever-rising incomes, as the obsession with GDP figures implies – particularly if the lion’s share of this growth goes to the already well-off. It’s about giving everyone the security and stability of a decent job with a decent wage. And it’s no longer enough, if it ever was, to simply go for growth and hope that ‘a rising tide will lift all boats’. Instead, we need to address head-on the things that are really holding back national wellbeing: insecurity, poverty and inequality. It’s now more important than ever that we learn the lessons of the crisis and build a high wellbeing recovery.

Link to read the full original article

Why Happiness At Work Really Matters

Are you happy at work? Are the people you work with happy? Should you even care as long as the job is getting done?

It turns out you should – happy companies are more successful on a range of metrics – but creating a happy work environment is counterintuitive. Research and practice both show that what makes people happy in the workplace is not obvious, and relatively easy to provide things like good pay, free food or perks, are over-rated.

The Benefits of Happiness At Work

Researchers from the University of Warwick in the UK found that people who are happy at work are about 12% more productive. Shawn Anchor, author of The Happiness Advantage, has quantified the benefits of a happy company – sales increase by 37%, productivity 31%, and accuracy on tasks improves by 19%, not to mention the health and quality of life improvements for staff.

You might think providing perks such as free food, massages in the office, on-site medical services and gym facilities, would ensure a happy workforce.

But the equation is not that simple – it’s not just a case of perks in, happiness out. While such benefits are helpful in attracting people to work at your firm, they are not that effective at improving company performance. No wonder Google is keen to stress that it’s passion not perks that are the biggest contributor to its success.

Part of the problem is that humans are incredibly good at adapting and we get used to almost anything – good or bad. The classic study on this was done by Philip Brickman, Dan Coates and Ronnie Janoff-Bulman at the University of Massachusetts in 1979. Comparing lottery winners to accident survivors who were paraplegics and quadriplegics they found no significant different in general happiness. People who had won big on the lottery were happy about their good fortune but in fact took less pleasure from everyday activities than the accident survivors.

Salary is not the key to happiness either. It actually comes in to play as a factor of unhappiness – we will be unhappy if we think others in our company or industry are being paid more to do the same task.

A Princeton study found that people who are highly paid are relatively satisfied but are barely happier day to day, tend to be more tense and do not spend their time doing more enjoyable things, than lower paid people.

Alexander Kjerulf, a Danish management consultant (above) who styles himself the Chief Happiness Officer and has advised Ikea, Lego, Oracle, Tata, and Pfizer amongst others, says that results and relationships are actually the most important factors for ensuring people are happy at work. Gallup research backs him up – perks are less important than engagement, which occurs when staff feel they are contributing to something significant.

Zappos CEP Tony Hsieh literally wrote the book on happiness in tech. InDelivering Happiness he describes how he built the corporate culture at Zappos by valuing happiness. While Zappos operates some quirky policies eg new hires are offered $2,000 if they decide to quit after the first week, Hseih’s book also highlights the importance of things such as helping staff grow (both personally and professionally), ensuring customer service is everyone’s responsibility and building strong relationships with your team.

Taking inspiration from firms like Zappos, Moo.com, Valve, Buffer and Mailchimp, there’s even now Happy Startup School, which aims to educate entrepreneurs in how to create happy, sustainable and profitable businesses.

Kjerulf, the Chief Happiness Officer, says that while values are important “happiness at work is something you do”. Here’s five tips he offers to foster it at your company:

1. Random acts of workplace happiness. When was the last time you brought a co-worker a cup of coffee unprompted or without warning? Scientific research shows that the random element of these acts really matters. The pleasure/reward centre of the brain is less active when we know something good eg a monthly bonus, is coming, but can be stimulated up to three times as much when the act is unexpected.

2. Hire happy people. The sandwich chain Pret A Manger says you can’t hire someone who can make a sandwich and teach them to be happy, but you can teach happy people to make a sandwich. Kjerulf also cites Southwest Airlines as a company that hires for attitude and trains for skill.

3. Stop negative behaviour. Gossip, rudeness and other negative behaviours act like a cancer at the heart of the company if they are unchecked, says Kjerulf. This is because negative emotions are three times more contagious than positive ones.

4. Celebrate success. Kjerulf consulted with Lego, which a decade ago had been brought to the brink of bankruptcy thanks to a relentless pursuit of innovation coupled with a lack of financial controls. New CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp announced the company’s first profit in several years at a company wide meeting but the news was greeted by silence. Lego had no culture of celebrating success and so people simply didn’t know how to react. Now item 0 on every meeting agenda is celebrating something one of the participants has achieved recently, a simple tactic which has helped transform meetings and make them more productive.

5. Celebrate mistakes. If you do then people will be more open to admitting they have made a mistake. Ben & Jerry’s has a flavor graveyard in Vermont where headstones are erected to its retired flavours including short lived flops like Oh Pear and Cool Britannia. NixonMcInnes, a British social media consultancy, in addition to measuring and tracking staff happiness every day, has a monthly event called Church of Fail, where staff are encouraged to share their failures. The company wants to make it ok to fail, because the more it fails, the more it can innovate and succeed.

Making your staff happy is not about expensive benefits, it’s about offering them meaningful work. What company can’t afford to do that?

Link to read the original article

The company that plays together, stays together: why a bit of playtime works

by Lynne Parker, Chief Executive of Funny Women

As the business world becomes increasingly automated, Lynne Parker explains the benefits of workplace “playtime”. And no, it won’t end in a sexual harassment complaint.

As inappropriate as it may sound “playing” with your work colleagues affords an insight into their characters and strengths. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that sort of playtime, but getting out of the office and doing something fun can be the difference between a happy working relationship and Monday morning blues. The idea of an awayday might strike terror into your heart – paintballing with the boss might unleash simmering anger. But didn’t that paint bullet through your boss’s heart make you feel good?

Jessica Ince set up Insync 10 years ago to offer a range of bespoke events and unique experiences for corporate and private clients. “Spending time together taking part in group experiences outside of the normal work environment breaks down barriers for colleagues, and helps them to connect on an emotional level,” says Ince. “Playful activities encourage us to take risks and inform others of our values within a safe space, breaking down boundaries and building trust. This in turn fuels collaboration, creativity and problem solving.”

Emma Stroud has years of experience as a performer and director of theatrically based corporate events and has much to say about the merits of playtime. She is now joint managing director of Pitch Perfect Club which helps business owners make a greater impact through the tips and tricks of actors and comedians.

“When we play we free ourselves up and a true and perhaps often unseen part of self can become visible,” says Stroud. “Leadership qualities and confidence can be shown as we create a safe space. When we’re relaxed and playing we are present. Being present with one another (ie not looking at emails, in meetings) can lead to better relationships – this can only be good for business.

“In order to get people to socialise there has to be a shared and clear culture. As colleagues we will naturally have some people who become friends and those that don’t. It is my experience that those companies who have a clear set of values and ethos will attract people that buy into this culture. Good examples are charities where people are drawn together because of the cause, not necessarily the benefits, and naturally gravitate towards each other as they are likely to have a shared set of personal values.

“Companies where culture and values are unclear will sometimes struggle to get people genuinely socialised.  Organising an event that will appeal to everybody relies on their similarities not their differences. Comedy is always a good one, especially improvised comedy!”

Taking a leaf out of the extensive book of corporate socialising, I have also been workshopping groups of women, and a few men, in stand up comedy skills for over five years. I have worked with organisations as diverse as Girlguiding UK and East Coast Trains.

Over the summer months I offered to run workshops for some of my favourite charities to fine tune my approach and give something back. One such is Target Ovarian Cancer and Amy Cartlidge, the charity’s fundraising manager, spoke about the outcome of our two-hour session.

“The workshop really gave an insight into our hidden talents and strengths,” says Cartlidge. “Many revealed their creative skills or passions, whether that was writing poetry, dancing, song writing or acting, which had until that point remained hidden from colleagues. Understanding and sharing these I think will help us work together more creatively and draw on each other’s strengths when it comes to working as a team.”

I asked Cartlidge if she was surprised by anything they did. “It was really fun having a chance to get out of the office environment and getting to know colleagues outside of their professional roles. I was pleasantly surprised that everybody really threw themselves into all the activities and no one held back! I was impressed with the diverse range of creative skills we have in our midst. Perhaps our next fundraiser should be a staff talent competition!”

Getting out of your comfort zone where you have to perform and interact with your colleagues in unfamiliar circumstances can help to build and assess your team. Maybe it is time to ditch the interview process and indulge in a bit of group improvisation instead! This might help you sort out who is willing to roll up their sleeves and join in from those who prefer to sit on the fence and let everybody else do all the work.

Link to read the original Guardian article

“Goodness is a competitive advantage in business,” Chade-Meng Tan, the famed mindfulness expert and official Jolly Good Fellow at Google, told attendees at a luncheon at USC today.

That sentiment rubs many skeptics the wrong way. Some “practical” people see this goodness-happiness-touchy-feely stuff as a distraction from the hard work of making a profit. At the same time, more idealistic people are suspicious of the idea that goodness would have any role to play in big business’ quest for money.

But both sides better get used to it. Happiness and “mindful meditation” and emotional positivity are sweeping the American workplace, from lunchrooms to boardrooms.

Why is mindfulness taking off? The bottom line is that it helps the bottom line. Many alpha types at Google and other organizations now begin meetings with a few minutes of compassionate contemplation, in order to foster clearer, more creative and more productive thinking. And they incorporate it into the rest of their lives, believing it helps them bring their best to the things that matter most to them.

Mindfulness appears to represent a convergence of cutting-edge neuroscience, psychology and ancient meditative practices. Before Meng became Google’s Jolly Good Fellow, he was an engineer, focused on efficiency and productivity. He began to research the roles that happiness,  emotional intelligence, compassion and meditation can play in improving business.

He then was able to motivate a Type-A, success-driven Google workforce to incorporate those elements into their own ambitious agendas. Meng is convinced that the largest and loftiest goals, such as global prosperity and tranquility, come as a byproduct of this process. A more immediate byproduct was his acclaimed book, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace).

Though his own faith tradition is Buddhist, he says that he tries to avoid bringing religion overtly into his mindfulness classes. The idea is to be as inclusive as possible, even to people outside any faith tradition.

The reality is that our emotional life and our intellectual, cognitive life and our social life are all interwoven inextricably. In fact, the most advanced brain-science research shows that our base emotions drive all the other processes. So sorry, but it’s not smart for a high-performing person or high-performing organization to simply factor out the emotional realm.

I’ve written several pieces over the past year examining how morale and kindness can boost the bottom line. There’s the example of Dignity CEO Lloyd Dean working alongside the Dalai Lama, while talking about how “Compassion and kindness aren’t expensive, but the yield is priceless.” There’s the research of people like John Gaspari and Daniel Siegel and Barbara Frederickson on the science of workplace morale. They all know that happy and emotionally intelligent workplaces deliver results that crabbier organizations can’t.

For some folks, mindfulness will take some getting used to. But get used to it nevertheless.

A Military Leader’s Approach to Dealing with Complexity

by NATO Commanding General, Brig. Gen. John E. Michel

I know how daunting it can be to lead dedicated professionals to undertake complex endeavors, and I’ve lived the reality of trying to bring positive change to large, bureaucratic organizations. Here are four principles I’ve learned that can help you enhance your leadership while concurrently bringing out the best in those around you.

Principle 1: Craft your vision in pencil, not ink.

…One of the most significant errors I see leaders make is developing their vision in isolation and then expecting people to accept it at face value. When leaders do this, they violate one of the most important truths of promoting change: our words create our worlds. How we choose to describe and discuss what we are doing and where we are going is important, but what moves people to sustainable, self-motivated action is understanding the why behind the vision. That vision can only be fully realized if leaders involve others in the process of creating it.

Ultimately, what makes a vision come to life isn’t people understanding it, but people choosing to own it. Making inclusivity a priority will increase ownership, enhance motivation, improve information sharing, and result in leaders making wiser, more informed choices.

Principle 2: Believe no job is too small or insignificant for anyone, especially you.

…If your team is cold, wet, hungry, and sleepless, you should be, too. You should be prepared to eat last, own failure, and generously share triumphs. This others-centered approach to leading will build deep trust and enduring respect, and reinforce that you don’t expect anyone on your team to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.

Ego tempts many leaders toward self-aggrandizement—the higher their rank, the more pronounced the pull. Choose to direct your effort and attention toward what you can give rather than what you can receive. Demonstrate humility, not superiority. Model for others the selfless attitudes and behaviors you desire to see in them.

Principle 3: Remember that leaders should be generalists, not specialists.

…Just like the best sports coaches, who invest countless hours in understanding every position on the field, effective leaders develop a keen sense of how the organization’s various roles, functions, systems, people, and processes contribute to achieving its desired goals. You may be a specialist at one thing, but knowing what others around you do—and how and why they do it—is vital not only to attaining your desired outcomes, but also to realizing your individual and collective potential.

Don’t allow yourself to become stale or small-minded. Make it a personal priority to know more about what is going on around you. If you spent the bulk of your career working in sales, accept a stretch assignment in business development or talent management. You will likely be pleasantly surprised at how this broader, richer view of what’s happening in your organization will enlarge your perspective, enhance your appreciation, and elevate your sense of personal satisfaction.

Principle 4: Recognize that every interaction is an opportunity to equip, engage, empower, and inspire those around you.

The world of physics has a principle: “Every contact leaves a trace.” What this means for leaders is that every interaction with someone—verbal, written, or even through non-verbal mannerisms—makes an impression. Effective leaders understand that every interaction is a potentially powerful means of nurturing a relationship, eliminating an obstruction to progress, or reinforcing trust. Determine to leave a trace that leaves those around you better for knowing you.

Do your part to seed an environment where everyone is compelled by your example. Adopt a walk-the-floor policy instead of an open-door policy. Visit with people in their space. Don’t make them come to yours.

Military work is risky, pressured, and ever-changing. Yet the principles military leaders use to lead effectively are the same skills companies need today to prevail in a climate of increasing uncertainty and accelerating complexity.

It is up to each individual leader to choose to put these lessons to work.

Link to read the original Harvard Business Review article

BYOD is the new normal, but is it increasing employee engagement?

Bring your own device to work (BYOD) is a recent tendency brought on by the fast growing market penetration for smartphones, tablets and notebooks, that allows employees to utilize personal devices to perform their job.

Ovum research shows that approximately 57% of employees worldwide are accessing company data on a personal device.

Why Employees Love It

+ Flexibility…

Working hours are no longer a constraint for many workplaces, allowing employees to establish their own working schedule and making BYOD the new normal. According to Microsoft, 71% of BYOD require technology that enables employees to work anywhere at any time.

As Ovum research shows, employees believe that being able to access their business information outside working hours enables them to be better in their job.

It has become clear that employees want the consumer experience even when they are at work. The familiarity drives their productivity and sense of freedom.

Research from workspace provider Regus reveals that flexible working is the key to long-term happiness at work. 74% out of 2,200 senior managers and business owners surveyed see flexibility as a way of improving business productivity.

Why Employers Love It

+ Cost Reduction…

An immense advantage for employers. Employees buy their own devices, driving lower mobility costs and IT resources.

“You can basically outsource your I.T. department to Apple.”  Ben Reitzes, analyst with Barclays Capital

According to a study  by Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group, U.S. companies can save as much as $3,150 per employee per year if they implement a “comprehensive” BYOD program. At the same time, employees are spending an average of $965 on their devices as well as $734 each year on data plans.

Why Employers Have Started to Dread It

These are some of the most well-known risks with BYOD:

  • Most businesses don’t have a formal BYOD policy and are not prepared for damage control;
  • Devices can easily be lost or stolen, allowing company information to leak;
  • Data security – anyone can access these devices. Also they are not always backed-up;
  • Tech support is often required but there are so many devices and systems that it just becomes a huge nightmare;
  • Ownership of information isn’t always decided;
  • Compatibility issues with your organization’s required suite of programs and apps;
  • Use of unauthorized apps.

You can easily understand why some CIOs are also calling it Bring Your Own Disaster. But that doesn’t make it less of a reality.

But Is BYOD Increasing Employee Engagement?

So far we know that BYOD appears to make employees feel more at home in their workplace and also be more productive. BYOD employees report an increase of 37 minutes of productive time per week, while BYOD implementation generates $350 of value per mobile employee annually (Cisco).

Other sources indicate that enterprise costs for supporting a BYOD worker would climb to $300 annually by 2016, up from $100 currently (Gartner).

According to Capgemini Consulting, the major benefits from BYOD include improved employee convenience and satisfaction, increased employee productivity, greater workforce mobility and employee retention as well as higher agility in business operations.

BYOD also seems to increase workplace satisfaction. 83% of skilled workers with access to flexible IT policies say they are satisfied with their work, compared with 62% of their counterparts who are not enjoying flexible IT conditions (Deloitte).

Link to read the original article


Is the Future of the Desk a Coffee Shop Table?

A poll of British workers, commissioned by O2 in Great Britain, found “..found that over a quarter (26%) of workers across the country would choose to work from their local coffee shop if their employers encouraged flexible working. 46% of those polled said they are more productive in this setting, while 47% stated they choose to work from a café as they enjoy the change in environment.

They noticed two other trends with this move to working remotely. First, younger workers are likelier to work from these locations than are older workers, 30% for the 18-24 age group and just 14% for the over 55 age group.

The second thing the O2 study found was also “.. that the number of those working flexibly from coffee shops decreases as the employer gets bigger, with 22% of small business employees working from this space against only 15% working for a company of over 250+ people. Unsurprisingly, those who are self-employed are more likely to work from a local café with a third adopting for this way of working.”

The “coffice”

Will the “coffice” become the dominant way to work in the future? Perhaps, at least for a segment of the population, according to Barnaby Lashbrooke, founder of a virtual workplace platform, who said “In 10 years’ time, most companies will be a hybrid of full-time, in-office staff, employees who work remotely either full-time or part-time and an extended freelance or outsourced workforce. Outsourcing many of the non-core functions – such as customer service, marketing and administration – to a pool of talented freelance flexible staff simply makes business sense.”

The Suit ~ a BridgeBuilders workshop

All of the images in this post come from different occasions making The Suit – our interactive workshop that explores ideas and responses around 21st century leadership, collaboration and team working, creativity and destruction, and change and uncertainty.  This workshop provides a participative learning experience for people deconstruct and reconstruct as they choose how they see the issues and ideas that are most alive for them in their work and lives.

This workshop is always tailored to whoever commissions it and could be a 2hour, a half-day or a 1day event. We have made it very differently every time for organisations as diverse as Lush Cosmetics, Lancaster University Management Learning staff and alumni, Speech New Zealand, and The Applied Improvisation Network.

Do please contact us if you would like to explore what The Suit could do for you and your people…

Link to find out more about this learning experience 

Happiness At Work #114

All of these articles, and many more, are collected together in this week’s new Happiness At Work edition #114

Link to go to the full collection of this week’s stories


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