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Work Futures Daily - Six-Hour Workday, Please

Is ‘Six Hour Workday’ a movement, now? | HR Based Against Longer Commutes? | Trump Interrupts Pelosi

Work Futures

December 13 · Issue #1047 · View online
The ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

Is ‘Six Hour Workday’ a movement, now? | HR Based Against Longer Commutes? | Trump Interrupts Pelosi 15 Times: Just Another Day At Work | Pew on AI and the Future

Beacon NY - 2018-12-13 — I’m in that strange position of being my own boss, so I find it hard to limit my work to six hours a day, although I like the idea. I’m approaching things the opposite way, which is making the periods when I am not working longer. So I’ve adopted a ‘four walks a day’ model.
Whatever works.
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Work Futures reader and fellow writer on the future of work, Paul Millerd, has recently completed a course that pulls together all of the lessons, secrets and tools he learned while a strategy consultant at firms like McKinseyand Boston Consulting Group for almost ten years. He is offering the course on a gift basis where you can pay-what-feels-right. Check out a preview of some of the lectures here.
The Case For The Six-Hour Workday | Steve Glaveski joins the growing movement for the six-hour workday:
By cultivating a flow-friendly workplace and introducing a shorter workday, you’re setting the scene not only for higher productivity and better outcomes, but for more motivated and less-stressed employees, improved rates of employee acquisition and retention, and more time for all that fun stuff that goes on outside of office walls, otherwise known as life.
I wonder how many reading that say ‘It would never work in my organization’?
Research: Hiring Managers Are Biased Against People with Longer Commutes | I’m not surprised by the conclusions of David Phillips from recent research:
My results show that applicants living in distant neighborhoods received positive responses from employers less frequently than those living near the workplace. In fact, applicants who lived 5-6 miles farther from the job received about one-third fewer callbacks. The size of this penalty is similar to the penalty for signaling race with a black-indicating name. (For background: Other prominent studies compare employer responses to fictional applicants with names that signal different ethnicities. They provide some of the clearest evidence of significant discrimination in employment and rental housing. Comparing racial discrimination to a penalty for long commutes is complicated for many reasons, not the least of which is that race and place are related in DC. But the comparison at least provides a benchmark. In my study, an extra six miles of commuting lowers an applicant’s chances by as much as listing a black-indicating name like Jamal or Lakisha.)
There is a rationale for weighting candidates that live closer more highly: they’re more likely to stick with a job with a short commute. But the economics enforces inequality when workers are forced to live in distant suburbs because of high rents downtown. And of course this strikes minorities more than others. The tension between social inequity and corporate self-interest should be balanced, not remain one-sided.
Trump Interrupting Pelosi Shows How Men Often Treat Women | Amanda Mull noticed that Donald Trump interrupted Nancy Pelosi 15 times during a discussion in the White House with Chuck Schumer. This is par for the course with Trump who interrupted Hilary Clinton 51 times during a presidential debate. But what is at work here is deeper than Trump’s attitudes: it’s wired into our culture.
Researchers have been investigating who interrupts and who gets interrupted since at least 1975, when a landmark study at Stanford University found that, out of 31 conversations examined between partners of various gender pairings, men were responsible for all but one interruption. American notions of gender roles and interactions have changed a lot in the intervening 40 years, and a 2014 study from George Washington University suggests that’s brought a certain amount of parity to the act of interruption: Men and women in that study interrupted others at similar rates.
Where gender differences remained pronounced in the 2014 study was in who got interrupted: Speakers of all genders were far more likely to interrupt a female conversation partner. This dynamic is perhaps most visibly born out at the highest levels of government. In 2017, Senator Kamala Harris was cut off during her questioning of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions by two male colleagues. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton 51 times during one debate; she interrupted him 17 times. Tuesday’s White House meeting was not the first situation in which Pelosi, a very powerful woman by all measures, has had to fight to get a word in edgewise with her colleagues.
Indeed, research has demonstrated that professional power alone isn’t enough to mitigate the disadvantage of being a woman in a conversation. According to a 2017 Northwestern University study, female Supreme Court Justices were more likely to be interrupted than their male colleagues, and it was usually their male colleagues doing the interrupting. The researchers found that in order to avoid being talked over, female justices usually adopted more aggressive questioning styles that mirrored their male counterparts over time. The data suggests that even though mirroring male conversational styles did help them, it wasn’t enough to pull female judges even with their male colleagues.
This is so deep it might take generations to change, and this pervades business.
Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humans | The Pew Research Center has published a very broad analysis of AI’s impact on the future.
Digital life is augmenting human capacities and disrupting eons-old human activities. Code-driven systems have spread to more than half of the world’s inhabitants in ambient information and connectivity, offering previously unimagined opportunities and unprecedented threats. As emerging algorithm-driven artificial intelligence (AI) continues to spread, will people be better off than they are today?
Some 979 technology pioneers, innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists answered this question in a canvassing of experts conducted in the summer of 2018.
The experts predicted networked artificial intelligence will amplify human effectiveness but also threaten human autonomy, agency and capabilities. They spoke of the wide-ranging possibilities; that computers might match or even exceed human intelligence and capabilities on tasks such as complex decision-making, reasoning and learning, sophisticated analytics and pattern recognition, visual acuity, speech recognition and language translation. They said “smart” systems in communities, in vehicles, in buildings and utilities, on farms and in business processes will save time, money and lives and offer opportunities for individuals to enjoy a more-customized future.
Many focused their optimistic remarks on health care and the many possible applications of AI in diagnosing and treating patients or helping senior citizens live fuller and healthier lives. They were also enthusiastic about AI’s role in contributing to broad public-health programs built around massive amounts of data that may be captured in the coming years about everything from personal genomes to nutrition. Additionally, a number of these experts predicted that AI would abet long-anticipated changes in formal and informal education systems.
Yet, most experts, regardless of whether they are optimistic or not, expressed concerns about the long-term impact of these new tools on the essential elements of being human. All respondents in this non-scientific canvassing were asked to elaborate on why they felt AI would leave people better off or not. Many shared deep worries, and many also suggested pathways toward solutions.
Go read it. It’s an amazingly broad spectrum blending of perspectives. (I’m in there somewhere, positioned as an optimist, strangely.)
Quote of the Day
Sometimes when I read the papers of my fellow urban planners, I get the sense that they think cities are Disneyland or Club Med. Cities are labor markets. People go to cities to find a good job. Firms move to cities, which are expensive, because they are more likely to find the staff and specialists that they need. If a city’s attractive, that’s a bonus. But basically, they come to get a job.
Alain Bertaud in an interview with Nolan Gray in Urban Planner Alain Bertaud’s Case for Bottom-Up Design
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From the Archives
The now old architecture of work was based on process-centric, collaborative work: I mean that all the people involved in some business process – for example, new customer acquisition for a consumer products company – would work exclusively on that process, and everyone’s work was defined by the process. In principle, each member of the consumer acquisition team would spend 100% of their time on that process, and all the members would be co-located (in cubicles or offices) so that the process could be as efficient as possible. Considerations of what would be best for the individual would be deemed irrelevant. Collaboration was the byword, and web tools were designed around symmetrical projects, where members derive their rights by being ‘invited’ – assigned – to project-based work contexts.
The new architecture of work is now emerging, after decades of transition. White collar work became knowledge work which has now become creative work. The transition from process to networks is not just a recasting, not just a different style of communication. The work is styled as information sharing through social relationships, and where 'following’ takes the place of 'invitation’. People coordinate efforts, but work on a wide variety of activities, which are not necessarily co-aligned with others’ work, and which are not necessarily even known in a general way. A new degree of privacy and autonomy animates cooperative work, in comparison to collaborative work. Individuals cooperating hand off information or take on tasks in a fashion that is like businesses cooperating: they see the benefit in cooperating, and don’t have to share a common core set of strategic goals to do so: they don’t need the alignment of goals that defines old style business employment.
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Stowe Boyd, 17 South Cedar Street, Beacon NY 12508