Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

The Sounds of Silence

Anne says: There’s a mound of articles being written about tourism at the moment. Mostly focused on airlines, airports and hotels and their challenges with providing safe environments for travellers. In contrast, this article caught my attention about the sounds of tourism,  particularly after three months in confinement in Barcelona (a city normally overflowing with tourists at this time of the year). What does a tourist city sound like without tourists? It amazed me how different the noises were, what you could hear that I’d never heard before. Even now, when an occasional aircraft goes over, I look up, I can hear it clearly – it’s a novel moment!

This study, Sounds of Tourism, has been investigating the impact of tourism and sounds since 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal. When the pandemic started and the tourists stopped coming, how did the city sounds change? The researchers started capturing the soundscapes in the city and have produced a series of sound postcards from Lisbon. They noted the absence of buzz – constant voices, cafes, general people moving around noises were replaced by the buzzing of air-conditioning units, echoes of occasional people, limited traffic and food delivery bicycles.

They highlighted how you adapt and attune to new sounds, unfamiliar sounds in the same environment. I recall hearing a church bell ringing every hour – I’d never heard that before. In fact, I didn’t even know where there was a church. To my amazement it was barely half a block away – yet before confinement, the sound of the bell chiming the hour was drowned out by traffic, people and general noise.

The researchers are continuing their research as people start to emerge from confinement and as restrictions ease and tourists return to the streets. The layers of sounds, as the soundscape rebuilds will be used to understand the impact on the city and its residents.

If you’re going out for a walk today, try to listen for new sounds, what can you hear that’s different or you haven’t heard before? This won’t last, as traffic returns to the streets, people start moving around more freely and businesses reopen, we’ll lose the moment to notice these different sounds – the sounds of silence.

The article is in Spanish, but if you turn on auto-translate in your browser, the translation is good. There’s 5 sound postcards embedded in the article – why not take a few minutes and listen, really listen to the sounds of silence!


A sold out performance as Barcelona Opera House reopens

Anne says: From sounds of silence to opera. This week is all about sounds. As Barcelona emerged from confinement, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona’s opera house, held their first concert to a full house. Full of plants, that is, not people! The plants were provided by local nurseries and were donated to health care workers at the Barcelona Hospital Clinic (one of the major COVID hospitals) in recognition for their contributions during the crisis.

The event was also livestreamed (for people) to watch – the recording is embedded in the article and available on YouTube. There’s no feedback from the audience about their experience, although I do notice there’s a plant in the front row that seems to have fallen in it’s seat! It would have been great to hear from the musicians what their experience was like – did the plants sway, just a little (or a lot), was there any sense of noise, presence? How did it feel?

And if you just want to know if plants really can hear and sense music – read this article from the BBC – one of the quotes from a researcher sums it up:

A Beethoven symphony is of little consequence to a plant, but the approach of a hungry caterpillar is another story.


6 work phrases you need to drop if you want your team to like you

Jakkii says: I’m sure it’s not just me who wants to be likeable, at least most of the time! While there’s no doubt most of us will never be 100% likeable to 100% of the people 100% of the time, it can never hurt to be conscious of our own behaviours and habits and find ways – where reasonable and appropriate – to make ourselves more likeable. Not because of a need to be a people pleaser, but because we are social animals who predominantly live and work in communities and groups that need to cooperate, collaborate and just plain get along.

Here are the 6 phrases, and I think you’ll agree some are immediately obvious red flag type phrases!

  1. Well, it’s always been done this way
  2. It’ll only take a minute
  3. It’s not my job
  4. Erm, I’ll try
  5. Let’s touch base
  6. Let’s circle back

There is, of course, more detail in the article as to why each can present an issue – and I’ll tell you right now, I’m guilty of numbers 5 and 6 on a pretty regular basis.

Maybe you already have all of these out of your lexicon (or maybe you’ve never used them in the first place!). Or maybe you don’t quite agree with all of them – I know I don’t necessarily agree with number 6! I find it’s often used more to move a conversation along from a tangent and back to the focus at hand, though if no one ever actually takes “circling back” as an action it is certainly a hollow phrase. It’s corporate jargon, to be sure, but not one without purpose. Do you have a way you prefer to say “circle back” to avoid the corporate-speak? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

If you agree with even some of these though and you know they’re phrases you use occasionally, perhaps now’s a good time to pay attention to the language you’re using, why you’re using it (especially number 1!), and whether you might be better off rephrasing – and hopefully reframing some of your thinking in the process.


Around the house

Mittens was willing to summon anything to get his humans to go back to work from r/funny

Things are in a funny place here in Australia, particularly with the latest spikes in Victoria. Whether you’re back into a stricter lockdown or getting out more often, here’s this week’s round up of things to keep you occupied for those times you’re still staying safe at home.

Friday Funnies

C’mere bby spspspsp from r/memes

There’s a story behind every sign like this from r/funny

Misinformation Friday Five

COVID-19 Friday Five

Work Friday Five

Tech Friday Five

Social Media Friday Five

Corona Business Insights Podcast

Employee monitoring: the rise in remote worker monitoring and workplace health screening. This is part 1 of a 2-part special looking at monitoring and surveillance in the workplace. Listen to part 2.


2018 Gartner report on monitoring employee productivity

2019 Accenture survey on monitoring employee productivity

The workplace-surveillance technology boom

Your boss is watching you as you’re working from home

Employee monitoring in the NYT

HBR on how to monitor employees while respecting their privacy

Zoom attention tracking

Zoom disables attention tracking

PwC has developed an app that tracks how close employees get to each

Employee monitoring with daily activity points across applications

Capturing all keyboard activity for user-based behaviour analytics

Random screen captures for user-based behaviour analytics

Employee surveillance on the rise

Temperature checks in the workplace

Hospital monitoring tools for healthcare workers

Apps that ask employees to self-report their health symptoms

Our previous conversation on productivity and remote work on Corona Business Insights

Our previous conversation on the ideal worker on Corona Business Insights

Our previous conversation on contact tracing on The Future, This Week


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