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

Do chance meetings at the office boost innovation? There’s no evidence of it.

Anne says: The title of this week’s article captured my attention immediately! Really? No evidence? Read on!

The article starts off with the reminder of Yahoo’s directive in 2013 that everyone had to be present and work in the office, citing those moments of interaction in corridors and common places as where impromptu conversations and innovation occurred. There’s a couple more quotes from prominent CEOs (eg. Tim Cook, Apple) who support this notion and are against the working from home scenario.

Of course, we’ve all been working from home over the last 18 months, on-again, off-again, some more than others – were you less creative or innovative because of that? As we’ve mentioned in many articles during the pandemic, working from home during this time has been more challenging than it was prior to the pandemic. There’s a contrast in contexts that seems to be ignored in many of the current published articles. My article last week from Steelcase categorised those different spaces and the bias that is associated with them.

This article takes the view that there is no evidence that working in person, co-located, in an office is required for creativity, collaboration and innovation. In fact, there is more evidence for the opposite and indications that the office, with prescribed hours and locations, has lead to burnout, lack of representation and other biases. A quick overview of office designs from open-plan to snack bars has not resulted in innovation – it’s resulted in 70 percent fewer face-to-face interactions.

Now – back to the current state – we’ve all been immersed in Zoom calls, Slack chats, collaboration platforms and shared online spaces as we have managed the enforced work from home mandates. Location and distance from each other have been reduced and flattened biases. Contributions can be made without requiring the set times in the physical office space. So as we plan future scenarios, just remember, there is NO evidence that physical presence is a necessity for creativity and innovation.

“…the idea of random serendipity being productive is more fairy tale than reality…” Ethan S. Bernstein, Harvard Business School.

Read: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/23/upshot/remote-work-innovation-office.html

Pandemic dogs

Whoopi says: Dogs are man’s best friend – they say – and during the pandemic, a lot of us have been kept busy attending to our human’s wellbeing. We’ve been friends, someone to talk to, watch Netflix with, eat with, someone that allows you to go for a walk during lockdowns, and we’ve also enjoyed participating in office Zoom calls. Luckily for me, I have my own companion dogs, Sansa & Lluna, who have shared the load.

On a serious note though, as our people start going out more, leaving us home alone, we’re not really having a good time. We’re anxious that our people aren’t going to be OK – a couple of our friends have already mentioned some of their anxiety behaviours, from howling to destroying shoes. It’s not boredom, we’re anxious.

Anne has mentioned this to me and we recommend people reading this article if you’re a dog owner and you’re going to start leaving your best friend at home. Remember, we don’t understand where you’ve gone, you’re just not there anymore. We may not have a sense of time, but it sometimes feels like forever, and it must be, because we get hungry.

Sansa, Lluna and I are lucky, we have always been part of the office culture and we tend to go everywhere with Anne. However, we know what our roles are and how to behave (Lluna still has a bit to learn), so we become valuable members of the office culture as well. If that’s not an option for your human, then I suggest you start investigating a good day care place or find another owner!!

Anne says: This is going to be a serious problem for some dogs, particularly new ones who have never experienced time alone. The article provides some good guidance and depending on where you’re living, perhaps now is a good time to start researching. Your dog has given you a lot of enjoyment, distractions and love during the pandemic times, remember to return the same to them.

Read: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dog-daycare-return-work-parents/2021/07/28/c468dbd8-ebfe-11eb-ba5d-55d3b5ffcaf1_story.html

3 must-have soft skills for the hybrid workplace

Jakkii says: Articles like these are always interesting to me, or at least the headlines are, in that these “soft skills” aren’t unique to the hybrid workplace – they’re skills that serve you well in the physical workplace, as well as the fully remote/virtual/distributed/digital/whatever-you-want-to-call-it workplace. But I guess that’s the thing about the so-called “soft skills”, they’re too often undervalued, and frequently put in the too hard basket for being hard to measure, or sometimes even to define.

This article gives these three skills as the key to success:

  1. Emotional intelligence (EQ)

  2. Leadership and social influence

  3. Take initiative from the inside

For most, I imagine the first two are relatively self-explanatory (if not necessarily easy), whilst the third may be a little less clear. Obviously, you can read the full article for their opinion, but what they’re getting at with point three is “intrapreneurship”, which they say is:

Intrapreneurship is the system wherein the principles of entrepreneurship are practiced within the boundaries of a firm.

It’s all about innovation – new ideas, new or improvements to processes, new or improvements to products, and brand new inventions. Again, not a new idea – how many organisations have or have had campaigns, programs and sometimes whole teams or business units devoted to the idea of innovation? What I appreciated here, though, was the author pointing out that this is, in fact, a skill, and one that can be practised by anyone in any team, at least for most organisations. What it does need, though, is an organisational culture open to constructive feedback at all levels and about all parts of the business, and one that encourages its people to speak up and to take appropriate action.

Your people might have the skills, but is your organisation set up to take advantage of them, whether in person, hybrid or remote? If not, perhaps it’s time to start making real change.

Read: https://www.fastcompany.com/90659826/3-must-have-soft-skills-for-the-hybrid-workplace

At home

Jakkii says: Hang in there, locked down folks. You got this, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. And in the meantime, here’s a few things that might help keep you sane occupied this week:

Friday Fives

Hybrid workplace and the future of work

Remote work and the digital workplace

Communication, collaboration, engagement, and culture

Community management, moderation and misinformation

Privacy and data

Big Tech, tech and regulation

Social media

Extras

This is interesting: Why humans see faces in everyday objects

Things that make you go hmmm: Outrage as a business model: how Ben Shapiro is using Facebook to build an empire

Space: Mars needs women

Podcast: WhatsApp’s Will Cathcart on the battle for encryption, and future of messaging

Friday playlist: Travel from your couch with this Canadian Weekend playlist


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