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    Entries in workplace (80)

    Thursday
    Oct052017

    Notes from the road #23 - Where do I start edition?

    Quick shot from my favorite place to write these late night missives - The Delta Sky Club.

    Here's 5 things I think I think in the run up to next week's HR Technology Conference.

    5. HR Tech is in Las Vegas next week and rest assured the Conference is working with local organizations and causes to make sure that the event and our HR community support the victims, families, and anyone impacted by last Sunday's tragedy. Follow @HRTechConf on Twitter for updates.

    4. I am not a political person. I am squarely in the middle of the road on most issues. But no matter what side of the political spectrum you identify with, it is just about impossible to conclude that we as a country have it right when it comes to availability of ridiculously powerful weaponry and the potential for that weaponry to fall into the hands of folks who will cause massive damage. I don't have a solution, but I am not dumb enough to realize there is not a problem.

    3. If you are young or inexperienced enough, there is no such thing as 'legacy' enterprise software applications. Sometimes I feel like the ratings or evaluations or placements on made up quadrants or scales have more to do with author's remembrances of things past and less to do with the present or the future. Successful companies over time do not stand still. They evolve. They loosen their grip on the past. They figure out how today is different. The famous Italian race car champion once said, after having ripped the rear view mirror from his windshield, 'What's behind you, is not there.'

    2. I took a couple of 'regular' taxi rides on my trip this week. While each was perfectly fine, I couldn't help thinking I was being overcharged and inconvenienced by having to work through a complex and dumb payment process at the end of the ride. You may not like Uber and it's culture or competitiveness, but their user experience beats the alternative just about every single time.

    1. Never, ever, ever convince yourself the red eye flight from the West Coast back east is a good idea. And this is from someone who is about to get on a plane at 11:15PM PT. If you see me in person on Thursday, ask me to give you $100. I will be so punchy I will probably say ok.

    Until the next trip...

    Wednesday
    Sep272017

    Protests, free speech, and how the 'Work/life blend' people got it wrong

    Your right to free speech in the workplace has largely been a settled matter, at least here in the US. 

    Essentially, you don't have any such right in the workplace. Or said differently, if you attempt in going too far in exercising what you think should be your right to free speech in the workplace, the company that employs you can and possibly will relieve you from your position without much deliberation and without recourse.

    And most employees, I think, more or less get that. They understand the tradeoff, they know that the company does not exist to create a forum for employees to exercise their rights to free speech as and when they like. 'On the clock' time belongs to the company. Computers, phones, and other company owned devices shouldn't be used for activities that are not a part of your 'official' role.

    Like I said, most of us get that. Back when email was first introduced into organizations as a work tool, we (tried) not to use it to email all of our non-work friends. We (tried) not to make a bunch of personal calls from the office phone. And (if we were smart), saved any break room or water cooler talk to last night's game or episode of The Sopranos. 

    The time and place for provocative, controversial, or potentially divisive speech or conversations was pretty much understood to be when you were not at work, and not in the workplace. And that worked (reasonably) well for most folks for a quite some time. 

    Even as technology modernized, and tools like PCs, home broadband connections, and later smart phones and social networks became more ubiquitous, there still was a decent understanding that work time was work time, and non-work time, (and freedom of speech time), was non-work time.  But just like water finds its way to fill up all available space, work too, tries to find its way into more and more of our personal space.

    Over time, it made sense for many companies and for their employees to think a little more fluidly and creatively about 'work' and 'non-work'. The above mentioned technologies, along with more employee's desire to be more present and fulfilled in their personal and family life, and in the last seven or eight years and increasingly tight labor market have all combined to drive many workplaces and roles to be designed much, much more flexibly than in the past. 

    Lots of folks no longer think about work as a place they go and a set of tasks they perform at specific, defined times each day. Usually Monday to Friday by the way. But the tech and the demands of work and employee desires have made it so that 'work' is not so much a place or a time but rather just a thing(s) someone does.

    Who cares if you take the conference call from your kitchen table or if you work on the presentation at 9PM on a Saturday or that you skip some boring all hands meeting to catch Jr's soccer game? When work isn't a time or a place and it just is something you do, then when and where you are at any given time is irrelevant. You do what you need to do (at an acceptable quality level or not).

    But what happened next is that more and more organizations and people too came to find that all this flexibility and fluidity came with an unexpected cost. 

    Work, like water, never stopped flowing. Even when we were almost certain we were not working. Like when we were at that soccer game. Or on vacation. Or at 9AM on Sunday morning. Work became a constant companion, in a way that non-work, despite skipping out from the office to catch a 3rd grade recital never did.

    As the balance between work and not work shifted more and more towards work, then we were suddenly informed by small but loud subset of 'experts' that we needed to stop talking about work/life balance, (which we were told we could no longer achieve), and focus on something called 'work/life blend'. 

    The 'blend' agenda, was/is more or less an admission no longer can work be safely and easily partitioned off from non-work. Sure, you might be able to get away with taking an hour away from your email when you are at the recital but you better check in when you get home or at halftime of the soccer game. Weirdly, being available, accessible, and responsive all the time has become a badge of honor and value for lots of folks. And more and more an expectation of their employers.

    Once you buy into the 'blend' argument, then work is never really something you can completely place aside. Not for long anyway.

    And that might be perfectly fine most of the time for most people. Being able to not be tied to a specific workplace location for specific times has been an incredible benefit for lots and lots of people, (and has increased attendance at elementary school plays immeasurably).

    But recent events in the news help remind us that this 'blend' also comes with a cost beyond just 'My Saturday night might be interupted by an email I have to answer'. The 'blend' also comes with a potential loss of one of the freedoms that most of us take for granted. 

    When you buy in to the idea that 'balance' and by implication 'separation' between work and non-work is no longer possible, then you have tacitly bought into ceding more of your rights and protections than you probably think.

    We've heard and read a lot of talk about how no one's freedom of speech fully extends to the workplace.

    What happens when the workplace extends out to us, to everywhere we go, to everything we do?

    Enjoy that blend.

    Friday
    Sep012017

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 294 - Labor Day Special: Talking about Work

    HR Happy Hour 294 - Labor Day Special: Talking about Work

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, for a special Labor Day 2017 weekend show, Steve and Trish share some of their experiences of work, workplaces, bosses, and more. Bad jobs, great jobs, crazy jobs, great bosses, horrible bosses and more. We also share some of our for the future of work and workplaces as we think about our own kids heading into the workplace soon.

    You'll hear stories about horrible promotional trinkets, the pros and cons of working in a cemetery, catching fraudsters at the amusement park, how cold it is in a perishable foods warehouse, bosses that truly cared and made a difference, as well as bosses who left a pair of 16 year-old knuckleheads to run the store.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below:

    Labor Day is a great time to pause, reflect, and certainly to celebrate work and the workforce. We hope you like this fun episode where we share some of our best, worst, and most impactful memories of our work lives.

    Happy Labor Day to all the HR Happy Hour fans and thanks as always for listening.

    Thanks to show sponsor Virgin Pulse - learn more at www.virginpulse.com.

    And subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts.

    Follow the HR Happy Hour on Twitter - @HRHappyHour and tweet the show with your best/worst/favorite jobs and workplaces.

    Friday
    Aug252017

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 293 - Workplace Movie Hall of Fame: Flashdance

    HR Happy Hour 293 - Workplace Movie Hall of Fame - Flashdance

    Hosts: Trish McFarlaneSteve Boese

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and Trish continue The Workplace Movie Hall of Fame series with a look at the big HR and workplace themes in the 1983 hit "Flashdance".

    Flashdance was released in 1983 and starred Jennifer Beals as Alex and Michael Nouri as the boss. Alex is a female dynamo: steel worker by day, exotic dancer by night. Her dream is to get into a real dance company, though, and with encouragement from her boss/boyfriend, she may get her chance

    Flashdance was also the 3rd highest grossing film in the US in 1983 - $92.9M.

    The film has several big HR and workplace themes running though it - some seriously hostile and harassing work environments for women, a probably inappropriate, (and definitely creepy) romance between the boss and one of his very young employees, how leaders do or do not support employee's dreams and career goals, and the importance of having a more expansive and inclusive idea of talent and potential.

    We dug into how these themes are portrayed in the movie, how they inform how we think about work and workplaces today, and what we can learn from looking back at some really different norms in workplaces in 1983.

    Steve and Trish also talked about the importance of leadership, kindness in the workplace, and even if it is ever appropriate to kiss and/or hug at work.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or using the widget player below:

    This was a really fun show! 

    Thanks as always to show sponsor Virgin Pulse - learn more at www.virginpulse.com.

    Subscribe to the HR Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, and all the podcast apps.

    Monday
    May012017

    The five kinds of office environments and what they really say about your company

    Caught the news this morning that Apple begun moving employees into its new, futuristic, spaceship-looking, and $5 Billion costing campus in Callifornia last week.

    The space (or space ship) seems to be by all accounts incredible, (and I suppose for $5B it had better be), and reading the article over and looking at some of the pics of the new Apple campus got me to thinking about the various office spaces that I have worked in or at least have visited in my career. 

    And honestly, while each office space is unique, and different in its own way, I think that they all can be broken down and places in one of just a few categories. Let's say five.

    Here are the five kinds of office environments as I see it,an example of a typical company with that kinds of office set up, what the company thinks their offices say about them, and what each type of office really says about you, the company, their aspirations, and maybe even their future.

    Here goes....

    1. We don't have ANY offices  100% virtual baby. I'm having a staff meeting from the beach in Majorca.

    Example: Automattic, Buffer, GitHub

    What the company thinks it says: We are progressive, we only want the best talent, we trust people to do their best work in the environment that suits them the best

    What it really says: There's a chance we may not qualify for a 12 month lease of decent space. And your Mom or Aunt Sally has almost certainly never heard of us. But if we disappear, it won't make too much of an impact, since we were never really 'here' anyway.

    2. Class 'A' space in the office park out near the airport

    Example: Tons of them - think logistics, insurance, regional telecom companies, pretty much anyone the developer can find

    What the company thinks it says: We care about our employees enough to have them work in a clean, bright, and completely non-confrontational place. If the space is comfortable and has ample parking, then it is all good.

    What it really says: We have just about zero personality or culture. Check that - we can add a 'culture' board to the break room wall, near the microwave. That will work. Class 'A' office space is like a Honda CRV. Sure, it will get you where you need to go, but you will remember exactly nothing of the journey. 

    3. Big city, downtown, high rise (especially when relocating from Class 'A' space out in the middle of nowhere)

    Example: Boeing, General Electric, McDonald's

    What the company thinks it says: We want to attract more millennials who want to live and work in large cities with lots to do and see - arts, restaurants, sports, night life, etc. We also like to see the company name on a big tower. We also want to attract a more diverse, technically savvy workforce while we are at it.

    What it really says: We can't recruit anyone younger than 40 to come to work in McMansionville 24 miles outside of the city. We also like to see the company name on the side of a giant building.

    4. Common plan! Exposed brick! Ping Pong! Kegerator! (Did I mention the exposed brick?)

    Example: Every Series A funded tech startup in San Francisco or New York

    What the company thinks it says: We are cool! We are fun! We like to work hard and play hard! We don't care about hierarchy here, the CEO sits at the same communal table we all do! And we like exposed brick!

    What it really says: Common plan spaces are way cheaper than building out personal offices, rent at the converted warehouse was almost nothing, (a lot less than in the McDonald's tower), after about 4 days everyone will invest in new noise cancelling/don't talk to me I am trying to work headphones, and my gosh are Josh and Tim ever not playing ping pong! I don't have a snarky remark about the kegerator. That would be pretty cool to have.

    5. Money is no object. I mean, NO object.

    Example: Apple's new campus

    What the company thinks it says: We have more money, power, influence, and gravitas than anyone. We can do whatever we want. We don't care what you think.

    What it really says: We have more money, power, influence, and gravitas than anyone. We can do whatever we want. We don't care what you think.

    $5B large on a new office? Must be nice.

    That kind of scratch would buy a lot of ping pong tables.

    And keep everyone's kegerator filled for a long, long time.

    Have a great week!