102 episodes

Make work better.


How can we fix work? Each week we chat to scientists and experts to improve our jobs. The book of the show - The Joy of Work is a UK top 10 bestseller: amzn.to/2zsBuR8 Hosted by @brucedaisley. Contact the show

Eat Sleep Work Repeat Bruce Daisley

    • Management

Make work better.


How can we fix work? Each week we chat to scientists and experts to improve our jobs. The book of the show - The Joy of Work is a UK top 10 bestseller: amzn.to/2zsBuR8 Hosted by @brucedaisley. Contact the show

    Burnout - understanding the other epidemic

    Burnout - understanding the other epidemic

    Last year Anne Helen Petersen’s Buzzfeed article about burnout became a viral sensation, spawning a seemingly never-ending wave of ‘Year of Burnout’ headlines. Petersen’s writing triggered such recognition because she rooted it in the ordinary, in everyday experiences that were instantly relatable. She evoked her own life where industrious professional productivity (as a writer) was combined with a weary inability to get things done in her private life.
    She initially thought there was something wrong with her. Googling for other people relating their aversion to getting sh!t done domestically, bills sitting unpaid, registrations unfiled, postal votes uncast, chores uncompleted. She realised it wasn’t personal, it was systematic. The way we were living was driving us to a constant feeling of being emotionally & physically spent.
    Relatedly, it was sad to read of the passing of David Graeber this week. As an academic he was an unexpected icon of progressive politics but more than anything he was someone who invited us to revisit our preconceived ideas about how society functioned. Graeber had mused in his book ‘Bullshit Jobs’, wondering what had happened to the 15-hour week that in 1930 John Maynard Keynes had predicted by the end of the 20th century. He wondered whether it was indeed possible but societally we might have to reorganise the world of work to achieve it. Insurgent thinking for many, but there are echoes of this conjecture in Petersen’s book. Some of her thoughts might find resonance with frazzled younger workers wondering why they won’t be free of their student loans until 2045 and looking at house prices simmering away at 10 times their salary.
    AHP reminds us that despite a whole genre of self-improvement literature that tells us that our personal actions can resolve burnout - or that, come on slouch, you need to be grittier, we need to point the finger at the actions of our firms, not ourselves. Ultimately she suggests that our casual acceptance of the way we’re working is having a toll on our psyche that can’t be easily unspun by productivity hacks and meditation apps. As Taylor Lorenz notes on the jacket, the book “is a compelling exploration of… how an entire generation has been set up to fail”.




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    • 42 min
    The big return 3: a closer look at data

    The big return 3: a closer look at data

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    Today's interviewees: Bhushan Sethi leads PwC's workplace strategy business and Ben Waber is the CEO of workplace analytics firm, Humanyze.


    Read the Humanyze research about the way work has changed since lockdown.
    Here's the previous episode I recorded with Ben Waber.
     
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    • 25 min
    Gary Hamel: Battling bureaucracy - the big fix for broken work

    Gary Hamel: Battling bureaucracy - the big fix for broken work

    I was fortunate to speak to Gary Hamel about his forthcoming new book, Humanocracy.


    He believes that the single most empowering (and profitable) thing that businesses can do is eliminate their creeping bureaucracy.


    He talks about how increasingly organisations are paralysed with red tape and bureaucracy. The end result is that they can’t get anything done. There are some clear examples of this from the recent past. He characterises the Microsoft era under Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer as being one where opportunity after opportunity was passed because the organisation was so heavily bureaucratic. Satya Nadella has freed the organisation from a lot of this – with evident results.


    Hamel proposes a series of questions that help you diagnose the extent of bureaucracy in your company - and you can read more about this here: read more


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    • 59 min
    The big return 2: but what are other firms doing?

    The big return 2: but what are other firms doing?

    What are other firms doing about returning to work? How can any of us work out the right thing to do? I chat to 4 more firms to hear their plans.

    Listen to conversations with Beth Marie Norbury from Babcock International, Tom Ellis from Brand Genetics, Richard from a big pharmaceuticals firm and Laura Pleasance from Captify. This is addition to Dan Cullen Shute last episode.


    Here's more on my survey I put out last week (from last week's newsletter):
    We’ve already heard loud and clear that workers don’t want to return to the old days but we’re starting to hear more about firm ordering workers back to their seating plan. L’Oreal US saw some unwelcomed attention this month when they told workers that if they didn’t come back ASAP they needed to authorise the firm having access to their private medical records.
    So what are other firms saying is going to happen next? I got just under 100 qualitative replies to the survey; from pharmaceutical companies to start-ups, charities to defence contractors. The replies detailed different approaches from companies as they try to work out how to act next. The main headlines were:
    - Amongst all firms ‘normal’ has been postponed until 2021 - everything at the moment is being framed as interim. 2021 is when firms are expecting to be able to jump start their new culture.
    - Just over two-fifths of firms (42%) have told workers they won’t be expected to return to offices until 2021 if they don’t want to. (26% back from September/October onwards, 31% already phasing some return of workers back to the office from August). This finding is consistent with the straw poll that Digiday performed across publishing and media companies.
    Some of the most interesting quotations showing the spectrum of positions:
    "[an organisation that went from 4 floors to 27 seats] It’s amazing how many of the things people said couldn’t be done from home could once COVID hit. We’re looking at a total rethink on workspaces and what the future looks like - a place for social interaction and collaboration with the ethos that work is something you do not somewhere you go… there’s no going back”
    “We issued a survey to understand what our people feel comfortable with, and on that basis have told everyone no one will be asked to work from the office if they prefer not to for the rest of the year”
    [We got everyone back to the office in mid July] “we're an office based business and we need to get used to being back in the office as we can't work from home together. No plans announced on long term flexibility but lots of employees are asking (as are new hires)”.
    “The success of working from home, and the fact that so many staff have said they now want more flexibility, has lead [the organisation] to put one of our office buildings up for lease. So a full 5 day return to the office for everyone wouldn’t even be possible”.
     
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    • 31 min
    The big return 1: making the call on what to do next

    The big return 1: making the call on what to do next

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    Here's Dan's tweets that started this conversation.


    Today's episode is first of two episodes about the big return to work. It covers themes that I've covered in the newsletter over the last few weeks. What are other firms doing? How will they make their decisions. Over the 2 episodes I've chatted to stacks of people to get their views. Firstly I talk to someone who went on the record describing his company's approach.


    Dan Cullen Shute is the boss of advertising agency, Creature he tweeted a few weeks ago that he was getting the band back together every Wednesday and Thursday. I asked him his thinking behind this and his vision of how this will create a special place to work.
     
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    • 42 min
    Building resilience - understanding the human impact of work

    Building resilience - understanding the human impact of work

    "We think people want to be liked, but they need to be needed".


    A thoroughly stimulating discussion here - that I've allowed to run long because it's so interesting.
    I met a brilliant guy called Misha Byrne who worked for a company called NeuroPower. I was so taken with what he was talking about (applying neuroscience to work) that we arranged to meet up, and he brought Peter Burow, the founder of the company along.


    There's some wonderful stuff in this discussion:
    - the important of Relatedness in teams
    - how we build affinity between people who might not initially see a connection with each other (in this case doctors from India and Pakistan)
    - how good teams don't avoid conflict, they are comfortable with it
    - how resilience can be built in teams
    - "We think people want to be liked, they need to be needed"


    The model that they use in their work is RELISH: Relatedness, Expression, Leading the pack, Interpersonal connection, See Progress and Hope for the future


    We talk a lot about Matt Lieberman's book, Social.


    Misha invites listeners to drop him an email you can do that here. Peter's book is here or you can read it for free here.
     
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    • 54 min

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