Remember that time companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars on open-office layouts, only to discover that face-to-face interactions decrease by 70% in open-office plans? More fallout today: Ethan Bernstein, the Harvard researcher behind that finding, has taken to the Harvard Business Review to analyze why. He says that workers in open spaces quickly develop psychological fourth walls, the conceptual boundaries that protect their public solitude. For example, coworkers quickly learn that wearing headphones or appearing to work intently will stop interruptions. “Especially in open spaces, fourth-wall norms spread quickly,” writes Bernstein. The solution, however, may not come from asking individual employees what it is they actually want. “Offices overly focused on supporting individual preferences are unlikely to do an optimal job of supporting the overall team,” Bernstein writes. Instead, he suggests that leaders … [Read more...] about People hate open offices so much that they create ‘fourth walls’ for privacy
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When it comes to the debate over online content, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Comcast, and Verizon get a lot more attention than Cloudflare. But the San Francisco-based content delivery network and cloud security provider is growing fast and gaining notoriety for a nearly absolutist free-speech ethos that benefits everyone from human rights activists to white-power and Islamist hate groups. advertisement advertisement What is Cloudflare? On an existential level, that question is central to the debate about its responsibilities online. In technical terms, it competes with companies such as Akamai by helping millions of websites negotiate the freewheeling internet, routing the sites’ traffic through a network of 165 data centers in 76 countries, to deliver it faster. Cloudflare also shields clients from attacks, such as the data-packet onslaught called a distributed denial of service (DDoS). Cloudflare claims to support over 12 million web domains, including companies like … [Read more...] about Is Cloudflare a privacy champion or hate speech enabler? Depends who you ask
It’s been called the “electronic sweatshop” and its employees “digital slaves.” It’s the call center, and if you’ve ever been on the other end of a (scripted) call from a telesalesperson or a customer service associate, you’ve glimpsed how soul-sucking such rote work can be. advertisement advertisement On their end: hours of sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in a cubicle farm, chatting with customers who range from clueless to chafed to irate, all for a paycheck that barely peeps over minimum wage (if they’re fortunate enough not to have their pay based on commission). Pile on the presence of pushy supervisors and the lack of upward mobility, and it’s no wonder turnover at call centers is about 33% and can go as high as 70% at those with staff exceeding 1,000 agents. It’s workplaces such as this that present the ultimate challenge for companies like Tenacity. Tenacity is a spin-out from Alex Pentland’s … [Read more...] about The Company That’s Figured Out How To Help Call Center Employees Not Hate Their Jobs
Let’s get this right out of the way: Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz, the authors of TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time, know you won’t agree with all of their choices, and they don’t expect you to do so. advertisement advertisement “I’m already kind of dreading the think pieces that might be written about this book. ‘How dare these guys presume to rank these shows! Here is what you forgot, and here is what you shouldn’t have put in for X reason!'” says Seitz, who is the TV critic for New York Magazine and Vulture.com as well as the editor-in-chief and lead film critic of RogerEbert.com. “We said in the introduction, this is not meant to be the definitive pantheon of all time for everyone. It’s only Matt and Alan’s list. That’s all it is. We want more people to do more books like this.” “I would agree with Matt. There is a reason we put ‘The … [Read more...] about Two Critics Pick The All-Time Best TV Shows. And They Know You Already Hate Their List
Larry Platt, the editor of the Philadelphia Citizen, felt like Ed McMahon on election day last November. He was at a local polling station with an oversized $10,000 check in hand and cameras in tow. Who was the lucky winner? A school crossing guard named Bridget Conroy-Varnis. What did she do to attract such a windfall? She voted. advertisement advertisement Founded in 2015, the Citizen is an unconventional publication, interested in not only writing about the city’s problems but exploring and testing solutions. The voting lottery, paid for by a private local foundation, was one of its earliest experiments, aimed at increasing paltry turnout in the city’s local elections. “People have lost faith that their vote matters,” says Platt. “What we have [in Philadelphia] is a corrupt one-party system of political leadership. The people who run the corrupt system are invested in keeping the status quo. The more people we have weighing in on how the … [Read more...] about What If We Paid People To Vote?