Tag Archives: work

Working or Being at Work

The video below about a company that has its employees work a 32-hour week has a graphic that says the average American worker is working 47 hours per week. Maybe, but more likely the average American spends 47 hours at work and only a certain percentage of that is actually doing something considered productive work. The rest of the time is spent on dealing with email, chit-chat with coworkers, Candy Crush, etc. If we all knew we only had 32 hours to get our jobs done I wonder how much more intensely we’d focus on our actual work?

The Memo

I’ve worked for quite a few organizationsĀ over my career and while they were all unique they all had two things in common – the Personal Usage Memo and the Hygiene Memo. I’m fairly confident everyone has seen these, but if you haven’t here’s the overview of each:

Personal Usage Memo
This memo is sent by the boss to the entire company/department/team to remind them that company property (phones, computers, mobile devices, etc.) are not to be used for personal business. The memo almost always starts with, “It has been brought to may attention that…” and it’sĀ sent to the entire group even if only one person is violating the policy, purportedly to remind everyone of the policy but realistically because the boss doesn’t have the balls to confront the violator one-on-one.

Hygiene Memo
This is my favorite, mainly because it is almost always necessary and it also almost always overwrought. Basically it comes down to this: people are slobs and they’re lazy. They don’t clean up after themselves and, like in most of our households, one or two people end up cleaning up after the rest. There’s also the matter of cluttered desks, which is less a problem for co-workers but can be an issue for companies that might have policies related to security, privacy, etc. So this particular memo is necessary, but when it’s written the boss almost always gets too specific and then defensive about the remedies being sought. It should be as simple as, “Dear everyone, we’re all adults here and as adults you should know our company’s policies related to how your work space is to be kept. In all of our common areas like the kitchen you should know to clean up after yourselves so that you don’t gross out everyone else. Please act like the adult you are.”

Unfortunately offended bosses can’t help themselves and go into excruciating detail about what they perceive as the problem and what they’d like done about it. Those are the memos that tend to make their way into the public realm and open the authors up to some pretty good teasing. Best example of late is this memo from Wired’s editor to his staff and the dramatic reading of it in the video below. Enjoy.

How to Write a Book

Lately I've seen a rash of "Easy Ways to Write a Business Book and Make a Killing" type posts on the various social media channels I frequent. You'd be right to be suspicious of anyone shilling those programs because the truth of the matter is that any book worth reading likely had a great deal of blood, sweat and tears poured into it. Scott Adams, he of Dilbert fame, offers a glimpse into his writing process and reveals how hard writing a book really is:

Part of the problem is that writing a book is the loneliest job in the world, and an immense amount of work. It's hard to get started on a project so daunting. My new book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, took two years to write. For most of that time, no one but me saw any part of it. My publisher and I have a long history, so he lets me run free after the general concept for the book is nailed down. I probably worked for 18 months without anyone else seeing a word of it…

For nearly two years I plugged away on a collection of ideas around my theme and I have to say that none of it worked until the next-to-last round of edits. With my layered writing process, success tends to be binary. The book is a lifeless bunch of ideas until the moment it isn't. As a writer, you hope that moment comes, but you can never know for sure. This is yet another case in which my natural inclination for optimism comes in handy. I tell myself I can smell a book before I can see it. I know it's in me; I just need to write until I find it. I'm not entirely sure if I am intuitive or irrational, or even if those things are different.

If you're planning to write a book, ask yourself if you are the type of person that can spend that much time completely alone, doing unpleasant work, while receiving nothing in the way of encouragement or positive feedback along the way. You won't even know if anyone will read your book when you're done. If you answered "Yes, I can do that," I recommend these steps:

He then goes on to detail the six major steps in his writing process and they are indeed daunting. As he points out, every writer has his own method but what the good ones have in common is that their methods all include a great deal of hard work.

Forget Being Outsourced, We’re Being Siliconsourced

An interesting take on disappearing jobs:

…digital technologies are rapidly encroaching on skills that used to belong to humans alone. This phenomenon is both broad and deep, and has profound economic implications. Many of these implications are positive; digital innovation increases productivity, reduces prices (sometimes to zero), and grows the overall economic pie.

But digital innovation has also changed how the economic pie is distributed, and here the news is not good for the median worker. As technology races ahead, it can leave many people behind. Workers whose skills have been mastered by computers have less to offer the job market, and see their wages and prospects shrink. Entrepreneurial business models, new organizational structures and different institutions are needed to ensure that the average worker is not left behind by cutting-edge machines.

Found via Cone.

Teenage Labor Force

Our oldest, Michael, was interviewed for Richard Craver's story in the Winston-Salem Journal about the difficulty teens are having finding work.

Being an early weekend riser wasn't exactly what Michael Lowder had in mind when he began pursuing a part-time job for the summer before heading to UNC Charlotte this fall.

But after filling out dozens of online applications and getting only two responses, Lowder, 18, said he felt fortunate to be hired for the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekend shift for the breakfast buffet at Embassy Suites

Lowder's experience is all too familiar to working-age teens and adults trying to find temporary or permanent employment in the tight job market.

Like many adults with jobs, Lowder landed his position primarily because of networking, in his case a neighbor who is in management at Twin City Quarter.

When asked his advice for other teens, Lowder said don't be afraid to ask a neighbor or a friend's parent who runs a business if they need help.

"Honestly, I got lucky," Lowder said. "It seems, at least from the combined experiences of my friends, that small businesses are your best bet for employment."

I have to say I've been proud of Michael for dragging himself out of bed at 5:15 every Saturday and Sunday morning, and now that school's over, several days in between. It's not easy, but at least he has a job and that makes him one of the lucky ones.