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This is an email from Work Futures Update, a newsletter by Work Futures.

Work Futures Update | What We Pretend To Be

Be careful

Photo by Josh Frenette on Unsplash

2021–01–05 Beacon NY

It’s interesting to be posting daily again. We’ll see if it lasts.

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Quote of the Day

We are what we pretend to be, and so we must be careful what we pretend to be.

| Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

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Research: Women Are Better Leaders During a Crisis | Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman post new research:

There has been a lot said about how women have done a better job leading during the Covid-19 crisis than men. According to an analysis of 360-degree assessments conducted between March and June of this year, women were rated by those who work with them as more effective. The gap between men and women in the pandemic is even larger than previously measured, possibly indicating that women tend to perform better in a crisis. In fact, women were rated more positively on 13 of the 19 competencies that comprise overall leadership effectiveness in the authors’ assessment.

I would have guessed this to be the case since earlier research showed that women were generally rated better leaders. Apropos of the pandemic, women are seen as being more engaged.

As the authors conclude,

Perhaps the most valuable part of the data we’re collecting throughout the crisis is hearing from thousands of direct reports about what they value and need from leaders now. Based on our data they want leaders who are able to pivot and learn new skills; who emphasize employee development even when times are tough; who display honesty and integrity; and who are sensitive and understanding of the stress, anxiety, and frustration that people are feeling. Our analysis shows that these are traits that are more often being displayed by women.

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Tech That Will Change Your Life in 2021 | Joanna Stern, Christopher Mims, Nicole Nguyen, and Wilson Rothman produced a list that had one real gem buried in it about the enduring value of company off-sites (which may be becoming on-sites, now that we are following minimum office patterns):

Return of the Trust Fall

While remote work has many advantages, building trust between employees isn’t one of them. Online, there is no water cooler, no nearby coffee shop for informal brainstorms, no place to grab a drink after work. But companies whose employees worked remotely long before the pandemic already had a solution: the off-site retreat.

Buffer, a fully remote company, gets its entire, globe-spanning team together at least once a year. Dozens of other companies whose employees work mostly or entirely at home do the same thing, which has led to a cottage industry of firms that will plan these retreats for you.

One reason companies have embraced remote work is that it makes employees happier, but another is that it saves companies money on office space. In 2021, expect to see many of the millions of employees who have permanently shifted to remote or hybrid work piling into party buses, doing group yoga and seeking inner peace in the presence of their bosses — for far less than the cost of the rent on the offices they left behind.

Although this isn’t about tech, is it?

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Washington’s Secret to the Perfect Zoom Bookshelf? Buy It Wholesale. | Ashley Fetters looks behind the talking heads to their bookcases:

Books by the Foot, a service run by the Maryland-based bookseller Wonder Book, has become a go-to curator of Washington bookshelves, offering precisely what its name sounds like it does. As retro as a shelf of books might seem in an era of flat-panel screens, Books by the Foot has thrived through Democratic and Republican administrations, including that of the book-averse Donald Trump. And this year, the company has seen a twist: When the coronavirus pandemic arrived, Books by the Foot had to adapt to a downturn in office- and hotel-decor business — and an uptick in home-office Zoom backdrops for the talking-head class.

The Wonder Book staff doesn’t pry too much into which objective a particular client is after. If an order were to come in for, say, 12 feet of books about politics, specifically with a progressive or liberal tilt — as one did in August — Wonder Book’s manager, Jessica Bowman, would simply send one of her more politics-savvy staffers to the enormous box labeled “Politically Incorrect” (the name of Books by the Foot’s politics package) to select about 120 books by authors like Hillary Clinton, Bill Maher, Al Franken and Bob Woodward. The books would then be “staged,” or arranged with the same care a florist might extend to a bouquet of flowers, on a library cart; double-checked by a second staffer; and then shipped off to the residence or commercial space where they would eventually be shelved and displayed (or shelved and taken down to read).

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Elsewhere

The Trouble With Vacation Time | Who owns vacation time, the company, or you?

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