Thursday, June 21, 2007

Best Buy Smashing the Clock

Inspiring and detailed article from Business Week: Smashing The Clock. On one hand this seems so logical and obvious that it's bizarre that most organizations aren't set up this way...on the other hand, it's the opposite of the usual command and control model and represents an impossible change for most organizations (or so they think).
"At most companies, going AWOL during daylight hours would be grounds for a pink slip. Not at Best Buy. The nation's leading electronics retailer has embarked on a radical--if risky--experiment to transform a culture once known for killer hours and herd-riding bosses. The endeavor, called ROWE, for "results-only work environment," seeks to demolish decades-old business dogma that equates physical presence with productivity. The goal at Best Buy is to judge performance on output instead of hours."
Later in the article, a simple paragraph sums up the initiative:
"But arguably no big business has smashed the clock quite so resolutely as Best Buy. The official policy for this post-face-time, location-agnostic way of working is that people are free to work wherever they want, whenever they want, as long as they get their work done."
I've been doing a version of this for almost four years already, working for a company, but setting my own hours and going into the office once or twice a week (or less if there's no reason to go in). It's brilliant, and I wish more people could do it. I'm more productive and my quality of life is better. I don't waste time commuting, but I also have the security of a steady job. Like a Best Buy employee said in the comments to the article, "If offered double my salary at another company I would still refuse to leave." That's how I feel whenever I see a job posting somewhere -- no matter how cool the work, how good the salary, or how well-matched to my skills and soon as I envision having to go to an office at the same time every day, I just laugh and shake my head.

How Britain is Eating Its Young

Some compelling and disturbing ideas from Adbusters this week in Generation F*cked:
"According to the Unicef report, which measured 40 indicators of quality of life – including the strength of relationships with friends and family, educational achievements and personal aspirations, and exposure to drinking, drug taking and other risky behaviour – British children have the most miserable upbringing in the developed world. American children come next, second from the bottom."
It's quite detailed and wide-ranging at the same time, with all kinds of lifestyle values and implications throughout. No easy answers, of course.

Thanks to the always-fascinating PsyBlog for the pointer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Parental Leave

In Canada, more dads taking time off when babies arrive, increasing from 38% in 2001 to 55% in 2006. Those numbers still seem awfully low to me...almost half of fathers don't take ANY time off when their babies arrive? Dads can take a parental leave of up to 35 weeks (that guarantees they can return to a position equivalent to the one they had) with the government kicking in 55% of their earnings (up to a max of $423/week) while they're on leave. It's a good program -- I've taken advantage of it twice, and will again in August this year. In spite of this opportunity, two thirds of fathers return to work within one month of the child's arrival, mostly using vacation most aren't even using the program.

90% of Canadian moms take time off work, with half staying home between 12 and 47 months and another third returned between six and 11 months. Canadian moms get 15 weeks of paid leave (at the same benefit rate as above) and then the additonal 35 weeks can be split between spouses, so perhaps moms usually use the full amount, leaving nothing left for the dads.

Many families can't afford the reduction in income(s) for a full year. We've always saved up enough money to make the leaves feasible, but I've agonized a fair bit over the length of my leaves -- despite the legal protection here, stepping outside of the organization that employs me means falling out of the loop and sending the message that I'm not interested in climbing the ladder.

The Wikipedia entry for parental leave is fascinating, showing the different approaches around the world. It makes U.S. labour policies look pathetic -- I mean, most African countries have better parental leave programs.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Life Review

Interesting post from Avi Solomon -- No Need to Die to Benefit from a Life Review:
"Essentially, the life review exercise involves completing the following sentence:

When I reflect on the possibility of undergoing a life review experience upon the end of my life, I wish to..."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The mystery of the daytime idle

The mystery of the daytime idle: Why aren't you working?

A freelance author tackles a compelling topic by wandering around San Francisco in the middle of the day asking people why they're not at work. It's funny and smart and light-hearted, with just enough analysis to keep things interesting:
"Almost half of us get less than seven hours of sleep a night, and it's gotten worse in recent years. Our workaholism has spawned entire walls of self-help books. And yet this parallel universe exists right alongside the work-obsessed one. It looks nice, too, as parallel universes go."
Via the Globe and Mail's "The Office" blog, which includes some interesting comments as well.