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  • The case for finally cleaning your desk

    Modern working practices including hot desking, remote working and open plan offices are captivating companies, with more and more offices moving towards this style of working. But what if this is actually making us less productive and creative, and less satisfied at work?

    Below is a selection of interesting articles from the past month covering these issues and more, including gender bias and how to spot sign of extremism in your colleagues.

    How the modern office is killing our creativity

    Could it be that the same Chief Executives who want to generate creativity are killing it by jamming their staff into noisy, open-plan offices full of irksome distractions, reports the FT? Employees don’t agree with their companies’ executives that they have the right tools at work to deal with these distractions, with solitude in short supply as companies move towards open-plan and hot-desking. One study found that people think creatively when they are able to concentrate on a single task for a large period of time – but how is that possible when there are 100 other people in a room trying to be creative at the same time?

    Stop Letting Push Notifications Ruin Your Productivity

    While constant notifications from smartphones on our desks leads to a state of hyper-responsiveness, it is also sapping out our ability to ‘get into the flow’ and leave the office feeling truly accomplished, reports Harvard Business Review. Since our prehistoric ancestors used stone tools to start fires and hunt for prey, technology has made us more efficient and effective at what we do. However, Aristotle knew that people should cultivate virtues at intermediate levels between deficiencies and excesses to achieve happiness. The article asks: How about switching our phones to airplane mode and designate ‘phone checking’ time so it doesn’t take over your day.

    Flexible working’s unforeseen tensions

    The FT writes that flexible working bends outdated rules governing the time and place for getting work done. In practice, however, employees and organisations are finding that flexible working involves navigating unforeseen outcomes along the way. One of the biggest pitfalls people have found is that the day you’re not supposed to be working you get trapped in a web of calls, meetings and emails. The issues, and resulting decisions by people to become self-employed to achieve their desired flexibility, raise further problems for employers wanting to attract and retain women into their company.

    Making Jokes During a Presentation Helps Men But Hurts Women

    Hearing something funny can reduce stress, generate a positive mood and increase motivations – however these outcomes may only apply to men, according to research published in Harvard Business Review. Analysis of presentations by male and female actors found that men were given higher ratings when they used humour, while women received lower ratings. One participant noted that the humorous woman showed “poor judgment in jokes” and another noted that she tried “to cover up her lack of real business acumen by making little jokes.”

    Companies cannot afford to ignore older workers

    Many employers believe negative stereotypes about older workers being less productive, however research has found that they take fewer sick days, are more adept at solving conflicts, have a strong work ethic and are loyal, the FT writes. In Britain, almost 1m people aged 50-64 who are not in employment say they would like to work. Economics aside, people need not just longer working lives but better-quality, satisfying work. The charity Centre for Ageing Better urges employers to adopt “Age-friendly” practices such as ending age bias in recruitment, improving provision of flexible working, continuing training and progression for workers of all ages, and supporting carers and those with health conditions.

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