Glass half-full or half-empty: How to balance a partying culture at work

What was your honest reaction when Sanna Marin, Finland’s prime minister, was scandalized for partying recently? In August, the 36-year-old sparked controversy after leaked videos showed her dancing and drinking with friends. 

Whichever side of the bar you sit on, Marin’s partying raised important questions about how business leaders in all walks of life should conduct themselves when with and without colleagues in a social environment. 

How do employees feel about a boozy boss? And do enforced work events, where people are encouraged to imbibe at a free bar, help or hinder the health of a workplace in a post-pandemic world?

Indeed, in most industries, for decades – if not centuries – socializing with colleagues and attending work drinks has been central to company culture. Away from the workplace, over a glass or two, people can relax, make meaningful memories, share challenges and opportunities – at work and home – and, ultimately, strengthen bonds with coworkers. But is the glass half-full, half-empty, or completely empty in 2022?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Workers share their worst toxic boss experiences

All the chatter about quiet quitting – namely, doing what a job requires and no more – has provoked deeper discussions about toxic workplace culture and poor management as organizations firm up their hybrid-working strategies.

Some execs have aired concerns that the bring-your-whole-selves-to-work trend has backfired, and in many cases has caused fragmented workforces, while some leaders have taken advantage of the concept to justify their own questionable behavior.

WorkLife spoke to a range of employees from those who consider themselves quiet quitters, to those who have resigned outright, plus those still considering resigning, to find out what prompted them to take their current course of action. Under the condition of anonymity – for fear of career-damaging repercussions – they shared their recent experiences, which highlight the alarming management they have endured. We’ve selected three of the worst accounts.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How hybrid working has complicated mergers & acquisitions

Up to 90% of business acquisitions don’t achieve the expected value or benefits. The principal reason for this failure is that integrating groups is notoriously challenging – and even more so now, with many organizations shifting to hybrid working strategies. 

Global deal-making activities hit a record $6 trillion last year. And yet, while employees are the most critical asset of most companies, they often get neglected in the excitement of an M&A.

The age-old M&A model typically involved the employees of one company leaving their offices, to join those of their new employer. But with today’s hybrid and flexible working setups, that looks very different. And adds new complexity to the long-term challenge of successful cultural integration.

Organic opportunities for new colleagues to connect are likely to be missed thanks to the move to hybrid working. So what could – and should – be done?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How to fix the metaverse’s sexual harassment problem (and make ‘metawork’ a reality)

Since Meta – the tech titan formerly known as Facebook – revealed last year that it would invest heavily in the metaverse, there has been massive enthusiasm about the possibilities of this nascent technology, not least in a future-of-work capacity. 

Indeed, at the end of July, a study by Grand View Research predicted the booming metaverse market will reach $6.8 trillion by 2030. However, alarming recent data indicates that almost two-thirds of adults believe metaverse technologies will enable sexual harassment.

national tracking poll by business-intelligence company Morning Consult, published in March, found that 61% of 4,420 U.S. adults were concerned about this specific subject. Women seem most worried about it, with 41% of female respondents saying they have “major” concerns, compared to 34% of males. 

The same research showed that 79% of adults are worried about the tracking and misuse of personal data in the metaverse. Add in the numerous articles written about people’s personal experiences of harassment in the metaverse, and it’s clear there is a deep-rooted trust issue that business leaders should consider before funding metaverse worlds for employees, whether onboarding staff, hosting events, or meetings.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

‘It’s pulling us apart’: Has the ‘bring our whole selves to work’ trend backfired?

In the post-Covid-19 era, business leaders are advised to be authentic in word and deed, display their vulnerabilities, and encourage staff to bring their whole selves to work. But some argue this has merely opened a can of worms within organizations — an outcome that may be hard to rectify.

Almost half (44%) of U.S. employees said they have actively avoided some co-workers because they disagree with their political views since returning to the office following the coronavirus crisis, according to unpublished Gartner research seen by WorkLife.

Brian Kropp, group vice president and chief of research for Gartner’s human resources practice, acknowledged that events of the last 2 1/2 years have frayed work relationships. Still, in his view, we have brought this problem on ourselves.

“We spend so much time talking about ‘bringing your whole self to work,’ making sure that we’re inclusive and encouraging people to be who they are when they’re in the office,” he said. “Part of an employee’s whole self is their political beliefs.”

As workplaces have become more open and inclusive, they have also invited the day’s political, societal and cultural debates into the workplace. “Unfortunately, in this period of extreme political and cultural tension, that conflict has permeated into the workplace, and now it’s pulling us apart from each other,” added Kropp.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

People are being harsher in the workplace post-pandemic – how did we get here?

Be honest: are you snappier with your colleagues and harsher with your spoken and written words than two years ago? We might not like to admit it, but the pandemic altered us all, to a degree – at work and home. 

Individually, the change might be imperceptible. However, collectively it adds up to a negative conclusion. And if left unchecked, this general lack of positivity will toxify the workplace and corrode relationships.

Brian Kropp, group vp and chief of research for Gartner’s HR practice, expressed his concern for employers and their staff. “There are numerous things pulling employees apart from each other, and that’s incredibly difficult as an organization because the purpose of having a company is bringing people together, to collaborate, and to achieve something bigger than any individual could achieve alone,” he said.

Could this be the start of a worrying trend? “We’re finding that we are entering a period where things inside and outside our organizations are causing the workforce fragmentation,” Kropp added. 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

WTF is Tropicalization?

The purest distillation of Darwinism is “evolve or die.” And following the acceleration of trends spurred by the coronavirus crisis, most business leaders have realized they must lasso and partner with specialists all over the planet to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic world.

Little wonder the value of the average merger and acquisition (M&A) deal in 2021 for the 10 highest deals in the U.K. was £3.3 billion ($3.9 billion), according to Office for National Statistics data — over five times more than the previous year’s £600,000 ($716,000). In the U.S., the value of M&A deals amounted to roughly $212 billion in December 2021, with the acquisition of Time Warner by America Online deemed the largest all-time M&A deal in the U.S. in 2022, according to Statista. And globally, M&A volumes hit a record $5.9 trillion, up 62% on the 2020 figure, Dealogic data showed.

While transformation is necessary for growth, few welcome it. Change management is essential for the success — or failure — of the merging of companies. If not handled with sensitivity, a clash of ways of working and cultures can be toxic. For this reason, the word “tropicalization” is increasingly being used in business circles.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in July 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Mojitos in the metaverse? More companies take to hosting team happy hours via virtual reality headsets

Before the pandemic, U.S. marketing agency The Starr Conspiracy’s employees would enjoy Olympic-like competitions in the office car parks and revel in regular in-person, happy-hour meetings. However, with the fun tap turned off by the coronavirus-induced restrictions, company bosses sensed disconnection and isolation were growing for remote-working staff. So they reached for virtual reality headsets.

Now, all 72 employees have Oculus Quest 2s, which cost about $300 per set, and join in for happy hours and quiz nights in the metaverse. But, aside from the obvious practical issues — it’s hard first to locate and then swig a mojito while wearing an obstructive plastic mask — will employees swallow such activities, and can they genuinely re-engage staff?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in February 2022 – to continue reading please click here.