How Boston Consulting Group’s vision of a ‘bionic workplace’ can help companies build a seamless and resilient hybrid model

microsoft middle east remote work
The “bionic company” combines tech with the “flexibility, adaptability, and comprehensive experience of humans” to create a “superhuman enterprise.”

  • BCG’s “The Bionic Company” envisions a workplace where tech combines with human adaptability.
  • It’s one model for the future of the post-pandemic company considering going hybrid or fully remote.
  • It involves tech being a main focus, bucking traditional leadership, and giving employees autonomy.
  • This article is part of a series called “Future of Work,” which examines how business leaders are rethinking the workplace.

With the Biden administration setting a goal of 70% of US adults having at least one vaccine shot by July 4, business owners and employers are now anticipating a return to the workplace in some form.

As much as dealing with the pandemic itself was a completely new challenge, envisioning the shape of the workplace in its aftermath has become a discipline all its own.

Brandy Aven, associate professor of organizational theory, strategy, and entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, told Insider that companies are not going to be able to take a one-size-fits-all approach.

Brandy Aven
Brandy Aven.

“Leadership should consider each worker’s situation and circumstances in as nuanced a way as possible rather than try to generate a uniform or blanket policy,” she said. “Similarly, the motivation and rationale for bringing workers back to the office should also be carefully considered and discussed with your workforce.”

Aven’s recommendation for companies includes a “collective dialogue” to generate solutions.

“In general, I would first aim to get individual feelings in a manner that will allow as many people to share their concerns and situations – for example, a survey or one-on-ones,” Aven said. An online forum or discussion board are other options.

This is one path forward in what consultant Paula Rizzo, author of two books on organization, labels as “an opportunity to not go back to the way things were.”

Paula Rizzo
Paula Rizzo.

“None of us are the same. Now people have this new sort of freedom from working remotely, and now everything is changing again,” she told Insider. How companies handle this change, Rizzo added, will determine how successful they are at retaining their employees.

“We’ve got a challenge where when we come back into the world of mixing virtual and physical interaction again, companies really need to think about how they make it the best of both of those experiences,” Rich Hutchinson, managing director and senior partner and social impact practice leader at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), said. “I really believe that people thrive on engagement and seeing other people, but the flip side is that there are huge benefits in being more productive in what you’re doing, but also spending more time with your family or being more flexible with where you are.”

Rich Hutchinson
Rich Hutchinson.

Hutchinson was one of the authors of a recent BCG report envisioning the future of the workplace entitled “The Bionic Company.” In it, the consulting group envisions a workplace where technology combines with the “flexibility, adaptability, and comprehensive experience of humans” to create a “superhuman enterprise.”

This breaks down into several actionable steps that all businesses should keep in mind.

Make technology a priority

First, companies must work to integrate the technology they’ve leveraged during the pandemic into their regular workflow, and evaluate how those processes can be further deployed as workers return to the workplace.

“How will the core processes of the business evolve?” and “How will humans and technology create a more efficient process?” are the key questions leaders should be asking, Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson gave an example of outcomes he’s seen these questions produce in action at a leading retailer. The company “built an algorithm to choose fashions for the next season. The algorithm improved on human choices alone,” he said. “But the best results were achieved when human recommendations were both inputs to an improved algorithm and also experts audited the outcomes. It’s an example of leveraging the power of humans and technology together.”

Becoming a “bionic company” isn’t just for large enterprises, either.

“The trick for small companies and entrepreneurs is to think about their processes in this bionic or digital mindset from the beginning, or adopt them in order of the ones where they think they’ll get the biggest bang for the buck,” Hutchinson said. “But because you’re small, I actually think you can build in a lot of the agile organizational mindset or the technology mindset pretty easily,” he added.

Buck the traditional leadership model and remain transparent

The next consideration is how leadership functions as you come back to work after the pandemic.

In the bionic workplace, it differs from the traditional top-down model, Hutchinson said. In traditional leadership, direction comes from the top and flows down to employees without much input or room for questioning, whereas in bionic leadership, it’s team-based, where the teams build products or drive outcomes and are charged with accomplishing their missions on their own.

“Leadership becomes much more about how I structure my teams, what are they working on, what’s the mission, do I have the right composition of talent on those teams, can I help remove roadblocks from them along the way, and if the project just isn’t working, do I shut it down and redeploy that talent onto other teams that have better uses?” Hutchinson said. “It’s basically how do you set up the teams, charge them with the mission, remove the roadblocks, and let them go, rather than managing a team and sort of orchestrating its activities in a very controlled manner.”

Keeping workers motivated throughout the changes that encompass a return to the workplace is another critical consideration, Hutchinson said. He said that taking the time to explain how the changes are going to be beneficial not just for the company, not just for the customer, but also for the workers, is key to their success. Having reached an unprecedented level of transparency during the pandemic, there’s no going backward.

For example, many companies that are digital natives use agile staffing processes to supplement their core employee base. Hutchinson said that handled properly, employees don’t see this as a threat.

“Employees are restaffed to other work that is now higher value. They see that making the company efficient through technology helps it win,” he said. “Growth creates opportunities for the employee. And agile staffing makes work more interesting rather than stagnant.”

That type of communication is common among companies that originated during the digital age, Hutchinson said.

“One of the things the digital natives have done really well is helping people understand that if we can grow and become more efficient and leverage these techniques into a more bionic operating model, that actually creates more opportunity for all of us, and our sincere goal is to help people find new roles and grow,” he said. “So I think there’s a large part of it that’s down to how the company executes it and helps people see the positives in their journey.”

Give employees an opportunity to structure their days

As business owners start pondering how to move forward, employees’ views will be central to considerations, Hutchinson said. He predicts that more autonomy in the workplace is almost unavoidable.

Employees “sharing what worked and what didn’t – and what they are looking for in a job moving forward – both will shape how employers structure jobs post-pandemic,” Hutchinson said. “For some, the pandemic has meant they needed to and could work in a more independent manner. Where this worked, I think employees will push hard for it to stick.”

Rizzo also believes that employees should get a head start on showing employers what they want and need by planning out what they’d like their work model to look like.

“We have an advantage because we know it’s coming,” she said. “We were all blindsided when remote work became full time, now you have some perspective – use it! Make a list of what you’re better suited to do at home and what works better in the office as you design your hybrid work model. It’s a good time to craft your days in a particular way that will make you more efficient, no matter where you are.”

Hutchinson identified less management, or the feeling of less management, as a benefit of the bionic workplace as well.

“They find that they’re operating more agile, which can be really energizing because it doesn’t feel as managed, it feels much more self-directed and they’re much more empowered,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How Zoom’s chief people officer handled unprecedented growth during the pandemic

Lynne Oldham
Lynne Oldham is the chief people officer at Zoom.

  • Lynne Oldham oversaw Zoom’s HR response during the pandemic.
  • The company started hiring for hundreds of openings to meet 30x increases in demand in March 2020.
  • Oldham brought in a new chief diversity officer who helped reshape the company’s equity efforts.
  • This article is part of a series highlighting high achievers in HR called “Most Innovative HR Leaders.”

There aren’t many companies or products that have been as central to the pandemic workplace experience as Zoom.

In a six-week period, the video meeting software went from 10 million daily meeting participants to 300 million, a 30 times increase that put chief people officer Lynne Oldham in a very complicated situation. She had to increase the employee headcount significantly while moving the entire company remote and meeting the needs of this skyrocketing demand. For these efforts, Oldham was also named one of Insider’s HR Innovators for 2021.

Over the past year, Zoom added new leadership in cybersecurity, engineering and product, and a chief diversity officer. It also made an acquisition of Keybase, further complicating the execution of Oldham’s workforce strategy as they added hundreds of new employees.

Oldham also had to keep pre-pandemic employees top of mind. These workers were tasked with handling the initial bursts of demand, as well as a sharp shift to remote work.

“Zoom’s workforce was only 15% remote pre-pandemic,” Oldham said. “This meant most Zoom employees were navigating a new work from home environment while also working long hours to keep the Zoom platform up, and make updates to address the needs of new users and educate new users.”

One of her first priorities was holistic support for employees, adding new mental health benefits and wellness offerings, which expanded from covering gym memberships to covering grocery and food delivery, home office furniture, and more.

Oldham and her team also created “Camp Zoomitude” for the children of Zoom employees. This summer program provided “camp-based” virtual activities three days a week and featured family sing-a-longs on Fridays.

Screen Shot 1400 02 15 at 11.27.06
A screenshot from Camp Zoomitude, hosted by Jodi Rabinowitz, head of talent and organizational development at Zoom.

For newer employees, Oldham put a heavy emphasis on their digital onboarding program. Knowing they would be adding to their headcount significantly, Zoom leadership knew their onboarding needed extra attention. Oldham notes that today approximately a third of company employees are so new that they have never set foot in an office or met their coworkers.

Zoom announced the hiring of chief diversity officer Damien Hooper-Campbell in late May 2020. After George Floyd’s murder, Oldham facilitated an “all hands” town hall-style meeting to hear from employees on how they were feeling. In follow-up, executive leaders held additional listening sessions with Black employees to continue gathering feedback.

“Learning and education, we believed, were the key to making Zoom a more inclusive workplace,” Oldham said.

Continuing on the theme of education, Zoom launched ZoomTalks, a nine-part series of discussions on race in America completed in partnership with TIME and the University of Southern California where Hooper-Campbell was a co-host. Zoom also forged a five-year partnership with Claflin University, an HBCU, that will spend $1.2 million to provide internships, scholarships, technical support, strategy support, and more.

For Oldham, the main lesson from the pandemic was the responsibility for the holistic support of employees and the role that HR can play there.

“We are now all working through the cracks of life rather than just trying to live life through the cracks of work,” she said. “This means for the HR profession that social engineering will be more critical than ever. Understanding social capital and the nature of the remote workspace is going to be vital so that we can help create collaborative, innovative work cultures in the new remote/hybrid world.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Science-backed ways to become a better leader

  • What changes can you make in the office to increase your team’s performance?
  • We asked Richard Wiseman, professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and author of “How to Remember Everything”, for advice on how you, as a leader, could better lead your team.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a trasncript of the video.

Richard Wiseman: There are lots of myths in psychology – things that people believe there simply is no academic research for.

Brainstorming

When it comes to brainstorming, right now around the world companies are all be getting together to kick around some ideas and generate some new thoughts. A terrible, terrible idea.

If you look at the research on brainstorming, it decreases the number of ideas and the originality of those ideas by around about 20%. Why, because when we all get together, the most dominant people take charge of the meeting and who knew they’re not the most creative people in the world?

So, a very, very simple change which is that you ask people to brainstorm on their own to come up with three innovative solutions before they get together, and then when you get together you go around the group and everyone talks about their solutions no matter how crazy actually increases innovation and creativity. So, again, a very, very simple change. A very easy change, but a very powerful one.

Meetings

When it comes to meetings, often we all like to sit around and we all like, quite frankly, to waste a great deal of time. So, if you stand up in a meeting, a standing meeting, it doesn’t reduce productivity.

What it does do is massively reduce the time of the meeting. People want to be out of that room quickly, so they’re just as productive in a much, much shorter time.

Dishonesty

Also, if you think that a colleague or maybe a client is not being entirely straight with you, what’s the best thing to do to try and find out if they’re being economical with the truth?

Well, if you look at the amount of lying across different types of communication, you see people lie a lot face-to-face, a bit less on the phone, a little bit in texting, but absolutely not in emails. Only around about 10% of emails carry a lie because people don’t want to commit themselves to print.

So, if you think someone isn’t being totally straight with you, just say, oh, can you email me about that? Instantly you’ll find out whether or not they’re being economical with the truth.

Sleep

At the moment, we’re trying to cut down on sleep as much as possible, there’s an epidemic of sleeplessness. And sleep is absolutely vital. It underpins productivity, it underpins focus, it underpins creativity.

What’s happening right at the moment is we’re taking our smartphones to bed, often putting them on our bedside table and treating them as alarm clocks, and then, of course, in the middle of the night, you wake up, “I think I’ll just check social media or whatever it is” and you get this blast of light, which actually contains blue light, which is very disruptive to the production of melatonin, which is essential for sleep. It really messes up the rest of the night.

Value sleep. If there’s any way of incorporating a 20-minute nap into the middle of the day, really good for productivity. Businesses should be doing that. Value sleep.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2018.

Read the original article on Business Insider

6 ways to figure out if your side hustle idea will be a quick failure or a long-term success

side hustle video influencer young entrepreneur
The more you can understand what your audience needs from you, the more you can build something of long-lasting value.

The number one thing I love to do in my free time is brainstorm new business ideas. I find it fun thinking about problems and solutions in the form of innovative, unique, and interesting side hustles. My friends know this about me and at some point, at every dinner or phone call, I ask them if they want to chat about random ideas and see if any of them have potential for success.

While coming up with a long list of business ideas is easy, spending the quality time to check and see if these ideas can actually turn into something requires a series of practical steps.

If you’re collecting business ideas wondering which could turn into long term success and which are doomed for quick failure, here are six ways you can put your idea to the test before investing money into getting a business up and running.

1. Get the idea in front of an audience

Side hustles are created for people to help solve a problem they have in their life. Even if you think your idea is brilliant, it can’t be validated until it’s in front of a group of people, who are your ideal target audience, to see what their response is.

For example, if you’re thinking of starting a career coaching service for women in their 30s who want to make a career transition to another industry, find 10 to 15 people who meet this criteria and spend 30 minutes to an hour understanding their perspective, what kind of coaching they’d like, and how they feel about your idea.

If you are thinking of creating a modern stress ball for those who work in high-energy and fast-paced careers, first spend time chatting with this audience to see if this is something they’d use and then create a test product for them to try out before you build the real thing.

This data will help you pivot or change the purpose of your business. The more you can understand what your audience needs from you, the more you can build something of long-lasting value.

jen glantz
Jen Glantz.

2. Have a pulse on industry trends

It’s common for entrepreneurs to start side hustles in industries they aren’t too familiar with. Sometimes being new can allow you to see what problems no other company has ever tried to solve. Spend time keeping a pulse on trends, projections, and innovations happening within a certain space.

An easy way to help you do this is by setting free Google alerts for topics and keywords within an industry so that you can review daily updates about what’s happening. You can also read industry blogs, listen to podcasts, and attend conferences, all before actually starting and launching your product or service.

What you learn will help you brainstorm ways to make your side hustle stand out and be practical to the ever-changing needs of your customer base.

3. Understand your competitors

Before getting too deep into planning your idea, look into better understanding your competitors. Map out their business plan, identify what they’ve done in the past that’s worked well for them and what has failed, and see what opportunities they haven’t even tried yet.

Once you know the performance of at least three to five competitors, you can really understand how your side hustle can fit into the overall landscape of the industry and potentially service customers in a new or different way.

Look into the marketing of these companies (check out their website and sign up for their emails) and use analysis tools like Rival IQ for help on how your competitors are performing on social media platforms.

4. Eyeball your business plan

A great step to take to really see if an idea has what it takes to grow into a success business is to write out a full and formal plan. Once you can identify how the business will grow and scale, what kind of budget you’ll need, and what the overall solutions are to the problems you’re solving for your audience, you’ll be able to have a blueprint for next steps.

Print out a free business plan like this one and see how much of it you can fill out. Over time, consult with mentors and other experts in your industry to expand on your business plan and see if your idea has legs or is just a decent idea.

5. Chat with a handful of mentors

Side hustle ideas should be shared. The more people with business and industry knowledge you share your ideas, the more you can refine your purpose and product based on their expertise.

Join communities where these experts might be (Facebook groups or conferences) and ask if they will meet with you for 15 to 20 minutes, and come prepared with questions catered to their insights and experience.

6. Be willing to pivot, pause, and plan

A lot of successful businesses started out as something completely different than what they are now. Take Amazon, for example, which started off as an online book seller and has now turned into a platform for buying everything you could possibly need and getting it sent to your doorstep quickly.

If you notice you’re hanging onto an idea that’s not getting a good response from your target audience or industry experts, understand that if you don’t pause, pivot, and re-plan, you might not find the success you’re looking for.

Be willing, as a new entrepreneur, to bend your idea from its original state. Following these steps will help you get clarity on whether or not an idea is worth pursuing.

Read the original article on Business Insider

You know what mothers really want for Mothers’ Day? A work and school schedule that lines up

working mom
A mother is working while her daughter plays next to her on an iPad.

  • We pamper moms on Mother’s Day, but massages and gifts can’t make up for how society is stacked against mothers.
  • Millions of parents are constantly stressing about filling childcare gaps or leaving work to pick up their kids.
  • For Mother’s Day, all I really want is for work and school to end at the same time.
  • Emily Dreyfuss is a writer and the senior editor at the Technology and Social Change Project at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

“Sorry, I can’t make that meeting because I have to pick up my kid.”

“Sorry about my kid talking during the call; school just got out.”

“Sorry honey, you have to stay in aftercare for a bazillion dollars so Mommy doesn’t get fired.”

Moms are always saying sorry, but we didn’t cause this mess. And by mess, I mean the status quo in the United States that we all accept as normal, but which is actually mind-bogglingly stupid: The school day and the work day don’t line up.

I think about this all the time, but especially this week, as every email filtered into my “Promotions” tab tried to sell me the perfect gift to celebrate my special day.

Hey mama, you deserve lingerie! A fashionable Covid mask! A four-course meal at a restaurant you’ve never been to in a town you lived in 15 years ago!

My husband asked me what he and our two boys should get me for Mother’s Day and my mind went completely blank. All I really want for Mother’s Day is for work and school to end at the same time so all parents – but, yes, mostly mothers – can stop constantly being put in the impossible situation of picking between work and kids.

Impossible childcare gaps

Last week, after another bullshit Mother’s Day email pinged, I tweeted about this problem, and it hit a nerve. Probably because there are millions of parents in America experiencing the utter chaos of this simple timing mismatch on a daily basis.

“Every day from 2:45-4 p.m., I’m working on my laptop in my car during softball practice,” one mom told me.

A teacher replied: “I’m a teacher and it’s impossible for me to 1. Make sure ALL my students are going home safely and as expected when dismissal starts at 3 p.m. WHILE 2. Getting my sons by 3:30. I can’t imagine how 9 to 5 parents survive if they are in an inflexible job.” She added, “and then I feel horrible for the teacher that must wait with my child because I’m late because I was waiting with someone’s child. It’s a snowball rolling downhill.”

That snowball affects not just parents, teachers, and kids, but a cobbled-together industry of after-school and part-time childcare programs – which depend on low-paying care jobs with no benefits or security – and the goodwill and free labor of relatives tasked with filling these gaps.

There are innumerable ways that our society is currently designed to deprioritize the needs of children and families, but to me, none is more glaring than this. For one day each year we tell moms they are worthy of foot massages, candy, and fancy face masks, while the rest of the year, our culture and policies leave parents to fend for themselves.

I’m not asking for the school day to go until 6 p.m., necessarily. Perhaps work and school could both end around 4 p.m., creating something closer to a 35-hour work week, which is still more hours than the 4-day work week that countries like Spain and New Zealand have adopted.

We need a systemic structure that spreads the responsibility for children’s wellbeing around so the burden doesn’t fall entirely on the parents. Let me spell out just a few of the ways the current system is absurd.

If the US government had a central HR department, this is what the conversation about having kids would sound like

So, you want to have kids, huh?

Well, if you live in a major metropolitan area, you’re going to need to set aside anywhere from $10,000$29,500 each year for daycare (and more like $33,000 for a nanny), even though childcare workers in your area are likely paid poverty-level wages and often have children of their own who they can’t afford to send to the childcare center where they work. If you can’t afford that, maybe you should think of taking care of your own kids?

Now, early childhood education is extremely important for development, but the government doesn’t provide any, so you’ll need around $1,350 each month for preschool when your child is between ages 3 and 5 – and more if you live in a place like California. It’s just 2-3 years, so at most it’s an extra $48,600. Unless you have two kids in daycare at once, haha!

Once your kid is in elementary school, class starts promptly anywhere from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., and in some cities – oh, like San Francisco, where you live! – some kids get placed in schools miles and miles away, and there are no school busses to get them there. But they cannot be late. Also, school ends around 2:35 p.m., so try to find a job that pays you enough to afford your city but also is over by 2 p.m., since you’ll need to factor in traffic.

DO NOT TAKE WORK CALLS IN THE CAR. Before you even consider multitasking, we must remind you that talking on a hand-held phone in most metropolitan areas is illegal, and so is texting, so just because your boss is Slacking, “WHERE ARE YOU? THE MTG IS NOW” doesn’t mean you can text back, “im in line 2 pick up kid, so sorry.”

No, your kid cannot walk themselves home. Are you crazy? Should we call Child Protective Services?

If you can’t get your own kid on time, then you can pay for after-school care, although not all schools offer it, slots can fill up, and it’s hundreds of dollars a month. But hey, you’re planning to be a working parent, so that should be fine, right?

Or you could enroll them in sports or extracurricular classes. Start saving for those when they are babies, and don’t forget you’ll need to pick them up and drop them off and pick them up again, so ideally, you should be able to work from a parking lot. Also, you better have a car.

Don’t forget schools are out for the whole summer, but work doesn’t stop, nor does the government provide any universal alternative for the summer months, so, you might want to get on some summer camp lists! But be warned, those fill up quickly, cost thousands of dollars, and also usually end at 3 p.m. But hey, maybe you can bring your kid to work with you all summer! That sounds fun!

Our parental policies are living in the past

The structure of our society is set up for an era that no longer exists, when dads worked and moms didn’t. Moms were meant to keep the kids home until kindergarten, provide their early childhood education, walk them to school once they were old enough, pick them up at the end of the day, and watch them for the whole summer. Not only is that largely not what people want anymore, it’s also just not possible.

We live in an economy that all but requires both parents to work – if there are two parents – and if there is only one parent, it absolutely requires that parent to work. We also live in a culture where paid work is valued above all – not just monetarily, but in terms of prestige and a sense of personal dignity – so that for many parents the prospect of “just” being a parent is unfathomable, even though that work is incredibly hard.

For Mothers’ Day, what I really want is recognition that one day of gifts and massages is not enough to make up for the ways we leave moms to deal with all of this alone. Like so many other systemic problems, we treat this as though it’s the duty of individuals to solve for their own lives. But that makes no sense, and it’s not working.

Obviously systemic change won’t be easy. Even for the problem of when school and work end, you can’t just snap your fingers and say, OK, line them up. But we should at least begin by admitting that it would be better and should be the goal. Along with policies like public preschool and a livable minimum wage requirement for caregivers, aligning the work and school days is an obvious fix for a huge problem that parents spend inordinate amounts of time stressing about and dealing with. This shouldn’t be normal, it’s cruel. And a day to pamper moms doesn’t make up for it.

Read the original article on Business Insider

5 working moms on what they really want this Mother’s Day, from quality alone time to family-friendlier employers

Lekeshia Angelique
Lekeshia Angelique and family.

  • The pandemic has created even more challenges for many already over-burdened working moms.
  • Author Melissa Petro spoke with five working mothers to ask what they really want for Mother’s Day this year.
  • From a better work-life balance to more quality time with their kids, here’s what they asked for.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If you Google “Mother’s Day gift idea,” you’ll be inundated with tacky jewelry, personalized trinkets, and sugary treats. It’s a sad compensation for the relentless stress that comes with mothering. And this past year has been particularly exhausting.

Even before the pandemic, working while parenting was a challenge, especially for mothers. Post-pandemic, the struggle remains. To give just an idea, my husband and I spent last weekend in tears, struggling with the fact that New York City is reopening and he is being called back into the office, separating him from his children and forcing me to reduce my already limited work hours and parent our two toddlers alone.

Forget bubble bath and breakfast in bed; this Mother’s Day, I want quality, affordable childcare to compensate for the options permanently lost due to the pandemic. I want return-to-work programs to reintroduce those of us who’ve fallen out of the workplace, and family friendlier employers that put an end to secret parenting once and for all.

On Mother’s Day – and every day – I want recognition for the incalculable value of our unpaid, invisible labor, including the mental load that weighs disproportionately on moms.

While I’m always appreciative of a homemade card, a little common courtesy is the gift that keeps giving. To my husband: Put your bowl in the dishwasher. Pick your damp towel off the bed. To his employer: Please don’t make him come back into the office when this doesn’t work for our family – especially considering studies have found employees are actually more productive when you let them work from home.

I spoke with five working moms who got real about what they’ve been through this past year, and what they’re truly hoping for this Mother’s Day.

‘Leave me alone’

Shoshana Fain
Shoshana Fain and family.

People are realizing during the pandemic that health is more important than everything. Moms reach a point where they’re doing everything for everyone else and neglecting their own self care. But at the end of the day, no one’s happy when mom’s skipping meals or forgetting to properly hydrate.

After giving birth in May, I struggled with my weight and gestational diabetes. Even though I had a newborn to care for, I started prioritizing myself and lost 50 pounds with the help of a coach. I was so inspired that I started coaching others.

For Mother’s Day, I want to lock myself in my room for the day and only be interrupted with deliveries of snuggles and coffee. I feel like it sounds horrible, but the thought of ignoring my family and just staying in my bed for as long as I want would be bliss.

– Shoshana Fain, 34, Chicago, IL, health transformation coach, married with 3 boys ages 11 months, 4, and 5

‘I need a real vacation’

Lekeshia Angelique
Lekeshia Angelique and family.

Last March, I quit my full-time job as an HR specialist to start my own business. I run workshops and mentor staff at all levels, teaching people about unconscious bias, microaggressions and other barriers to inclusion and diversity. When it comes to things like race, gender, sexuality, and other individual differences, people are overwhelmed and afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. That’s where I come in.

Being an advocate for change and a minority during this year’s social justice movements and in the midst of a pandemic was simultaneously exciting and terrifying. It brought on a lot of new feelings that were felt by the entire family. But we thrived.

For Mother’s Day, I’d love a vacation out of the country. I haven’t traveled since the pandemic began, and Greece has been on my vision board since forever. The blue roofs, beaches, and cuisine make it the ultimate relaxation destination. I’m ready for a well-earned break.

– Lekeshia Angelique, 39, Clarksville, TN, diversity coach and consultant, engaged with five kids ages 9, 9, 19, 19 and 23

‘A little kindness would be nice’

Cat and her son.
Cat and her son.

I’ve loved working in politics news the past three years. It’s felt like a public service more than ever. This past year especially, I poured my efforts into getting it right and amplifying a diverse group of wise and credible voices. My son splits time between me and his father, so my parenting is 24/3.5. I love that I’ve gotten the intense time with him this past year – we’re closer than ever – but I hate how often my attention is divided when we’re together. I’m always at the mercy of my work phone.

For Mother’s Day, I want my son to make me a card, which is a painful challenge for single parents; who’s going to oversee such a thing? I confess that I want flowers. I want the day off, but I work on Sundays. I want democracy and kindness. I want forgiveness to be cool. People can be really mean and unforgiving – especially on social media. I want to never see the Michael Jackson eating popcorn meme ever again.

– Cat, 38, New York City, journalist, divorced with one son, age 5

‘I want a better work-life balance’

Nicole Phillips
Nicole Phillips and her daughter.

Trying to work from home with a two-year-old and no childcare was not easy. Sticking my daughter in front of a screen and depriving her of the attention and social interaction she was begging for – I felt like such a bad parent at times. And at work, everything felt like an emergency. I was giving 100% at everything, but constantly falling short.

When I was let go in February 2021, I was shattered. I realized that as much as I’d loved my work, it wasn’t worth my sanity. I found a job freelancing in my field, plus size fashion.

My wish for Mother’s Day is simple: I don’t want to go back to what life was pre-pandemic.

I miss being in the office, and collaborating in-person with my coworkers, but I don’t miss the expectations put upon me – and that I put on myself. I don’t want to sit in a car for three hours a day battling traffic and then missing dinner or bath time. From now on, I want to define my work schedule. I’d also love for all our laundry to be done.

– Nicole Phillips, 37, Los Angeles, CA, freelance writer, married with one daughter, age 3

‘I need quality – not quantity – time with my child’

Lydia Elle
Lydia Elle.

The hardest part about working and parenting this last year was throwing out the idea of what I thought everything should look like and becoming compassionate with myself about what life actually was and who I was in it. I was not prepared for a racial and health pandemic that forced me to become so much for my daughter. I had to be OK with not always being OK, and create a space that freed my daughter to admit when she was struggling so we could process through our feelings together instead of getting stuck in them.

For Mother’s Day, it would be glorious if I had some quality time with my daughter. A night or two somewhere close by for us to reflect and have fun together – and maybe a little time for me to just be, and sleep.

– Lydia Elle, 40, Southern California, self-employed, single with one daughter age 11

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why highly regarded leaders don’t always do the best work – and why they should be critiqued like everybody else

Businessman work
High performance on one project does not guarantee high performance on the next.

  • A leader’s high status among peers doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome for the projects they lead.
  • High-status people are prone to high highs and low lows, while moderate statuses have higher averages.
  • Executives must remember to critique their stars, too, and not let ego overshadow the actual work.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When it comes to leading a successful project, sometimes having too much status can be a bad thing.

Take, for example, video-game producer George Brussard, who in 1997 announced plans for a new game, “Duke Nukem Forever.” Expectations were high: Brussard’s previous title, “Duke Nukem 3D,” was one of the top-selling video games of all time, beloved by critics and players alike.

But instead of another smash hit, “Duke Nukem Forever became a legendary boondoggle, released more than a decade late to lackluster reviews and fan response. What went wrong?

It may seem shocking when an iconic leader like Brussard swings and misses, but it’s not uncommon, according to research from Brayden King, a professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School. In a new study of the video-game industry, King and his coauthors – Balazs Szatmari of the University of Amsterdam, and Dirk Deichmann and Jan van den Ende of Erasmus University – found that a leader’s high status among their peers doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome for the projects they lead. Indeed, it can often be a liability.

Leaders with high status, the research revealed, are prone to extremes – big successes or big flops – while moderate status is associated with the highest average level of project performance.

Why? With status comes everything a leader needs for a project to succeed: resources, support, the faith of executives, and team members. But there is peril, too: high-status project leaders are often overburdened. And precisely because of their status, the people around them may not offer honest feedback.

“We tend to be too deferential to people who we consider to be higher status. And where we give deference, what we should be doing is increasing our scrutiny – or at least, scrutinize them as much as we do people of lower status,” King said. “There is greater potential for them to let their egos take control and produce something that sounds good to them but that is in reality a terrible idea.”

Read more: I’m a first-time founder who raised $2.5 million despite the pandemic upending the fundraising process. I know why we were successful.

Game on: testing status and performance

The researchers focused their study on the video-game industry – a useful test-bed because of the large quantity of games released each year to an audience of vocal, engaged fans. But, King said, “I don’t think these findings are just characteristic or a dynamic specific to the video-game industry.” Any field where leaders can attain status is subject to the same set of forces.

To begin, the researchers assembled a database of 745 games produced by leading companies between 2008 and 2012, for which full information about the development team was publicly available. They winnowed that list down to games with a single producer who was not a first-time producer, leading to a final sample of 349 titles. Data on performance came from the popular MobyGames database, which aggregates critic and user reviews.

To assess producers’ status, the researchers used their “network positions” – a statistical measure based on patterns of who has collaborated with whom within an organization. The idea, Szatmari said, is that people who are well-connected tend to be the best-regarded.

“If you enter in a room and you see someone surrounded by many people, you think, ‘Oh, that person must know something.’ There’s a reason why people are around them,” he said. “If many people want to work with you or seek your advice, that’s a sign of competence.”

Then, the researchers analyzed the relationship between producer status and game performance – controlling for a variety of factors that might affect success, such as year of release, team size, and whether the game broke technological or conceptual ground and involved greater risk.

When too much status can be a bad thing

What they discovered was an inverted U-shaped relationship between producer status and average game performance. In other words, having status helped – until it didn’t. Middle-status producers had the best average performance, while high-status and low-status producers fared about the same.

However, while high-status and low-status producers had similar average performance scores, in the case of high-status producers, that stemmed from extreme variation in performance. Some had wild successes and others abject failures, resulting in an average comparable to low-status producers.

These patterns were reflected in observations from industry insiders, whose comments offered a qualitative complement to the researchers’ statistical analysis – and Szatmari said, “helped shed light on some of the causal explanations for what was going on.”

For instance, the researchers suspected that high-status producers’ tendency to flounder stemmed from being overwhelmed because, given their reputation, everyone wanted some of their time.

One producer put it this way: “I can certainly notice that as my status grows, my productivity goes down. When people are not absolutely clear, I start to miss the signals … until somebody says something like, ‘I need help!’ In the past, I had more time for processing the information, but now, if somebody doesn’t scream then I don’t see the problem.”

Another insider confirmed that executives’ faith in high-status producers can lead them to ignore serious problems in a project. Once, the insider said, a legendary producer sold company owners on a game that many employees questioned. It quickly spiraled out of control, but the owners didn’t see it, despite employees’ repeated attempts to raise concerns.

As for the high success rate of intermediate-status producers, King believes it’s partly attributable to career phase. People with moderate status are likely to be mid-career, a time when they are trusted but still hungry. They’ve attained “enough status and recognition that now people are willing to put resources behind them, but they’re also still striving to reach the top” – and aren’t yet surrounded by yes-men. This combination of ingredients, he believes, accounts for their success.

Why companies should scrutinize their stars

It’s easy for companies to assume their most well-regarded leaders have things under control – after all, they got that positive reputation for a reason. But King said it’s essential for executives to pay extra attention to stars when they are leading important projects.

When people are put in charge, there’s “a double whammy,” King said: our egos can swell at the same time as those around us stop telling us the truth, “so they’re constantly giving us feedback that we’re always right.”

So he has a word of advice for anyone taking charge of a project: “Be aware of this potential in yourself.” Learning to accept negative feedback isn’t easy, but it can save you from a disaster.

“People only give us the feedback they perceive we’re comfortable taking,” King said. “And if we’re not open to being told ‘no,’ when we’re in a high-status position, people probably won’t tell us ‘no’ enough.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Hustle culture is overrated

9 to 5 Fox
The film “9 to 5,” a classic hit, spawned the Dolly Parton single of the same name.

  • People on Twitter have been debating what’s better: a nine-to-five or entrepreneurship.
  • Insider spoke with nine-to-fivers, entrepreneurs, and work coaches to gather insight into the topic.
  • Two experts said work burnout is on the rise, and that the future of work will change post-pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On March 29, Tino Masaya posted a tweet that sparked a debate on Twitter.

“A 9-to-5 job is not slavery. Leave us alone. Not everybody wants or can be an entrepreneur,” the 30-year-old UK native tweeted.

Masaya, who works for her local city council, told Insider that she tweeted her statement because she was tired of the narrative, especially peddled on social media, that everyone has to be an entrepreneurial “hustler” with multiple streams of income.

It got over 11,000 likes, nearly 2,500 retweets, and over 200 comments. “Somebody had to say it,” one person replied. “Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone.”

“When entrepreneurs say this, it tells me a lot about how they treat their own employees,” another commented.

Weeks later, the conversation was sparked again by an April 17 video in which a group of people debated which was better: a more traditional job or the path of entrepreneurship. “Your nine-to-five cannot sustain you,” one person said in the clip.

But Masaya said her nine-to-five does sustain her. She’s fine with having a boss and waking up at 8 a.m.

So is Simone Noble, who ran her own consulting company for about a year before moving to it part time. She loved the freedom it gave her, allowing her to set her own schedule and spend more time with her family.

But she didn’t like having to chase down money from her clients to pay the bills. Relying on this income, she was plagued by anxiety: Would she be able to pay for food, for her car, for her home? Eventually, she decided it was too much.

“Having to run around looking for ways to make money – that’s not for me,” she said. Noble went back into the full-time flow of a nine-to-five, where she has a boss and a more reliable income. Her business partner still runs the consultancy full time.

Entrepreneurship is glamorized on social media, where a crop of self-made creators document their lifestyles and career successes in real time. To the outsider, they appear to make quick money from their endeavors, but social media paints an overly rosy portrait of the true entrepreneurial experience, which is often gritty and unrewarding. Almost half of entrepreneurs reported struggling with mental health – and the true number is likely much higher.

Current and former entrepreneurs, as well as work coaches, told Insider that social media places undue pressure on people to become self-made by pursuing their passion. They agreed that a nine-to-five can provide a stable career path and also be rewarding, despite the online narrative. They added that the pandemic is redefining traditional work to be more flexible for employees, thanks to a widespread desire for a more entrepreneurial life and changes in work life.

Social media glamorizes what the life of an entrepreneur is like

There are some days Robreuana Ruiz wishes she worked a nine-to-five.

Ruiz, an entrepreneur in Atlanta, makes six figures a year from her cosmetic companies Fash N’ Lash and Curl Candi, which she started at the age of 24. But these days, she’s dealing with what she calls “entrepreneurial depression” from trying to keep up with supply and demand, and from the pressures of running her own company. “It’s an emotional roller coaster,” Ruiz said.

“Social media can make everyone feel like they have to be this boss entrepreneur, but businesses are not for everybody,” she said.

Ruiz is referring to messaging from groups such as “LLC Twitter” or “Roc Nation Brunch Twitter,” where a flood of followers – many of whom were inspired by the success of the mogul Jay Z – encourages others to chase an entrepreneurial life and invest any gains for the chance to seek higher returns. But it takes courage and patience to launch a business, Ruiz said – not to mention capital.

“Social media can make everyone feel like they have to be this boss entrepreneur, but businesses are not for everybody,” she said.

As her own employer, Ruiz has no fixed schedule, and making payroll is solely dependent upon customers, rather than a corporate enterprise. This means there are good months, but there are also months where she’s left worrying.

Entrepreneurial depression is “real, and it’s not talked about enough,” Ruiz said.

Despite this, she has been earning six figures. But social media makes that success feel inadequate. “It makes us feel like we aren’t doing enough,” Ruiz said. “I’ve been an entrepreneur for three years, and I haven’t made a million dollars yet.”

There are benefits to having a 9-to-5

Michael Greenberg, a serial entrepreneur in Denver, said social media has made it easier than ever to make money by equating an online persona with a moneymaking business.

“There’s a media machine built around the idea that you have to be hyperproductive to succeed, and that if you’re not hyperproductive, you’re somehow falling behind,” Greenberg said. “We are productivity-obsessed in the worst possible way.”

“We are productivity-obsessed in the worst possible way.”

Greenberg has never worked a traditional nine-to-five, but he’s now on the hunt for a more stable gig as he continues to run his side hustles. Specifically, he wants his baseline income to be handled by a job that takes “between 25 to 40 hours a week.”

In his own Twitter thread, Greenberg called entrepreneurship lonely and hard. He loved being able to work everywhere, but didn’t like not having a team of peers. He loved having control over the budget and hiring, but not that he had to often pay for mentorship opportunities. “Don’t let the entrepreneurship, startup, hustle porn fool you,” Greenberg tweeted. “The only right choice is the one you choose to make.”

After all, working a nine-to-five has its perks and practicalities. Masaya, the UK native who tweeted about the pressure of entrepreneurship, said paid sick leave and maternity leave were two major benefits to working a traditional job. Noble, who gave up her own consulting business for a nine-to-five, liked knowing that there would be money for the bills each month.

In the United States, healthcare benefits – as well as dental, vision, and retirement – are tied to employment. In 2011, the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that there were over 20 million self-employed people in the US, 30% of whom lacked health insurance. And a study published in November of last year, by Agnieszka Kwapisz of Montana State University, found self-employed men were 62% less likely to be insured, and self-employed women 83% less likely, compared to the general public.

Heaven Williams
Heaven Williams and her candles.

Paid sick leave and disability benefits are also tied to employment. Even to qualify for unemployment benefits – as over 50 million Americans did during the height of the pandemic last year – one must prove they had been employed recently.

Up until the pandemic, the self-employed didn’t count.

“There are certain companies out there that do care about their employees and have amazing benefits,” said Heaven Williams, who works for a Sacramento homeless shelter during the day and runs a candle business on the side. “If you find something that you love to do and it’s a nine-to-five, there is nothing wrong with it.”

The structure of day jobs can learn a thing or two from entrepreneurship

One main part of entrepreneurship that most people like is flexibility and having agency over their time. Over 40% of those surveyed in 2017 for a report done by the accounting organization FreshBooks said becoming self-employed had given them better working hours, improved the quality of their childcare, and allowed them to spend more time with their families.

This is a trend that is looking more likely to be adopted into the traditional working environment, especially in a post-pandemic world. Insider’s reporting on the future of work has suggested the nine-to-five may not be the same after the crisis passes. Ashley Whillans, a professor at Harvard Business School, believed the traditional workweek could become more flexible, where workers come to the office three days a week, spend two days at home, and have two days off.

Microsoft is now allowing employees to work from home for less than 50% of their workweek. Both Twitter and Spotify are allowing employees to work from anywhere.

What’s more, Greenberg believed most people don’t even want to be entrepreneurs – they just hate the jobs they’re in. Matching workers with jobs they like could see an increase in employee satisfaction.

Joe Sanok, a podcast host and the author of the professional help book “Thursday Is the New Friday,” said he was a supporter of the four-day workweek, and that the concept of “summer Fridays” – the practice of giving employees part or full time off to enjoy the warmer months – should be more prevalent in modern workplaces.

Meanwhile, Paula Davis, a burnout consultant, said workplaces will be able to attract more people by offering more flexibility, such as the option for remote work and giving employees more free time.

“I also think a sense of meaning, impact, and purpose is something companies are really going to have to step their game up,” said Davis, who experienced burnout both as an entrepreneur and as a commercial lawyer. “You’re going to have to explain to people how this is changing the greater good.”

Even if the workweek is redefined and social media gets the story straight on entrepreneurship, society is still playing a dangerous game with productivity as more people seek to monetize their time and personas.

Burnout is at an all-time high, along with the number of side hustles. said she knew of many people who had started to work traditional jobs alongside side hustles, seeking to juggle both on their quests for uncertain success.

“That’s not productivity,” she said. “More, exhaustion.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Conversations on LinkedIn nearly doubled since January, and it could be a sign that wealthy Americans are ready to pursue their dream jobs following a pandemic slump

Wang_HeadShot
Dan Wang, Associate Professor of Business Management at Columbia Business School

  • Satya Nadella recently said LinkedIn saw “record engagement” as content shared increased 29%.
  • A Columbia Business School expert said this may mean professionals are considering a job switch.
  • A rise in LinkedIn activity says less about the economy, and more about the shift in US priorities.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If you’re a burned out professional day-dreaming of quitting your job, you are might find yourself spending more time on LinkedIn.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company saw “record engagement” on LinkedIn, as conversations increased by 43%, content shared increased 29%, and hours learning new skills increased by a whopping 80% in the first three months of 2021.

And despite major job losses following the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses spent 60% more on marketing jobs on LinkedIn over the last year than the previous year – bringing in a total of $3 billion.

“We once again saw record engagement, as LinkedIn’s 756 million members use the network to connect, learn, create content, and find jobs,” Nadella said on a call to investors on April 27.

Though more time spent on LinkedIn might initially suggest an improving job market, Dan Wang, an associate professor at the Columbia Business School who completed a study about LinkedIn learning in January, said the trend has more to do with the changing attitude of wealthy job seekers rather than an indication that the economy is coming back.

“It’s not obvious to me that it’s the availability of jobs that’s driving increased activity on LinkedIn,” Wang said in an interview with Insider.

“Individuals are more contemplative about their career prospects. They were left to reflect more about their careers, their achievements and positions,” he added. “It’s more of these big cognitive shifts that the pandemic has induced that’s simply being reflected in LinkedIn activity.”

Read more: America’s best burnout expert says employees hold the key to reducing workplace stress. Now if only their bosses would listen to them.

A rise in LinkedIn usage could be a sign that the ‘YOLO economy’ is alive and well.

The New York Times’ Kevin Roose recently reported wealthy professionals are leaving their high-intensity jobs in tech and business for passion projects. He coined the new trend the “YOLO (“you only live once”) economy,” as many professionals have realized during the pandemic that life is too short to waste away typing on Excel. Insider has reported on widespread burnout in consulting, tech, media, and other professional industries.

A similar trend happened during the Great Recession in 2008, when white collar workers who lost cushy jobs in finance turned to entrepreneurship. Some today’s hottest companies – including Uber, Venmo, and Instagram – grew out of the financial crisis.

“So it would not surprise me that there would be an explosion of creative energy as well that follows this period,” Wang said.

The opportunity to quit your job and start a company exists for a small fraction of the US workforce. Millions of Americans are at risk of losing their house this year and are behind on rent.

Though jobs are steadily rebounding in the US as vaccination picks up, just 4% of workers in leisure, hospitality, and retail – among the hardest hit during the pandemic – will get their old jobs back. Women, particularly mothers, left the workforce entirely during the pandemic.

Wang said active LinkedIn users tend to have college degrees and a “higher than average level of employability.” These people probably used April stimulus checks on improving their professional prospects, rather than basic necessities.

Economists said the post-pandemic recovery was “K-shaped,” or devastating to lower-paid Americans yet fruitful for the richest. Wang said the desire for white-collar workers to follow their passions is “emblematic” of the K-shaped recovery.

“The pandemic gave folks who are already kind of fairly well to do an opportunity to reevaluate their careers and perhaps in the opportunity to have a boost in their careers as well,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here’s where immigrants are moving to in the US

  • New Census Bureau data shows how many people moved in and out of the US between 2019 and 2020.
  • We looked at net international migration changes at the county level by adjusting for population size.
  • Based on this, a few California counties had the largest negative net international migration.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Immigration is one of the key drivers of population growth in the US. Here’s where people from other countries moved to last year.

The Census Bureau released population estimates on May 4 for 3,143 counties and county-equivalents. The new data show how populations have changed from 2019 to 2020.

Not only does the new data show where Americans were moving around the US in the past year but also how many people were moving in and of the country.

The Census data includes estimates of net international migration, or the number of people immigrating into the county from outside the US minus people moving out of the US to a different country.

Red counties in the above map mean more people moved out than in, and blue counties mean more people moved in than out. We adjusted each county’s net international migration from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, by its 2019 population.

When adjusting for population size, some of the counties with the largest negative net international migration were located in California, Idaho, and Kansas.

We decided to also look at net international migration among just large counties. The following table shows the 10 counties that saw the largest increases from net international migration per 1,000 residents among counties with at least 10,000 residents in 2019:

Miami-Dade County, Florida, had the largest postive net international migration estimate among all counties. This county saw 28,593 more residents from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.

Some counties saw more people moving out to other countries than moving in from abroad. The following table shows the 10 counties that saw the largest decreases from net international migration per 1,000 residents among counties with at least 10,000 residents in 2019:

Based on the above table, six of the 10 counties with the largest decreases from net international migration among counties with at least 10,000 residents and adjusted by the county’s 2019 population were in California.

The county-level population estimates part of the data release on May 4 are not the same as the official numbers from the 2020 decennial census. “The estimates are based on the 2010 Census and were created without incorporation or consideration of the 2020 Census results,” the Census Bureau wrote about the population estimates.

Read the original article on Business Insider