My response to “A Toxic Work World”

by | Oct 12, 2015 | Agency Roadmap, Managing Teams

A recent New York Times article discussed a recent employment trend that hurts employee retention:

FOR many Americans, life has become all competition all the time. Workers across the socioeconomic spectrum, from hotel housekeepers to surgeons, have stories about toiling 12- to 16-hour days… The people who can compete and succeed in this culture are an ever-narrower slice of American society: largely young people who are healthy, and wealthy enough not to have to care for family members. An individual company can of course favor these individuals, as health insurers once did, and then pass them off to other businesses when they become parents or need to tend to their own parents.

I wrote the following Letter to the Editor. Since they didn’t publish the letter, I’m sharing it here.

RE: A Toxic Work World, by Anne-Marie Slaughter (New York Times, September 18, 2015)

We Americans are foolish to keep insisting that most information work be confined to fixed hours in a physical office. As a business consultant to digital marketing agencies, I’ve advised companies based in over a dozen countries. Many of those firms have partially or fully remote teams.

From a process perspective, there is no mystery here. We know what it takes to make this happen: technology to communicate, scheduling to ensure availability to customers, and a system to manage client expectations.

But beyond any business structure or specific tool, this first requires a willingness: a desire to prioritize results over facetime and busywork.

Not every company will make this leap. Change is hard, yet I believe the firms who embrace this shift today will be in the lead tomorrow. What are you waiting for?

–Karl Sakas, Raleigh, NC

Question: What would you add, based on the original article?

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