Monthly Archives: July 2018

Ta-ta Cubicle, Hello WeWork

Long gone—and good riddance—are offices with rows of cubicles or desks modeled after factory assembly lines. In fact, many employers today use office design as a statement of their firm’s ethos and even provide common areas for relaxing, free food, and toys to foster employees’ loyalty. Another new take on the traditional office is the common workplace—offices in which individuals and small businesses share space and costs.

WeWork, an eight-year-old company, is taking the notion of the common office to a whole new level, and its goal is nothing short of transforming the way the world thinks about work. Headquartered in New York but with services across the globe, WeWork began as an agency that offered established businesses, startups, and freelancers workspaces designed to bring community to the office place. It initially attracted freelancers and tech start-ups with features such as aesthetic design, large common areas, free beer, and piped-in music chosen to appeal to millennial workers.

Common Area, WeWork, Culver City, CA

In these spaces, businesses that typically have nothing to do with one another—a dance company and a hair care start-up, for example—work side by side. WeWork runs the spaces using economies of scale, saving renters money and allowing them to focus on their businesses.But the idea is starting to catch on with larger, more established corporations, which are moving into WeWork spaces, too. So far, The Weather Channel, GE, HSBC, and Microsoft are among those that have signed on, banking on the WeWork promise to cut operational costs by up to 50%.

Cost cutting isn’t WeWork’s only goal, though. Its founder, Adam Neumann, has a vision to offer corporate customers a WeWork operated space that provides not just a communal office but the amenities humans need for everything they do except sleep—spa, gym, restaurants, and even a dry cleaner. The reason? So strangers can come together and perhaps be the balm that salves our fractious world… or at least make connections that can lead to more cross-venture interactions.

The idea has detractors. Some paired organizations have vastly different work models and quibble like roommates. Business valuators claim the model cannot sustain itself. Still, there’s no denying that Neumann is onto something. The young company is currently valued at $20 billion.


  1. What are the advantages to sharing work space with a mix of different businesses for individuals? small companies? large organizations?
  2. What do you think about Neumann’s idealistic goal of using the workplace to help solve problems in our divisive world?
  3. Which situations gave rise to this new model of shared office space?

Dear Students: Let’s Have a Great Semester!

Instructors: As you start the new academic year—hopefully refreshed after a summer of recharging—think about sending your new students an e-mail detailing what you will do to help them learn, and what they can do to help themselves. Below we share a template that you can adjust for style or content, or simply use as is.

Dear Students,

Welcome to my class! As we kick off this new academic year, I’m writing to tell you how much I’m looking forward to getting to know you all and to teaching you about business communication. I think you’ll find that the skills you take away from this course will make you not only more confident as you go into the workplace but also a more marketable employee.

However, I need your help to make this the best possible learning experience. Below are some strategies you can use to get the most out of our class.

Be present. Of course, I mean this literally—attend class regularly—but I also mean to tune in when you’re there. Listen, take notes, ask questions, and show you are thinking and understanding by nodding your head occasionally. I need to see more than a sea of blank faces to know whether I’m reaching you. When you’re checking your social media feeds instead of focusing on what I’m teaching, I become discouraged. I am here because I wholeheartedly believe that what I teach is relevant to your life. Help me by being engaged.

Join in.  I know you don’t want to hear me drone on throughout every class session, so chime in! Raise your hand and participate when you have something to say—and be sure you have something to say by coming to class prepared. Do your reading and any homework I assign. I promise you it’s designed to help reinforce core concepts I cover in class. Also understand that when you speak up, you energize me. I’m only human, and when I think no one is tuned in, it’s harder for me to be enthusiastic.

Attend office hours. I want to get to know you! Much of what I enjoy about teaching is learning about my students, but I cannot do that in the classroom. You’ll find I’m quite approachable and helpful outside of class—and I keep a basket of chocolate on my desk for anyone who comes to visit me! In the privacy of my office where I can ask you more personal questions about your major and goals, we can work together to make the most of the course and your education.

Help me learn your name. As hard as I try, it’s difficult remembering all my students’ names, so please help me. When you speak, remind me of your name. If I call on you and do not use your name, tell me then and there: “I’m Janelle, Professor.”

We’re in this together, students. Let’s make the most of it!


Your Instructor

Dating Coworkers a Sticky Wicket… Commas Count, Court Rules, and Company Pays… Tricks to Stoke Memory

Dating Coworkers a Sticky Wicket 

Office romances have been around for, well, as long as there have been offices. Recent research indicates that around 40 percent of workers have dated a colleague. With the national conversation revolving around workplace harassment, companies and employees are trying to navigate the treacherous waters of what’s okay and what’s not when it comes to dating a coworker.

Some organizations are putting regulations on their books prohibiting relationships between managers and their direct reports. Others are codifying relationships with so-called “love contracts,” which require colleagues in a relationship to sign a statement in which both parties agree to behave professionally at work. At Facebook and Google, employees are allowed to ask a colleague out once. If the request is rejected, no more asking is allowed without HR stepping in.

However, micro-managing human relations can be a no-win situation for organizations—having too many rules surrounding adult relationships makes it difficult to attract and keep employees, say HR managers. Still, having some policies governing these interactions offers workers clarity and employers a way to protect themselves and their staff.

From the Wall Street Journal

Commas Count, Court Rules, and Company Pays

The omission of the much-debated Oxford comma in a Maine labor law resulted in a court ruling costing a local dairy $5 million.

The problematic punctuation—which is the comma placed after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items—was absent in a law governing overtime and caused confusion about how to interpret which activities were exempted from overtime pay.The problem began when the employer claimed its drivers were exempt from overtime pay, citing Maine’s labor law, which stated that overtime rules did not apply to:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

(1) Agricultural produce;

(2) Meat and fish products; and

(3) Perishable foods.

The drivers claimed that the phrase “packing for shipment or distribution” read as a single act, and that since they never did any packing, they argued they should not have been exempt from overtime. The judge reviewing the case agreed and wrote that if the list of exemptions “used a serial comma to mark off the last of the activities that it lists, then the exemption would clearly encompass an activity that the drivers perform.”

Subsequently, the company settled the case–and the Maine legislature added clarifying punctuation to its law.


Tricks to Stoke Memory

A memory champion has advice for those of us who leave our keys in the car (running), forget to return an e-mail, or can’t remember why we’re in a room. Memory champ Nelson Dellis shares his tips.

  1. Make it memorable. Associate the detail to remember with something exciting or special to make it real instead of abstract. For example, if you need to remember to pick up a pizza, imagine sizzling hot cheese burning your mouth.
  2. Create a memory palace. A memory palace is a series of pictures you imagine superimposed onto a place you know well. If you need to remember items on a grocery list, imagine bread covering your office desk and make up a story for why it’s there. When you dredge up the image of the desk and see the bread all over it, the story will be there to help you recall the item on your grocery list.
  3. Fabricate fantasies. Connect tasks you need to do and create a whacky narrative out of them. For example, if you need to remember to call the IT manager and schedule a meeting, make up a story: The CEO stole all the company computers and you need to meet with the IT person to discuss how to handle things. The crazier the story, the more memorable it becomes.
  4. Pay attention. Turn on laser focus when you know you need to remember something. Say you need to remember someone’s name. Tell yourself “This person’s name is X, This person’s name is X.”
  5. Practice daily. Anything you want to excel at requires practice, and memorization is no exception. Avoid relying on lists and instead force your memory to do the work.

From Fast Company