From ‘back to work’ orders to hybrid hype, office life is the subject of a tense debate. In some places, at least.
Headlines stated last week that Nike is one of the latest big brands to order its employees to return to its office for four days a week.
In the UK, the government is advising local authorities against trialling a four-day working week. It seems only one council is doing this at the time of writing, however.
Neither of these things point to a widespread trend, but parties with an interest in the debate tend to seize on them. For those familiar with office life before the pandemic, how and where we work is a live and intensely personal question. Organisations are trying to find the best approach for their teams and customers, often amidst confusing or unhelpful guidance.
In the spirit of flexible working, they should be prepared to experiment, collaborate and tweak their approaches. Much of the current debate – in the media at least – doesn’t allow for this. Sadly, working life is ensnared in the latest culture war pitting office workers against the ‘woke from home’ brigade. The reality, as always, is more nuanced.
This is the context into which proposals for a four-day working week step in. The four-day week shouldn’t be confused with compressed hours, which enable staff to work their contracted time across fewer days. The difference here is that employers pay staff a full time rate for spending four days working. Supporters say this helps attract top talent, retain staff and boost employee engagement. This piece has some great case studies. Trials by governments in Wales and Scotland will examine these points further.
Despite the headlines, it’s not caught on widely yet. I get why it’s popular amongst staff who value work-life blance. I also understand the concerns behind the questions it raises.
Continue reading “Five questions for teams considering a four-day week”
It’s interesting to see all the ‘what a year!!’ celebratory posts across my social feeds at the end of a challenging 2022.
As I enter my 48th year, I too reflect on a year to be proud of, but without being too gushing about how ‘great’ it was. That’s because, in many ways, it wasn’t. It’s ulimately been a good year, but parts of it came at some personal cost. I wouldn’t be true to myself if I suggested otherwise.
I’ve returned to conversations I had this time last year, feeling ground down by perma-crises that affected all of us. Whilst the initial panic of COVID subsided, we had no sense of what was coming in 2022. Having set up Distinctive in June, two Prime Ministers and six fiscal events later, it’s a wonder I’ve found time to write any blogs.
While I haven’t completed as many as I wanted to, those I published performed better than in 2021. They also helped me process events happening around me.
If anyone who stopped to read or share them found them useful too, that’s a bonus.
Here are the three posts that had the most views in 2022.
Continue reading “My three most read blogs of 2022”
People living in small towns and villages don’t need telling that life is harder without a car. Disconnected, underfunded and unreliable, public transport doesn’t serve rural areas well in my experience.
My home county of Pembrokeshire typifies this picture, although there are efforts to address this. Welsh researchers found this year that some areas don’t even get one bus an hour! Bus stops (reduced by 3%), routes (15% less) and opportunities catch a bus (down 22%) all contracted during the pandemic across Wales.
And thanks to global events putting a rocket under fuel prices, life is harder for drivers too. As ever, these changes hit deprived communities and people who can’t work from home hardest.
It’s a grim picture. It may explain why talk about ‘connecting places’ often hits a wall of scepticism.
Continue reading “Fuel prices power community of interest”
“Your call is important to us…”
Does anyone believe these empty business promises from bots while navigating automatic call filtering processes?
Services mishandled, calls unanswered and complaints ignored. Dealing with big organisations seems much more difficult, as customer services automate and default to online. It feels like only those bloody minded enough to complain or kick off online will get meaningful responses from this set-up (I am one of those people).
I’ve had frustrating times on the phone trying to resolve various issues since setting up Distinctive Communications earlier this year. A recent Sunday Times article asking why nothing in Britain works as it should highlights that I’m not alone (£).
It’s brought home to me how detached some organisations are from their customers. It also begs a question: why the hell do we put up with this?
Continue reading “My worst (and best) business experiences of 2022”