May 20, 2021

Like No Other

Welcome to issue No. 29 of Work Different — a weekly summary of the top articles focused on workplace culture and career development.

On A Year Like No Other

For everyone around the world, this is truly a year like no other. It began with pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and wildfires across Australia, then an emerging virus outbreak in Wuhan, which quickly spread around the world, shut down international supply chains, led to mass unemployment, and severely strained healthcare systems everywhere. In the U.S., the murder of George Floyd in May sparked local, national, and international protests for racial justice. Our country also went through an unprecedented election cycle, and now, in December, we’re seeing the first shipments of coronavirus vaccines being administered. Some years are turning points in history, and 2020 is certainly one of those years. In this carefully curated photo series, images from around the world demonstrate the full scope of pain, joy, anger, fear, and loss felt across peoples and nations. I highly recommend taking a good look through these photographs, to appreciate that all of our personal feelings of joy and loss are shared by strangers around the world. And that’s what connects us all to one another. New York Times.

On Keeping the Promise of Racial Justice

Following the nationwide BLM protests in June, many companies expressed statements of solidarity with the movement, pledging to fight discrimination and embrace diversity in their work spaces. Six months later, how can we make sure that our organizations follow through on its promises? How do we press for changes in hiring and promotion practices? 1. Do not expect others to lead this charge. We should not place the burden of change on our teammates of color — Non-Black folks must be willing to hold their companies accountable for their promises of racial equality and education. 2. Find co-conspirators. Find colleagues and leaders who are similarly motivated to make change towards dismantling discriminatory policies. 3. Identify your goals. Take a look at the promises your organization made over the summer and focus on a couple of specific areas. “For example, you might push for the company to commit to interviewing X percent of candidates from underrepresented backgrounds for its job openings and bring in Y number of new hires.” 4. Avoid accusations. When starting these conversations, be clear that you’re not accusing anyone of personal racism but seeking to involve the team in an active solution. If some people express resistance, try to understand what underlies their resistance to change. 5. Take courage. Making any kind of organizational change is difficult. Dismantling systems of racism and discrimination takes time and persistent teamwork. Keep fighting. Harvard Business Review.

On Productive Laziness

No one can be productive all the time. Sometimes being lazy can allow our minds and bodies to recharge so they can be more efficient when we put them back to work. Here are a few tips you might not have considered on the benefits of “slacking off.” 1. Unproductive time helps us manage our stress. Actively taking your mind off of work can be difficult to do, but it is needed to relieve our stress. 2. Lazy time encourages diffuse thinking. Our mind has two modes of thinking: the diffuse mode and the focused mode. “We need to maintain constant oscillation between the two modes in order to be our most creative and productive.” 3. Laziness can be a helpful symptom. If you’re feeling unusually unmotivated, it might mean that your mind and body is trying to convey something to you. Pay attention to it. “When manipulated as a tool—with caution, control, but no unnecessary shame—laziness can be used to be more productive and more relaxed over the long run. Being lazy can lead to smarter decisions, innovative solutions, and better mental health.” Ness Labs.

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