recommended reading


The Team-Building Rituals that Companies Love Can Actually Tear Workers Apart

By Nick Hobson // Quartz // September 19, 2017

If you’ve ever lost a glove somewhere on the streets of New York City, there’s a chance it’s found an unusual second life at the New York headquarters of OXO—the global housewares manufacturer. Enter the company’s open loft-style dining hall, and you’ll see a large white wall featuring hundreds of gloves, neatly organized in rows. Pinned beneath each glove (or pair) is a tag that tells the story of when and where the glove was found, and who did the finding.

As part of a unique company ritual, OXO employees are encouraged to collect the misplaced and forgotten gloves of New Yorkers and add them to the wall. OXO says that focusing on the “meaning of gloves” serves as a symbolic reminder of the company’s most important value principle: The universal design of their products fitting comfortably in the hands of all their customers.

Research suggests that these sorts of quirky company traditions really can help affirm a company’s core values and promote a sense of collective workplace culture. But they can also come with a downside—which means that companies need to be very careful about how they implement their rituals...

Neuroscientists Have Figured Out Why You Can’t Concentrate at Work

By Eve Edelstein // Quartz // September 5, 2017

Chief Crow Daria/

Even though most people think about themselves as primarily visual beings, neuroscience reveals a complex “connectome” of brain cells that connects all of our senses. Try writing a report in a noisy, uncomfortable place with the smells of the office microwave wafting over to your desk, and the importance of other senses becomes clear.

As a neuro-architect, I study how the brain processes all of our senses when we experience design. After all, design isn’t just aesthetic: It also includes the senses of sound, touch, and smell, as well as integrating information we receive from our sense of balance, pressure, pain, and the position of our body within a given place. Together, the perception of all these senses informs our response to architecture—and our attention.

This is particularly true of sound. Studies at the Human Experience Lab at Perkins+Will have revealed how important workplace acoustics are to performance and satisfaction, and that good acoustic design equals good business. Our 2016 study of brainwaves showed how different sound environments are associated with distraction and interruption in the workplace. The results also showed us statistically significant changes in creativity scores associated with different acoustic conditions: Workers reported that they...

Samsung’s Newest Phones Could Legitimately Replace Your Desktop Computer

By Dave Gershgorn // Quartz // September 4, 2017

Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones.
Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones. // Lee Jin-man/AP

For the last 10 years, Silicon Valley has worked tirelessly to remove the gadgets from your life that the world had spent the 30 previous years building. I used to carry around a CD player, a Gameboy, a notepad and pencil, a tape recorder; today, a smartphone that fits in my pocket can handle all those functions and much, much more.

But for all of Big Tech’s efforts, the computer has eluded its grasp. We carry around laptops or perch in front of desktop computers, sitting down to do “real work” that just isn’t possible on that One Device.

But smartphones are getting more powerful, already matching the hardware packed into laptops. People are doing more and more work from their phones. Is it time for the paradigm to shift?

It might be. I’m sitting at a desk, looking at a monitor, typing on a keyboard, clicking with a mouse, and all those peripherals feed back into my smartphone.

Computer 2.0

My computer at work for the last two weeks has been a Samsung S8 connected to a Samsung DeX dock. The dock has ethernet, power, and HDMI ports, as well as two USB-A ports, and...

Men Who Want to Fight Sexism at Work: Read Sheryl Sandberg’s Blunt Advice

By Leah Fessler // Quartz // September 1, 2017

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg // Alex Brandon/AP

For years, Sheryl Sandberg has been at the forefront of women’s fight for professional equality. The Facebook chief operating officer’s 2013 book Lean In sparked innumerable contentious, essential debates about how women can advance in the workplace.

But in a new interview with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Sandberg flips the narrative, sharing advice about what men can do to fight workplace sexism. Speaking on “Master of Scale,” Hoffman’s podcast, her message is both clear and cutting: Men need to care enough about gender equality to act.

Aggressively push against biases

Well-intentioned men are often eager to know how they can be better allies. When Hoffman asks how men can help the “Lean In mission,” Sandberg replies: “The way to help is to recognize that there are all of these biases, and push against them, and push against them aggressively.”

The problem, as feminist writer Lindy West points out in her New York Times column “Real Men Get Made Fun Of,” is that while men may want to help, they often hesitate to stick up for women and minorities when push comes to shove. They’re aware that calling out sexism when they see it may mean facing...

How to Power Through a Full Day of Meetings With Your Sanity Intact

By Kira Bindrim // Quartz // August 31, 2017

Meetings are the Anne Hathaway of the working world—moderately annoying, but entirely unavoidable.

As humans, we love to lament the time wasted in meetings, and then lament the time wasted on lamenting. Then we read articles about how bad meetings are and all the time we wasted in them.

Enough already. Meetings, like Hathaway, are here to stay. You can minimize them, shorten them, or add whimsical policies like “all meetings last five minutes” or “all meetings are held standing up,” or “all meetings are conducted in the sounds of barnyard animals,” but at the end of the day—or, on average, 62 times a month—we’re still going to shuffle into a room and talk about things while looking at each other’s faces.

Sometimes those days will be especially bad. Days when your calendar is packed with meetings—not to mention urgent Slack messages, 97 unread emails, and a hard stop at 7:30 p.m. because if you don’t go on this first date, then your mom is right and you really will end up alone with six cats and and a robot butler. For those days—here’s some advice on how to...