The last moves of dying cultures

ALSO: is charisma an airborne particle? / new Leesman data

Make Work Better is a weekly newsletter about work & workplace culture. If you’ve ever told a new candidate ‘we’ve got an incredible culture’ then this is the place we’re trying to find out how to live up to that.

Image by Mak on Unsplash

Lots of fascinating workplace stories this week. The big ones for me are the BBC’s movement of physical locations and Goldman Sachs getting rumbled for having the worst workplace culture in the world.

The BBC made a baffling announcement that missed a huge opportunity to seem future facing. The broadcaster trumpeted the relocation of hundreds of jobs from London to different parts of the UK. While the headline in principle was worthy (when you don’t live in the capital the country’s obsession with the place seems unwarranted and divisive). But it seems like the BBC missed an open goal by not announcing that they were going to relocate the businesses to these places but let workers do their jobs remotely. Asking hundreds of workers to move house to then work 3 days a week in their bedroom seems like a decision from an era we just moved on from.

On the flipside newspaper publisher Reach (who owns the Mirror) is making all London based workers permanently remote.

Also: British Airways say they are considering selling their headquarters building as colleagues prefer more homeworking.

New podcast this week is a recording of last week’s Twitter Spaces chat with Professor Scott Galloway

Scott is a force of nature and was characteristically sparky here. TRIGGER WARNING: he’s not someone who likes work calming and sustainable. We talk about his advice to new workers, I suggest he’s fallen for BS from the Darth Vader pretend DJ guy who runs Goldman Sachs and much more.

Apple / Spotify / website

On the subject of Goldman Sachs, I see that the Storm Troopers have begged Vader to let them only work 80 hours a week from now on, but like I say, Adam Grant and Scott have said he seems like a nice guy when they met him, so let’s not jump to any conclusions (I say all of this directly to Scott btw).

The Goldman consultants turned their request into the only language the firm speaks, a slide deck.

Question: ‘How satisfied are you with your personal life?’ - median score of 1 out of 10

Q: ‘How satisfied are you with this firm?’ - the median answer is 2.

“I can’t sleep anymore because my anxiety levels are through the roof”

“My body physically hurts all the time and mentally I’m in a really dark place”

“I’ve been through foster care and this is arguably worse”

Just a reminder there is clear evidence that working longer hours (until your body aches for example) is proven to age your body up to six times faster than normal. And in The Joy of Work I go through a big block of research which says the impact that bankers’ working practices has on their bodies.

So there’s the deal, UK workers at Goldman Sachs earn an average of £1m per year. But to earn it your body will age many times faster than you should, you will lose your twenties and thirties to a ‘1 out of 10’ life experience? This sounds like a deal with the devil.

When you strip away the packaging individuals are selling the best mojo of their lives to have more money to spend in their forties and fifties (in their significantly shortened lives).

Some recent posts that you might enjoy:

Leesman Index updated their data on workplace satisfaction

The TL;DR is that while workers are willing to go back to the office, they are likely to be less tolerant of noisy, crammed offices that aren’t optimised for productivity. (Click through on any of the tweets to see all of the detail more clearly).

I love Leesman’s data, it’s worth saying their business model is advising firms how to make their offices fit for purpose, but they’ve let the data tell that story here -

you can get their whole report here.

Is charisma an airborne chemical?

On the subject of offices maybe what we’ve been missing is something magical and imperceptible in the air. Scientists measured the air in cinemas and they could detect the stress levels of the audience from the presence of isoprenes in the air. Multiple screenings of the same film had an identical fingerprint that allowed researchers to identify which film it was.

So the air we’re breathing has an impact on the way we’re feeling. Intriguing.

As the writer says, ‘Maybe charismatic people are simply isoprene super-emitters?’ (thanks to Pete Marcus for tagging me on this)


Make Work Better is created by Bruce Daisley, workplace culture enthusiast. You can find more about Bruce’s book, podcast and writing at the Eat Sleep Work Repeat website

2nd book writing progress: ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ 33% (I’m honestly making progress, 50% will be the end of a first draft - BTW if you ever harbour a desire to publish a book my PDF guide of what I learned is here for free)