Teleworking is the most backward progressive policy that has ever been invented

Integrity is particularly feeble. It makes no sense to assert integrity as a value, as no one would ever dream of asserting the reverse.

It’s all guff, the same words crop up over and over again

Monkey wisdom: A study a few years ago  at MIT showed that monkeys learn more from getting things right. When rewarded for making a correct choice they remembered it and could repeat it, but after a wrong choice they remembered nothing. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

The chief executive of UBS told his bankers it’s okay to get things wrong. It isn’t

There are lots of things essential to the health of global businesses and to the “personal lives” of millions, but the “travel experience” offered by United is not one of them. Photograph: Reuters/Dylan Martinez

In a metal box hurtling through the air at 30,000ft, passionate people are a liability

One colleague said he knew he was a good father because his grown-up children liked his company enough to go on holiday with him

Working out if you are good at something is usually straightforward, but a question posed by UBS is complicated

If something is important enough to have a meeting about, then a table must be found and people must travel to sit at it. Photograph: Getty

Though you could always unload the dishwasher while you’re hanging on the line . . .

A male chief executive’s ideal book club  is just like a board meeting. Photograph: David Sleator

Most of us seem to hate it when dinner parties turn into seminars, but men adore it

Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of “Our culture is friendly and intense, but if push comes to shove we’ll settle for intense.” Photographer: Mike Kane/Bloomberg

Three recruitment adverts, from Amazon and two smaller companies, set an example

Doing expenses: “I started the job at 3.30pm and by 5pm was close to tears.” File photograph: Getty Images

While most admin tasks are getting less painful, expenses are getting more so

The head of Accenture said  he is going to free all 330,000 of his staff from the charade of the annual job appraisal. Photograph: Getty Images

Accenture’s decision to remove the annual performance review is welcome news

Recruiters and managers are so faceist that the good-looking have been found to earn some 10 per cent more than the bad-looking. File photograph: Stockphoto/Getty

We are hopelessly faceist. Nobody calls anyone ugly anymore, they just don’t hire them

Missing skillset: Antony Jenkins, the former chief executive of Barclays. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

The reason the CEO of Barclays, Antony Jenkins, had to go, we were told, was that he no longer had the right ‘set of skills’

Microsoft  chief executive Satya Nadella: “I want to share more on the overall context and connective tissue between our mission, world view, strategy and culture.”   To have a mission, vision and world view is greedy, but to have so many abstractions with lots of connective tissue between them leaves one feeling sick.    Photograph: Jason Redmond/Reuters

Chief exec tries to convince that the company has a plan and to remind employees what it is, in case they had forgotten. What he (...)

Taking part in a workout outside  the New York Stock Exchange  after Fitbit’s  IPO in New York earlier this month.  “It is a dismal sort of status symbol that says ‘I am up to date, I am fit’ and is an invitation to people with bare wrists to feel out of date and out of shape.” Photograph: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

The worst thing about these wrist-wearing devices is that in the long term, they probably have no effect at all

Every chairman will say his board is ego-free. Photograph: Getty Images

The ego that throws its weight around is the most tiresome. But the silent ego is most dangerous.

‘I blame Steve Jobs: thanks to him, caring is now compulsory. It is supposed to be good for us, as it bolsters our self-respect, and is supposed to be good for employers as it bolsters their bottom lines.’ Photograph:  David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Anyone not caring about work is best advised to pretend to feel passionately about it

“Mostly estate agents play no more fast and loose with words than other professions.” Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Even the sanest people become unhinged when it comes to buying and selling

‘Shoe-shining, in marked contrast to banking, gives its customers pleasure.’ Photograph: Antonis Liokouras/Getty Images/iStockphoto

There is only one thing better about banking than shining shoes: the money

Tim Armstrong: see him on YouTube for a masterclass in how not to talk to staff, how not to motivate and not to lead.  Photograph: Victor J Blue/Bloomberg

Seeing him, it is difficult to argue that the most successful leaders are the humble ones

Every time we write an email we are in the dark as to what is going to work best. Photograph: PA

The main selling point of is not entertainment but to help you communicate better

Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo: “As we iterate on the logged-out experience and curate topics, events, moments that unfold on the platform, you should absolutely expect us to deliver those experiences across the total audience and that includes logged in users and users in syndication.”  Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

Dick Costolo undermined Twitter’s brand with his windy nonsense

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, who have been married for 21 years. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP Photo

Contrary to expectations, most of the supersuccessful who wed are in it for the long haul

Warren Buffett has done 50 years at Berkshire Hathaway, proving it is possible to be with the same outfit forever without becoming a gormless, unimaginative loser.  Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

My 30-year anniversary at ‘Financial Times’ proves that I have been very lucky

Graduate recruitment  now  often involves team exercises, “panel interviews, ordeals and other assorted pranks”. Photograph: Getty Images

Senior staff should have to jump same hoops as recent graduates do

Reality bites: the Apple logo may be one of the most recognised in the world but most people are unable to sketch it accurately. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

The Apple logo falls into a large collection of things we do not need to remember

The super-anxious cannot wait more than two minutes without retuning to the desk to ask if the receptionist has forgotten to announce their presence. Photograph: Getty Images

Nothing to prevent rudeness in reception area being used in evidence against us

No matter how much my children think I am making a poor fist of bringing them up they can’t get rid of me. Parenting is for life. Jobs are not.

Pretence that motherhood is one long, democratic, emotional jolly jape is a far worse lie than the one that says motherhood is a j(...)

Chief financial officer Patrick Pichette didn’t resolve to leave Google right away. He went back to work, and then three reasons for quitting came to him. Photograph: The Irish Times

Kilimanjaro-inspired exit memo mixes work-life epiphany with pitch for job offers

Appy days: there’s a Smartphone app for everything now, including one to tell you how you did at a meeting

Good feedback is always going to be rare, with or without apps to help it along

Richard Dawkins: a prolific thirdpartybragger. Photograph: Don Arnold/Getty Images

Retweeting praise might make it seem like you are not boasting. You’re fooling nobody

“Lean in”, urges corporate queen Sheryl Sandberg (above). Meanwhile, at least one very successful female  has discovered workplace  laziness has major benefits. Photograph: Pascal Lauener/ Reuters

Laziness, according to the modern view, is something we need to be coached out of. Instead, as my friend shows, the reverse is tr(...)

Twitter appears to have changed how we work forever. Yet on closer inspection, Twitter has changed nothing – all it has done is speed things up a bit

All managers often pick hopeless people. That is not surprising given how hard it is to know what someone is like until they start(...)

Happy employees, it is claimed, are more likely to do the right thing than unhappy ones

Wells Fargo claims last year there were eight times as many Pollyannas as miserable sods

Do it today: JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon has told all his underlings to reply to emails within the day. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

In a world in which people have largely given up answering at all, it is moronic to ask only once

‘Obviously it was stupid to cycle with anything on the handlebars. Perhaps, for the first time in my life, I will learn from my own mistakes and start using a pannier.’ Photograph: Getty Images

A black eye and an arm in a sling: not a good look for an interview to become a director

Last week Jamie Dimon told Fox Business: “JPMorgan is the best thing I can do for country and humanity”,  which is even richer than Lloyd Blankfein saying Goldman Sachs did “God’s work” as the latter remark was arguably ironic. Photograph: Reuters

The only way of safeguarding common sense in business is to become an entrepreneur

Facebook has a new empathy team, whose job is to go around feeling the pain and pleasure of others and translate the experience for the benefit of its engineers. Photograph: Martin Keene/PA Wire

The ‘daily average people’ were formerly known as Facebook users

The judges also commended Apple chief Tim Cook who was quoted as saying: “At the end of the day . . . this is a very key day for Apple”, thus combining two empty, clashing phrases. Photograph: The Irish Times

And the prize for Golden Flannel phrase of the year is – ‘to action forward’

AOL chief Tim Armstrong, who has instructed his underlings at AOL to spend one-tenth of each working week deploying their grey matter.  Photograph: Peter DaSilva/The New York Times

AOL chief Tim Armstrong believes managers should spend 10% of their time thinking. Really?

Alan Rusbridger: ‘An excellent editor, by most accounts, and can play Chopin’s Ballade No 1 on piano.’ Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Festival of sycophancy as ‘Guardian’ editor announces he is to step down

“One of the greatest puzzles about email is that despite the fact that we have spent several hours a day for the past 15 years practising, we are failing to show any improvement. Even on the basics, we are as clueless as ever.” Photograph: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire

Opinion: email is getting more aggravating but can be less of a nuisance

  A mere third of the workers canvassed by CareerBuilder said being a manager appealed to them. The remaining two-thirds said no thanks, I’d rather stick with the lowly job I have.

Climbing the corporate ladder has never looked less appealing

All office work viewed from the outside makes you glad you are not having what she’s having at all.

Opinion: white-collar work makes the worst spectator sport

At the end of each day of being boorish and unpleasant the traders would go  to the pub to be more so

Many traders were boorish, mean, sexist, racist barrow boys who operated a feudal system with its own hierarchy

As an employee, being fearless is not obviously an advantage.

If you are running a business and are scared of nothing, you are dangerous

At any given moment of the business day, millions of mostly pointless coffees are being had

Great ideas can sometimes come from a chat with the unlikeliest of people

There are far more fitness fanatics than fatties in corporate boardrooms. Yet the reason is not that extreme exercise causes extreme success, more that both are the result of the same personality defect

A testing fitness regime won’t make you a success, but it will probably make you dull

Russell Brand: “The reason I don’t vote is the same reason I don’t eat glitter; there’s no fucking point”. Photo: EPA

Over soup in an East End café Brand says capitalism has failed, gives money to a drug addict and tells Lucy Kellaway to shut up (...)

Not only are CVs unhelpful, so too are interviews  and references are the most pointless of the lot. Photograph: Getty Images/Hemera

Let’s face it, the traditional CV and interview route is a bit old hat

Conscientiousness makes work and life run a lot more smoothly: it’s time to value it more.

Conscientiousness is a far more valuable commodity than ‘passion’

Stanford University. Its ambitious female MBA students gathered together to have the hard skin rubbed off their heels and their nails painted cerise and blue, while at the same time being told by McKinsey how great it would be to work for the world’s most formidable management consultancy.

What’s next? A sponsored event involving ironing and dusting?

There is a catch to Sir Richard’s plan –  staff will only take time off when they “feel a hundred per cent comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project”. Photograph: Rob Kim/Getty Images

There is a 100% condition to the Branson plan

“In my intake at JPMorgan in the 1980s there was no race to the door by the smartest. Out of a group of 10 the two who quit after the first two years weren’t so much the brightest as the misfits – we were the ones who shouldn’t have been hired in the first place.” Photograph: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

Opinion: the cleverest use top employers as a training ground and springboard to get out

The two things that people will always be better at than machines are motivating others and coming up with original ideas. Photograph: Getty Images

Momentous article based on years of research by firm’s sharpest minds

Being in the library at opening time is only cool if you’ve been up all night. Photograph: Getty Images

Looking gorgeous is cool. And looking thin. So is wearing the right clothes

A Moleskine notebook: ‘Electronic diaries are slowcoaches compared with the speedy paper version.’ Photograph: Daneil Rodriguez/

Opinion: paper is faster, requires no password and never runs out of batteries

As eBay clearly demonstrates, consumers are sometimes irrational. The data show auctions with an opening bid of 99p get buyers so excited they usually end up bidding the price up more than when the starting bid is higher. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As a DIY business school, there has never been anything like eBay - a place where animal spirits roam free and yet markets are tra(...)

Earlier this summer the New York Times carried a front-page story about a speech Barack Obama had given on US foreign policy with a headline referring to his “Cautious Reponse to World Crisis”.

Opinion: human’s ability to write comes with ability to err

Emailing when away, I reasoned, is inevitable, mildly useful, and fine so long as you use the drug in moderation, says Lucy Kellaway.

The further you are from work, the more its news disturbs you, writes Lucy Kellaway

Rather than dish out the bad news directly, the executive vice-president takes refuge behind a curious subjunctive: “We plan that this would result in an estimated reduction of 12,500 . . . employees.”

Microsoft executive Stephen Elop’s 1,100-word memo, which casually mentions massive job cuts, is a case study in how not to write(...)

With jobs, unlike with loo paper, there are many axes to grind. Photograph: Getty Images

People feel compelled to review everyday items but are more reticent regarding their work

When the contest is between the big firms it is especially pointless. Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: employing a professional services firm is all about back-covering

Facebook chief Sheryl Sandberg. “Her ‘didn’t mean to upset you’ was patronising and, worse than that, a lie.” Photograph: EPA/Money Sharma

Opinion: women are more guilty than men of unnecessary apologising

The best work-avoidance technique of all is to be perfectly willing, but perfectly incompetent.

The equivalent of the avoiding washing-up technique at work is to be hopeless at small tasks

“A few years ago a psychological science journal published research that concluded there was nothing great about diverse teams per se. They were good if you wanted to do something creative or innovative. But if you wanted to slog on with business as usual then homogenous teams did the job better.” Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: a wide cross-section brings with it the danger of groupthink

“Apple’s hitherto nice way with words was almost certainly a part of its success. Perhaps the language helped cause the success, or perhaps the success caused the language.” Photograph: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Opinion: Apple’s ugly words suggest it has not hung on to what made it different

“Those who feel ‘harmonious passion’ towards work enjoy their jobs and experience that lovely sense of ‘flow’ when they are in the thick of it.”

Opinion: being passionate about work is just another example of language inflation

“Anyone with the gumption to reach the boardroom has a grotesquely inflated drive to succeed far more powerful than a factory full of Gucci watches.” Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Opinion: performance incentives are needless and unfair

“‘Hello Lucy. How are you today? ;)’ Ajay typed.  ‘Fine,’ I typed back. ‘Cool! ;) I’m certain I can help you with this.’” Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: businesses’ chumminess is acceptable only when not too blatantly self-interested

The New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr, center, and Jill Abramson, right, who was sacked as editor of the New York Times last week, celebrate the four Pulitzers won by The Times in 2013. File photograph: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Sacked New York Times editor Jill Abramson will struggle to shift the mark of her former employer

Angela Ahrendts is getting up to $68 million as a welcome gift for joining Apple.  Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

A new book on the difficulty high-earning women have in finding a husband

The City of London: in the early 1980s, investment banking had not yet adopted the football model. If you were a Warburg man you didn’t become a Schroders man just because it was prepared to pay a bit more. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg.

Could the City move away from the football model when it comes to changing jobs?

“‘Your email must have got caught in the spam filter’ is a handy white lie that I have often used to get me out of scrapes, but as filters go on getting better its value is diminishing.” Photograph: Getty Images

Technology is steadily ruining all the old favourites

“Google in Dublin recently ran an experiment to help them. It invited staff to check in their devices as they clocked off for the day, with the result that evenings were reportedly happier all around. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Opinion: modern working lives have catastrophically gone from eight-hour days to 24/7

‘If JPMorgan would have me back I’d be a far better prospect now than the sneering waster they employed 32 years ago.’ Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

I have about 20 years of work left, which ought to be plenty to begin again

‘None of us works anything like as hard as we think we do. According to studies in the US and elsewhere, people routinely overestimate their working hours by at least 10 per cent.’ Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Opinion: the disease of overwork is partly in our minds

“People end up as entrepreneurs for different reasons. Some, like Sir Richard Branson (above), are dyslexic and do so badly at school that the usual careers are closed.” Photograph: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Egos need to be managed, which inevitably means tiptoeing works better than barging

Beware the wise words of others

Pieces of advice are positioning statements that tell the world about the values the issuer would like it to think they hold

“I’ve almost given up sitting in audiences with my husband as his yawning and fidgeting is too infectious. When we went to see Black Swan in a packed cinema a few years ago, he let out a great laugh at the horrifying moment when Natalie Portman turns into a ballerina-cum-demon.”

When giving a talk, your own performance is only half of it

“The damage done to the subject of the gossip is generally negligible, while the fun and fellow feeling created between the chatterers is considerable.” Photograph: Getty Images

Recent research suggests gossip increases co-operation, upholds the moral code, punishes the selfish and rewards the unselfish

“Far from making work less civilised, the arrival of Big Brother could make it more so. Office life could become more transparent and less political.”

If we are in favour of meritocracies, we should also be in favour of anything that helps us measure merit more accurately

“Inga Beale said what holds women back is not a lack of ambition or too many domestic responsibilities. It is that they don’t engage in enough aimless chatter with their colleagues.” Photograph posed by models.

If you don’t chat, people don’t like you much. So if women keep quiet at work, it matters

“Tiger mother” Amy Chua, co-author with husband  Jed Rubenfeld of combustible new book ‘The Triple Package’. Photograph: Bloomsbury

Opinion: a new book argues that some groups achieve more because of a superiority complex, insecurity and impulse control

Google has 46,000 employees. No one can have that many siblings or even third cousins twice removed

The idea that employees are somehow part of the family is one of the most delusional metaphors of modern corporate life

“I made a pot of tea for everyone and, thinking of my mum, even put the milk in a jug”

Frequent visits to the vending machine punctuate the day and serve equally well for reward, consolation and for an energy boost

Eight out of 10 US office workers claim to suffer from workplace stress. Picture posed by model. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA Wire

Opinion: if we don’t feel happy at work, we ought to

Nigella Lawson: when she gets tired of teaching the world how to make maple buttercream cup cakes she could teach puffed up MBAs how to deal gracefully with humiliation. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Humiliation is painful and damaging but also needless

Companies did a lot of firing last year and were more imaginative than ever in telling it like it is not. Most famously, HSBC “demised” its managers, Reuters caused staff to be “transitioned out of the company”, while other businesses “disestablished” or even “completed” roles.

Original giants of jargon get recognition

Everyone has commented on how smart the new leader of General Motors, Mary Barra,  is and admired her delightful plain talk in saying “no more crappy cars”. But no one has yet praised her hair. Photograph: Earl Wilson/The New York Times

The world’s most successful business women have impeccable hairdos

Sir Richard Branson: declares himself to be a “tie-loathing adventurer and thrill seeker, who believes in turning ideas into reality”. Photograph: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Comedian David Baddiel describes himself simply as: ‘Jew’

With children, age is the first thing we want to know. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

On LinkedIn people post all sorts of irrelevant information about themselves but they never state their age

“You could protest that cokeheads and blockheads go hand in hand; though which leads to which is hard to say. If you are on drugs, that could make your command of the facts a little hazy.” Photograph: Getty Images

Random knowledge tests for all directors are needed, just like drugs tests for sportsmen

“If companies really want to get people using the stairs, something stronger than nannying is called for – like putting half the lifts out of service, forcing the able-bodied to walk.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Taking the stairs is usually the corporate equivalent of going behind the bike shed

To say: “Oh dear this pasta is disgustingly soggy” simply draws the guests’ attention to how overcooked it is, which otherwise they might not have noticed. Worse, it then obliges them to say: “But no! It’s delicious.” Photograph: DAVE MEEHAN

Even women who have managed to rise go on harming themselves by incontinently banging on about how hopeless they are

“It is not just the behaviour on the bike, it is the bike itself. The person with the carbon racer wants to impress. The person on the hybrid just wants to get the job done.” Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Bosses can learn much by watching a prospective employee on a bicycle

“A fast-food restaurant is an excellent finishing school. It has succeeded in areas where 18 years of liberal parenting and seven years of hugely expensive private education have made little impression.”

Getting paid is nice; and doing nothing sucks

“What is going on with the German back? While the French get excited about their livers, and the Brits obsess over their bowels, in Germany it is the spine that is grotesquely overpathologised.” Photographer: Brand X Pictures

Germany is strong enough to carry southern Europe on its back but stays home at the slightest twinge

“They’ll have to agree I have con-fi-dence in ME.”  Julie Andrews  in ‘The Sound of Music’. Photograph: 20th Century Fox/Getty Images

Companies have taken competence and made it needlessly complicated

What caused chief executive Michael O’Leary to make a U-turn on his business strategy? Photograph: Aidan Crawley

When it comes to bringing about change, it is criticism delivered in person by random strangers that counts

There is one thing that refuses to go global: how people greet each other. In the US and Germany you could look forward to a bonecrusher of a handshake, in the Middle East something more like a limp fish.   Photograph: Getty Images

There is a desperate need for a Global Greetings Protocol, an agreement that all companies and nations would be encouraged to sign(...)

More articles