Photograph: iStock

Long resented, the workplace minimalist now raises risk of burnout for colleagues

Many publs have pivoted to takeaway pints in the lockdown. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Companies have transformed themselves, while others have failed make the cut

In a year of far too little cheer, anything that lifts a spirit here and there is welcome. File photograph: Getty

‘There was widespread agreement that not having to rush for the Tube was an advantage’

More open-plan space could be transformed into something else most offices lack: ultra-quiet areas where people can easily work uninterrupted for hours at a time

Pilita Clark: A hybrid way of working could end much of what was hopeless in open-plan offices

A bad meeting is like a virus. By failing to produce good decisions, it often requires another meeting to be held, then another and another. File photograph: Getty

Evidence suggests meetings are not helping busy people make good decisions about important stuff

‘At some point after the lockdowns started this year, I found myself signing off work emails differently.’ Photograph: iStock

Pilita Clark: 2020 has upped the value of the polite, swift and considerate email

Reviews on web site Trip Advisor have helped us research the perfect holiday. Why can’t we have something similar for financial investments? Photograph: Per-Andre Hoffmann/Getty Images

If only we could compare green investments online as easily as hotels and flights

Officers patrol Melbourne’s St Kilda esplanade markets on November 8th, as Victoria’s state government announces an easing of restrictions with no new cases of Covid-19 for ninth day in a row. Photograph: William West/AFP via Getty

Australia’s special power may be, as Johnson might say, its nanny-statism

Journalist Bob Woodward arrives for a meeting at Trump Tower in January 2017. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty

From politics to business and beyond, evergreen elders are setting the bar far too high

Some companies are rewarding employees for longer working days by giving them more time off. Photograph: iStock

Pilita Clark: The average working week has lengthened since home became our office

 Crowded rush hour commuters in the London Underground before the pandemic. File photograph: Getty Images

Pilita Clark: Some of the attempts at recreating normality amid pandemic are shocking

‘People at work say they have fun on morning team calls ... but these isolated pockets of online fun are no match for the way jokes hurtle around an office full of people.’ Photograph: iStock

The pandemic has stolen a basic ingredient from everyday working life: humour

What’s ahead? Some things may change, but not as many as we  think. An expert in disaster recovery says that  over time people will crowd back into bars and restaurants. Photograph: Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP via Getty Images

Will we ever return to paying gyms and hair salons now we have discovered other ways?

What’s ahead? Some things may change, but not as many as we think. An expert in disaster recovery says that over time people will crowd back into bars and restaurants.

Pilita Clark: Will we ever go back to paying gyms and hair salons a lot of money now we have discovered other ways?

A poll of over 750 European employers published last week showed 41 per cent have plans to make it easier for staff to keep working remotely once offices reopen.

What an employer can and cannot require of staff has suddenly become much more complicated

One study of remote working in a Chinese travel agency showed staff at home were more productive and happier, but less likely to be promoted

Most leaders will go back to the office. Over time everyone will know that to get ahead you should be in the office

The more lofty sounding purpose statement has proliferated since the 2008 financial crisis. Photograph: iStock

Lofty ideals can sound great on paper, but too many struggle to match reality

Providing commuting bicycles is one great way for employers to help their staff. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

‘We don’t think productivity is a big problem, but a sense of belonging is’

American women are twice as likely as men to have been working at the kitchen table in the pandemic, while men tend to have a home office. Photograph: Getty Images

Pilita Clark: Things have been unusually bad on many levels, starting with job losses

Jane Austen’s house in Hampshire where the she spent the last years of her life.  The author was a whizz at saying no. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Knowing how to do it in a pandemic, when job insecurity is rife, is even more important

IAs companies gingerly prepare to reopen their offices, workers are coming to terms with the reality that it is impossible to make things 100 per cent safe.

A post-Covid return to the workplace comes with a lot of uncertainties

Employee analytics firm Peakon found two of the top five words employees used at the height of the pandemic in March and April were “hours” and “pressure”. Photograph: Chemistry

Making time for one-to-one conversations with staff is a must for managers

In the space of 48 hours at the start of July, more than 12,000 people in the UK alone learned their jobs were about to go. File photograph: Getty

Multilayered world of work will be far better when there is a lot more of it to think about

Slacking off from Slack makes a lot of sense to me. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Beware the office instant messaging system – it can become a monumental distraction

As people gingerly prepare to return to the office, the latest advice to employers is clear: ‘Workstations should be assigned to an individual and not shared.’ Photograph: iStock

Pilita Clark: In the post-Covid office environment, sharing desks will be a no-no

‘I am too embarrassed to say exactly how many unread emails I have.’ Photograph: iStock

Most of us are too resigned to living with a brimming inbox but Hey might be a solution

Getting ahead in the home office requires dedication. Photograph: iStock

Figuring out how to look busy and stay in the workplace politics loop are key

1937, Los Angeles: An evicted couple sits on the curb surrounded by their belongings during the Great Depression. Photograph:  American Stock/Getty

Hyper-connected digitally savvy generation might find a way through

Will Covid-19 derail mushrooming efforts to tackle climate change? Photograh: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Economic impacts of pandemic are unlikely to stifle environmental concerns

Does your boss view you as part of the  office A-team? Photograph:  NBCU/Photo Bank

Employees working remotely may end up being unfairly overlooked for promotions

British health secretary Matt Hancock lost his temper at a BBC radio interviewer asking about the government’s handling of the crisis. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/EPA

The odd outburst on Zoom is only human but this is not a time for angry words at work

The NHS   in March told thousands of GP surgeries to switch to remote consultations to protect doctors and patients from infection. Photograph: Getty Images

Pilita Clark: A jobs website reported nearly half of UK workers said the lockdown had made them appreciate their family more

Will these virtual events ever be as good as the real thing? I hope so, because for networkers and everyone else this will be as good as it gets for quite a while to come

Pilita Clark: In a locked down world the need to build connections has never been greater or more physically impossible

After  Covid-19 lockdown will people  return to the conspicuous consumption of the past? Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA

Shuttered shops existed to sell stuff for a rushed, commuting office life that millions of people may never lead again

Don’t be a broadband snob. If you have an ultrafast internet connection, congratulations. Bear in mind not everyone can, so do not snigger at people with a fuzzy, freezing image

The Zoom bore can be a windbag who was a remorseless drone even before Covid-19, and revels in the chance to overpower video meeti(...)

New Zealand’s  prime minister Jacinda Ardern  during a press conference after outlining movement restrictions   on April 16th. Photograph: Getty Images

Pilita Clark: Ardern’s leadership has combined mastery of minutiae, smart policies, honesty and co-ordination in her government

‘Having once had the job of drawing up team holiday rotas, I know it has always required the skills of a Nobel-winning diplomat and a butcher,’ writes Pilita Clark. Photograph: Frank Miller

It is difficult to imagine how much harder the task of drawing up the office rota is now

 Researchers predict that people aged over 70 will account for 63% t of Covid-19 deaths in a country such as Australia, even though they make up just 11%  of the population there.  Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

However stubborn and difficult our parents may be, the time we have with them should never be taken for granted

  New York State governor Andrew Cuomo  has torn into people ignoring orders to stop gathering together. Photograph:  Peter Foley/EPA

Leaders who continue to speak clearly and honestly are the ones who deserve our attention

Elizabeth Taylor in the film Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? Photograph: API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

In the face of a frightening pandemic, my partner and I are responding differently

Nursing is one of the careers that many people gravitate towards on the basis that they will be paid to do something they like.  Photograph: Stockvisual/Getty

Urge to stay committed to a firm remains powerful, despite disappointment

BP CEO Bernard Looney is a newcomer to Instagram and a rarity. Only 11% of oil and gas company chief executives are active on social media. Photograph: AFP

Pilita Clark: Social media can be risky but authenticity on such platforms is rewarded

The internet has filled with advice about working from home  for the uninitiated: stick to a ritual, ditch pyjamas and get out of bed, especially for a video call

In China we are seeing the world’s largest work-from-home experiment due to the coronavirus outbreak, and early results look benig(...)

Dominic Cummings, special adviser to UK prime minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters

Dominic Cummings has taken flak for his unconventional attire – but maybe he’s right

Is it reasonable to leave after being kept waiting 20 minutes without explanation for a 30-minute meeting?

Left waiting by a company for no reason should be a warning that this is an organisation to avoid

Siemens faced the wrath of protests over its decision to continue participating in the Adani coal project. Photograph: Hayoung Jeon/EPA

Pilita Clark: Tackling the crisis will be hard enough without firms using it as an excuse

‘There are times when one learns a lot more about one’s leader when they are away from their desk, not behind it.’ File photograph: Getty

Johnson and Morrisson show what not to do when a crisis breaks while off sunbathing

Democratic presidential hopeful and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg: ‘It takes a long time to do big things.’ Photograph: Getty

US presidential hopeful Bloomberg vows first 100 days in White House about building team

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic’s Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? – a guide to the overconfident, reckless narcissists who so often end up in charge – has been one of the most popular business books of 2019

Being considerate and caring towards others is wrongly characterised as a dull trait

Good management: there are lots of reasons to admire forthright feedback at work – the trouble is, too many people do it too poorly.

Figuring out how to deliver analysis that is truthful and kind is not easy

It might be sensible for companies to showcase the expertise of a new female board member rather than her gender

Study finds businesses that put woman on the board suffer decline in market value

Marc Benioff: give him a break. Photograph: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Only about 15% of US employers offer sabbatical leave, and most of that is unpaid

People have to feel it is safe to report a problem. The Chernobyl disaster showed the dangers of a culture of fear.

Subeditors are unsung gatekeepers without whom no serious news body can function

Julia Gillard will speak at the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London on November 13th. Photograph: Reuters/Parth Sanyal/Files

New report highlights gender-based issues but its recommendations won’t work

Unilever has 158,000 staff and it spends about €6.5 billion a year on their pay. Most are remunerated in the same way that people in big companies have been paid for decades. They get a fixed salary

What if people lower down the pay ladder had a chance to take part in the executive share scheme?

“Broadband, wifi and smartphones made email constantly available, but people kept dealing with new mail as it arrived, as they had in the dial-up era.”

We should not have allowed technology to doom us to what is an endless distraction

An Extinction Rebellion protest in London. A barricade was  set up  outside the BBC to demand more coverage of climate change

Pilita Clark: a new scheme will encourage firms to give staff two days off a year to take a train, bus or boat instead of a plane (...)

“This is literally the worst person I’ve ever sat beside,” I moaned at an attendant. “On by far the longest flight”

Pilita Clark: a flight to Australia showed how it takes very little to turn a customer relations disaster into triumph

Mark Zuckerberg: ‘We wouldn’t even be here if I didn’t have control.’ File photograph: Stephen Lam

Social media mogul defends control by recounting 2006 rejection of $1bn Yahoo offer

Pushed out: Adam Neumann, WeWork’s former chief executive. Photograph: Cole Wilson/The New York Times

Company Cassandras, even junior ones, can be invaluable in delivering early warnings

 There is never an excuse to say ‘key learnings’ instead of ‘lessons’. This phrase has been rightly ridiculed for years. Yet it persists with the tenacity of an ugly weed that resists all attempts at eradication. Photograph: Getty

Britain is being helmed by PM Boris Johnson. What is wrong with plain old ‘run’?

Damian Kestel committed a number of errors, the least of which is the joke itself. Yes, it smacks of tedious cliches about how men and women relate and yes, it suggests the sender thinks his audience is entirely male

Pilita Clark: The world has changed in ways that some men still don’t seem to understand

Older workers may be more expensive, but experts say they outperform younger ones on almost every measure of job performance. Photograph: iStock

Pilita Clark: Finding ways to keep older people happily employed for longer helps all

No  weekends, no holidays – UK government adviser Dominic Cummings expects a lot from his staff. Photograph: Joss Barratt/Channel 4/PA

Darwin took it handy, so did Dickens – why 80-hour weeks are unproductive

Researchers say people who swear can seem more honest, credible and persuasive

People doomed to hot-desking waste an average of two weeks a year just looking for a place to sit, one study claimed last month. Photograph: Getty

Pilita Clark: The only benefit of hot-desking is financial – and even that is questionable

Organisations should think twice before rejecting a qualified woman. Illustration: iStock

Pilita Clark: The idea that women are happy to let men lead is increasingly hard to believe

I have always thought the office toilet was more important than one might think and last week I found some research that backs up my hunch

The real office throne: Why the most private room in the office can influence bottom line

A People Before Profit climate change demonstration outside Leinster House in Dublin  earlier this year. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

Pilita Clark: A planned global action in September will test corporate resolve on the issue

Official figures show long-term immigration to the UK for work has fallen since 2016, the year of the Brexit vote

Pilita Clark: LinkedIn survey supports official data – skilled workers won’t move to UK

Boris Johnson: his contrived bluster concealed a man who was fantastically well prepared. Photograph: Darren Staples/Bloomberg

Pilita Clark: few speakers truly have the ‘wang’ to wing it

Sweden fans before the match  against Thailand in Nice, France, in the   women’s World Cup. Photograph:   Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

If money keeps rolling into the women’s game, how will organisers make sure it is used for the whole game and not just big stars?

Is this the NSA whose mass snooping was exposed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden? Photograph: Natalia Fedosenko\TASS via Getty Images

Pilita Clark: Many modern businesses offer baffled outsiders no clues about what it is they actually do

Theresa May, the departing prime minister, wanted a job for which she was manifestly unsuited. She was wooden, robotic, secretive, unimaginative and  would have struggled to lead at any time. Photograph: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Being careful about openly backing a favourite applies to politics and office life

 Over the past six months I kept coming across men who were not just unafraid of nappies but actively fretting about how to nab more paternity leave

Hopefully the day will come when not a head will turn when a father heads off for a few months of parental leave

‘It’s definitely true that right now every one of us should think hard about whether or not we need to take a flight,’ says Virgin Group chief executive Josh Bayliss

Climate debate is shifting and companies are failing to match green claims with action

‘It is hard to worry about the threat of artificial intelligence when a computer shows no sign of intelligence at all.’ Photograph: Getty

Pilita Clark: daft new phone system with its garbled messages is source of unintended joy

A few employers have tried the four-day week, lured by research suggesting shorter weeks can make people less ill, less mistake-prone and more productive. Photograph: Getty Images

The four-day week has much going for it. But its complexity cannot be ignored, and it cannot be reserved for white-collar workers

I have certainly been to gabfests where I have been bored to a semi-coma by a parade of dull speakers. Photograph: Getty

Staid panels have been disrupted by agenda-free events, but freedom comes with risks

More countries should follow Sweden, a pioneer of well-designed paternity leave policies and home to some of the EU’s highest female employment levels.  Photograph: Getty Images

When a father takes parental leave, mothers go back to work more easily, female employment rises and the gender pay gap is lower

Oh how we laughed. Photograph: iStock

Pilita Clark: You can get away with a prank if the victim is a pal or a more senior colleague

A new US study shows  something quite alarming: making jokes in a work presentation helps men but hurts women

Pilita Clark: in a presentation female humour seems to be seen as more disruptive and male more helpful

The man sitting next to me arrived at work to report he had been in a Morrisons supermarket on the weekend and the toilet paper shelves were empty

Pilita Clark: Office colleagues who have long feared the worst now look savvier

‘Mindfulness proponents do not get much bigger than Arianna Huffington’ Photograph: Reuters/Ruben Sprich

Pilita Clark: Is mindfulness demotivating? Professor bravely takes aim at a sacred cow

Every Weight Watcher I have ever known only joined up for one reason: to lose weight. Photograph: Melissa Ross via Getty Images

Pilita Clark: ‘We were anniversary-ing what was truly a Freestyle phenomenon.’ Anyone?

With an International Crap Women’s Day we could celebrate the likes of Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, the self-styled face of lean-in feminism whose brand came a cropper after she was caught up in the string of controversies surrounding the company. Photograph: Pascal Lauener/Reuters

Constantly being urged to celebrate an inspiring or spectacular woman is exhausting

Former London Evening Standard editor Charles Wintour said exciting assignment “do not grow on trees to be plucked by hungry young mouths”. Photograph: Getty Images

Tendency to confuse direct words with unacceptable behaviour does us no favours

‘As far as I can tell, people are in more of a muddle than ever over what constitutes acceptable office behaviour.’ Photograph: iStock

It’s years since I heard anyone in the office come close to trying to make a flirty joke

Jack Ma, founder  of Alibaba, at the   World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 23th, 2019.  Photograph: EPA/Gian Ehrenzeller

Ma is an admirable man, but the idea one’s career should start gliding into oblivion after 50 is foolish when people need to work (...)

In Scotland, the BrewDog craft beer company offers people with a new dog a week’s leave to help settle it in. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Office workers have always seemed pampered compared with what others endure

Teaching someone the importance of saying thank you is not just good manners – it is a gift that lasts a lifetime, at work and far beyond.

Pilita Clark: Ultimately, saying thank you is a vastly underrated activity

Holiday rostering: nothing exposes the divide between the conscientious and the cunning so deftly

The office festive leave rota generates a huge amount of resentment and anger

As the laptop whirred to life so I could try the computer game for myself, a familiar sinking feeling formed: interview dread

McKinsey added an island game to its interviewing hurdles to unearth suitable candidates

It is hard to imagine hundreds lining up for handcuffs, especially full-time workers. A criminal record can make a lot of things trickier at work: getting a visa, finding a new job and keeping an old one. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Pilita Clark: Employers are having to think about how to deal with staff who set out to be arrested

Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive of Norges Bank Investment Management. Does he really email other chief executives’ PAs when he wants to set up a meeting? Yes, quite frequently, he says.

Yngve Slyngstad is the head of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund but has no secretary

“No one really has a clue what whole-self working means. A lot of companies use the term to suggest they are in favour of a diverse and inclusive workforce.” Photograph: Getty Images

The people who find it easiest to be themselves at work are the ones who run the show

Jonathan Brownlee and Alistair Brownlee taking part in  the 2014  World Triathlon in Japan.  Two years later the brothers shot to global fame in the final moments of a big international triathlon.  Photograph: ITU/Delly Carr via Getty Images

The Brownlee brothers impressed Theresa May but we could all learn something from them

The NHS is one of the world’s largest buyers of fax machines. Worse, NHS doctors are still being issued with hopelessly outdated pagers

The bias towards the status quo explains everything from ordering the same pizza each week to sticking with the same power company(...)

Have millennials normalised bragging for the rest of us? Photograph: Adam Peck/PA Wire

It is one thing for millennials to foam about themselves all over Instagram and YouTube but not by email

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