Category Archives: work

Japan Inc. should use COVID-19 to end excessive formality

Extreme formality runs deep in Japanese business culture, stifling employees’ sense of ownership and suppressing innovation. Unexpectedly, the COVID-19 pandemic offers a chance to disrupt such staid traditions.  Excessive formality hurts companies in three ways. First, it discourages young minds from voicing their opinions. With the business environment shifting so quickly, and the maturity curve of wisdom being flattened — if not reversed — businesses only suffer by being deaf to younger voices. Read more (Nikkei Asia)

The Metaverse is coming

We will see a shift in the way people play, work, learn or simply hang out in 2021. Some of this connection will move into the Metaverse, a digital place where people seamlessly get together and interact in millions of 3D virtual experiences. Early iterations of the Metaverse emerged in the 1980s with VPL Research’s DataSuit and Linden Lab’s Second Life in 2003. However, it started to feel very real in 2020 as several platforms have been envisioning – and building – their own versions of the Metaverse. Read more (Wired)

Sleep has become an indulgent luxury

On Instagram, influencers share images of bedside tables artfully arranged with CBD tinctures and calming pillow sprays. E-commerce sites devoted to sleep products entice shoppers with serene branding and invitations to “sleep well” and “become your best self”.  Read more (BBC)

The rise of the informed Indian skincare consumer

The typical Indian woman believes in the value of DIY beauty remedies based on age-old ayurvedic principles. She is raised on coconut oil in her hair, and favours gram flour, yoghurt and turmeric-based masks and scrubs that promise glowing, de-tanned, “lighter” skin. A significant number of women, particularly in rural India, still use talcum powder on their faces — perceived by some commentators as a possible hangover of the colonial era. Read more (Vogue Business)

A wristband that tells your boss if you are unhappy

This wearable technology, called a Moodbeam, isn’t here to monitor your physical health. Instead it allows your employer to track your emotional state. The gadget, which links to a mobile phone app and web interface, has two buttons, one yellow and one blue. The idea is that you press the yellow one if you are feeling happy, and the blue one if you are sad. Read more (BBC)

Microsoft envisions ‘scoring’ meetings based on body language

This is just a patent application, and there’s no certainty that Microsoft will ever adopt the technology. GeekWire added that there aren’t any mentions of privacy protections, and that a Microsoft 365 “Productivity Score” feature introduced in October has drawn criticisms for allegedly enabling workplace surveillance. Microsoft would have to protect privacy and reassure workers that they won’t be fired for checking their text messages. Read more (Engadget)

15-minute neighbourhoods are good for mental health, equity and the climate

“15-minute neighbourhoods,” the latest urban planning buzzword, might just be a kind of silver bullet that addresses both issues at once. Developed by Sorbonne Prof. Carlos Moreno and popularized by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, the concept is at once both simple and revolutionary: cities should be designed so that people can access needs and amenities within a 15-minute walk. It’s simple because the idea can be captured in a single sentence. It’s revolutionary because it amounts to a sea change in urban planning practices, with huge implications for how we live in cities. Read more