Usually, I’m sceptical whenever some ultra-successful Silicon Valley firm gets held up as an example of how we’ll all be working in future. Sure, it’s possible that Google’s success is down to free yoga classes, napping pods and unlimited gourmet food consumed in “conversation areas designed to look like vintage subway cars”. But it’s surely equally likely that these are indulgences a rich company can afford, whether or not they help the bottom line – and they won’t be coming to call centres or council offices any time soon. The latest trend might have more going for it, though: more tech businesses are experimenting with four-day weeks. As Ryan Carson, co-founder of the education startup Treehouse, put it: “You get all day Friday off, instead of pretending like you’re working when you’re not.”
A new study on the link between sex and happiness has been getting lots of media attention – presumably because it’s about sex, and for the staff of traffic-hungry media organisations, the experience of receiving vast numbers of clicks on a story about sex is, ironically and poignantly, better than sex. The headline finding is that more sex doesn’t automatically make you happier; in fact, contrary to the assumptions of most researchers, and for that matter most sex-havers, it makes many feel worse.
“It appears to be the case that in these modern days many people have no time to be polite,” grumbled the New York Observer in 1899, though you can easily imagine those words coming from any cantankerous non-twentysomething newspaper columnist working today, a category from which I cannot exclude myself. “The fact is that we are living in a rushing, distracted age when the utmost that many seem able to do is barely to catch trains… without wasting time on formalities or pretty speeches by the way.” Rudeness does seem to be on the rise: according to the American civility researcher Christine Porath, writing recently in the New York Times, you’re about twice as likely to experience incivility in the workplace as in the 1990s. But the explanation for it hasn’t changed since 1899. Porath’s work shows that around 40% of us, across multiple industries, say we’re rude because we haven’t the time to be polite.