Weekend Reading #1

Each Friday I'm going to share a couple of the links that caught my eye over the previous seven days. This week, two articles from the Wall Street Journal and one from the thought provoking (like usual) Rands. Throw these into Instapaper (or your read later app of choice) and enjoy them over a Saturday morning coffee, eh?

How to Avoid That Sinking Feeling When in a Fishbowl - The Wall Street Journal

Steelcase is creating "quiet spaces" to sell to organizations looking to provide work environments for their resident introverts. Ignoring the fact that introversion seems to be a hot topic nowadays (Sean Blanda has a good take on it), I like the movement toward diversifying workspaces. It doesn't make sense that every person in an organization (given their strengths, preferences, and working styles) should complete every type of task (from brainstorming, writing, communicating, etc.) in the exact same environment. For employees this means management has to do things like providing different spaces for different types of work and types of worker. For indie workers, it means you have to think deliberately about what you're trying to do and the best environment in which to do it (more on this coming in an article next week).

Work Creates Less Stress Than Home, Penn State Researchers Find - The Wall Street Journal

"In a new study, published online last month in Social Science & Medicine, researchers at Penn State University found significantly and consistently lower levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress, in a majority of subjects when they were at work compared with when they were at home. This was true for both men and women, and parents and people without children."

This study didn't include people who work for home which makes me wonder if this means indie workers who work from home experience work to be more like home-life (i.e. more stressful) or if they experience work to be more like home (i.e. less stressful). My guess is that indie workers who have developed routines and norms (for themselves and their family) are able to bring some of the stress reduction of work into the home. Otherwise, and this is probably more common, I imagine indie workers are experiencing greater stress at home and at work.

Chaotic Beautiful Snowflakes - Rands in Repose

"I am actively watching zero leadership experiments in progress at Medium, GitHub, and Zappos, but I am a firm believer that you need a well-defined leadership role to deal with unexpected and non-linear side effects of people working together. You need someone to keep the threads untangled and forming a high-functioning web rather than a big snarl of a Gordian knot."

The experiments currently happening with holacracy are interesting on both a practical and academic level (at least for an organizational theory/structure nerd like myself) but the leadership coach in me is siding with Rands regarding the importance of leadership. A good leader serves to amplify and organize the work of those he or she works with -- not as a bottleneck. It'll be interesting to see how these experiments work out -- especially in highly complex environments.

Photo via Sameer Vasta