Meet the work tribes of 2018

Inveterate conference-goer

“You weren’t at Davos last time, were you? Too costly? That’s a shame. I was saying to Martin Sorrell last year that it’s really beyond price, the networking. So what did you make of the morning? Yes, me neither. Had a lot of email to catch up with, but I figured I could search the hashtag later, see what I missed. In any case, it’s the breaks that are the really valuable part for me and my company. Meet new people, get a sense of the zeitgeist.

Did you take a look at the goody bag yet? They’ve got a new type of fitness-tracker-cum-USB-drive that I haven’t seen before. Sorry — I think I spotted Benioff heading for the speaker lounge. Must grab him. I’ve got a conference call during the next session, but I’ll see you at the tea break.”

Involuntary gig worker

“The flexibility, without a doubt. At Bain, it was nonstop — travel, pitch, assignment, travel, pitch, assignment — so the “up or out” moment gave me a chance for more thinking time.

I think clients recognise you’re only going to deliver for them if you’re happy in yourself. The independent life really makes you re-examine what success looks like. Imagine being able to pick up your children from school every day. Well, except when I have to Skype a prospect, obviously. Then I usually nip into Starbucks for the free WiFi and eke out an espresso for a few hours. Not ideal, no, but compared with the hamster wheel of big consulting, it can be bliss.

Who says the gig economy is just for millennials? This is living on your wits, with, yes, a bit more admin thrown in, and of course the bloody tax return, the invoices, the panic about whether you can afford to take a break, the constant tension at home . . . Did you say, by the way, that you might have a bit of work for me in the new year?”

Management guru

“Consider the human gut: that complex, vital but frequently overlooked part of our body. Now consider the typical corporation. Is it not in many ways similar to our digestive system?

We think so — and that is why we’ve developed the Colonarchy(TM) concept, a blend of radical management and gastroenterology. Like the gut, the company consumes insights and intelligence from outside, takes on the “food” of profit and transforms the useful parts into muscle and brain cells, reinforcing the corporate ecosystem and rejecting the unwanted matter — a process similar to the regular purgative of a corporate restructuring.

As you see from the slide, a number of our larger Silicon Valley clients have already structured themselves as “upper” and “lower” Colonarchies(TM), with departments such as HR, finance and marketing serving as the “gut flora” that maintain the stability of the whole. Questions?”

Co-worker

“WorkHouse is not a Ponzi scheme, let’s be clear about that. I am paying for the vibe, the craft coffee and the office dogs. But also because I hadn’t left my home office (which is also my bedroom — life hack!!!!) in a week.

Another thing I need to get straight, WorkHouse isn’t a serviced office (that’s you told, Mum). It’s about the community. I have stacks of new colleagues, or quasi-colleagues as I like to call them, as they rarely remember my name, or what I do, or anything about me. Who needs the office politics, eh guys?

Those private offices? That’s HSBC. That one over there’s PwC. But they are the cool auditors. For one thing, they don’t even wear ties. And they give out free branded stress balls, and tax advice (although you have to pay for that).

I’m tempted by WorkHouse’s new residential plans for co-living. It’s to be rolled out under this new brand called FlatShare. Complete paradigm shift. It’s going to be big.”

Closet harasser

“As the father of four daughters, you don’t have to tell me that sexual harassment is totally unacceptable.

The #MeToo campaign has made men nervous and women hysterical. It’s got so bad you can’t even massage a tense female colleague or place a reassuring arm around the shoulder of a distressed junior. I’m from a different generation — in 2010 before I had daughters, things were very different.

Now, we are all just one clumsy compliment away from clearing our desks. Male colleagues are worried about their comments being misconstrued. The only solution is to ban flirting at work and have one room for women and one for men with the doors patrolled by HR’s thought police.

I keep replaying the time I placed my hand on a female colleague’s inner thigh during a performance review but honestly, I thought it was my own inner thigh. I kept emailing her to discuss her thigh but she didn’t reply. Anyway, she left the company so she clearly wasn’t serious about the job.”

Millennial manager

“Hey! I’m Jessica, your new head of digital fulfilment. Thanks for coming to the first of what will be a twice weekly informal town hall, where we can reach out, give feedback to our co-creators, and generally tap into the love (emoji) that I feel out there — yes, even from sales.

I know I’m younger than most of you, and I don’t want that to be a barrier — we are all human beings, after all — and I truly value the experience in the room. So when you return to your pods, you’ll each find a gluten-free granola bar as a token of my goodwill.

I’d like to encourage you all to express yourselves freely, except, of course, when we’re trying to meet the year-end targets and you’ll find I’m just as bad-ass as the rest of you once were. Until then, let’s remember to exude kindness. I’ll see you all tomorrow at the Snapchat masterclass. Jake, could you help Alistair up from his beanbag?”

Ambitious intern

“Arrived at 10am for my first day at Modern Times magazine, only to discover no one could get me from reception because they were all at an editorial meeting. Apparently I missed the email requesting I arrive at 9.30am. Email? I’ll get them to switch to Slack, WhatsApp and Snapchat by the end of the day. I’ve got other ideas, obviously, but I’ll wait a day or two to distribute my feedback.

Anyway, John, the assistant, asked me to check some facts. But I told him, point blank, I’m not here to polish someone else’s work, I’m here for visibility and contacts. Anyway, haven’t they heard of reverse mentoring?

Later, he took me on a tour of the office. Made sure I introduced myself to the Comment desk, because that’s where my interests lie, after all. First thing, I sent the Comment editor an email with my availability for coffee and a link to my blog about giving up technology for a week. If I haven’t heard anything by the end of the day I’ll send him my pitch for a regular column, My Millennial Life. Sure, it’s been done before but not by me.”

Microdoser

“It was Tim who introduced me to LSD. Not Timothy O’Leary. What do you think I am — some slacker hippy? No, man, Tim Ferriss, the life-hack entrepreneur and author of The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman and The 4-Hour Work Week. I got it from my productivity bible — Tim’s podcast.

I’d been feeling unmotivated at work, missed a few mornings of quantifying myself, and (don’t tell anyone) binged on cow’s milk, which left me really bloated after all those months of Soylent.

I’d even lowered my standing desk to yoga-ball height. After slacking off, I thought I’d try to re-energise myself with microdosing. It’s not hard to buy (yay, bitcoin!). I mixed a minuscule amount (like a tenth of a chia seed) in with my protein shake in the Uber on my way to the workpod. I became a total coding wizard. Then I went to the gym and broke my PB on the bench press. Tune in, drop out? You’re kidding, right? Double down, more like.”

As published in The Financial Times.

Words: Andrew Hill and Emma Jacobs

Financial Times has the latest UK and international business, finance, economic and political news, comment and analysis.

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