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Panel – My Workplace is a Cult, Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2012 (Ideas at the House)

Panel – My Workplace is a Cult, Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2012 (Ideas at the House)


Hello. -AUDIENCE: Hello!
-That’s more like it. Good afternoon.
I’m Narelle Hooper. I’m the editor of the
‘Financial Review’s ‘BOSS’ magazine. And I’m so delighted
to welcome with our guests here with us this afternoon. It’s a bit of a provocative time here
at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, and I’m hoping we’ll keep up
the tradition this afternoon, and I’m hoping
you’ll be part of that as well. We’ve got about an hour, and our
topic is ‘My Workplace Is a Cult’. And before we discuss the dangerous
idea of my workplace being a cult, I’m going to start
with a quick quiz. And I just would like you to wonder,
are you expected to devote inordinate amounts of time and energy
to your work? Yep. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Do you spend more time with
your colleagues than anybody else? Other than the person
that might be beside you at night. Are your family
and social relationships suffering? Has work taken over your life? Now, these are all questions… You can substitute
a number of things. But these are all questions
from reFOCUS, and it’s a website
for recovering and former cultists. So I can direct you
to that later. And you just substitute workplace
for some other fixation. But we want to know
what a cult is, of course. So a cult
is a group or movement exhibiting a great
or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea or thing
and em… This is them, not me. ..employing unethically manipulative
techniques of persuasion and control, e.g., isolation
from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods
to heighten suggestibility, and subservience –
powerful group pressures. You get the picture. Now, that was a definition
from a 1985 conference called… It was the Wingspread Conference
on Cultism. So that was the definition
from Louis Jolyon West. So we’re here today to ask,
have we… There was a time
when we worked to live. Are we now completely obsessed
with living to work? Have we exchanged
what in years, or centuries, past were the dark, satanic mills
of the industrial times for the electronic
corporate thrill, inadvertently throwing ourselves
onto a hamster wheel whose tempo is running
faster and faster and purpose in life
we know is important? But have we been conned? Have we swapped
fulfilling the basic rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs –
i.e., food, clothing, shelter – for the needs
of self-actualisation and trying to fulfil that in
the workplace, wherever that may be? Now, we had the cults as mad
as the Manson Family or the UFO-worshipping Raelians. Back in the ’70s,
they had Reverend Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple –
some of you will remember that – creating a rainbow family. That was before they took…900
of them drank cyanide-laced Kool-Aid and disposed of themselves
and others. But these days, in the ’90s
and the noughties and the 2012s, we have Professor Jim Collins
and ‘Good to Great’, or ‘Built to Last’, or a whole lot
of management psychobabble that is all around
how greatness is a matter of conscious choice
and discipline – that’s all it takes. And we drink the corporate Kool-Aid
when we clock on… We don’t have to
do that anymore, because, umbilically,
we are attached to the organisation pretty much 24 hours a day, seven
days a week, as long as we want. So these cult qualities
have come to characterise our work. The broader consequences for
families, societies and economies are pretty frightening,
to say the least. So is it time,
we’re asking this afternoon, to say, “Step away
from the workplace. “Call in the deprogrammers
and set us free”? So we’re going to delve into
that whole issue about the changing nature of work and
family and identity this afternoon. A little bit of housekeeping
first up. If you’re checking
your smartphones for the results
of important sporting events, please do it quietly,
and keep the phone on silent. A reminder the session
is being filmed and recorded. Now, when we come to questions,
which we’ll do later, please come down to the front and
keep it short and savvy and snappy, would be really good too. You can tweet, however, on #FODI,
all in capitals. And there will be a book signing
in the foyer afterwards, so please stick with us
for that. Now, to help us navigate this
very tricky terrain this afternoon, I’m introducing in alphabetical order
our wonderful guests here. In the middle is Catherine Fox. She’s one of Australia’s most
respected writers on work and gender. She’s observed many workplaces
and worked in a few herself. And she’s highly respected in her long writings on issues
facing women in the workplace. Best known, her weekly column,
‘The Corporate Woman’, in the ‘Australian
Financial Review’. She’s a colleague of mine at ‘BOSS’
magazine as well, as deputy editor. She co-authored… Catherine actually
nailed this several years ago. She co-authored with Helen Trinca
‘Better Than Sex: ‘How a Whole Generation
Got Hooked on Work’, which posed that dangerous idea
in about 2004. And in alphabetical order,
secondly is Gideon Haigh. He’s an Australian journalist
and author of more than 20 books, including most recently,
‘The Office: A Hardworking History’, and it was a hardworking effort to
get through with it, not because… The prose was scintillating.
It was fascinating. 610 pages. He did a world tour of offices. Gideon was born in London,
went to school in Geelong and lives in Melbourne, and he, as you might know,
writes a bit on cricket. Now, he’s the man of whom
our third guest, Tom Uglow, said, “I feel like a cog called in
to discuss the workings of a machine “with its mechanics.” Tom Uglow
is the creative director for Google and YouTube’s
Creative Lab. He’s a creative. Welcome. He’s based in Sydney,
though latterly migrated, and he admits to being a geek,
with arts and literature background. He’s fascinated by the future
implication and uses of technology. I’ll go on to describe
a little later. He actually calls himself
a techno-bibliophilic. Now, I think that’s someone
who’s fascinated by technology books, but he might tell us. Would you please
put your hands together and welcome our three guests
this afternoon? (APPLAUSE) First up, Gideon Haigh.
Thank you, Gideon. (APPLAUSE) Thanks, Narelle.
I might as well begin with a poll. Who in the audience here
has come from an office today or been in one
in the last week? (LAUGHTER) I’m among my people. And that’s the way I look at it, when people ask me, “Why did you
write a book about the office?” Well…I mean, who on earth
couldn’t be consumed with fascination by experiences so universal
and a building form so characteristic of our modern technocracy? We’re a world of office workers,
and we’ve become so in the space
of roughly a century, and it’s a change
as utter and irrevocable as the industrial revolution, and we’re part of it. You know, we’re a society that
used to grow things and make things and work with our hands. Well, now we work
with our heads, and… We accrete and circulate information
to people like us. We have meetings. We compile reports.
We brainstorm ideas. We push numbers around the screens.
We complain about the coffee. We try to make
the photocopier work. We chat and joke and flirt
and fantasise. You know, all human life is here. ‘The Office:
A Hardworking History’ concerns the development
of the office as a commercial, administrative, architectural,
social and cultural space, and, actually, one of my
earliest realisations in the book was that what we now think of
as office work – clerical, supervisory, managerial – actually predates the idea
of a purpose-built space for it. The consummation and documentation
of commercial transactions is as old as trade –
probably about 10,000 years. But it took place basically
where the work was, wherever there was room, skill
and a flat surface. I see the office, the modern office,
as flowing chiefly from two sources – from merchants,
with their developing aptitude of handling correspondence
and record keeping, and from monks,
who were the first people to divide working days
and working spaces, but it took quite a long time
for the office to emerge as a purpose-built space
in its own right. From 1600, probably the largest
commercial enterprise in the world was the Honourable
East India Company, but for the first century
of its history, its very modest secretariat
operated from rooms in mansions associated with the governors. Capitalism was just too small-scale
and precarious to lend itself
to large permanent buildings, and not until its future was secured
by the so-called Award of Godolphin did it build a building, a grand classical building
in Leadenhall Street, as a mark of its confidence
and permanence. But even then, work proceeded,
it seems, at a rather leisured pace, such that the clerk Thomas
Love Peacock, who was also a poet, provided this immortal
rhyming summary of his toils. “From 10 to 11,
ate a breakfast for seven “From 11 to noon,
to begin, ’twas too soon “From 12 to 1, asked,
‘What’s to be done?’ “From 1 to 2,
found nothing to do “From 2 to 3, began to foresee “That from 3 to 4
would be a damned bore.” Where that began to change was in
the second half of the 19th century, as devices such as
the telegraph and the telephone accelerated
and multiplied communications, which had previously
been done by letter, and the typewriter,
the carbon paper, the mimeograph. These expedited
mechanical reproduction and copying previously done by hand. And with the origination
in Chicago and New York of steel skeleton architecture, the soaring office block
that we now identify with modern, technologically
advanced civilisation soared to vertical life. With the increase in the size
and scale and scope of capitalism, there was a concomitant increase in the apparatus needed
to administer it. There was a need to tame
and to systematise the growth
in the administrative classes. And that results in a kind of
a human resources revolution in the first 30 years
of the 20th century. You basically have two schools
of managerial thought where it comes to organising
administrative workforce. The first is derived
from the rational methods of Frederick Taylor,
the engineer Frederick Taylor, who had earlier argued
for the decomposition of activities and the standardisation
of physical actions in factories, and the application of scientific
management to white-collar work also creates a role for a sign of
superintending pyramids of control which entrench
a kind of a perennial division between the heads
that do the thinking and the hands
that do the work. From the 1930s onward,
there’s an increasing interest in another approach
to organisation, which is the so-called
school of human relations, which seeks to tune into
the psychology of the worker – their interpersonal relations, their
motivations and their aversions. It’s partly a response
to industrial restlessness around about that period, and, again, it originates
in methods derived for factories, actually by an Australian sociologist
called Elton Mayo, and managers went from being
simply dictators to manipulators, promoters of social conformity as integral
to organisational effectiveness. You can find echoes of either
and both approaches in offices today. Every efficiency drive
and productivity push is an echo
of scientific management. Every morale-boosting get-together
or casual Friday is a kind of a vestige
of the human relations school. In a sense, though, and this is
important, they’re equally coercive, and it seems to me that because
humans are various and complex, the application of one or other will
always doom a sizeable proportion of any workplace to misery. But they originate
in the same problem. Except at the very most
rudimentary level, office work can be very difficult
to quantify and assess. It’s immaterial and symbolic. It’s
kind of contingent and evanescent. You know, a factory worker
has to produce a certain number
of widgets per hour, but how long does it take you
to write a report? It could be a week.
It could be a month. And that’s, I think,
one of the chief reasons why we continue
to regulate office work by hours, rather than solely by outcomes. There’s an abiding respect even now
for the guy who sits in his office, at his desk, piled high with papers,
for 15 hours a day. You know, he’s working
really, really hard. But does it actually mean that he’s
industrious or that he’s just slow? There’s a strange symbolism
around the cluttered desk as well. You know, it looks like someone’s
either terribly disorganised or a brilliant delegator. Does the clean desk mean that
someone’s hopelessly out of touch? It’s often hard to tell.
It can be quite fun to speculate. A visitor
to David Ogilvy’s office… David Ogilvy, the famous
Madison Avenue advertising man, once was reproached by someone
who came to his office and said, “David, tidy desk, tidy mind.” And Ogilvy replied,
“Sterile desk, sterile mind.” (LAUGHTER) I think…in approaching
today’s topic, I think… There is an unspoken conspiracy
against the modern worker, though. There is a spurious sense of urgency
and artificial competitiveness, of being watched over
by the clock and engaged in a kind of
a mortal struggle with commercial rivals
and with colleagues. But my… We’ll discuss that
a little bit later on. One thing that I did find
quite interesting, though, in compiling my book was that I was writing it
in a period where it’s… It’s become commonplace to sort of
prophesy the end of the office, because somehow, office work
now seems to tail us wherever we are. You know,
work is now an activity that can be undertaken
almost everywhere. And it was interesting. I concluded that, actually, if the
office were to dematerialise tomorrow and offices
were to cease to exist and we would all
have our work come to us in this sort of
modern technological utopia, that wouldn’t actually represent
the end of the office. That would represent
the office’s ultimate triumph. Because then there would be
no escaping office work, and office work
is always with us, so, ironically,
at the end of my book, I concluded… The last chapter is called
‘Two Cheers for the Office’, because perhaps
the only bulwark that we have from the complete porosity of the
professional and the personal sphere is the idea that work
is principally penned up somewhere and that we can
get away from it. The office is actually
our best line of defence against a world
of constant connectivity and eternal availability. So vive la office. (LAUGHTER) And… Now on to
the next speaker. (APPLAUSE) Haigh is in the building.
Catherine Fox, over to you. I always feel slightly…
well, I shouldn’t say embarrassed, but as though I have to explain
why I called a book about work ‘Better than Sex’,
but it’s fairly obvious, I guess. It’s great to be here and to be
talking to you about dangerous ideas. Look, we don’t have
many chances to have a really good laugh
in financial journalism. I mean, officially.
Officially, officially, I should add. Because Narelle and I
do work together, and we do laugh quite a lot,
sometimes at some of our colleagues, which is, you know…
that’s life. -But recently…
-(LAUGHTER) Well, it’s an office. But recently, many of us in the paper
did have quite a chuckle about something that appeared on the
front page, and you may have seen, which was the BHP
tidy desk policy. I hope some of you relished in it.
It was quite amusing. So this is when… ..I think it was something like
300 – 3,000, sorry – staff were relocated into
a new office block in Perth for BHP. An 11-page Q&A on the company’s
work environment guidelines was handed out, and obtained
by the ‘Financial Review’, shows how the company’s
global policies on clear desks and smelly food will be applied in Perth. I won’t go into all the details.
They were a hoot. But, you know,
various categories of foods and, indeed, coloured lollies
were delineated for non-consumption at desks. Anyway, the guidelines
have been dubbed, and I’m quoting
from an article… “The guidelines have been dubbed
draconian by experts “but will come as no surprise
to employees “familiar with BHP Billiton
chief executive Marius Kloppers’s “zero-tolerance approach
to messy workstations.” I was even more amused,
and not long ago, in fact, to find another article
in the ‘Fin Review’ by a colleague, and he’d caught up with
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who’s actually a very well known
Harvard Business School academic who writes about
organisational life and so on, and she was asked what she thought
of BHP’s infamous memo. She said it was ridiculous. “It is a mistake,” she said. “It’s an atmosphere
of conformity. “I can’t even imagine
where that would come from.” Clearly hadn’t met Marius,
I should say, at that point. “If people can’t express
their individuality at work, “then you also don’t get
their best ideas “and their motivation,”
she said, to which, I guess, one of
my daughters would say, “Duh.” -(LAUGHTER)
-But worth repeating. So BHP did give us a laugh
and did remind me, of course, of what we’re
talking about today, because I think
this constant tension about getting conformity
in the workplace is really pointless, but we all
keep on doing it, don’t we? And it’s so funny
when you hear all the talk about innovation and creativity, which I’m sure
Tom will talk to us about, but the cult, the idea of a cult,
or a culture that is cult-like – it’s very hard to say that – is seen
as, in fact, a very good thing. Narelle’s just mentioned
our friend Jim Collins, and, in fact,
I have interviewed Jim Collins. He has sold millions of books,
and, yes, I am deeply envious, ‘Good to Great’ being
almost obligatory reading for CEOs and executives. And I found this quote,
and I have to share it with you. So he said,
“Architects of visionary companies “don’t just trust in good intentions
or values statements.” Don’t you love values statements?
They have none. But they’re there. “They build cult-like cultures
around their core ideologies.” He explains, “Walt Disney
created an entire language “to reinforce
his company’s ideology.” Great language here. “Disneyland employees are
cast members, customers are guests, “jobs are parts
in a performance.” He then talks about, “The same spirit
holds at smaller visionary companies, “like Granite Rock,” which,
strangely enough, is a rock company in California. He says, “The two co-founders
of Granite Rock “don’t like to use
the word ’employees’. “They talk about
Granite Rock people.” “Not just anyone can be a Granite
Rock person,” Bruce and Steve say. “They have to have
a deeply rooted ideology “of quality, service and fairness.” Apparently, that’s an ideology.
Anyway… (LAUGHTER) Go figure. So the cult is clearly being held up
here not in any critical sense but as something
one should be emulating if one wants
a successful Granite Rock company, or, indeed, a Disneyland. Look, when… So, I mean, it does seem to me, and when I wrote ‘Better Than Sex’
with my colleague, Helen Trinca, who at the time was working
at ‘BOSS’ magazine, we couldn’t help but notice,
given what we did, but also the fact that our jobs
were very much part of this trend, that work had changed,
it had taken up much more space, things like the local community
or the church or those kinds of arenas
had receded. The only one that we saw expanding
was consumption, which clearly needs lots of money,
which means we work more. When the book came out,
it was quite interesting, though. I remember being rung up
by a journalist to review it, and she said, “I’m so glad
you’ve written this book. “My husband works 24/7.
I never see him.” And I was getting
increasingly uncomfortable as she was telling me this,
because this is not actually saying that our dedication to work
is all wrong. Neither is it saying, of course,
that we’re advocates for a 24/7 extreme worker model, but we were trying to look at what
was actually happening around us, and, sure enough, she wrote
an incredibly bad review of the book. But the dangerous idea… Yeah. The dangerous idea in the book
was clearly that we saw a lot of hypocrisy, particularly, and I should qualify
this, around white-collar jobs and people who were in
the kinds of professional jobs that, I guess, we were in, and the
people we were writing for and about were in as well. And we also thought that it was
uncovering something about… Really… You know, work is
an important arena for many of us. When the book was launched, Geraldine Doogue,
who kindly did the honours for us, said in her intro
that she had always thought… You know that sort of adage that is
trotted out, that on your deathbed, you will regret…you won’t regret
not spending more time at the office. And she said, “I always thought
that was quite banal. “I mean, most of us
actually feel very keenly “what happens to us at work. “It reflects our status. “It’s where we form… “..many times, we form
parts of our identity these days.” And, I guess, that’s what
we were trying to come to. As I say,
we got a bit of backlash, including from a couple of complete
workaholic colleagues of ours, and journalists do tend to be
fairly passionate about their jobs. I also wanted to just mention, and I know we’ll have
a longer conversation, but this idea
of dedication to what you do and finding a sense of purpose
in your job, and perhaps loving
what you do, rather than the people
that you do it with, or, indeed, the CEO that you happen
to be reporting to or, indeed, manager
that you’re reporting to, is, in fact, something that’s
quite problematic for women as well. It’s something that has to be
rather carefully negotiated. So when some of the criticism
of the book was that we were sort of apologists
for a rampant form of capitalism, I found it quite amusing. I work part-time
and have done for 16 years. I have three kids. I’ve never been
anywhere near a 24/7 extreme worker. But I do find my work incredibly
fulfilling and satisfying, so… That was one of the tensions
that we talked about. But, look,
when it comes down to it, I mean, cults, I think,
are about control, clearly, and adhering to a message, and there’s one thing,
I think, about Australia, that, culturally, we don’t like
that sort of feeling. I’m not saying we don’t have
cults in Australia. I mean, clearly, we have
and will continue to have them, in the religious sense, but I think that we are
a little bit… ..our society is less prone
to absorbing a cult-like message, and I don’t know about
your workplaces, but we spend a lot of time
sort of making fun of our… ..the powers that be
in our organisation, which… Again, I’m… You know,
I’m not saying it’s always warranted. But I think Australians have
a bit of that attitude. I really think you don’t have to be
a member of a cult to find what you do rewarding and, indeed, to find that it is
an important arena of your life. It shouldn’t tilt.
It shouldn’t tilt out of balance. And I guess that’s
what we were saying in the book. I just wanted to read a little bit
from our conclusion, however. We wrote,
“The juggernaut of the market “makes enormous demands
on time and energy. “Without some tempering of this
trend, it seems entirely possible “that we will simply narrow our sense
of what it means to be successful. “Even children and relationships
can be a luxury “many people may find
they simply can’t afford,” and I think that we’re looking at
that right in the face at the moment. But our research in this book
has given us a new understanding – the work is not controllable in the way that the system
would have us believe, but that, equally,
we are not powerless against that unpredictability. Nor are we powerless
against the organisation and the avalanche
of cultural change programs, value statements
or inspirational texts or the countless other methods
that a company uses to turn us into the kind of workers
they want. Ultimately, we concluded
that work is about messy realities, not finely tuned blueprints. And I suspect that those of you
in the audience who may be thinking
that you do work in a cult know exactly what you need to do,
and that is to leave it, but not before you’ve deprogrammed
some of your colleagues. Thank you very much. (APPLAUSE) Thanks, Catherine. And now I’d like to introduce
our onstage example of a member of
a living, breathing corporate cult. I say that
in the most pleasurable way. Please welcome Tum Uglow.
Thanks, Tom. (APPLAUSE) I was gonna talk from this,
but I can’t get the wi-fi to work. (LAUGHTER) So I’m going back to paper. (LAUGHTER) Why am I here? My name’s Tom Uglow. I work for a group inside Google
called Creative Lab. We work with marketing. We had a splendid time here last year
with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. And recently, I worked on a project
with LEGO and Google Maps promoting Chrome. Mainly, I explore the space
between what we think we do and what people
actually use our tools to do. I work with creators and developers
all around the world. And we explore
different things you can do. That’s called creative, but really
it’s just play. I get to play. -It’s a really good job.
-(LAUGHTER) So… I want to clarify that
this is not my area of expertise. And I find it quite interesting
that you’ve got an Australian sports journalist
and an English creative director talking about
business psychology. I think the title
could easily have been something, you know, about the systematic
and deleterious effects of technology on work-life balance
in the 21st century. But that would be
really boring. So instead,
we get to talk about cults. I spoke to a friend, an Australian
friend, before this began, and he said,
“The most important thing “is it should be
a violent debate. “This battle of wills,
philosophies and beliefs – “that’s the only thing
that’s going to make this work.” And I’m horribly afraid that we
all think the workplace is a cult. So, in the spirit of sportsmanship,
I decided to be militantly pro-cult. (LAUGHTER) My dangerous idea is that not only
are cults a good thing in business, they are positively beneficial
to society, to culture and to productivity. I work for a cult,
and I really enjoy it. (LAUGHTER) So… This should be fun. What is a cult? We had a sort of
definition. You know… I mean, you have…
It’s a pretty fuzzy term, really. You have cult heroes
and you have cult bands. You can be a cult director. But you don’t really want to be
a cult leader. (LAUGHTER) You can have a cult following, but
you don’t want to be a cult follower. That’s basically
how you want to play it. And I think
in the common vernacular, it’s basically a bunch of people
who believe in something or someone and who behave as a group in a way
that everyone else thinks is weird, or it is something or someone
that absorbs all our time and energy, something that captivates us,
that we obsess about, and that seems to steal us
from our loved ones, like Facebook. (LAUGHTER) So…is my workplace a cult? Well… Do I dress
in Google-branded clothing? (LAUGHTER) Have I ridden a Google bike while
wearing a Google-branded cycle helmet with a Google bag, Google T-shirt,
Google beach towel and carrying a Google frisbee? (LAUGHTER) I do wear Yahoo flip-flops for… Oh,
those are thongs, aren’t they? Yeah. That’s very odd in English. Did I use my child
in an ad for Google that was shown during the Oscars and was then seen
by millions of people on YouTube? Guilty. (LAUGHTER) And by ‘guilty’,
I mean really guilty. I may never
actually live that down. I drank the Kool-Aid, you know,
and it happened. Yeah, it’s been seven years
and I’m still kind of high on it. So… Let’s examine
some more similarities. Does our cult have a god?
Well, yes. Our god is data. Do we have high priests? Yes.
They’re called Larry and Sergey. Do we have a temple? It even has
a name. It’s called the Googleplex. Do we have a mission,
a sacrament? Yes. It’s to organise
the world’s information and make it
universally accessible. It’s actually quite important. We have beliefs. We have…
We literally have… You know… It’s like…
like the Ten Commandments, we have a list of 10 things
we believe to be true. You can google it. (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) And it starts with…
Number one is “Put the user first.” And number two is that one
you all know – “Don’t be evil.” Number three is
“Do one thing really, really well.” And then, you know,
there’s some other ones. (LAUGHTER) In my company, in my cult,
we have funny names for each other. We have Googlers, Nooglers,
Greyglers, Gayglers, Xooglers. -Folks, this is legitimate names.
-(LAUGHTER) You know,
when you actually work there, you don’t even think
that’s weird. It’s like… “Oh, that guy, he’s a
Noogler. Yep. Don’t worry about him. “The good-looking one,
he’s a Gaygler.” So we have our own language. We have
millions and millions of acronyms. And… And… And we have this crazy workplace
filled with perks. You know, we have massage
and sort of dog-friendly offices. We have micro-kitchens,
games rooms, nap pods, yoga, author talks, chefs
making breakfast, lunch and dinner, a gym, electric cars, ski trips
and quite a lot of ice-cream. But, you know, apart from that, it’s
really very like any other office. (LAUGHTER) Besides, those things
don’t actually keep people at Google. They bring people in.
It’s for the tourists. I’ve never even played
‘Guitar Hero III’ at work, and how many people can say that
about their office? What keeps people at Google
is a sense of belief and a sense of being
part of something bigger and having a say in that,
and, actually, that’s something any company can do. Mainly, you find people at Google,
Googlers, have a strong sense of mission
and a belief in what we’re doing… ..and that they can make
a positive difference to the world. And there are entire teams at Google
dedicated to odd things like the environment
or to charities or to fighting against
our own worst instincts. We have a group that are called
the Data Liberation Front. (LAUGHTER) So weird,
it has to be true. And… There’s someone
with their head in their hands. I’m pretty sure
they’re from my PR team. (LAUGHTER) And it’s their job to make sure
it’s always easy for people who put anything
into Google to get it out of Google. On the other hand,
there are decisions that get made that Googlers might disagree with,
and I’m sure you can think of a few. And then we argue, passionately. But, you know, overall,
I think it’s a good cult. It’s more ‘Rocky Horror’
than Branch Davidians. And I know what you’re thinking. “Poor guy. “That company intentionally makes his
workplace engaging, enjoyable and fun “so they can exploit him
to their nefarious ends, “and he is clearly brainwashed
into believing everything they say.” Yeah, well… You know… Exploitation is bad, in any guise, whether that’s
the sex industry or forced labour, but this isn’t exploitation. I’m not being massaged
into indentured servitude. We are complicit in the act of work.
We have free will. Unless that’s a delusion.
I wasn’t here last night. But… Not sure. And we do have to work. We have the choice
of where we work and what we do, and that’s
an incredible privilege. It’s an opportunity,
not a burden. OK, so not all of us have to work.
Most of us have to work. And we work for love or money,
rarely for survival itself. If you work for money,
then you need to negotiate, which means exercising the freedom
to walk away. And it’s true –
technology causes flexibility and that flexibility creates
fuzziness in our working lives. The boundaries between work
and leisure are kind of disappearing. Everything changes.
And that fuzziness has benefits too. Flexibility certainly
makes a difference in allowing women more flexible working hours, allowing careers
to carry on alongside child care, allowing breastfeeding and
status updates to go hand in hand. (LAUGHTER) For some employers,
it enables them to adapt to the way society wants to work,
and others seek to exploit it. My dangerous idea
is that we should embrace that and take personal responsibility
for our own happiness, that you should believe
in what you do for a living and that society
is a reflection of your choices. I know lawyers, academics,
teachers, bankers, product managers, marketers,
doctors, basically a world of people, who know why
they get up in the morning and somehow remain
passionate about it. Some are paid well,
some are paid poorly, some just have huge cuts,
others, bonuses, but when you love your work, then you get this incredible belief
in what you’re doing. You care. You are zealous.
It’s like you work for a cult. My family, you know,
work for love, and that’s sort of
how I was raised – I’m very lucky. And if that sounds corny
or indulgent or privileged, well, it is all three
of those things, but seeing as we live in
a corny, privileged, indulgent corner at the very top of the pile,
I find it kind of outrageous that anyone would have the temerity
to complain about this situation. We’re not talking about
sections of Australian society that don’t have that choice. We’re not talking
about developing countries or migrants working two jobs,
people desperate to work. We are a privileged section
of society who appear to feel that our job should end at 5:00 and
the world should just stop turning until the next working day. That workplace – the other workplace, the workplace
that’s really exploited – that’s a different conversation. (SCATTERED APPLAUSE) We are here… Thank you very much,
that one person. (LAUGHTER) I’m clearly gonna win. Seriously, we’re here in the home
of opera, dance and theatre to discuss
mollycoddled office workers like me who worry about
spending too much time at work and too much money on lattes,
on whether Foxtel is worth it, if a VPN is immoral and whether you can afford
to go to Bali or Fiji this year. On the internet,
there is a hashtag for this. It’s called
firstworldproblem. So I put it to you
that we are all very well paid for relatively little work. If you feel
that is too much to bear or that flexible working imperils
the very fabric of civil society, then just take a different job. Start a business. Lower your salary.
Lower your standard of living. Lower your expectations. Trade in that time for time with
your family, or with your neighbours. Do more yoga. You know… Drive a cheaper car. Breathe. So… I like my cult.
I believe in it. I’m incredibly lucky,
very privileged, and I hope I get to
carry on being so. -Thank you very much.
-(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Thanks, Tom. Alright, a quick show of hands. How many people actually
want to go and work at Google? (LAUGHTER) Alright. Well… Look, bearing in mind that, yes, this
is a bit of a First World discussion, it does kind of fascinate… I did a little bit of calculating
on the numbers, ’cause I… It made me start to wonder
that if we’re not working, what else do we do? And, apparently, in the
average life span of about 80 years, it adds up to about 955 months,
29,000 weeks – I could go on. We spend about a third of that
asleep, about 128 months working, and that’s just
a standard 8-hour day, OK? So if you’re an extreme worker,
that could be a lot more. But I just wonder… Oh. Look, by the way, we spend
about 13 months on the toilet. I just thought
that was fascinating. Some of that at work. -And four years doing the housework.
-GIDEON: ..the toilets at Google? They’re very blue. No? OK. So my question is, if we
didn’t give all this time at work, and let’s assume
we could fulfil the basic needs of food, shelter and stuff,
what would we do? I don’t know. Want to know something
awful about the toilets at Google? GIDEON: They’re heated, aren’t they?
The toilet seats are heated? No, no. No, they’re not
that luxurious. But they do have sort of
things to read about work on the back of the door. -Oh, God! What?
-Isn’t that awful? We’ve just had the definition
of the cult, haven’t we? I think the one for engineers
is called ‘Testing on the Toilet’. (LAUGHTER) Well, they’re not alone, and I share
this story about Fortescue Metals, which is creating an
iron ore kind of empire in the West, and on the back of the toilet doors
at Fortescue Metals are the company values,
just in case you forget. That would be the company
that just sacked 300 people and refinanced its… -But anyway.
-That’s right, because… Because they wouldn’t
reduce the equity needed to somehow deal with
their debt – that’s right. So it does… -They’ve still got their values.
-It does, yeah. Now, Catherine, I had a question
for you, which was… It was… Alain de Botton,
the philosopher, who said that we are living
in a unique era these days where we’re encouraged
to seek happiness through our work, and that idea didn’t kind of
come around just this century. Benjamin Franklin kind of looked
at that a couple of centuries ago. But I just wonder, like,
how have we got to this point where it is so caught up
in our ident… ..our identity is so caught up
with our work? In our work. Well, I think… I mean,
that’s what we explored in the book. I think the shrinking
sort of alternative arenas but perhaps
did provide happiness or at least occupation
and a sense of identity. I mean, the ones we talked about
were local community. Now, both Helen and I were
remembering when we were kids and how our parents worked,
so my mother worked in the home, and I think we should
make a distinction here. I mean, we’re talking about
workplaces, so it makes it sound like an office
or a formal place. -NARELLE: Paid work.
-Paid work. But for women, of course, a lot of
work is unpaid and in the home, and my father went out to work,
but I think a lot of his identity and the meaning in his life
was from his church, so he was… You know, we were
a Catholic family, and that was an important
social and cultural part of his life, so I think
there were different arenas, and I think that’s shifted, so
I think those have sort of reduced. Clearly, they haven’t disappeared,
but I think their importance in forming our identity and giving us
those sort of, you know, happiness, buzzes, I suppose, has changed. I also think… Helen and I were saying,
when we started ‘BOSS’ up, ‘Fast Company’ had just come out,
and not long after ‘Wired’ came out, so in that sort of
publication space, suddenly, work was kind of cool, and I think the whole technology
revolution that’s happened… Listen to me. You know.
I’m getting on. Indulge me. You know, I didn’t grow up
with the internet. You know, I didn’t have a mobile
phone. This horrifies my teenagers. But, you know, that’s changed the way
that we work too, hasn’t it? It’s dissolved the barriers a bit,
so that kind of… We had a really strong distinction
when I started out in the workplace, and I like Gideon’s point
about corralling work into a place. That was much stronger
when I was first in the workplace, just a few decades ago, yeah,
and now it’s different. And, in fact, we didn’t have
the smartphone until 2007, so this kind of a creeping…kind of
umbilical connection, really, ’cause that’s what it…
it seems like you plug into the… I think you go back to BlackBerrys,
really, was that moment that you were there going, “Oh, right, so now work
just comes with me all the time.” This was a very insidious moment. And, you know,
if you are a cultural historian, you’re gonna look at that and go,
“Wow! They just…” You know, it’s like you could take
your in-tray with you the whole time. -It’s a terrifying thing.
-It’s a terrifying… But also, can I just add,
just to finish that off, that happiness from work, though,
is not a new idea. I mean, happiness from endeavour
of whatever kind it was is… It was the Seven Dwarfs
who said “Whistle while you work”. Apologies to ‘Snow White’, but… Believe that the revealed books
of all sorts of religions have all sorts of injunctions
to work hard and be productive and make a contribution. -CATHERINE: And offer it up for…
-Yeah. So… I mean, we’re talking about
sort of ancient regards and ancient instincts. It’s funny, I… I was mentioning before,
I’ve got a book coming out next month about Shane Warne. Now, interesting. You wouldn’t think that you could get
Shane Warne into a discussion of work but he did actually have…
he did actually have a short period, about a year,
as a part-time file clerk at the South Australian
Cricket Association, when he was at the academy
as a young player, well before
anyone had heard of him, and he had this part-time job, and he
was brought in by the chief executive to create some sort of system
for his files. The chief executive was notoriously
chaotic in his work practices. And the man’s name
was Barry Gibbs, and he wrote an autobiography
called ‘My Cricket Journey’, and there is a lovely section where he talks about Shane
as an office worker and how good Shane was at rendering
order into the chaos of this office. And he ends up with this…
with a remark where he says, “I could open
one of the file drawers now, “and I reckon I would still find
evidence of Shane’s careful work.” It’s interesting
that even someone like Shane Warne had an impulse to do a good job,
who wanted to, you know, make a contribution, who wanted to participate
in a productive workplace, to experience meaning,
to feel a sense of camaraderie. These are innate instincts,
even in someone like Shane Warne. Bet you didn’t expect
to hear that today. But one thing I wonder, though…
I mean… There’s the workplaces that…
you know, the people who, like Tom, love their job,
and we all enjoy our job, but Australians are notoriously… We’re largely pretty unengaged
with our work. And they have to go through
all these things of measuring and monitoring our motivation
and our engagement levels and all sorts of things, but from my recollection, the level of engagement by
Australian employees in the workplace is actually really low
internationally – is that… Comparatively speaking,
I think it is lower, but I think… That’s what I meant about
the cultural sort of resistance to some of this stuff,
because I… I don’t think that compromises your attachment
to what you do. See, I would make
a distinction there, so… What I was saying is, I think vision statements
and all that kind of stuff, I think we do have
a bit of an allergy to. It’s cultural. I don’t know, Tom and
Gideon, if you think the same thing. But I suspect we just…
We don’t feel comfortable about that. And I think, therefore,
engagement surveys and so on, we see as a bit of
an extension of that – “Oh, here we go again.
And, yeah, sure, it’s anonymous. “Yeah. I really believe that.” You know, I think there’s
a bit of a suspicion… -Tom’s not… He’s shaking his head.
-No, you know what? There’s quite a lot…
There is… That does exist. And it’s kind of hard-wired
into our culture, because we really believe
in metrics, we really believe
in measuring everything. So everything has to be measured,
just including how happy you are. And, actually, one of the most
crucial parts about that is that… ..at the end
of that process, you… Like, the process takes
about two weeks for everyone has to
fill in these forms, and then, at the end of that,
you have at least eight months of them trying to make…
like, competing to make sure that that doesn’t…
isn’t a problem next time round. So whoever’s responsible for the
thing that was pissing everyone off, you know…they’re on the… You know, they’re…they’re…
they’re in the spotlight, so… There’s an incredible drive,
and you see that, so the company is very driven
at understanding its users, who are the people who work there,
and then responding to that, and a lot of this is… I mean, it’s very interesting
hearing you talk about… Basically, I work for a company that does all the things
that you talked about, but they mean them,
and they do them with a goal of improving the quality
of the experience for everyone who works there,
rather than empty rhetoric. -But that’s the exception.
-It is. That’s what’s so ridiculous. But, Tom,
they’re also hugely profitable. That makes everyone…
That tends to make people very happy. (LAUGHTER) Gives you a warm feeling. I’m not sure they’re hugely
profitable because they’re happy. Do you want to, like… It’s a kind
of… Yeah, it’s a bit difficult. If we were really rubbish,
like, I wouldn’t be sitting here. (LAUGHTER) And, in fact, I am wondering,
with the global financial crisis, and there was
a moment in that where… I mean, people went off and started
doing more gardening courses and… ..you know, off to the library
and kind of… It was almost like
we collectively woke up. So has there been a backlash against
the kind of organisational culture and the workplace
in the years since because the money started to run out
and we started to realise just how rampant
this consumerism… Well, the interesting thing is that
average working hours for Australians don’t seem to have changed very much,
according to the ABS data. From the 1980s to now, it’s sort of been around about
the 35- to 33-hour week. It hasn’t changed
all that much. One of the reasons for that
is more people have gone part-time, and I think the proportion of…
it’s now 70% full-time employees rather than 84% in the 1980s. What I think the stats
are failing to pick up is the degree
of polluted time, though – you know, this…this…
this activity that is a blur
between work and leisure. You know, the email that you answer
while you’re watching TV or the phone call that you take
in the middle of the family dinner or the conversation
that you have about work while you’re watching your child
play sport, or the text you answer, the presentation you work on
on the train, or… You know, I wrote a column
on the train yesterday, ’cause I didn’t have time
during my day. I was doing a lot of commuting around
Sydney, and I had to write a column, so I wrote it on the train
out to Rydalmere and on the train back
to Rydalmere. Fortunately, it’s a long journey
to and from Rydalmere. But who tallies those up? I suspect that we’ve
kind of become inured to those
encroachments of work on what we used to consider
our private time. In fact, then, we might be even
conditioned to welcome them – you know, in a sense that like lab
rats become accustomed to stimuli, and if they don’t get it,
they go looking for it. Well, it’s a good point. We’re going
to invite questions here. So… For those in the middle, please
make your way, if you’d like to, down to the microphones. There’s a microphone here
and on the other side. I’ve got lots of questions
I could ask, but I’d really like to welcome you
into the conversation. So there’s…
There’s one here. Thank you. And I… ..that…accompanying that
is that split attention span, and I was literally sitting
on the couch the other night with a laptop, the phone,
the smartphone, and I pulled up the iPad
to look up something else. And then I stopped myself, ’cause
I thought, “This is going too far.” GIDEON: Sorry,
just to pick up on that. After generations
of working with computers, I think we’ve actually subtly
fallen in step with their processes. Because they are about
simultaneous operations, computers. I mean, I’m intrigued about
whose responsibility this is. Because… I take your point.
I work very hard. And I don’t mind it. With regard to the companies
who don’t… ..who, you know, your… ..the point we were just making,
this is sort of esprit d’escalier, and they’re going,
“Oh, I should have said…” If they’d been doing that
since they were in a garage, and any company
can do those things, yeah… Like, they… You can. You can make that an important part
of your DNA, your values, and you can stick to your values –
that’s not…that’s not expensive. Sort of having integrity
is not expensive. It might mean you go out of business,
but it’s not expensive. -So, you know… Anyway. Questions.
-Yes. Go ahead. WOMAN: My name is Inezi. I left a cult very similar to Google
to start my own cult. My question is for Tom. I’m actually quite excited
with the workplace today and all the new philosophies
that are converging – idea with design thinking,
lean manufacturing, agile for software development. What excites you
that is new, revolutionary, that is coming our way
in terms of workplace? Coming…coming your way? -Our way, in terms of work.
-Our way? In terms of work? Oh, that’s a really good question.
I’m gonna talk about how I work. Because I’m not sure
that it’s completely normal. I work in a very, very
collaborative way. So whichever organisations
I’m working with, wherever they are in the world, whichever individuals
I’m working with, we work on live documents. We have a kind of…
like, you talked about agile, which is a process
in which you work in short sprints, rather than a cascading
sort of project management way, and what the internet
basically allows you to do is to work
in a live dynamic environment, to collaborate across the world, on written docs and on coding
and on sort of… VCs have now become free. I mean, it’s quite remarkable
that it’s now free to have a 9-person
sort of video conference with people
anywhere in the world. I mean, that’s…from…from…
in a working environment, I think that should be
totally changing the world, and for Australia particularly,
because you’ve been… ..I mean, no disrespect,
isolated. Because there wasn’t that potential
to communicate with the world. You’ve got, you know,
the NBN coming in. The…the…the ability of
the internet to transform relations, to remove geography,
to totally empower people who want to start businesses
in this country and work as if they were
anywhere else in the world, you know, that’s…that’s… Well, I don’t know when it comes in,
but it’s pretty soon. So I think that, actually,
the technology and the ability of technology
to remove geography is fascinating. -Thank you.
-Thank you. Other questions? Well, I’ll keep the questions coming. Alright, I do have to
ask this question. The 3am test. The phone rings at 3am.
Do you get… Or the…you know. You hear
the little beep into the phone. Do you have your phone on
next to your bed at 3am? -Oh, sometimes I’m still up.
-Sometimes you’re still up? -No blurring between the lines…
-You know what? I actually moved to Australia
for better work-life balance. He’s got a 2-month-old.
Of course he’s up at 3am. Yeah, I was just
going to say. 3am. That means my 20-year-old’s
at a nightclub somewhere. -NARELLE: Just getting home.
-I’m at the other end of that. It’s like, “She’s in Kings Cross
and something’s gone wrong.” So… I’m… Yeah, at 3am,
I’m answering. Yeah. No, actually, I…I… That’s
this thing about responsibility. I’m not answering the phone
at 3:00 in the morning. No. But do you kind of sneak off to
the bathroom and check your emails? Do you check your emails?
Anybody else. -Is there vast checking of emails…?
-Yeah, I’m fastidious. I’m totally addicted to email.
It’s appalling. TOM: But is that an addiction
to email or an addiction to work? Well, I love my work. And I think
we’re an unrepresentative sample. Because I think all the people on
this panel actually love their work. I certainly love my work.
I left a workplace behind… I work at home now, and I think
that may be one of the reasons why I love my work so much, is that I don’t have to
put up with an enormous… ..or perhaps shrinking institution,
in the case of Fairfax. -(LAUGHTER)
-Oh! Ow! Ow! We’re going to move to
the next questioner, who’s very thoughtfully standing
at the microphone right now. This question isn’t to anybody
in particular, but… If work is a natural thing, why do we have so much legislation
governing it? And rules and human resources and… Like the 11-page BHP occupational
health and safety guidelines for the new office. CATHERINE: We should acknowledge
the potential for exploitation of work and workers
and so on. I don’t think we can,
you know, dodge that. I mean, that’s why
we have regulation. That’s why we have…
well, the ubiquitous HR person, who…who can sometimes be great
and sometimes not, but… They’re there because otherwise,
the market does expand to… I think you’ve got to have a system
of checks and balances. And I think that’s why we have
regulation. GIDEON: I was gonna say, I think
the very expression ‘human resources’ I regard with deep misgivings – this idea that we’re all simply
human ore to be mined and refined and extruded and…human tailings
to be left in our wake. I guess my question is,
if it was just a natural thing, this would be
naturally in-built in us, so we wouldn’t have to have all these
regulations to the extent we do have. TOM: But it’s the same way
we have laws in society. You know…
You know, if…if…if… If we’re all nice people,
why can’t we just get along? And it’s the same at work.
What all of this legislation is… And it’s a really good point,
you pull it out, is a testament to individuals
standing up on behalf of themselves and saying to the person
who is sort of organising them, “We’re actually not happy
with this situation.” So… Whilst it does get very, very dry
and dusty and awkward and unpleasant, and sometimes it feels like
they’re tools that are being used to manipulate
you, rather than the other way round, at their best, they’re…
they’re, you know… ..they’re something…they’re
the history that we fought for to be able to go to our work
and not be exploited and given free coffee
and things like this. Well, and we call it things like
Fair Work and WorkChoice acts and… But, I guess, in this… TOM: It’s the language
that’s the problem, not the concept. At the very least,
so that employers don’t lock their employees
in a factory and allow them
to be burned to death. CATHERINE:
But can I also add, and I don’t know if this qualifies
as a dangerous idea, but, I mean, it’s always
seemed to me too that… ..much as I get a…
you know, a buzz from what I do, that I’ve always observed,
and I know, Narelle, you have too, that, you know, workplaces can bring
out the best and the worst in people. I mean, if we’re
talking about this as a place, a competitive environment,
where we’re struggling for resources, it can be incredibly Darwinian, as someone who’s observed what’s
happened to women in workplaces over decades. I mean, it can be incredibly ugly.
There’s stabbing in the backs. There’s…the whole…
you know, the whole shambles that we’re all
more than aware of, and people who you might know
in another… ..you know, know outside of work
as quite decent can actually behave
in most unpleasant ways, even if they work for Google. -(LAUGHTER)
-Thank… I’ve also wondered
about the physical effects of our changing work patterns. It was interesting to me
in the research of my book that almost all the sort of
the major technological changes in office design and office
technology since the Second World War have about been making office work
less and less physical, until… ..we basically sit
in the one position all day and communicate with everyone
electronically, and the devices… Remember how manual
copying of documents used to be? Well, now…photocopying is the Acme
of boring office tasks, because all you do
is you put a piece of paper there and you stand there, and you wait for
the photocopier repair man to turn up because the bloody thing
hasn’t worked, and I do wonder whether
that is actually having… ..this…the increasing
physical inertia of our work is actually having an impact on our
general levels of physical fitness, because we all know that…
I think the figures from the CSIRO is that physical…sport
and outdoor activity is down 22% over the last decade
in Australia. Recreational screentime
has increased 6%. We have 4.5 million
obese Australians, forecast to rise to 6.5 million
within 20 years, and physical inactivity
correlates positively to depression, stress,
anger and distrust. -NARELLE: Alright.
-So, you know… And, of course, that’s of no moment
to business at all, because the social costs of this
sweating are assumed by the state. Now, health expenditure in Australia
has gone up from 70 billion in 2000 to 120 billion today. So the workers end up
being exploited and bearing the cost of their
own exploitation by their taxes. -Thank you, Gideon.
-(APPLAUSE) We’re going to get the wrap-up
very, very shortly, but if you could make
a very short question… Look, we’ve had one example of
a very good cult – namely Google – and someone who’s very happy in it
and very successful, but around the world, we’re living
with the results of some other cults that weren’t very successful at all –
namely the banking cults. Have you got any comments and
other statements about what happened and why those cults
weren’t as successful as Google? Can I just say, I don’t. -NARELLE: You don’t?
-No. -(LAUGHTER)
-Nothing to say on this topic. I think the…
There’s an excellent book by a… ..she’s a US…but UK-based writer
called Margaret Heffernan which is called
‘Willful Blindness’, which if any of you
have seen references to or get a chance to have a look at,
I’d strongly recommend. And she looks at
what’s happened in the banks, Enron. The expression, actually, she was
covering the inquiry into Enron, and the judge actually
used the expression, and, I think… You know, groupthink,
willful blindness, chasing profit
and nothing else – I mean, I think there’s
a whole lot of ingredients there, and they are indeed cult-like, so there is a very black…
black side to that. And I think the sad thing is that we haven’t learnt
many lessons from that, so even though we’ve had
some fantastic sort of analysis since then, it seems
to me that the business world really didn’t absorb seriously
some of the lessons from that, and I think they’re, you know…
they’re, unfortunately, likely to be repeated,
which is a shame. Human nature. I was gonna say,
another characteristic cult, and one that I’ve written about
in the past, is the cult
of the chief executive officer, which I think is one of
the great developments in business over the last…1980s. It’s interesting to me
that it was never actually decided that chief executives
had to be paid more. It was decided that they…
in the early ’80s that they had to be paid differently,
so that their interests were aligned with those of shareholders, rather than simply them being
corporate bureaucrats. So they were larded
with enormous quantities of free or very, very cheap equity,
and, of course, what ensued was a rampaging bull market
in equities from 1982 up to the global
financial crisis, which resulted in enormous windfall
gains for these chief executives who just so happened to be standing
in the right place at the right time with their hands out, and inevitably, they began
to believe in their own bullshit, and they carried us
over the precipice with them. -(APPLAUSE)
-There’s actually… I was reading it…
There was a… Eliot Spitzer does a column
on ‘Slate’ today, and he was talking about a new book
that’s just come out in America by the chief executive
of the FDIC. And the author tells
this great story of when the chief executives of the bank
were brought into a room together to discuss the first round
of the TARP bailouts, there was general silence in the room
among the chief executives when they realised the depth
of the crisis that had been caused. And you know what the first question
was from John Thain of Merrill Lynch? “Does this mean that
my compensation’s going to be cut?” (GASPING) Well, there you get the pretty solid
sense of modern corporate priorities. Thank you. We’ll get the wrap… If you could have a last sharp,
short question, that would be great. Thank you. My name’s Daryl.
One quick comment and one question. A comment – Tom, you mentioned
earlier about, you work hard. Going back to one of the
first, earlier comments was about, we’ve come from
an industrialised sort of environment where we manufactured widgets
and we worked hard by the capacity. Suppose, if we work hard in a office
environment, how we measure that? I’m just tossing around
the idea possibly – we work hard because we work
more hours than the eight hours. Is that all it is?
Just a comment. Question around our interactivity
with emails and stuff outside of normal office hours. I question whether that is
because we love work, or is it because
we love ourselves and we think someone wants to talk
to us, someone wants our opinion, someone wants our ideas,
someone wants to talk to us. (APPLAUSE) NARELLE: That’s a good note
to have the last responses from. Thanks. Thank you, Daryl. I think the compulsion, and I think
there’s a very good point there, and I think something… ..not quite analogous
but the whole social media revolution and what’s happening on Twitter is,
it’s really interesting, and I’m… I can’t even pretend
to understand. It’s one of those things you would
love to analyse with a bit more time, but I think you’re right –
I think… I watch people madly scramble to turn
on their phones when the plane lands. Have you watched that?
It’s almost hysterical. And I’m sitting there thinking, “It’s
OK. Leave it for a couple of minutes. “They’ll get onto you shortly.” And there really is that compulsion,
and you’re probably right. It probably is about ego –
“Oh, someone needs to contact me.” I also think a major change
of the last 20 years is that we’re increasingly using
the devices for work that we also use for leisure. So, you know, laptops and smartphones
and iPads and Skype and iChat and Google and… You know, devices that, I might say,
are a lot of fun and even, you know, delightful
and, frankly, compulsive to use and superficially empowering. But it’s very difficult for us
to separate from. (LAUGHTER) So… I mean, I agree. I agree. -Technology…
-Oh, come on! No. Technology is…
Well, I mean, I agree to a point. -Thank God for that.
-I think technology is… Technology creates fuzziness.
We are progressing. You’ve just written a book
on where we have come. We are not about to stop.
The world is not about to stop. Sort of, the office
is not about to stop evolving. The idea that it used to take
a lot of time to photocopy and now it doesn’t take any time –
you know, in five years time, no-one will photocopy. This will seem like
an absurd idea. (LAUGHTER) And then you go
10 years and 20 years, and… So now we won’t even get up
to go to the photocopier. Well, my point is, really,
that we evolve. This is an evolution
of our working space. And in that evolution, it is integral that the people
involved in the process do not sit around
and expect someone, and I don’t know who that person is,
because they haven’t been invoked – it’s certainly not the CEOs,
and, from what I’ve learnt so far, it’s not gonna be
the government – to do something, because they’re not going to. If you want your environment
to change, if you want
this cult to change, if you want your workplace
to be different, either leave your workplace, change
your workplace or start a workplace, and I think that
that’s inherent on all of us, so, for me, I just think we should
take a bit of responsibility. (APPLAUSE) Well, that’s a great note
to finish on – a challenge to you,
the audience. Thank you very much, Tom Uglow. You can check
Tom’s various tweetings and… -TOM: Google me. It’s very easy.
-Just google… In fact, you can google us all,
and you’ll find us all there. And you should also…you should
also buy his mum’s new book. Well, that’s very kind. Jenny Uglow’s just written a book
called ‘The Pinecone’. She’s an outstanding historian. I ordered it on Amazon
the day that I found out about it, and I wouldn’t hesitate
to recommend it. Well, there you go. Otherwise, we
wouldn’t be doing this advertisement. -And I’m delighted…
-(LAUGHTER) ..that we’ve been able to cover
this particular cult, the cult of the workplace. We could have
spent the afternoon discussing Japanese
foot-reading cult. There was one.
It was called Ho-no-Hana Sanpogyo. Or the Argentinean Diego Maradona
cult, because there is one, and it’s that he was
the best footballer of all time, and there is a cult to Diego. So I’d like you, please,
to thank our guests tonight. Tom Uglow, Catherine Fox… ..Gideon Haigh. If you…if you really do… If you really do want to step away
from the workplace and deprogram, there’s a website – whywork.org. And the woman that set that up said,
“I’m not retired. I’m not unemployed. “I’m just not working.” Thank you, and good afternoon.

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