Newsletter Volume 30 Issue 7, Jul 2018
From The Editor
“Employees at a New Zealand company behind an innovative trial of a four-day working week have declared it a resounding success, with 78% saying they were better able to manage their work-life balance.” The above quote comes from a July 25, 2018 article in The Conversation, reporting on a trial at the Auckland University of Technology. The article notes that “Perpetual Guardian, which manages trusts and wills, released their findings from the trial, which was prompted by research that suggests modern workers are only productive for about three hours in a working day.” This echoes some of the thoughts in our January 2018 article from The McKell Institute, which included “in recent years, the fair go has been under threat, particularly as wage and income inequality has widened, leaving more Australians behind.” See below, Working four-day weeks for five days’ pay? Research shows it pays off.
“About 40% of physics teachers will retire in the next 10 years but only 10% of all trainee science teachers are specialising in physics” This quote is from a July 11, 2018 article in The Conversation, which identifies disturbing STEM trends and suggests possible remedies. The article also refers to the July 2018 opening address at the Australia Science Teachers’ Association annual conference by Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham. This announced the federal government plans to ensure every high school has access to specialist science and maths teachers. See below, Fixing the shortage of specialist science and maths teachers will be hard, not impossible. (Our June 2018 Explainer on the difference between STEM and STEAM also covered some of this ground, noting “Innovative research and resources like these fully realise the intersections between the arts, engineering, mathematics, science and technology, and the influence they have on each other.”)
A 6 July 2018 article in The Mandarin suggests that open plan offices, which aim to increase collaboration between employees, may have the opposite effect. “What they often get — as captured by a steady stream of news articles professing the death of the open office — is an open expanse of proximal employees choosing to isolate themselves as best they can (e.g. by wearing large headphones) while appearing to be as busy as possible (since everyone can see them).” See below, Open plan offices reduce collaboration, study finds.
This month brings some further thoughts on ICT jobs and productivity from a range of Public and Private Sector gurus. Productivity Commission’s Deputy Chair, Karen Chester, asks and answers some interesting questions, such as the “Productivity Paradox”, why productivity is low in the “New Digital Economy (which encompasses mobile technology, ubiquitous access to the internet and the world of the cloud).” Other contributions cover “An early taste of the feedback to the APS review”, “Employment services aren’t working for older jobseekers, jobactive staff or employers” and a contribution by Elon Musk, via an 18 April 2018 CNBC article. See below, ICT Jobs and Productivity.
Articles in the current Issue cover:
“ There is a large body of research showing that if organisations care about their employees’ well-being, staff will respond with better job attitudes and performance. In addition, research shows that work-life balance is important for job satisfaction and general well-being, and that by being able to spend more time away from their job, employees engage better with their work.
However, there is the potential that employees might report greater stress and issues around work demands because they are now, in effect, doing their current workload in four days rather than five.”
“Rather than sometimes secretive local deals, we need to accept something has to change to attract and retain specialist teachers. Current efforts are not enough.”
“Executives reported to us qualitatively that productivity, as defined by the metrics used by their internal performance management system, had declined after the redesign.”
“Other key questions and answers include:
- Are we getting better at assisting transitioning workers?
- Are the right incentives in place to get the workers to the new jobs?
- Is our education and training system fit for purpose for the workers of today and tomorrow?
- Do current policy settings constrain us getting to and through the “installation phase” and on to realising benefits in the “deployment phase” of the digital economy?”
In 2012 former FBI Director Robert Mueller famously said:
I am convinced that there are only two types of companies: those that have been hacked and those that will be. And even they are converging into one category: companies that have been hacked and will be hacked again.
This quote comes from a a July 4, 2018 article in The Conversation, Another day, another data breach – what to do when it happens to you.
Some new options are being explored for the ACOSM18 Australian Conference on Software due to the move of the ACS NSW office to Barangaroo. The plan is still for a joint QESP/ACS evening event, 5.30 for 6.00, keynote, 2 speakers and Forum till 7.30, drinks & fingerfood till 8.00. Watch this space.
Quote of the Day
“If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” – Jim Barksdale, former Netscape CEO
Quote from Yesteryear
There are only two truly infinite things: the universe and stupidity. And I am unsure about the universe. – Albert Einstein