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The Future of Work, Marvel Box Office Dominance, and the Rise of On-sites

Three Stories We Are Following This Week

Forbes and the Future of Work

According to Forbes, the number one HR trend heading into 2022 is that the future of work is employee well-being. They posit that employee wellbeing will no longer be a benefit, but an expectation of the employer. This, in turn, gives the employer the opportunity to show how much they truly care about their employees. Employers now must enhance the individual and family life experiences of workers. This necessitates wellbeing services that include emotional, financial, social, and career wellness. Forbes cites Hewlett Packard as a city on the hill, where they provide benefits not just to employees, but their family members as well.

The primary issue with this “prediction” is that it feels so out of touch. The best employees have been demanding these types of benefits for decades, not months. For example, bosses have always given their best workers leeway when it comes to working from home. Second, the idea that Hewlett Packard is a prime example of a company that cares is borderline comical, since most of their wellbeing services come in the form of apps. This newfound commitment to employee wellbeing could not be more superficial. For too long, employers have failed to care about their employees in any valuable, meaningful way. Most companies are willing to spend a lot of money on window dressing, but they are unwilling to invest in real solutions that will markedly change the lives of their employees.

Marvel’s Box Office Dominance

Marvel films accounted for a whopping 30% of the American box office in 2021. That means that Marvel films alone accounted for more box office revenue than any single traditional studio. The main takeaway here is the superhero trend that started in the early 2000s is showing little signs of aging—like many of the superheroes in these films—and there is something about the escapism and universal themes within the films that appeal to viewers worldwide. Marvel films accounted for 5 of the 6 highest-grossing films of 2021. In fact, Eternals, a film that received the worst reviews of any 2021 Marvel release, still managed out-earn No Time to Die, the final James Bond film starring Daniel Craig. Love them or hate them, Marvel superhero films are here to stay.

These films are so repetitive that I struggle to watch them in any setting other than an airplane. That said, people choose to watch these films because they provide them with joy and escapism. In a world where joy has been in such short supply over the last two years, we cannot even begin to judge how people find it. And when I think about it from a business perspective, they encourage me to take notice about how well escapism is selling these days.

Hybrid Offices: On-sites are the new Off-sites

It used to be that companies would gather their employees a few times a year for a company outing. This outing – which often included cookouts, ropes courses, and trust falls – were meant to build team cohesion and energise a company’s workforce. The Harvard Business Review recently posted a case study showing how companies that much things have shifted. Companies that have gotten rid of their offices in favour of “work from anywhere” policies have run into a problem: people want to go into the office, at least occasionally. The solution is “on-sites”, a periodic (usually once-a-month) day where colleagues can convene, catch up, build comradery, and enjoy each other’s company. But creating an appealing on-site is not as simple as renting out a space and throwing a party. According to consultants, these days need to have structures that mirror the company’s long-term goals.

Even cynics must admit that these “on-sites” or “super-days” to be brilliant. Although we may not have lost short-term productivity when we all started working from home, we did lose a lot. Sure, we no longer have to spend as much wasted time with chatterboxes who show up to our desks uninvited, but we also do not get the chance to easily exchange ideas, build up our networks, and engage in much-needed social interaction. There are plenty of people who do not need much social interaction, but for them, one day a month is a dream come true compared to how work life used to be.