Friday, 28 August 2020

Three management questions

Look, I'm an economist, and management thinking isn't normally my thing, and what do I know anyway, but from assorted encounters over the last wee while I've got three questions.

1 Are people kidding themselves about post-Covid working conditions?

There's a lot of optimism about remote working increasingly coming to replace the traditional battery hen office and its zero-privacy rent-minimising collaborative open spaces. I'm reasonably optimistic myself, as I wrote in 'Why the status quo is in for a hard time after COVID-19', where inter alia I said that "My guess is that we’ll look back at pre-COVID management practices like we look back at photos of 1950s typing pools". It'll be useful, too, if the evidence confirms that there is indeed a free lunch here - happier, more empowered employees and higher productivity. But I'm also wondering: in the businesses where the core problem is a command-and-control, hierarchical management mindset, how much will really change? Will us optimists be blindsided by the rise of things like intrusive computer monitoring software and locked-down-tight collaborative 'tools'? 

2 And while we're talking computer systems ...

Why is it that virtually every corporate in the western world provides its employees with gear that's more limited than what they could buy themselves, for less, at the nearest Noel Leeming or Harvey Norman?

3 'Stars'

There's been any amount of angst about the widening gap between the pay of the CEO and the pay of the average Jack or Jill. And then I read the other day about yet another company that's just recruited its new CEO from the marketplace for top executives. Fine: good luck to them. Probably a great pick who'll do them well. But I've got two observations. If every big company starts fishing in that pool - or to fake an economics veneer to it, the demand curve shifts out to the right - should anyone be surprised if CEO salaries blow out? And whatever happened to what I always thought was one of the main responsibilities of a board, which was to make sure that the current CEO was developing enough internal bench strength?

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