The most common complaint the nonprofit National Workrights Institute receives from workers is phone wiping — companies remotely clearing out the contents of personal smartphones that employees sometimes use for work purposes. In fact, a recent survey by Acronis found that 21% of companies "perform remote wipes when an employee quits or is terminated." Why is this happening? More and more companies require workers to be connected when they leave the office, though that doesn't necessarily mean the employers are providing phones to be connected on. One person interviewed for the article bought an Android phone because he felt he was missing out on "late-night notices of meeting changes and other information." When he was fired, the company deleted the contents of his phone. An employee from another company lost photos of a relative who had died.
So what's the way forward, as work and personal lives become more intertwined? Even though companies sometimes lay out agreements in contracts or insert "I agree" buttons into work-related apps or programs, a leading human-resources organization told its members that phone wiping "will likely be tested in the days and months ahead." In the meantime, it's suggested that workers who enter into “bring your own device” agreements back up their personal data regularly, without compromising company information. And businesses should be very clear about what will happen if a worker leaves or is terminated.
The great potential of Big Data is that there's just so much of it. Of course, that's also its fatal flaw. How do you even begin to collect it, sort through it, and make sense of it? If you're mathematician Chris McKinlay, you create bots and algorithms. Frustrated by dating site OkCupid's failure to match him with suitable partners, he wrote automated dummy profiles to figure out what the women he wanted to meet were looking for, then optimized his own real profile to connect with them. But writer Kevin Poulsen includes an important caveat for any Big Data wannabe: The numbers are just the beginning. Success is what you do with the data. In McKinlay’s case, that means going on dates — a lot of them — and when something clicks, trying like hell to make it work. —Sarah Green
Do U.S. universities, and in particular top-notch institutions like Harvard and Yale, place too much emphasis on leadership potential when they screen applicants? It's a question posed by Tara Isabella Burton, and she doesn't have concrete answers. But her analysis is nonetheless worth reading in full, and, generally speaking, she comes away with two concerns. To start, why is being a leader (and to be clear, what "leader" means isn't clear at all) prioritized over being a lone wolf or merely a participant or follower? All of these types are contributors to society and work, though Burton posits that being a "contributor" is equated with being average.
Second, are U.S. universities penalizing "candidates from different cultural backgrounds, where leadership — particularly among adolescents — might take different forms, or be discouraged altogether"? Burton's experience at Oxford, where lone-wolf researchers are held in high regard, is just one example of this. She suggests that U.S. institutions rethink their leadership emphasis. "Do we need a graduating class full of leaders? Or should schools actively seek out diversity in interpersonal approaches — as they do in everything else?"
Want to know exactly what's happening to your body as it deliquesces during each work day, turning to mush as you stare into your computer? Then take a good look at this lovely graphic, which shows your muscles degenerating, your bones getting soft, your pancreas giving you diabetes, your colon developing cancer, your back seizing up as your discs are squashed unevenly, and your life ticking away to an untimely end. The real solution to the hazards of sitting is probably to get a job on a shrimp boat, but if you can't do that, you can try standing up more at work and doing a few yoga poses. Flex your back. Stretch your hips. You can also get some exercise pinning this graphic to the wall of your cube — it's downloadable as a poster. —Andy O'Connell
In case you missed the brouhaha, a McDonald's in Queens, New York, made headlines when the manager called police to remove a group of elderly Korean-Americans who would spend hours sitting in the restaurant talking and eating minimal amounts of food. In this follow-up op-ed, sociology PhD candidate Stacy Torres argues that businesses should accommodate — rather than shun — this type of social congregation. "For retirees on fixed incomes who may have difficulty walking more than a few blocks, McDonald's restaurants remain among the most democratic, freely accessible spaces," she says. These locations are what sociologist Ray Oldenburg calls "third places," after work and home. Fast-food restaurants, cafés, and bookstores offer "necessary yet endangered meeting points to foster community, especially among diverse people." Torres says we should "praise companies that allow loitering and devise public-private partnerships that benefit both older adults and business owners."