Want to Get More Done at the Office? Just Stand Up – WSJ

 

Texas A&M researchers found that workers who could stand at their desks were 46% more productive than those with traditional seated desks

New research supports the use of standing desks, finding workers are more productive. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

By DANIEL AKST

When employees stand, they deliver. That, at least, is the implication of a new study of workers who sit all the time versus those who use standing-capable desks.

Stand-up desks have been gaining popularity in recent years, but reports on their benefits have been mixed, and much of the focus has been on whether they help workers to be healthier and more comfortable. Researchers at Texas A&M University now report that, in their study, the workers were indeed more comfortable, probably because they were moving—and that the standing desks benefited their employers as well.

The researchers found that workers at a call center who were given “stand-capable” desks—ones that were either adjustable to standing height or set to standing position—were 46% more productive than workers with traditional seated desks. This was the case even though the workers at these stand-capable desks had less experience on the job.

Beginner’s luck probably wasn’t a factor, the scientists say, since the bulk of the productivity gains didn’t set in until the workers’ second month at the standing desks, and all had been employed for at least 90 days.

The study covered 167 employees, divided into two groups: those with traditional seating and those whose desks promoted standing. The researchers measured productivity by the number of calls per hour in which a worker reached a target client and went through a health-related script, including arranging a follow-up call.

The researchers attributed much of the productivity gains to the greater physical comfort reported by the workers at the higher desks. Nearly three-quarters of those workers said that they felt less discomfort after using the desks for the six-month study. The greater comfort was consistent with prior research showing that standing desks offer benefits to their users—by helping them burn more calories, for example, or improving their concentration and other mental powers.

Some earlier evidence has suggested that workers with stand-capable desks don’t actually spend much time standing. But the Texas A&M researchers found that the call-center workers with such desks really did spend a lot more time on their feet—an extra 1.6 hours a day compared with workers using traditional desks. (The amount of time spent standing was measured by wearable monitors.)

One of the scientists, Mark Benden, who heads the university’s Ergonomics Center, says that merely getting workers to stand probably doesn’t fully account for the team’s findings. As he puts it, “statically standing is not much better than statically sitting.” The key difference, he argues, is that the standing-oriented desks get people to move more: The standers “wiggle, wobble, pivot, lean, perch, etc.,” which is crucial, he says, in today’s age of “technology induced inactivity.” Dr. Benden says that he can foresee the day when a smartphone or some other high-tech device, attuned to our activities as well as our vital signs, will pick a good time to nudge us to get up and move around a little on the job.

Source: Want to Get More Done at the Office? Just Stand Up – WSJ

Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Awful, Flawed Advice

Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Awful, Flawed Advice

Why 'Follow Your Passion' Is Awful, Flawed AdviceImage credit: Shutterstock

Carol Roth

CAROL ROTH

CONTRIBUTOR

Entrepreneur and author

With a job being something that we can no longer count on and more demands than ever on our time, we seem to be in constant search of balance and fulfillment. This has created a huge “follow your passion” movement, which suggests that you should earn a living by creating a livelihood from your greatest life passion.

But getting intoxicated by the passion story is akin to “business beer goggles.” You aren’t thinking clearly or seeing the reality.

For businesses to be successful, entrepreneurs need to think about opportunities from their customers’ perspective as much as from their own perspective.

While I do believe that successful businesses have leaders — and often employees, by the way — who are passionate about the business opportunity and their customers, you do not need your life’s passion as a starting point. If you were passionate about the television show Dexter, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t translate into you starting a serial-killer business — despite being amoral and illegal, I don’t think the market opportunity is that large. But seriously, why do so many people think that you need to earn a living from what you love to do the most?

Passion isn’t a starting point.

Zappos.com is a business where passion followed opportunity, but wasn’t the starting point. I can’t imagine that Tony Hsieh is more passionate about shoes than most of the women that I know. He is, however, completely passionate about customer service, which helped take that business to the top of its game.

But people’s life passions generally aren’t around concepts like customer service, which drive successful businesses. Kids grow up wanting to be firemen, ballerinas, baseball players or Star Wars characters, not community builders. If you ask someone their passion, I can guarantee that 99 out of 100 times or more, you will get answers like golf, dancing, wine, scrapbooking or sex before customer service, community building and customer loyalty. If you start with passion, Imelda Marcos or Sex & the City’s Carrie Bradshaw end up running Zappos.com before Tony Hsieh.

Successful businesses identify a customer need or want — an opportunity. When the entrepreneur is incredibly passionate about filling that customer need and is uniquely positioned to be the best person to do so in some way, that’s where business success happens.

And here’s the brilliant part: As long as entrepreneurs aren’t a bandwagon hopper trying to jump on whatever is hot, they will likely find an opportunity from an area of interest. For example, if you have no interest in green technologies, it’s not likely that you will notice a customer need in that area. On the other hand, if you are a foodie, it’s quite possible that you will run into an opportunity in or around food.

The reason work is not called ‘fun’ or ‘hobby’.

One of the ways to truly have some semblance of balance is to try to keep your work life from seeping into the rest of your life. If you have something that you do to relieve stress or add joy to your life, do you want to layer on the requirement of earning a living from it?  Once you depend on something to put food on your family’s table and to pay your mortgage, it changes the entire nature of the relationship. Sometimes, work can be fun, but it’s not called that for a reason. Plus, we weren’t designed to always be “on.” We need time to recombobulate and relax.

Passions are magical, but businesses are grounded in realities. Do you remember when Dorothy and the gang peered behind the curtain to find out that the Wizard of Oz wasn’t an all-powerful being, but rather, kind of a loser? Or when you found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real? Or when you figured out that your parents weren’t superheroes, just people with flaws? It sucked, right? Our hobbies are about escapism. There is a bit of magic and fantasy in them. When you make that your business, you are privy to the nuts and bolts. That tempers the magic.

It’s not all about you.

Having a hobby is a total self-indulgence. It is something that you can do that is mostly — if not entirely — you-centric. While you may think that you can have a business that is all about you, you would be wrong. A business is about your customers. In your business, you only get a say if it jives with your customers’ wants. Otherwise, they don’t buy from you.

We need to educate entrepreneurs that by approaching a business from what you are lacking or missing or passionate about, you are completely ignoring those who allow you to have a business: your customers. Again, our environment is fraught with competition. Customers, whose attention spans are contracting, are bombarded with messages and are harder to reach than ever. You have to make the customers the most important part of your business.

If you want to fulfill a passion, do it. That’s what hobbies and free time are for. But if you intertwine that desire with a business, remember that your passion does not pay your for goods or services.

While you may find an opportunity from things that you are passionate about, I don’t think it’s the best starting place to create a business. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. However, the exceptions don’t make for a good strategy. It is possible to win the lottery, but that doesn’t mean that you should invest all of your money in lottery tickets.

While you absolutely need to be passionate about making your business a success, you don’t need to make a business from your greatest passion in life. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Find the opportunities that ignite a passion within you- that is where the success will happen.

Source: Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Awful, Flawed Advice

NSF funds extensive survey of Asian Americans | University of California

By Bettye Miller, UC Riverside Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Credit: UC Riverside

(clockwise from top left) Professors Karthick Ramakrishnan, Jennifer Lee, Taeku Lee, and Janelle Wong

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, whose numbers are becoming increasingly influential in presidential elections. Despite their rapid growth and remarkable diversity, Asian Americans remain an understudied group whose experiences and attitudes are not reflected in national polls.

To address this gap, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a multi-campus team of researchers a $507,132 grant to undertake the most extensive study of Asian Americans to date.

The team includes Karthick Ramakrishnan, associate dean of the University of California, Riverside School of Public Policy and professor of public policy and political science; Jennifer Lee, professor of sociology at UC Irvine; Taeku Lee, professor of political science and law at UC Berkeley; and Janelle Wong, professor of American students and director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland.

The study will expand upon the National Asian American Survey (NAAS), which was founded in 2008 and repeated in 2012. The NAAS is a scientific and nonpartisan effort to poll the opinions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and is the only nationally representative academic survey of this population.  NAAS 2016 will focus on three core themes: (1) immigrant and second-generation incorporation; (2) race and ethnic relations and attitudes; (3) civic and political participation. Findings from the survey, which will be released in 2017, will prove an accurate portrait of the Asian American population, dispel myths, and correct misconceptions about the group.

“NAAS 2016 will allow researchers to study Asian Americans, who are often ignored in research projects because of their small and statistically unreliable sample sizes in other national and longitudinal surveys,” explained Ramakrishnan, the principal investigator on the NSF-funded project. “The results also will enable us to compare Asian Americans with three more thoroughly studied groups: African Americans, Latinos, and non-Hispanic whites.”

Becoming a priority

The researchers plan to conduct their study in 2016 and release the data to the public in summer 2017.

“The Asian American population is rapidly growing and changing, and with NAAS, we have a unique opportunity to study dynamics like intra-racial attitudes. Never before has a survey focused on how Asian ethnic groups view each other, and how they construct an Asian ethnic hierarchy,” said Jennifer Lee, co-principal investigator on the project.

Taeku Lee, another co-principal investigator, added, “Arguably the nation’s most dynamic and diverse population, the views and experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders remains largely relegated to the shadows. With data from this quadrennial project, the 2016 NAAS promises to shed critical light on the social, economic, and political life and civic engagement of AAPIs.”

“Funding from the National Science Foundation shows that research on Asian Americans is becoming more of a national priority,” said Janelle Wong, a co-principal investigator on the project.

Researchers will survey approximately 3,600 individuals representing the six largest U.S. Asian ethnic groups, who account for more than 80 percent of Asian American adults – Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese and Vietnamese. The telephone survey will be conducted in at least 11 languages, which is critical since more than 70 percent of Asian Americans were born outside the United States.

Participants will be asked about personal experiences and attitudes related to immigration to the United States, inter- and intragroup relations and attitudes, civic and political involvementparty affiliation, voting behavior, health and financial status, racial and ethnic identification, discrimination, stereotypes,  beliefs about racial and class-based inequality, and affirmative action.

Rapid growth rate

Between 2000 and 2010, the Asian American population grew at a rate of 46 percent, compared to a 10 percent growth rate for the overall U.S. population. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders continue to exhibit the fastest population growth rates, and now number over 20 million residents, or more than 6 percent of the U.S. population.

Fueling their growth is immigration. China and India are now the top sending countries for immigrants to the United States, moving ahead of Mexico. By 2065, demographers estimate that Asian Americans will comprise about 14 percent of the U.S. population.  As a share of voters, Asian Americans have been the fastest-growing electorate over the last five presidential elections, increasing from 1.7 million voters in 1996 to 3.9 million by 2012.

Accompanying their growth in numbers is their growing diversity. Asian Americans comprise more than 20 distinct ethnic groups and exhibit greater socioeconomic diversity than any other U.S. racial group.

For example, while Indians, Chinese, and Koreans exhibit higher levels of educational attainment than all U.S. groups, including native-born whites, Cambodian, Laotian, and Hmong have lower rates of high school completion than African Americans and Latinos. Immigrants from India and China make up the majority of high-skilled visa holders in the U.S., and these groups not only bring much-needed skills, but also racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity to the U.S., and its STEM and technology sectors.  At the same time, Asian American immigrants also constitute a significant share of low-wage workers concentrated in the restaurant and personal-service industries.

These characteristics make the study of Asian Americans essential to our understanding of social, legal, and economic processes like immigrant and second-generation incorporation, inter- and intra-group attitudes, racial formation and change, and civic and political engagement, Ramakrishnan said

Source: NSF funds extensive survey of Asian Americans | University of California