Distracting people is a better way to “win” arguments

Distraction is a clever and useful strategy in information control in that an argument in almost any human discussion is rarely an effective way to put an end to an opposing argument. Letting an argument die, or changing the subject, usually works much better than picking an argument and getting someone’s back up…

From a summary of a study that looked into how China tries to control news flow on the web.


AirBnB lowers hotel prices 8-10%, effects low end hotel more

There’s all sorts of fun findings and theories in this study of AirBnB’s effect in the hotel market in Austin and Dallas. The easiest one is that it lowers pricing by 8-10% for the non-business traveler segment:

As Airbnb has its roots in casual stays, including those involving shared accommodations, we expect it to be a more attractive option for travelers on a budget. Conversely, business travelers and vacationers who frequent high-end hotels are two examples of consumers we argue are less likely to substitute a hotel stay with an Airbnb stay.

There’s also some interesting commentary on the very fixed assets of traditional hotel companies verses the agility of AirBnB:
– It’s impossible to rapidly increase the supply of hotel rooms to meet demand: it takes an average of 4 years to build new hotels, so you can’t really meet rising demand even on an annual basis.
– In contrast, the AirBnB supply can expand and contract on a daily basis as people decided to list and delist their rooms and houses.
– Of course, AirBnB demand is cap’ed to the number of fixed houses and apartments in an areas…but companies to hotel rooms, that supply seems infinite. (There’s an interesting analogy to public cloud here.)

The truth about the gender wage gap

Goldin’s research has found that workers in the industries with large wage gaps are more likely to say their jobs value those who “develop constructive and cooperative working relationships” and that their company generally determines their “tasks, priorities, and goals.”

And in these situations, both working a lot and having the flexibility to be away from children “after hours” pays off. So, because women are the primary care givers, they take a big wage cut because they have schedule demanding jobs. This doesn’t remove all the of the wage gap as the women-with-no-kids and pharmacists examples show, but it removes a large chunk.

There also a devilish economic decisions that, among many other things, enforces the choice for women to be the primary care givers. If men already make more money, their wages have further to fall, so, mean more top-line revenue loss:

She found that men see their salaries decrease more than women when they switch to a part-time schedule for a year.

“It seems that men in the legal profession who take on non-traditional gender roles (i.e., taking responsibility for child care) pay a high price for that behavior,” Noonan and her study co-authors write.

If the workplace penalizes men more than women for taking breaks from work, then it could be the wiser financial decision for a mother to take on more caregiving activities. — the decision that society overwhelmingly expects.

This is all a shitty situation for family.

Source: The truth about the gender wage gap

Get more work done hiding

Find a place to hide. Book a conference room for an hour and get the real work done where no one can interrupt you.

Sound like a joke? It’s not. Professor Sune Carlsson did a study of how CEO’s get things done. What did the research show? None of them could work longer than 20 minutes without an interruption.

So how did they accomplish things without distraction? They worked for 90 minutes at home before coming into the office.

Source: This Is How To Be Productive: 5 New Secrets Proven By Research

Team work bringing down the average

The workers were told, essentially, that they were to be rewarded for collective achievement rather than individually. So instead of maximizing individual satisfaction, which often comes through competition with other people, employees considered their impact on colleagues. The theory, which plays out in the results, is that with relative rankings, top performers reduce their effort to avoid hurting their co-workers’ egos and to prevent schisms in the team.

That’s kind of sweet actually. One would also think that the incentives are disconnected from the thing you’re trying to fix: if you had to pay for all that fuel yourself, out of your take of the margin, would you be more efficient or less? That’s probably unreliable as well. Also: you’d think these tricks of fleet management would be long solves, e.g., all that lore about UPS and Fedex trucks. But, there’s probably tons of ongoing change and variability in all that.

Also: notice the Big Data angle, the technology that enabled the study.

Team work bringing down the average

To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work from Home

[W]e found that people working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office did—meaning that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them. They also quit at half the rate of people in the office—way beyond what we anticipated. And predictably, at-home workers reported much higher job satisfaction

To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work from Home

Better get a referral

Referrals account for between 30 and 50% of hires in the US. In a paper published earlier this year, researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and MIT studied data from a financial services company, and found that while referrals only made up about 6% of total applications, they resulted in more than a quarter of hires. That’s more than the number hired via online job boards, even though those job hunters accounted for 60% of applications and 40% of interviews.
In fact, a referral who gets an interview has a 40% better chance of getting hired than other candidates.

See here.
Better get a referral