2022: A Year in Books
We all know that the digital realm offers an abundance of learning resources. I, for one, will never turn down the opportunity to gain new perspective through exploring Wikipedia, TikTok, Twitter, and any number of blogs, publications and curation services that I can call up immediately through the screen in front of me. That said, there’s nothing quite like immersing myself in a book to get a deeper understanding of the topics I’m curious about — and 2022 produced some great ones.
Without further ado, here are five books published in 2022 that changed the way I work and think.
The Nowhere Office: Reinventing Work and the Workplace of the Future by Julia Hobsbawm
In "The Nowhere Office," Julia Hobsbawm argues that the new center of work is not a place, but a person. It's clear that knowledge work isn’t working, if it ever was Workplace illnesses, including anxiety and depression, have long been widespread among the professional class, while issues of equity continue to loom large. In the wake of the pandemic, larger philosophical arguments about the meaning and structure of work have only become more prominent and contentious. Mobility and freedom are the new prizes for the professional class, a group Hobsbawm refers to as the “hybrid haves,” in contrast with the “hybrid have-nots.” These knowledge workers will come to the office to enjoy experiences, coaching and mentorship, however, they will not come under duress, at least not for long. Companies must understand the “scale and sweep of change” by granting that which workers want most: choice, self-determination and empathetic leadership.
My top takeaway: Digital workplace practitioners should consider ways to support psychological safety and choice within the digital workplace. Personalization, opportunities to share insights and a sense of community are key.
Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte
Humans have never before enjoyed the unfettered access to knowledge we do today. While this access has been the source of self-improvement, connection and empowerment, it has also resulted in an overwhelmed, overstimulated population that struggles to retain and leverage the incredible amounts of information we consume. Tiago Forte’s book offers actionable strategies for freeing our brain from unreasonable expectations through the use of digital “second brains.” These apps are like your trusty notebook on steroids, a place to dump, retain and discover the vital thoughts and inspiration that otherwise are ephemeral and fleeting. By building your own private collection of knowledge that exists at your fingertips, you can incubate your ideas, improve your cognitive health and feel more equipped to accomplish your goals.
My top takeaway: An individual’s digital second brain is a thing of power. That power grows exponentially when those digital second brains are networked and given structure that supports sharing across an organization. Every knowledge manager should consider the rise of second brains and what that means for their organization’s knowledge and collaboration strategy.
According to Zoe Chance, influence doesn’t work the way you think it does, and these misconceptions reduce our powers of persuasion. Influence doesn’t have to lead to winners and losers, and it doesn’t have to be manipulative or transactional. To become more influential, you should seek to become someone people want to say 'yes' to. This can be achieved through an awareness of base human responses and the ability to engage higher modes of thinking in both yourself and others. By knowing exactly what you want, leaving assumptions at the door, boosting your charisma and considering timing and framing, you can empower yourself as well as those you seek to influence.
Addressing Employee Needs and Wants with a Digital Workplace
The workplace is getting more and more digital – both in how we work and where we work
Maintaining a Human-Centered Approach During Digital Transformation
When it comes to digital transformation - people drive change, not technology
The Evolution of Employee Recognition
Leveraging the power of appreciation to improve the employee experience
How to Build a More Innovative and Resilient Workplace Culture
What would happen if every member of your team came to work focused on finding solutions and creating better results?
My top takeaway: Learning to understand what causes defensiveness in others, and engaging in ways that reduce this defensiveness, is a life skill that few master. If you do, your ability to influence and lead others will increase exponentially. Take notes each time your attempts to influence others succeed or fall short: what lead to openness, and what caused the other party to shut down?
The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything by Matthew Ball
While the metaverse is still theoretical, what's clear is it has the potential to connect the global economy, bring people together and force disruption in once-stale industries. The term is poorly understood (despite the buzzword being bandied about at will), but Ball manages to confidently describe the metaverse as virtual, 3D, rendered in real-time, interoperable, massively scaled, persistent and synchronous. The metaverse effectively represents the “next internet.” Currently it's driven by the interests of video game developers, but soon it will be driven by wars for supremacy waged by private businesses motivated by profit. Technical challenges remain and projections for the metaverse’s “arrival” vary widely, and the social implications are both thrilling and concerning. Questions of monopolization, misinformation, harassment, radicalization and infringements on privacy will grow even more important in the metaverse. How it will all be governed remains to be seen.
My top takeaway: Watch and wait as this nebulous concept begins to take shape. The metaverse has the potential to revolutionize the way we work and will inform the development of digital workplace strategy.
Brief History of Equality by Thomas Piketty
Thomas Piketty’s book is an unflinching examination of the comparative history of human inequality and the forces that have enabled and challenged it. While the journey toward more equal distribution of wealth and opportunity hasn’t been linear, peaceful, nor has it felt quick for those most in need, progress has been steadfast. More encouragingly, progress toward increased egalitarianism continues. While optimistic in its message, Piketty does not hesitate to acknowledge threats to equality and the historical lessons we must heed to ensure and expedite progress.
My top takeaway: Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded us that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Younger employees in particular demand progress and transparency. Anyone who exerts any degree of influence on organizational culture should keep diversity, equity and inclusion top of mind.
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About the Author
Laura is a corporate librarian and knowledge services professional currently serving as Knowledge Manager at HKS, Inc., a leading global architecture firm headquartered in Dallas. In this role, Laura helps guide the firm’s knowledge strategy by championing knowledge building and sharing, information organization and findability, and employee experience within the digital workplace.