5 Reads: How the Pandemic Defeated America, Remote work means longer days, Toxic Positivity and More

We’re through the hottest part of the summer and on our way to fall with no clear strategy, solution or respite for the biggest challenges we are facing as individuals, as workers, as as a civil society. And we’re starting to show the signs of the protracted wear and tear of a year that has challenged nearly every aspect of our lives.

Here are five articles that had me thinking over the last month or so.

As always, please follow reputable news sources to stay informed and do your best to stay healthy (physically and mentally).

Remote work really does mean longer days — and more meetings
Jena McGregor. The Washington Post

Key quote: “People are afraid — the fear around your job and around the economy — I want to make sure [managers] know I’m constantly responding to emails and messages and am always on Slack,” said Cali Williams Yost, founder of the workplace consultancy Flex Strategy Group. That is compounded by a lack of management skills in setting the right tone for remote work, she said. “It’s a toxic brew of burnout and overwhelm.” Read the rest here.

Seven Ways the Pandemic Is Affecting Our Mental Health
Kira Newman. Greater Good Magazine

Key quote: “In an ironic twist, many of the strategies that are critical to ensuring our collective public health during this pandemic may put people at greater risk for . . . mental health issues,” write Frederick Buttell and Regardt J. Ferreira at Tulane University in a recent, special issue of the journal Psychological Trauma.” Read the rest here.

Being a selfish jerk doesn’t get you ahead, research finds
Laura Counts. Berkeley News

Key quote: “While there’s clearly no shortage of jerks in power, there’s been little empirical research to settle the question of whether being disagreeable actually helps them get there, or is simply incidental to their success. Anderson and his co-authors set out to create a research design that would clear up the debate.” Read the rest here.

How the Pandemic Defeated America
Ed Yong. The Atlantic

Key quote: “Despite ample warning, the U.S. squandered every possible opportunity to control the coronavirus. And despite its considerable advantages—immense resources, biomedical might, scientific expertise—it floundered. While countries as different as South Korea, Thailand, Iceland, Slovakia, and Australia acted decisively to bend the curve of infections downward, the U.S. achieved merely a plateau in the spring, which changed to an appalling upward slope in the summer.” Read the rest here.

Time to ditch ‘toxic positivity,’ experts say: ‘It’s okay not to be okay’
Allyson Chiu. The Washington Post

Key quote: “Looking on the bright side’ in the face of tragedy of dire situations like illness, homelessness, food insecurity, unemployment or racial injustice is a privilege that not all of us have,” she said. “So promulgating messages of positivity denies a very real sense of despair and hopelessness, and they only serve to alienate and isolate those who are already struggling.” Read the rest here.

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