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An iron worker wipes his face in the noon day sun at a downtown Vancouver construction site July 28, 2009. The very hot and dry weather continues for many parts of the province. (Lyle Stafford for The Globe and Mail)
An iron worker wipes his face in the noon day sun at a downtown Vancouver construction site July 28, 2009. The very hot and dry weather continues for many parts of the province. (Lyle Stafford for The Globe and Mail)

Social Studies

Rising humidity increases work misery Add to ...

Workday outlook? Muggy

“Hot and muggy weather over the past few decades,” says NBCNews.com, “has led to about a 10 per cent drop in the physiological capacity of people to do their work safely and those drops will be even greater as the climate continues to warm, a new study finds. People may continue to work in the hot and muggy conditions, ‘but their misery will increase while they are productive,’ said John Dunne, a research oceanographer with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. … Dunne is the lead author of the study, which addresses the impact of rising humidity associated with global warming on the capacity of people to safely do their jobs – from toiling in agricultural fields to crunching numbers at a desk.”

Come back to the office

“U.S. Internet giant Yahoo said it was ordering its workers to report back to their company offices,” reports United Press International. “In a note posted online, Yahoo said some work qualities are enhanced by having workers in the same location. ‘Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,’ the posting said. The New York Times reported that analysts studying the issue have concluded that innovation improves when workers interact with each other but productivity goes up when they work from home.”

Ditch at-work friends?

“When starting a new job it is only natural to bond with people who share a similar background with you,” says CNN.com. “But don’t get too comfortable: Sticking with your own kind can be a hindrance later in one’s career, a new study suggests. Whether consciously or not, people in the workplace gravitate toward others who share similar characteristics like ethnicity, gender and religion. This tendency to stick with people like yourself, known as ‘homophily,’ has been seen as a truism by sociologists for decades. In the workplace, networks that result from homophily are initially helpful to get ahead, according to the study published by the graduate business school, INSEAD. … But the report shows that once an employee has moved up in the organization or demonstrated good work, staying with that first group of colleagues can hold them back.”

We are all mail carriers

“Walking is information,” writes Wayne Curtis in The Smart Set. “When we first began to walk upright, say, five million years ago, it enabled us to expand our range, greatly increasing the distance we could travel daily from when we were knuckle-walkers and tree-loungers. Then, say, a million or two years later, our brains expanded and our memory vastly improved. This gave us quicker, more accurate access to essential information, such as the location of shelter and food. … One historian has speculated that the sport of long-distance walking had its roots in information delivery. … Hard figures are elusive, but the average mail carrier appears to walk about eight to 12 miles a day, which, according to some paleoanthropologists, is about the range we humans have evolved to cover on a daily basis before we gave that up in favour of gas-powered mobility. Essentially, we all evolved to become mail carriers, to walk long distances every day in conveying information.”

Gin as a cleanser

“Years ago, when I had a bar,” writes Brian Tracey from cyberspace, “I cleaned customers’ glasses with a few drops of gin. Got them crystal-clear and the aroma of the gin did wonders for their nasal passages.”

Thought du jour

The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught as that every child should be given the wish to learn.

John Lubbock, English politician and scientist (1834-1913)

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