Beware the cunning minimalist in your midst

Never have so many been so worried about losing their jobs while feeling so reluctant to do them.

This thought shot to mind last week as the new year was upended by worrying new strains of Covid, a fresh round of lockdowns and more job cuts.

Close behind came another idea: there has never been a better time to study the ways of the cunning minimalist.

This is a species of worker, common to every office, who instinctively knows how to avoid the tiresome, invisible work that makes life easier for colleagues but gains little attention or credit.

Instead, they focus on high profile stuff. The boss’s pet project. Work that gets noticed, inside and preferably outside too, because doing it makes one more marketable and thus invincible.

I wish I could say I came up with the cunning minimalism term that so aptly describes this unvirtuous circle of craftiness, but I did not.

I heard it the other day from a despairing friend who was trying to work out how she and her husband could juggle another spate of home-schooling and childcare on top of their demanding jobs.

“Both of us have always believed that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead, so that’s what we’ve always done,” she said. “But it’s killing us now so I’ve decided we have to be cunning minimalists and be more strategic about what we do or don’t do to get by.”

She was joking, mostly, but not entirely. The trouble was that she, like me, was so averse to the idea of shirking that she had never worked out how to be a successful minimalist, cunning or otherwise, despite years of close observation.

The first time I noticed a master in action I was working in an Australian newsroom that, like a lot of other places, had a rota for weekend shifts. Everyone was on it except for one middle-aged reporter. His absence meant that everyone else had to do a bit more work.

“How come he doesn’t have to work on Sundays?” I asked a manager one day. The manager’s face clouded as he explained the man had refused to do weekend work and no one, including the editor, was inclined to make him.

This did the man no harm at all. He proceeded to glide from job to golden job in a career that glistened with awards, acclaim and book deals.

How did he do it? The same way I have watched countless others do it in every place I’ve worked at since. He was grumpy and slightly intimidating, so managers disliked asking him to do something if a nicer, more agreeable person could do it instead.

He was also an expert at saying no, a skill the nicer people often lacked, and adept at staying onside with the boss and the boss’s most powerful lieutenants.

Crucially, he was rarely in the office, which meant he avoided being asked to do things in the first place.

Covid-19 has upset this strategy in two distinct ways. First, hiding outside the office can be less of a foolproof ploy if everyone is working from home and managers feel the need to keep a closer eye on who is doing what.

Far more importantly, dumping extra work on colleagues has gone from being vaguely unpleasant to potentially dangerous.

Before the pandemic took hold, chronic work stress had become such a widespread problem that the World Health Organization officially listed burnout as an occupational phenomenon in 2019.

The same year, close to 30 per cent of US workers said they felt burnt out at work “very often” or “always”. Once Covid hit, another survey found 41 per cent of US workers who had managed to keep their jobs felt their work was burning them out.

In other words, the cunning minimalist has become an increasingly risky management problem. The resentment they breed was bad enough in good times, but at a time when so many workers face so much hardship and stress, it is intolerable.

More than ever, companies need staff to be as generous and collegial as possible. Letting the minimalists roam free is not just unfair and unreasonable, it also encourages the rest of us to think about joining their ranks to survive.

pilita.clark@ft.com

Twitter: @pilitaclark

Read More

Beware the cunning minimalist in your midst

Never have so many been so worried about losing their jobs while feeling so reluctant to do them.

This thought shot to mind last week as the new year was upended by worrying new strains of Covid, a fresh round of lockdowns and more job cuts.

Close behind came another idea: there has never been a better time to study the ways of the cunning minimalist.

This is a species of worker, common to every office, who instinctively knows how to avoid the tiresome, invisible work that makes life easier for colleagues but gains little attention or credit.

Instead, they focus on high profile stuff. The boss’s pet project. Work that gets noticed, inside and preferably outside too, because doing it makes one more marketable and thus invincible.

I wish I could say I came up with the cunning minimalism term that so aptly describes this unvirtuous circle of craftiness, but I did not.

I heard it the other day from a despairing friend who was trying to work out how she and her husband could juggle another spate of home-schooling and childcare on top of their demanding jobs.

“Both of us have always believed that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead, so that’s what we’ve always done,” she said. “But it’s killing us now so I’ve decided we have to be cunning minimalists and be more strategic about what we do or don’t do to get by.”

She was joking, mostly, but not entirely. The trouble was that she, like me, was so averse to the idea of shirking that she had never worked out how to be a successful minimalist, cunning or otherwise, despite years of close observation.

The first time I noticed a master in action I was working in an Australian newsroom that, like a lot of other places, had a rota for weekend shifts. Everyone was on it except for one middle-aged reporter. His absence meant that everyone else had to do a bit more work.

“How come he doesn’t have to work on Sundays?” I asked a manager one day. The manager’s face clouded as he explained the man had refused to do weekend work and no one, including the editor, was inclined to make him.

This did the man no harm at all. He proceeded to glide from job to golden job in a career that glistened with awards, acclaim and book deals.

How did he do it? The same way I have watched countless others do it in every place I’ve worked at since. He was grumpy and slightly intimidating, so managers disliked asking him to do something if a nicer, more agreeable person could do it instead.

He was also an expert at saying no, a skill the nicer people often lacked, and adept at staying onside with the boss and the boss’s most powerful lieutenants.

Crucially, he was rarely in the office, which meant he avoided being asked to do things in the first place.

Covid-19 has upset this strategy in two distinct ways. First, hiding outside the office can be less of a foolproof ploy if everyone is working from home and managers feel the need to keep a closer eye on who is doing what.

Far more importantly, dumping extra work on colleagues has gone from being vaguely unpleasant to potentially dangerous.

Before the pandemic took hold, chronic work stress had become such a widespread problem that the World Health Organization officially listed burnout as an occupational phenomenon in 2019.

The same year, close to 30 per cent of US workers said they felt burnt out at work “very often” or “always”. Once Covid hit, another survey found 41 per cent of US workers who had managed to keep their jobs felt their work was burning them out.

In other words, the cunning minimalist has become an increasingly risky management problem. The resentment they breed was bad enough in good times, but at a time when so many workers face so much hardship and stress, it is intolerable.

More than ever, companies need staff to be as generous and collegial as possible. Letting the minimalists roam free is not just unfair and unreasonable, it also encourages the rest of us to think about joining their ranks to survive.

pilita.clark@ft.com

Twitter: @pilitaclark

Read More

Beware the cunning minimalist in your midst

Never have so many been so worried about losing their jobs while feeling so reluctant to do them.

This thought shot to mind last week as the new year was upended by worrying new strains of Covid, a fresh round of lockdowns and more job cuts.

Close behind came another idea: there has never been a better time to study the ways of the cunning minimalist.

This is a species of worker, common to every office, who instinctively knows how to avoid the tiresome, invisible work that makes life easier for colleagues but gains little attention or credit.

Instead, they focus on high profile stuff. The boss’s pet project. Work that gets noticed, inside and preferably outside too, because doing it makes one more marketable and thus invincible.

I wish I could say I came up with the cunning minimalism term that so aptly describes this unvirtuous circle of craftiness, but I did not.

I heard it the other day from a despairing friend who was trying to work out how she and her husband could juggle another spate of home-schooling and childcare on top of their demanding jobs.

“Both of us have always believed that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead, so that’s what we’ve always done,” she said. “But it’s killing us now so I’ve decided we have to be cunning minimalists and be more strategic about what we do or don’t do to get by.”

She was joking, mostly, but not entirely. The trouble was that she, like me, was so averse to the idea of shirking that she had never worked out how to be a successful minimalist, cunning or otherwise, despite years of close observation.

The first time I noticed a master in action I was working in an Australian newsroom that, like a lot of other places, had a rota for weekend shifts. Everyone was on it except for one middle-aged reporter. His absence meant that everyone else had to do a bit more work.

“How come he doesn’t have to work on Sundays?” I asked a manager one day. The manager’s face clouded as he explained the man had refused to do weekend work and no one, including the editor, was inclined to make him.

This did the man no harm at all. He proceeded to glide from job to golden job in a career that glistened with awards, acclaim and book deals.

How did he do it? The same way I have watched countless others do it in every place I’ve worked at since. He was grumpy and slightly intimidating, so managers disliked asking him to do something if a nicer, more agreeable person could do it instead.

He was also an expert at saying no, a skill the nicer people often lacked, and adept at staying onside with the boss and the boss’s most powerful lieutenants.

Crucially, he was rarely in the office, which meant he avoided being asked to do things in the first place.

Covid-19 has upset this strategy in two distinct ways. First, hiding outside the office can be less of a foolproof ploy if everyone is working from home and managers feel the need to keep a closer eye on who is doing what.

Far more importantly, dumping extra work on colleagues has gone from being vaguely unpleasant to potentially dangerous.

Before the pandemic took hold, chronic work stress had become such a widespread problem that the World Health Organization officially listed burnout as an occupational phenomenon in 2019.

The same year, close to 30 per cent of US workers said they felt burnt out at work “very often” or “always”. Once Covid hit, another survey found 41 per cent of US workers who had managed to keep their jobs felt their work was burning them out.

In other words, the cunning minimalist has become an increasingly risky management problem. The resentment they breed was bad enough in good times, but at a time when so many workers face so much hardship and stress, it is intolerable.

More than ever, companies need staff to be as generous and collegial as possible. Letting the minimalists roam free is not just unfair and unreasonable, it also encourages the rest of us to think about joining their ranks to survive.

pilita.clark@ft.com

Twitter: @pilitaclark

Read More

Beware the cunning minimalist in your midst

Never have so many been so worried about losing their jobs while feeling so reluctant to do them.

This thought shot to mind last week as the new year was upended by worrying new strains of Covid, a fresh round of lockdowns and more job cuts.

Close behind came another idea: there has never been a better time to study the ways of the cunning minimalist.

This is a species of worker, common to every office, who instinctively knows how to avoid the tiresome, invisible work that makes life easier for colleagues but gains little attention or credit.

Instead, they focus on high profile stuff. The boss’s pet project. Work that gets noticed, inside and preferably outside too, because doing it makes one more marketable and thus invincible.

I wish I could say I came up with the cunning minimalism term that so aptly describes this unvirtuous circle of craftiness, but I did not.

I heard it the other day from a despairing friend who was trying to work out how she and her husband could juggle another spate of home-schooling and childcare on top of their demanding jobs.

“Both of us have always believed that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead, so that’s what we’ve always done,” she said. “But it’s killing us now so I’ve decided we have to be cunning minimalists and be more strategic about what we do or don’t do to get by.”

She was joking, mostly, but not entirely. The trouble was that she, like me, was so averse to the idea of shirking that she had never worked out how to be a successful minimalist, cunning or otherwise, despite years of close observation.

The first time I noticed a master in action I was working in an Australian newsroom that, like a lot of other places, had a rota for weekend shifts. Everyone was on it except for one middle-aged reporter. His absence meant that everyone else had to do a bit more work.

“How come he doesn’t have to work on Sundays?” I asked a manager one day. The manager’s face clouded as he explained the man had refused to do weekend work and no one, including the editor, was inclined to make him.

This did the man no harm at all. He proceeded to glide from job to golden job in a career that glistened with awards, acclaim and book deals.

How did he do it? The same way I have watched countless others do it in every place I’ve worked at since. He was grumpy and slightly intimidating, so managers disliked asking him to do something if a nicer, more agreeable person could do it instead.

He was also an expert at saying no, a skill the nicer people often lacked, and adept at staying onside with the boss and the boss’s most powerful lieutenants.

Crucially, he was rarely in the office, which meant he avoided being asked to do things in the first place.

Covid-19 has upset this strategy in two distinct ways. First, hiding outside the office can be less of a foolproof ploy if everyone is working from home and managers feel the need to keep a closer eye on who is doing what.

Far more importantly, dumping extra work on colleagues has gone from being vaguely unpleasant to potentially dangerous.

Before the pandemic took hold, chronic work stress had become such a widespread problem that the World Health Organization officially listed burnout as an occupational phenomenon in 2019.

The same year, close to 30 per cent of US workers said they felt burnt out at work “very often” or “always”. Once Covid hit, another survey found 41 per cent of US workers who had managed to keep their jobs felt their work was burning them out.

In other words, the cunning minimalist has become an increasingly risky management problem. The resentment they breed was bad enough in good times, but at a time when so many workers face so much hardship and stress, it is intolerable.

More than ever, companies need staff to be as generous and collegial as possible. Letting the minimalists roam free is not just unfair and unreasonable, it also encourages the rest of us to think about joining their ranks to survive.

pilita.clark@ft.com

Twitter: @pilitaclark

Read More

Beware the cunning minimalist in your midst

Never have so many been so worried about losing their jobs while feeling so reluctant to do them.

This thought shot to mind last week as the new year was upended by worrying new strains of Covid, a fresh round of lockdowns and more job cuts.

Close behind came another idea: there has never been a better time to study the ways of the cunning minimalist.

This is a species of worker, common to every office, who instinctively knows how to avoid the tiresome, invisible work that makes life easier for colleagues but gains little attention or credit.

Instead, they focus on high profile stuff. The boss’s pet project. Work that gets noticed, inside and preferably outside too, because doing it makes one more marketable and thus invincible.

I wish I could say I came up with the cunning minimalism term that so aptly describes this unvirtuous circle of craftiness, but I did not.

I heard it the other day from a despairing friend who was trying to work out how she and her husband could juggle another spate of home-schooling and childcare on top of their demanding jobs.

“Both of us have always believed that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead, so that’s what we’ve always done,” she said. “But it’s killing us now so I’ve decided we have to be cunning minimalists and be more strategic about what we do or don’t do to get by.”

She was joking, mostly, but not entirely. The trouble was that she, like me, was so averse to the idea of shirking that she had never worked out how to be a successful minimalist, cunning or otherwise, despite years of close observation.

The first time I noticed a master in action I was working in an Australian newsroom that, like a lot of other places, had a rota for weekend shifts. Everyone was on it except for one middle-aged reporter. His absence meant that everyone else had to do a bit more work.

“How come he doesn’t have to work on Sundays?” I asked a manager one day. The manager’s face clouded as he explained the man had refused to do weekend work and no one, including the editor, was inclined to make him.

This did the man no harm at all. He proceeded to glide from job to golden job in a career that glistened with awards, acclaim and book deals.

How did he do it? The same way I have watched countless others do it in every place I’ve worked at since. He was grumpy and slightly intimidating, so managers disliked asking him to do something if a nicer, more agreeable person could do it instead.

He was also an expert at saying no, a skill the nicer people often lacked, and adept at staying onside with the boss and the boss’s most powerful lieutenants.

Crucially, he was rarely in the office, which meant he avoided being asked to do things in the first place.

Covid-19 has upset this strategy in two distinct ways. First, hiding outside the office can be less of a foolproof ploy if everyone is working from home and managers feel the need to keep a closer eye on who is doing what.

Far more importantly, dumping extra work on colleagues has gone from being vaguely unpleasant to potentially dangerous.

Before the pandemic took hold, chronic work stress had become such a widespread problem that the World Health Organization officially listed burnout as an occupational phenomenon in 2019.

The same year, close to 30 per cent of US workers said they felt burnt out at work “very often” or “always”. Once Covid hit, another survey found 41 per cent of US workers who had managed to keep their jobs felt their work was burning them out.

In other words, the cunning minimalist has become an increasingly risky management problem. The resentment they breed was bad enough in good times, but at a time when so many workers face so much hardship and stress, it is intolerable.

More than ever, companies need staff to be as generous and collegial as possible. Letting the minimalists roam free is not just unfair and unreasonable, it also encourages the rest of us to think about joining their ranks to survive.

pilita.clark@ft.com

Twitter: @pilitaclark

Read More

Three Ways To Help Your Company Go Remote — And Stay Remote


Ira Zlotowitz is president of Eastern Union, a New York-based commercial mortgage brokerage that closes $5 billion in transactions yearly.

As everyone is aware, the pandemic has largely cleared out offices nationwide. As of late October 2020, for example, only 10% of Manhattan’s one million office workers were reporting to the office, according to a Partnership for New York City study.

But, at least in Manhattan, one sector leads the pack in bypassing remote work. When it comes to returning to their original desks, the Partnership reported that the real estate industry has stood out for bringing employees back to the office. Seventy-three percent of the sector’s employees were already back in the office by October 2020, the study found. Employers in the real estate field projected that 87% of their workforce would be back by July 2021.

The Partnership discovered that an overall 48% of Manhattan employees anticipated a return to their offices by July. That means that the share of real estate personnel who might expect to return to their offices was 39 percentage points higher than that of the overall workforce.

Once the pandemic struck with vigor in March 2020, I, along with my fellow company leaders, joined with other businesses to implement various coping measures. As leaders, we concluded that we’d be able to carry on, at least temporarily, using remote operations.

In relatively short order, however, it dawned on me and the executive team that these new practices didn’t have to function as mere stopgaps. There was a realization that operations could be maintained just as well as before by transforming these planned temporary measures into permanent practices.

There are three fundamental changes within the business operations of my company that have now been institutionalized — and have allowed us, essentially, to go totally virtual. They focus on communications and internal knowledge, with plenty of application in your own company.

Video Meetings In Place Of Conference Calls

First, make an effort to replace most conference calls with Zoom calls. Aside from allowing many of these calls to be used — in edited form — as pedagogic tools, the face-to-face contact afforded via Zoon allows your employees to maintain a human and intimate level of contact with one another, despite no longer sharing a physical presence in the office.

Recording Calls For Learning Opportunities

Second, consider recording every Zoom call that contains content from which people could learn. Meeting participants should be informed that these calls are being recorded and know how to access them post-meeting. 

Utilizing A Video Editor

Third, consider hiring a video editor — freelance or as part of your staff — with the skills to turn these recorded Zoom calls into finished products. The editor trims away portions lacking teaching content. Once the material is properly sliced and diced to a finished form, the recording can be added to a growing video library as a rich and lasting training resource.

In my firm, to my and my team’s pleasant surprise, the adaptation to the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 ended up improving our capacity to train new brokers. Triggered by pandemic conditions, an ample library of training resources was created that proved critical to the success of a newly launched 21-day virtual training program for new staff recruits called ABC21.

There’s an opportunity to create your own improvements by making similar changes in your own company.

The national tragedy of the coronavirus called upon business leaders of all stripes to be creative and flexible — and to explore new ways of doing things. It’s possible to succeed in devising fresh approaches to your work operations that also decrease costs by reducing office spending — all while boosting efficiency and improving your ability to train new recruits. In my company’s case, the adjustments we made produced not only a better workflow but a greater training opportunity for new brokers.

It makes you wonder: Why did anyone have to wait for a crisis to occur before thinking to institute these improvements? What other untapped improvements are waiting to be discovered without the need for a crisis to snap everyone to attention? These are the questions business executives should be constantly asking themselves as they work to improve the operations and in turn the success of their company.


Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?




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One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Last Designs Lands on the Market in Illinois


Listing agent Megan Beidler has an idea of what will attract a buyer to the Frank Lloyd Wright home she owns in the tony town of Lake Forest, IL. She points to the the relaxed-living vibe that the home projects, a rarity in Wright’s residential projects.

“It is so livable, unlike most of his designs, where you have to have Frank Lloyd Wright furniture and walk with a hunch to get through doorways,” says Beidler.

She made a conscious decision to market the four-bedroom home as a midcentury modern home first, and Wright-built second.

It’s now on the market for $2,275,000. While many of Wright’s projects feature leaded-glass windows and small, dark rooms with low ceilings, this one does not.

The original mahogany woodwork and built-ins, a brick fireplace, a floating staircase, exposed-brick walls, and cutout windows in a gallery format are all well-preserved. Beidler and her husband purchased the 2-acre property in 2007.

The 4,300-square-foot home was built in 1954 for investment banker Charles Glore, four years before Wright’s death. It’s known in Wright circles as “the Glore House,” and reflects Glore’s love of name-brand architects and boating.

“He thought it would be fun to commission Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the best-known architects at the time,” says Beidler. “The house is meant to mimic a large boat.”

Exterior
Exterior

realtor.com

Living room
Living room

realtor.com

Floating staircase
Floating staircase

realtor.com

One of the home's fireplaces
One of the home’s fireplaces

realtor.com

Dining room
Dining room

realtor.com

Kitchen
Kitchen

realtor.com

Indeed, the home’s long, narrow shape—combined with walls of windows—achieves this nautical effect.

Glore lived in the home for only a few years, moving on after a divorce. Beidler says the last three owners invested in major updates, which include the addition of an attached three-car garage.

Other revamps include the merger of two of the home’s original bedrooms into one, moving a wall of glass on the covered porch to create a formal dining space, as well as updates to the kitchen and baths.

It’s now a grand space to entertain.

“We’ve fit 26 people at one table in that dining room,” says Beidler.

Tackling the kitchen and baths was done under Beidler’s watch, with the kitchen renovation complete in 2018, and the bathrooms finished just last month.

And although the home was built during Wright’s Usonian phase, this example is much larger than other Wright homes of the era—but it is not showy. Which is exactly the vibe Beidler aimed to respect.

“We don’t want to distract from the shape of the rooms. Our house has been described as Usonian on steroids,” she jokes.

Although it is prodigious in size, its neutral palette and the use of natural materials (brick and wood) help to keep it organic and light.

“It’s one of the only Usonians that originally had a maid’s room and bathroom,” she says.

The cabinetry in the kitchen, which retains the original layout, is as close as possible to what Wright designed and is paired with granite countertops. Natural-stone countertops can be found in the master bathroom, while the “Jack and Jill bath” now features quartz countertops.

One of the bathrooms
One of the bathrooms

realtor.com

One of the bedrooms
One of the bedrooms

realtor.com

Another bedroom
Another bedroom

realtor.com

Deck
Deck

realtor.com

Attached three-car garage
Attached three-car garage

realtor.com

Despite her deep love for the home, Beidler says it’s time to move on.

“We’re a young family, and I feel like at this point, I’ve touched every part of this house, and the longer we stay in it, the more we can mess it up,” she says. “It might be a chance to pass it off to someone else.”

Who might buy this place, just a block from Lake Michigan? This North Shore community 35 miles north of downtown Chicago was once a place for wealthy families to buy second homes.

“It started as a second-home community,” says Beidler, “and in the last three to four years, I have had a number of buyers doing just that. They come up from the city for the weekends.”


  • For more photos and details, check out the full listing.

  • Homes for sale in Lake Forest, IL

  • Learn more about Lake Forest, IL



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Hot Property: Ariana Grande buys Hollywood Hills home for $13.7 million


Actress turned pop star Ariana Grande has bought a newly built home in the Hollywood Hills’ Bird Streets area for $13.7 million, according to real estate sources not authorized to comment publicly on the deal.

Designed by L.A.-based firm Woods + Dangaran, the sleek three-story house was designed to capture canyon-to-ocean views from every room. Floor-to-ceiling windows line an entertainment level, which features 16-foot-high ceilings and hardwood floors. Pocketing walls open directly to an infinity-edge swimming pool.

More than 10,000 square feet of living space also holds a minimalist-vibe kitchen, an office, four bedrooms and seven bathrooms. A fitness studio, a cedar-lined wellness center, a lavish bar and a 300-bottle wine cellar on the lower floor.

Ariana Grande's Hollywood Hills home

The contemporary showplace sits on about a third of an acre in the Hollywood Hills’ Bird Streets neighborhood.

(Noel Kleinman)

Decking and balconies on three levels extend the living space outdoors.

On paper, it appears Grande got quite a bargain. The contemporary home, which sold off-market, first came up for sale two years ago for $25.5 million, records show. More recently, it was offered for $17.495 million.

The property is one of 138 properties tied to Sherman Oaks investment firm Woodbridge Group. Sound familiar? It should.

Last year, Woodbridge’s owner, Robert H. Shapiro, pleaded guilty to orchestrating a $1.3-billion real estate fraud scheme that stole money from thousands of investors — many of them retirees — nationwide.

Shapiro was later sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the sham, which included mail and wire fraud and income tax evasion, according to Housing Wire. He and Woodbridge were ordered by the SEC to pay back $1 billion for operating the Ponzi scheme.

Grande, 26, got her start in show business on Broadway before pivoting to a role on the Nickelodeon series “Victorious.” As a singer, she has released five studio albums including last year’s “Thank U, Next.” She won a Grammy for best pop vocal album in 2019 for “Sweetener.”





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