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Special Report: The Working Life

Modern workers can expect to spend more than a third of their waking hours as employees. What happens between 9 to 5 can have huge impacts on their health, sense of identity, ability to care for children and, of course, the paycheck that allows them to survive. In this special report, Knowable Magazine asks what research can tell us about some of the problems — from the health risks faced by migrant workers to the plight of dealing with abusive supervisors — and then delves into some of the potential solutions.

We examine how science might assist in designing a better working environment: how far we have progressed in using research to inform management practices, to balance work with other areas of our lives, and how effective workplace wellness programs are, or could be. Finally, in a forward-looking story, we look decades into the future to better understand how robots and artificial intelligence may affect our day-to-day jobs, and just how worried we should be.


Do ‘workplace wellness’ programs work?

It depends on what you mean by a wellness program. Offerings by companies are all over the map, but most are skimpy and scattershot. It takes more than that to boost employees’ health or a company’s bottom line.

The future of work: Will robots take my job?

Automation threatens to replace some workers but can grow overall employment. The one sure thing is that technology will change how we labor.

Is it time to bring data to managing?

Trendy office layouts. Performance reviews that crush morale. There’s plenty of evidence on how to get the best out of workers, but businesses often ignore it.

What will it take to fix work-life balance?

It’s time to toss out the idea that dedicated professionals must always be on the clock or that retail shops will founder if they standardize employee hours, legal scholar Joan Williams says in a Q&A. The data tell a different tale.

Take this job and . . . gig it

A few hours here, a few hours there. At home, or somewhere else. Alternative work can be a great deal or it can leave you unprotected, as management scholar Lindsey Cameron explains in a Q&A.

Unhealthy work: Why migrants are especially vulnerable to injury and death on the job

A mysterious kidney disease is just one of the many health risks faced by immigrant laborers. In a Q&A, occupational health expert Marc Schenker discusses the hazards and a few potential solutions.

Bad bosses: Dealing with abusive supervisors

From the boardroom to the basketball court, some managers rely on berating and bullying employees. Researchers have learned one thing: It doesn’t work.

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