Friday. 30/12/2022

The Monocle Minute

Breaking news

One of the greatest footballers to ever play the game, Pele, has died at the age of 82. Credited with scoring a world record 1,281 goals in 1,363 career appearances and the only player ever to have won the World Cup three times, he transcended his sport and became a global icon.

British fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, who brought punk style into the mainstream has died aged 81. She established a global fashion brand from her first Chelsea-based boutique in 1971 which remains open to this day. For their legacies and tributes tune in to Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Ryan Anderson

Office space race

Workspaces have historically been driven by the wishes of leaders rather than employees. Because of this, organisations need to update their understanding of how the work is done and see what those spaces should do to help their teams to become a more productive community. The thing that has changed the process of modern work most significantly isn’t the pandemic but the advent of Wi-Fi. Before 2004, work was tethered to cubicles or workstations. Distributed working has been advancing but most organisations don’t realise how low their office occupancy might have been pre-coronavirus. The pandemic has changed the way in which we think about the office but the future of the workplace is brighter than it has been for a long time. Most people don’t want to work in their bedrooms.

So, what is the office good for and what is it bad at? It’s certainly bad in terms of assigning people to individual spaces where you expect them to do all of their work. A recent survey suggests that people value the office for social reasons: camaraderie, different types of collaboration and team-building. And then there was a whole cohort that listed it as useful for focused and concentrated work.

If I were a CEO, I’d be paying attention to the fact that what we have today is not flexible working. What we have today is a crisis response to a pandemic: days that are, for many, filled with video meetings. And it’s harmful. We hear this from employees in our research all of the time. What people don’t want are rows of desks or generic conference rooms because these support outmoded ways of working. They’re a remnant of the era of desktop computing and a view of management that suggests that offices are there to supervise work. We need to move beyond that.

Ryan Anderson is vice-president of global research and insights at MillerKnoll. A version of this essay appears in our new book, ‘The Monocle Companion: Fifty Essays for a Brighter Future’, which is out now.

Image: Getty Images

DEFENCE / UKRAINE & Russia

No sign of peace

Over the past 24 hours, Russia has launched some of the most intense missile barrages of the war in Ukraine, firing from various directions with air- and sea-based cruise missiles on targets including Kyiv (pictured). Dozens of attacks have pounded Ukraine in recent weeks, ending the year with a very clear message: Russia does not want peace. Instead, it has furthered demands that Kyiv cede sovereignty over territories that it has annexed. “Though Russia didn’t plan this conflict to go on for so long, the recent attacks prove that it still has a substantial store of missiles that it plans to use,” James Rodgers, author of Assignment Moscow: Reporting on Russia from Lenin to Putin, told Monocle 24’s The Briefing. Kyiv claims that Russia will not enter negotiations with Ukraine to end the war despite suffering a series of setbacks on the battlefield and, with no serious peace talks expected for months, there is little end in sight to the fighting.

Image: Getty Images

AVIATION / ETHIOPIA

Smooth landing

Any organisation that operates across Africa is accustomed to adapting to and improvising around difficult or volatile circumstances. That’s why it has long been considered a harbinger of doom when Ethiopian Airlines suspends flights to a particular destination. Ethiopian has been negotiating Africa’s upheavals since 1945 and is usually among the last to give up on a place. Even now it will fly you to N’Djamena, Goma, Mogadishu and Juba.

Conversely, it is good news when Ethiopian renews a route that it felt compelled to abandon, especially when the destination is a domestic one. This week the carrier resumed flights from Addis Ababa to Mekele in Ethiopia’s Tigray region after two years of war between the country’s government and the secessionist Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). A peace agreement was signed in November between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF, and the restoration of this hourlong service is a significant gesture of faith in it.

Image: Shutterstock

Geopolitics / Taiwan

War games

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen established The Institute of National Defence and Security Research (INDSR) in 2018 to build up a deeper pool of strategic thinking. “There’s a consensus in Taiwan that we are not Ukraine but we also face a daunting challenge – and it might even be more complicated,” Yisuo Tzeng, a director at INDSR, tells Monocle. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, defence experts have been conducting a number of tabletop war games.

In every scenario, Taiwan has to defend itself from Chinese invasion. The Ukraine conflict has shown the need to prepare and, more importantly, make sure that your adversary is aware of these preparations and is deterred from war. The 130km-wide Taiwan Strait, which separates the country from China, is both a defence advantage and a headache when it comes to resupply. Tzeng points out the need for Taiwan to stockpile weapons and have its own assembly lines. “We are always getting ourselves prepared,” he says.

To read more about Taiwan’s strategic preparations, pick up Monocle’s December/January issue, which is out now.

Image: Getty Images

Society / UK

Tongue twisters

Language-learning platform Babbel has partnered up with the British Institute of Verbatim Reporters and The Captioning Group to produce a report on the year’s most mispronounced words. The annual analysis, now in its seventh year, looked at what politicians, newsreaders and public figures have most consistently struggled to pronounce correctly in 2022.

“Most are somehow connected to the news, so we have ‘Rishi Sunak’ on the list,” Todd Ehresmann, head of learning content and innovation at Babbel, told The Monocle Daily. “And every year we’ve had some kind of weather event involved – this year it’s ‘Cyclone Batsirai’.” Other words in the top 10 include “Carolean”, the adjective used to describe the reign of King Charles III; “taoiseach”, the head of Ireland’s government; and “Jeremy Hunt”, the name of the UK’s chancellor who “newsreaders consistently [and] accidentally referred to by the profanity that rhymes with his second name”, says the report.

Monocle 24 / Monocle on Culture

Best of Monocle on Culture 2022

We bring you the very best of this year’s Monocle on Culture, including literary genius Ali Smith, music industry legend Chris Blackwell, and genre-defying composer Benjamin Clementine.

Monocle Films / Greece

Why Greeks live longer

Nestled in the heart of the Aegean, the island of Ikaria used to be a secluded spot with a humble and unhurried way of life. Today, a third of the island’s population lives to be more than 90 years old. We venture to the local kafeneios, wild beaches and abundant allotments to meet the bronzed seniors.

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