Links for April 20, 2016

Why Are America’s Most Innovative Companies Still Stuck in 1950s Suburbia?

Connecticut General’s new corporate estate included snack bars, ping-pong tables, shuffleboards, bowling alleys, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, a barbershop, beauty parlor, game room, media library, meditation room, and gas station, as well as offsite services like dry-cleaning, shoe repair, flowers, and grocery delivery—more than half a century before Google and Facebook added such benefits. “All these perks had a certain element of welfare capitalism,” Mozingo says, “this idea that the all-inclusive physical environment is going to foster certain kinds of behavior, which are profitable for the company.”

The focus on amenities for office staff was also a way to prevent them from organizing, particularly the legions of low-paid female employees needed to maximize profits. “They were terrified that female clerical workers were going to unionize,” Mozingo says, “In the era before computing, companies ran on vast amounts of paper, and that paperwork was almost all done by women. That was one of the reasons they wanted to get out of downtown—if the secretaries unionized, they’d all be sunk.”

What’s the world’s loneliest city?

But it’s not only older people who suffer from isolation. In Australia, city dwellers have fewer friends than they did two decades ago. In the US, a troubling one in five people said they had only one close friend. Or consider idyllic-looking Vancouver, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, which struggles not only with affordability (it was recently crowned the most expensive city in North America), but also with friendliness.

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