New Book "Overload" argues for Redesigning and Improving Work

The Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative at MIT Sloan was delighted to host a book launch event Monday, March 9, 2020 for the new book "Overload: How Good Jobs Went Bad and What We Can Do About It" by MIT Sloan Professor Erin L. Kelly and University of Minnesota Professor Phyllis Moen.  The book is being published this month by Princeton University Press.

At the event, which was held in the Samberg Conference Center on the MIT campus, Barbara Dyer, the Executive Director of the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative and Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan, welcomed the audience and introduced Kelly, who presented an overview of the argument in "Overload." The book draws on research Kelly and Moen conducted over a five-year period as part of the interdisciplinary Work, Family, & Health Network.

Kelly and Moen's research involved a major work redesign experiment at the IT division of a Fortune 500 company. In their study, Kelly and Moen found that more flexible work practices that gave employees more control over when and where they worked had beneficial results all around: for employees and managers, their families, and the company.

More generally, Kelly and Moen argue in "Overload" that, in many of today's professional and managerial jobs, "the way we work is not sustainable." The reasons include long hours, multitasking, and pressure to be always available via digital technologies yet also in the office for "face time" during the traditional workweek. However, Kelly and Moen find, such jobs can be redesigned to make them more manageable -- in ways that benefit both employees and companies.

Kelly is the Sloan Distinguished Professor of Work and Organization Studies at MIT Sloan and a member of the faculty steering committee for the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative. Moen holds the McKnight Endowed Presidential Chair in Sociology at the University of Minnesota.