The Busyness Paradox

The Busyness Paradox

The world of work is a world of paradox. In this podcast, we tackle your everyday workplace or office environment topics, challenges, or activities. We also discuss trends and strategy in business. Our end goal is to help managers stamp out bad practices and help employees deal with them. Drs. Frank Butler and Paul Harvey, two management professors, co-host this podcast. We encourage your participation in our podcast by asking questions or sharing your experiences with us.


January 30, 2023 61 min

If you're like us, you grew up being told that American labor unions were a fading relic of the past. After a string of successful organizing drives and a stunning 406 strikes in 2022, we're beginning to question that assumption. Reflecting on the ongoing labor strife in the American railroad industry, we decided it was time to bring in an expert to discuss the current state of organized labor in the U.S. In this episode, D...

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Back in March 2020, millions of workers around the world abruptly learned that their jobs didn't always require their presence at a specific desk in a specific building at a specific set of times each and every week. After a bumpy start, many began to appreciate the flexibility, autonomy and, to varying degrees, empowerment this new approach to work afforded. Others decided it wasn't for them. A few decided it wasn't fo...

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December 13, 2022 44 min

“Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” So says Mike Tyson, and so it is with layoffs. No one starts a new job expecting it to end with a pink-slip. Even when the grim employment reaper is seen milling about our own workplace, it’s easy to convince ourselves that he’s only harvesting other people’s jobs. And yet, almost half of us will be downsized at least once in our careers. Join us as we discuss some warnin...

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Almost three years in, we think it's safe to conclude that history will view the 2020's as "an interesting time to be alive." But a silver lining of these turbulent times has been the widespread rethinking about how work should "work." The resulting push toward previously-unthinkable levels of flexibility, empowerment and compensation has met with some friction, however. The resulting labor unrest, strikes, ...

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September 12, 2022 47 min

By now you've probably heard about "quiet quitting," the latest workplace trend to blow the minds of journalists and social media posters alike. This stunning act of rebellion involves employees doing the work they are paid to do. Seriously. That's what quiet quitting is. It's neither quiet nor quitting, but it's a movement nonetheless.

The hoopla, of course, is about what these mutinous workers are NOT doin...

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We've all seen the signs and memes. We've heard the cranky scorn from talking heads, business owners, politicians and old men yelling at clouds. No one (except them) wants to work anymore! Everyone (except them) is lazy! In this episode, we challenge the ironically lazy thinking behind these claims and ask those who feel this way to consider an alternative explanation: maybe people just don't want to work for you?


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August 2, 2022 48 min

You asked us to talk more about four-day work weeks, we did you one better. Join us for a discussion with Charlotte Lockhart, founder and managing director of the 4 Day Week Global Foundation! With operations in North America, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Europe, Charlotte and her husband, Andrew Barnes (author of The 4 Day Week), are at the literal forefront of this movement. If you’ve ever questioned the Monday-Friday, one-...

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July 6, 2022 36 min

With all the changes brought about by Covid-19, you might not be surprised to hear about a huge uptick in research on the effects of shortened work weeks. You might be surprised to hear that this sudden burst of scholarly interest began - and ended - in the 1970s. What did our (presumably) bell-bottomed forebears learn about the pros and cons of ditching the traditional five-day workweek? Why did it take a pandemic to rekindle our ...

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June 1, 2022 29 min

There is such a thing as "good" busyness - that baseline euphoria you feel when you're humming along, pummeling your to-do list like it owes you money. There's also such a thing as fake busyness - that absurd phenomenon where adults convene in an office and pretend to be doing important work stuff.

Look over at your employees or coworkers. Which type of busyness do you see? Are you sure? Join us as we discuss the te...

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April 23, 2022 32 min

Every few months someone proclaims the death of this working-from-home silliness. Citing indisputably indisputable sources, they assure us that our long nightmare of comfort and efficiency is over. "Rejoice!" they tell us! All who toil in their comfy clothes under the scornful eye of their pet cat, "Buttons"...fear not! The commutes, cubicles, and in-person meetings that are the God-given right of every man, woman a...

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April 11, 2022 31 min

Been a whole lot of quitting goin' on these past couple years. Early on we celebrated triumphant stories of the over-worked and under-appreciated declaring that enough was enough. These days we're hearing less inspiring tales, where reasonably content employees change jobs and find that the greener pasture they sought was actually an algae-covered swamp. Join us as we lean heavily on internet dating metaphors to describe th...

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April 4, 2022 34 min

Here at the Busyness Paradox, we share a deep and sincere commitment to not giving a rat's a** about the antics of the inexplicably famous. But we bear no ill will toward those who lean in to the meta-paradoxical wonderland of unearned success and fame derived from being famous. Except when the undisputed queen of this leisure class declares 51% of the population to be lazy dregs who "don't want to work." We don'...

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March 21, 2022 49 min

Excessive busyness is bad, especially when you don't have enough of it. Not gonna lie, even we at “The Busyness Paradox” didn’t see that busyness paradox coming. Two researchers in France did, however, and we’re  joined by one of them! Dr. Ioana Lupu’s recently-published study shows how our relentless pursuit of “optimal busyness” - that euphoric, Goldilocks state of productivity that exists between being underworked and overwh...

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As the Business Paradox returns from a quick break, we take a few minutes to answer your questions, take stock of the Business Paradox's first 15 months of existence, and reflect on the time we started a heated hoodie cult.

Come visit us at to see episode transcripts, blog posts and other content while you’re there!

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This just in: A guy asked for a billion-dollar bonus. Late-breaking reports (from last week) indicate that it went...poorly. As always, The Busyness Paradox is nowhere near the action, bringing you our on-the-spot analysis of this ballsy Bolivian billionaire's brash beatdown (fine, "Bolivian-American" but we had a good thing going with that alliteration).

Mentioned in this "breaking news" episode:

Masayoshi Son - ...

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January 31, 2022 28 min

What’s a paradoxical pay raise? It’s the kind where you get a raise and earn less than you did before. “Impossible!” you say? Odds are good you’ll soon think differently. On the one hand, companies big and small are socking away money to dole out raises in 2022. On the other, inflation is licking its lips, ready to devour those raises and go back for seconds. Join us as we discuss strategies for navigating this bumpy terrain with y...

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Believe it or not, there was a time when having house cats interrupt work meetings was considered weird. Alas, we’ve been doing this pandemic thing for almost two years now and things have changed. We decided it was a good time to get a boots-on-the-ground perspective on just what those changes look like and how real-world companies have adapted. Join us as we discuss the new world of leadership, sales, work/life-balance, Zoom mish...

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January 9, 2022 37 min

It’s time for one of our favorite new year’s traditions: blatantly ripping off another podcast’s new year’s tradition! Taking inspiration from the excellent Cortex show’s use of yearly themes, we take stock of our “Year of Structure” and look ahead to 2022’s theme. Join our discussion about how the “annual theme” approach can improve your work and non-work lives and let us know what wacky workplace topics you’d like us to dig into ...

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December 17, 2021 10 min

*****BREAKING NEWS!!!******

Your (sort of) regularly scheduled episode of The Busyness Paradox has been postponed so that we can bring you coverage of a stunning development unfolding in Germany. Just moments ago, we learned that, 8 days ago, a German court single-handedly raised the bar for paradoxical workplace...stuff. In its landmark ruling, the Bundessozialgericht ruled that injuries sustained during an employee's morning c...

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