A CEO explains the merits of a tiki lounge next to your cubicle

Maybe having one of these at work isn't a bad thing. (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)
Could this make you more productive? (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)

Here are five ideas that could affect the way we live, work and play.

1. Work hard, play harder. Zappos chief executive Tony Hsiesh makes the case that encouraging people to have fun at work makes them better at their jobs. Via Playboy:

Work isn’t about being chained to your desk, staring at a screen. What we’re focused on is employee engagement. Plenty of studies show that the more engaged employees are, the happier and more productive they are. And the best predictors of engagement are things like whether you have a best friend at work and how much freedom you have on the job. It’s a powerful thing to know you can turn your work space into a tiki lounge and invite everybody to happy hour at five o’clock.

2. How to staff a secretive innovation lab. Jon Gertner was able to get inside Google X. Here’s the eclectic staff he encountered, via Fast Company:

I met an idiosyncratic troupe of former park rangers, sculptors, philosophers, and machinists; one X scientist has won two Academy Awards for special effects. [Lab director] Astro Teller himself has written a novel, worked in finance, and earned a Ph.D in artificial intelligence. One recent hire spent five years of his evenings and weekends building a helicopter in his garage.

3. A backpack made of wood.

Things that have a proven track record when made of wood: Ships, fires, canoes, decks. But a backpack? Well, for $399 you’ll have plenty of room to carry a laptop and other gear, thanks to Vintage Artisan. It’s a unique look, but the Box doesn’t appear practical.

4. Peak soda? As education levels rise, it seems logical that less healthy foods such as soda will become less popular. Well, Coca-Cola hasn’t had a strong start to the year. From Quartz:

Coca-Cola sold less soda globally through the first three months of 2014 than it did a year earlier. It’s the first time that’s happened since 1999—or, in other words, in roughly 60 quarters. Coke’s soda pop sales dipped by 1 percent in the U.S., which at this point has become a virtual expectation (to the delight of public health advocates, who say this trend contributed to a drop in child obesity rates). But the company’s soda sales also dipped in Europe, as well as in Mexico, where a newly minted soda tax has made them a good deal more expensive.

5. Yelp for humans. Rob Asghar at Forbes wrote about the problem of finding great employees, and how our reference checking system comes up short:

The next billion-dollar social-media company could be some combination of LinkedIn and Match.com and Yelp, to help people critique others’ trustworthiness and social abilities in a range of areas of life.

There will, of course, be challenges and unintended consequences of a new approach (after all, Yelp has its own problems). But the unintended consequences of the current system, which is largely blind to character and social skills, beg for a change.

This brings to mind the app LuLu, a network for women to rate men and make smarter decisions in relationships. There’s something creepy about these rating systems. How would you feel about a Yelp for humans?

Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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