Advertisement

Book in the news: an impassioned attack on corporate culture

Book review: Lab Rats Dan Lyons’s book is an entertaining attack on the effect that the tech industry has had on everybody’s working lives

932_reviews-lab-rats-100

How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us

Atlantic Books (£16.99)

Buy on Amazon

Technology startups are renowned for their insane working culture their staff are expected to work long hours with little job security in an often chaotic corporate culture. Some argue this is a fair trade-off for the chance they will make a fortune through stock options. After all, they choose to work in such businesses, and less-stressful and more secure alternatives are readily available. Or are they? Journalist Dan Lyons argues that the choice is disappearing: that the "mercenary" ethos of the technology industry is "infiltrating many other businesses", as Kirkus Reviews says.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Lyons's book is an "entertaining, if scattergun" attack on the effect that the tech industry has had on everybody's working lives, says The Economist. Lyons blames the technology sector for encouraging bosses in other industries to cut real wages, making workers feel "dehumanised and less secure", and exposing them "to constant, stress-inducing" change. "Many modern workers will agree" with his call for new management techniques based on "treating people well", as well as with his argument that, instead of "obsessing" about billion-dollar "unicorns", we should look for companies that can "turn a profit and improve society at the same time".

Lab Ratsis also a "lively and spirited" takedown of an industry "that is increasingly brazen in its unabashed parasitism", says Houman Barekat in The Guardian. And its "core argument" that "dignity, respect, stability and security still matter" is "surely irrefutable". But while the sentiment is "welcome", Lyons's hope that companies can be persuaded to change out of self-interest is a "tad wishful". Enlightened leadership can only to do so much. Meaningful change entails "legislative protections" and they can only be won through either the ballot box or the picket line.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

Theatre review: The Visit
Films

Theatre review: The Visit

Friedrich Dürrenmatt's Swiss classic The Visit, transported to 1950s America, poses the question: how much would you kill for?
28 Feb 2020
Six contrarian books for Christmas
Films

Six contrarian books for Christmas

Merryn Somerset Webb picks six of her favourite contrarian books to help you look clever and perhaps win a few arguments over the Christmas dinner tab…
9 Dec 2019
Coming to terms with Anna Sorokin
Films

Coming to terms with Anna Sorokin

My Friend Anna: The true story of the fake heiress of New York CityWilliams is a solid writer who does a good job of explaining how she, and other int…
21 Aug 2019
Book in the news… the inside story of Spain’s tumultuous crisis
Films

Book in the news… the inside story of Spain’s tumultuous crisis

After the Fall Crisis, Recovery and the Making of a New SpainA book that goes beyond politics to offer a deeply sympathetic portrayal of a country.
21 Aug 2019

Most Popular

Don’t despair on dividends – these companies could be set to bring them back
Income investing

Don’t despair on dividends – these companies could be set to bring them back

The value of dividends paid out by UK stocks has plummeted this year as companies “rebase” their payment policies. But things could soon start to look…
6 Aug 2020
Platinum: the precious metal that looks set to play catch-up with silver and gold
Silver and other precious metals

Platinum: the precious metal that looks set to play catch-up with silver and gold

Gold and silver continue to soar, but there's still time to get in. And there's another precious metal that looks set to go on a bull run too, says Jo…
7 Aug 2020
Eagle Lightweight GT: the reincarnation of the E-type Jag
Toys and gadgets

Eagle Lightweight GT: the reincarnation of the E-type Jag

Jaguar’s classic E-type sports car has been reinvented for the modern age. The result – the Eagle Lightweight GT – is a thing of beauty.
7 Aug 2020