BOX SET: 6 Minute English - 'Business & Work 2' English mega-class! 30 minutes of new vocabulary!
Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil. And I’m Sam - still working from home, as you can hear. But for many,
the return to the office has begun. And to make things safe, new thermal cameras are being installed in some workplaces. They measure body temperature to screen for coronavirus. After weeks of working at home the return to the office is slowly getting underway in a number of countries. But workplaces are having to change in this coronavirus era.
Lots of companies are rushing to install technology to make offices and workplaces safer. Sensors that monitor our movements, smartphone apps that alert us if we get too close to workmates and even devices that take our temperature could all become the new normal – that's a phrase we hear a lot these days, meaning a previously unfamiliar situation that has become usual and expected. In this programme, we’ll take a look at how this technology works and ask if it really is the answer we’re looking for. But first, today’s quiz question. The thermal cameras I mentioned screen for coronavirus by recording skin temperature in the area of the body which most closely resembles the internal body temperature - but which area is that? Is it: a) the eye b) the ear, or c) the nose? I’ll say a) the eye. OK, Sam. We’ll find out later if you were right.
Now, as employees slowly return to work, tech companies are busy finding ways for them to do so safely. One such company, ‘Microshare’, is managed by Charles Paumelle. He spoke to BBC World Service programme Tech Tent to explain a possible solution. The technology that we are offering is using Bluetooth wristbands or tags that people are wearing within the workplace which detect proximity events. When the proximity event has been recorded, it's been
saved by the company in case they need to, further down the line, retrace the steps of a certain person who has been declared as infected and inform anyone else they may have been in contact with. One important way to control coronavirus involves contact tracing. This means that someone who tests positive for the disease informs everyone else they’ve been in contact with. Microshare’s system for this uses Bluetooth - technology that allows computers, mobile phones and other devices to communicate with each other without being connected by wires. Employees wear Bluetooth wristbands which register when workers come into close proximity – how near a person is to another person. Anyone who has been close to a workmate will then know they have to take action if that person is found to have coronavirus later down the line – in the future.
Wearing wristbands, monitoring data on smartphones and being recorded by cameras – it all feels like quite a big invasion of privacy, doesn’t it? It certainly does, and although some argue that such measures are necessary in these unprecedented times, others are worried about the possible consequences. Here’s human rights lawyer, Ravi Naik, with a warning: From a human rights perspective, you have to try to ask, are you trying to use tech for tech’s sake is this actually going to facilitate an understanding of who is safe to go back to work or not? And if not, what’s the necessity of this because it’s such a significant interference with basic human rights. There has to be a high level of evidential justification to deploy this type of technology and I just don't think it's there. Ravi questions whether these devices will actually help identify who can return to work, or whether the technology is being used for its own sake – an expression meaning doing something because it is interesting and enjoyable, not because you need to. Ravi’s work as a lawyer involves finding proof that something is right or wrong. If people’s human rights are being interfered with, he thinks there has to be evidential justification – explanation of the reasons why something is the right thing to do, based on evidence. Like the evidence from screening body temperature…
…which bring us back to today’s quiz question. Remember I asked you which part of the body is scanned by thermal cameras to measure body temperature. And I said a) the eye.
And you were absolutely right! There’s a small area of the eye close to the tear ducts which is the most accurate part of the skin for measuring body temperature. Well, there you go. We’ve been discussing how thermal cameras and other workplace devices being used to prevent coronavirus are becoming the new normal – a previously unfamiliar situation that is becoming normalised. Some of these devices are wristbands with Bluetooth – technology allowing computers and smartphones to communicate remotely without wires. They can identify work colleagues who have been in close proximity – in other words, near to each other.
That will be helpful if one of them tests positive for coronavirus further down the line – at some point in the future. The coronavirus pandemic has caused massive changes in workplaces around the world but some critics are concerned that contact tracing technology is being used for its own sake - because it is interesting and enjoyable to do, rather than being absolutely necessary. And since much of the new tech invades personal privacy it should only be introduced with evidential justification – explanation of why it is the right thing to do, based on evidence.
Unfortunately, that’s all we’ve got time for, but remember to join us again. Bye for now! Bye! Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Georgina. And I’m Rob. Rob, what’s the best job you’ve ever had? Err well, this one, of course! It’s very creative, with lots of variety. OK, any other reasons? Well, yes – it’s a permanent job - a staff job - with regular income and a pension.
Yes, these things can be important, but have you ever been freelance – by that I mean, working for yourself and selling your skills and services to different businesses? Well, I worked as a paperboy once – delivering newspapers. But not really – it’s a risky way to earn an income. It can be Rob. But many people choose to, or have to work as a freelancer to survive. And that’s what we’re talking about in this programme. But let’s start with a question for you, Rob.
OK. This is about job titles back in the 19th Century, what kind of job was a drummer? Were they… a) someone who played the drums, b) a travelling salesman or c) a music publicist – who drums up – meaning encourages, support for a band? Well, it’s got to be someone who plays the drums - t hat’s my kind of job! OK, Rob, we’ll find out if that’s right at the end of the programme. But let’s talk more about work now. Long gone are the days of a job
for life, where you spent your adult life working your way up the career ladder at the same company. Yes, that’s right. We work in many different ways now because the needs of businesses change frequently and it needs to be agile – changing the size and type of work force in order to meet demand.
So, people need to adapt and some choose to work for themselves, offering their skills to different businesses as and when they are needed. But it can also be a lifestyle choice, as we’re about to find out. Yes, some people have chosen to become self-employed – working for themselves - but also, because of the recent coronavirus pandemic, some people have been forced into this situation. Let’s hear from Carla Barker, who set up her own business after giving up her regular job.
She told BBC Radio 4’s programme You and Yours how she felt… You know the idea of giving up a solid, permanent, full-time, paid, comfortable, role is a bit petrifying… It is super-scary because … you then have that fear of ‘oh my goodness can we do this’? You also have things creeping in that say you know like self-sabotage – are you good enough to do this? Are people going to want to take me on as a business? So, Carla decided to go it alone – an informal way of saying work for herself. She described giving up a full-time job as petrifying – so frightening you can’t speak or move. She may have been exaggerating slightly but she also said it was ‘super-scary’! I guess working for yourself must be scary as you’re solely responsible for your own success. It’s no surprise Carla had feelings of self-sabotage – having doubts and fears that stopped her achieving something.
Luckily, she persisted and things went well. And many other people who have become self-employed or freelance have overcome the fear and discovered the benefits. Like Fiona Thomas, who’s the author of a book called ‘Ditch the 9 to 5 and be your Own Boss’. She also spoke to the BBC’s You and Yours programme and explained why she gave up the 9 to 5 – the regular, full-time staff job – and how it helped her… A kind of combination of wanting some creative fulfilment from a job, compared to the job that I was in before, which was very much customer based and working face-to-face in hospitality. But I also wanted the flexibility to accommodate my mental health because I suffer from depression and anxiety and I found working in a rigid schedule and being in front of a lot of people all the time really exacerbated a lot of my symptoms. And I also wanted the financial freedom
to be able to, over time, increase my income without just having to wait on being promoted or getting a pay rise in traditional employment. So, working for herself gave Fiona a good feeling that she achieved something she wanted to do – it gave her creative fulfilment. It also meant she could work more flexibly and that helped her with her mental health because she didn’t have to follow a fixed rota of tasks. And it gave her financial freedom – meaning the money she earned was not controlled by someone else, and she didn’t have to wait for someone else to give her a pay rise. Of course, that can be risky too.
Let’s get back to my quiz question now, Rob. Earlier I asked you if you knew what job a drummer used to do back in the 19th Century? And obviously, a drummer plays the drums! Well, you are sort of right but a drummer also used to be an informal way of describing a travelling salesperson – because their job was to drum up business for a company – meaning they tried to increase sales. Ahh very interesting, although I know which drummer I would rather be – a freelance drummer in a rock band! And freelance is one of the words we’ve mentioned today.
To freelance means to work for yourself, selling your skills or services to different businesses. Becoming self-employed can be petrifying – frightening, so you can’t speak or move. And starting out on your own can lead to self-sabotage – having doubts and fears that stop you achieving something.
But it can also give you fulfilment – a good feeling of achieving something for yourself. And having financial freedom means being able to control how you earn and use your money. That’s it for this programme. We have plenty more 6 Minute English programmes to enjoy on our website at bbclearningenglish.com.
And check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Bye for now. Goodbye. Hello. This is 6 Minute English. I'm Sam. And I'm Rob. Before you got your first job, Rob, did you do any work experience? I think I may have done a day or two at some companies, just shadowing, watching how they did things – but nothing much more than that.
Some companies offer students or recent graduates what they call internships. These are extended periods of work experience where someone can be working full-time without an actual contract and in many cases without even being paid. Ah – yes. This is a bit of a problem, isn’t it? Some companies are being
accused of using students and graduates as cheap or free labour. Yes, although the counter argument is that internships are valuable experience for people who need it before they can get a ‘real’ job. Well, we’ll look at this topic a little more after this week’s quiz question. On the topic of
business and companies, which is the oldest stock exchange in the world? Is it: A: Bombay B: New York C: Amsterdam What do you think, Rob? Tricky, because I was expecting London on that list. I’m going to take a guess then at Amsterdam. OK. Well, I will reveal the answer later in the programme. James Turner is the chief executive of an education charity. Recently he took part in a discussion on the BBC radio programme You and Yours, on the topic of internships. What does
he think is a big issue with unpaid internships? In many careers we’re now seeing that it’s almost as an expectation that a young person does an internship before they stand a chance of getting that first full-time job in that profession, and the issue with that from a sort of social mobility point of view is that a substantial proportion of those internships are unpaid and that effectively rules out those who can’t afford to work for free. So what is the problem with unpaid internships, Rob? Well, if you can’t afford to work for free, it makes it very difficult to do an internship – particularly in expensive cities like London. This excludes, or rules out a lot of people from the benefits of an internship. This is bad for social mobility, which is the ability of people to move to higher, better paid levels in society. So the poorer you are the more
difficult it can be to get a good job, even if you have the ability. Could you afford to work for free here in London, Sam? No, I can barely afford to live in London as it is, so the idea of doing an unpaid internship would not appeal to me at all. Turner goes on to talk about other issues that are also problematic in internship programmes.
Too often internships are open to those with established connections in the professions and again that rules out those young people who don’t have the well-connected families or friends who can open those doors for them. So what are these other issues? Rob In many cases he says that internship opportunities are only available to those with established connections to the company or industry. This means they have some pre-existing link with the company, for example, through family or friends’ families.
Yes, it’s a lot easier if your family is well-connected, if it has a lot of contacts and links to a particular company or important people in that company. These links make it easier to open doors to the opportunity. To open doors is an expression that means to get access to. So it seems that to be able to do an unpaid internships you need to have a fair bit of money and to get an internship in the first place you may need to have a previous link to the company through a family connection, for example. So the system would seem to be difficult for poorer families and make it more difficult for students without those resources or connections to get on the job ladder. Here’s James Turner again.
Too often internships are open to those with established connections in the professions and again that rules out those young people who don’t have the well-connected families or friends who can open those doors for them. Right, time now to answer this week’s question. which is the oldest stock exchange in the world? Is it: A: Bombay B: New York C: Amsterdam Rob, what did you say? I went for Amsterdam.
Well done, that’s correct. Congratulations to everyone who go that right and xtra bonus points if you know the date. Rob? Haven’t a clue! 1750? Actually it’s a lot earlier, 1602. Wow, that’s much earlier than I thought. Right, let’s have a look again at today’s vocabulary. We’ve been talking about internships which are periods of work at companies as a way for students or new graduates to get experience in a particular field.
If they are unpaid it can make social mobility very difficult. This is the movement from a lower social level to a higher one and it’s difficult as poorer candidates can’t afford to work for free. Yes, the cost rules them out, it excludes them from the opportunity.
What helps is if you have established connections with a company. This refers to previous or pre-existing links with a company. And also if your family is well-connected, if it has good connections, for example if your father plays golf with the CEO, it can open doors, or in other words, it can make it easier to get into the company. So Sam, are you well-connected? No, only to my smartphone! Same here – but we still made it to BBC Learning English and you can find more from us online, on social media and on our app. But for now, that’s all from 6 Minute English. See you again soon. Bye bye!
Bye everyone! Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil. And I’m Georgina. After working together at BBC Learning English for many years, Georgina, you and I have a good working relationship, don’t we? Sure, I think we make a great team! But have you ever had a boss who you just couldn’t work with? Oh, you mean a bad boss – someone you just can’t get on with, no matter how hard you try. Yes, I’ve had one or two over the years – not you of course, Neil! I'm glad to hear it, Georgina! Often this happens because workers feel they aren’t listened to by managers.
Or it might be because most companies are hierarchies - systems of organising people according to their level of importance. Managers on top, workers down below. But in this programme we hear from companies who’ve got rid of managers and say it has helped them do a better job, made them happier and saved money. We’ll meet a self-managing company which isn’t hierarchical and has no boss. And of course we’ll be learning some new vocabulary along the way. But first, today’s quiz question. One of the biggest problems
in hierarchies is the excess cost of management and bureaucracy. But how much is that estimated to cost the US economy every year? Is it: a) 3 million dollars, b) 3 billion dollar, or c) 3 trillion dollars? I’ll say c) 3 trillion dollars – that’s one followed by twelve zeros - a lot of money! OK, Georgina, we’ll find out later if you’re right. Now, one of the first companies to experiment successfully with self-management was Californian tomato grower Morning Star.
Here’s one of their employees, Doug Kirkpatrick, talking to Dina Newman for the BBC World Service programme, People Fixing the World: The first principle was that human beings should not use force or coercion against other human beings. And the second principle was that people should keep the commitments they make to each other and so we adopted them as pretty much the entire governance of the enterprise. Because Morning Star has no bosses, decisions are made by all employees equally without coercion – the use of force to persuade someone to do something they do not want to do. As self-managers, employees can’t tell other employees what to do. Everything is based on requesting someone to act and them responding. This motivates and empowers workers but also means they must keep their commitments - promises or firm decisions to do something when requested.
This way of working is great for some – they feel listened to and have a voice in how the company is run. But Dina questions whether this is true for everybody working at Morning Star: Would it be true to say that a self-managed company like yours empowers people who are already very good and it leaves behind those who are not so good? I’m not sure I accept the phrase ‘left behind’. There are some people who take full advantage of this environment; others take less advantage but they do benefit because their voice is respected, when they do propose something it must be listened to, they are not subject to force and coercion and if they don’t act according to their commitments they can be held accountable by anyone. Having no bosses sounds great, but the extra responsibility can create more work and stress.
Different workers respond to this in different ways and some employees may be left behind - remain at a lower level than others because they are not as quick to develop. However other workers enjoy managing themselves and take full advantage of the system - make good use of the opportunity to improve and achieve their goals. No matter whether employees are good self-managers or not, ultimately they are held accountable for their work performance – asked to accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions. So, although having no boss sounds good, if things go wrong, there’s no-one to blame but yourself! So maybe we do need those managers after all – which reminds me of our quiz question.
You asked me to estimate how much the US economy loses in excess bureaucracy and managerial costs every year. And you said? c) 3 trillion dollars. Which was absolutely right! Well done! And the cost keeps rising because, of course, the more managers there are, the more managers you need to manage the managers! Today we’ve been looking at the world of self-management - companies run without bosses, which, unlike most businesses, are not based on a hierarchy – system of organising people according to their level of importance. Instead companies like San Francisco’s Morning Star allow employees to make their own commitments – promises to act, rather than using coercion – or forceful persuasion – to get results. Many employees react positively to this working environment and take full advantage of it - make good use of the opportunity to progress or achieve their goals.
However, there is a risk that others who are more comfortable being managed may get left behind - remain at a lower level than others because they are not as quick to improve and adapt. But whatever their job role or feelings about self-management, all workers are held accountable – asked to accept responsibility for their performance at work. Meaning they take can the credit for when things go well… …but have nobody to hide behind when things go badly! That’s all from us today, but remember to join us again soon for more topical discussion and related vocabulary here at 6 Minute English, from BBC Learning English. Bye for now. Bye.
Hello. This is 6 Minute English with me, Neil. And me, Sam. Today, we’re talking rubbish. Ooh, that’s a bit harsh – I thought it was going to be interesting. I mean our topic is about rubbish, not that we are rubbish.
I see. Do go on. Thank you. So the amount of waste we produce around the world is huge and it’s a growing problem. But, there are some things that we can do, like recycling. Where I live, I can recycle a lot, and I’m always very careful to separate - to split my rubbish into paper, metal, food, plastic and so on.
But is that enough, even if we all do it? We’ll look a little more at this topic shortly, but first, as always, a question. Which country recycles the highest percentage of its waste? Is it: A: Sweden B: Germany C: New Zealand What do you think, Sam? I’m not sure, but I think it could be Germany so I’m going to go with that - Germany. OK. We’ll see if you’re right a little bit later on. The BBC radio programme, Business Daily, recently tackled this topic. They spoke to Alexandre Lemille,
an expert in this area. Does he think recycling is the answer? Let’s hear what he said. Recycling is not the answer to waste from an efficient point of view because we are not able to get all the waste separated properly and therefore treated in the background. The main objective of our model is to hide waste so we don’t see as urban citizens, or rural citizens, we don’t see the waste, it is out of sight and therefore out of mind. What’s his view of recycling? I was a bit surprised, because he said recycling wasn’t the answer. One reason is that it’s
not always possible to separate waste you can recycle from waste you can’t recycle, and that makes treating it very difficult. Treating means handling it and using different processes, so it can be used again. And the result is a lot of waste, including waste that could be recycled but which is just hidden. And as long as we don’t see it, we don’t think about it. And he uses a good phrase to describe this – out of sight, out of mind. And that’s true, at least for me.
My rubbish and recycling is collected and I don’t really think about what happens to it after that. Is as much of it recycled as I think, or is it just buried, burned or even sent to other countries? It’s not in front of my house, so I don’t really think about it – out of sight, out of mind. Let’s listen again Recycling is not the answer to waste from an efficient point of view because we are not able to get all the waste separated properly and therefore treated in the background. The main objective of our model is to hide waste
so we don’t see as urban citizens, or rural citizens, we don’t see the waste, it is out of sight and therefore out of mind. One possible solution to this problem is to develop what is called a circular economy. Here’s the presenter of Business Daily, Manuela Saragosa, explaining what that means. The idea then at the core of a circular economic and business model is that a product, like say a washing machine or even a broom, can always be returned to the manufacturer to be reused or repaired before then sold on again. The point
is the manufacturer retains responsibility for the lifecycle of the product it produces rather than the consumer assuming that responsibility when he or she buys it. So it seems like a simple idea – though maybe very difficult to do. Yes, the idea is that the company that makes a product, the manufacturer, is responsible for the product, not the person who bought it, the consumer. So, if the product breaks or reaches the end of its useful life, its lifecycle, then the manufacturer has to take it back and fix, refurbish or have it recycled. I guess this would make manufacturers try to make their products last longer! It certainly would. Let’s listen again.
The idea then at the core of a circular economic and business model is that a product, like say a washing machine or even a broom, can always be returned to the manufacturer to be reused or repaired before then sold on again. The point is the manufacturer retains responsibility for the lifecycle of the product it produces rather than the consumer assuming that responsibility when he or she buys it. That’s just about all we have time for in this programme. Before we recycle the vocabulary …
Oh very good, Neil! Before we - thank you, Sam - before we recycle the vocabulary, we need to get the answer to today’s question. Which country recycles the highest percentage of its waste? Is it: A: Sweden B: Germany C: New Zealand Sam, what did you say? I think it’s Germany. Well I would like to offer you congratulations because Germany is the correct answer. Now let’s go over the vocabulary. Of course. To separate means to divide or split different things, for example, separate your plastic from your paper for recycling.
Treating is the word for dealing with, for example, recycled waste. The phrase out of sight, out of mind, means ignoring something or a situation you can’t see. A manufacturer is the person or company that makes something and the consumer is the person who buys that thing. And the length of time you can expect a product to work for is known as its lifecycle.
Well the lifecycle of this programme is 6 minutes, and as we are there, or thereabouts, it’s time for us to head off. Thanks for your company and hope you can join us again soon. Until then, there is plenty more to enjoy from BBC Learning English online, on social media and on our app. Bye for now.