February 27, 2024

Hello, Quartz at Work readers!

Quartz released a year-end list on innovation this week — tell via twenty global business leaders that pushed bold technologies and industry-shifting ideas forward into 2023.

They proposed better ways of doing business across a range of industries, from climate technology to health research, consumer design to food production, and space exploration to artificial intelligence. A few of their ideas have also crossed over into the workplace.

Today in The Memo, we look at some of the innovators who are changing the ways we work. You can too find the full list on Quartz.

This is the last edition of The Memo in 2023. Thank you for being a Quartz reader this year—we wish you a peaceful holiday season and new year. See you in January! —Gabriela Riccardi, deputy editor


ONE INNOVATOR REINVENTS THE WORK UNIFORM

Image for article titled The year in workplace innovation

Illustration: Leslie Agan

🥼 An entrepreneur raises the wardrobe in the workplace. When she suffered a chemical burn on the job, Beau Wangtrakuldee was motivated to make better workwear—by designing standards she couldn’t find on the market. Today, her clothing brand, AmorSui, is pioneering protective personal equipment (PPE) that is not only technically sophisticated, but also sustainable.

Now medical staff, lab technicians and researchers like her can wash and wear their protective gear like any other working wardrobe; an app tracks when the garment’s effectiveness has run out and needs to be recycled.

“I want us to be a one-stop shop for reusable medical supplies,” she tells Quartz. This of course includes a better work uniform.


ONE INNOVATOR TOGETHER CANCER SUPPORT

Image for article titled The year in workplace innovation

Illustration: Vicky Leta

🏢 An advertising executive lifts the weight of working with cancer. For Arthur Sadoun, a medical diagnosis radically changed his relationship with the workplace. It was cancer.

“Cancer is such a specific thing — it’s so emotionally charged,” he told Quartz earlier this year. “It has such an impact on your life that you lose self-confidence. I am the CEO of a company with 100,000 people [and] I also lost confidence.”

Sadoun, who heads the French advertising juggernaut Publicis Groupe, was compelled to build corporate support for employees. This year, the Publicis Foundation announced the Working With Cancer campaign, which asks companies to pledge policies and programs to help employees with cancer; to date, more than 1,300 employers representing more than 35 million workers have signed up.


ONE INNOVATOR ENLIGHTENS WORKING PARENTING

Image for article titled The year in workplace innovation

Illustration: David Saracino

🐣 A cell biologist designs relief for working parents. Breast milk has long been considered the highest standard of infant nutrition, linked to a host of benefits for both babies and nursing parents. But in the US and beyond, a lack of structural support — including too little parental leave from work, or jobs that offer little or no family leave — makes breastfeeding difficult or impractical for many parents.

Enter Leila Strickland, who has spent fifteen years striving to make the benefits of breast milk accessible to all parents—by growing it in a lab.

At her company Biomilq, Strickland has produced milk cells that produce some of the benefits found in human milk. “We are focused on developing certain key nutrients that are found in breast milk,” she tells Quartz.


FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED TO END THE YEAR

Return to office returns revenue to fashion suppliers. Rent the Runway says profits flow in as customers use the service to re-dress for work.

Lying to the board can cost a CEO big money. This is the case for BP’s former chief, who is $40 million paid up after he misled the board about his relationships with colleagues.

Older workers are contributing more to the economy than ever before. In the US, people over 65 will be responsible almost two thirds of labor force growth over the next decade.

Dollar General realized that self-checkout couldn’t run its stores. And it spends $150 million hire more people to manage its locations.

Abandoning non-compete agreements can also abandon wealth inequality. And the ban on non-competes can American workers’ earnings increase up to 14%.


PARTING WORDS FROM THE QUARTZ OBSESSION

Will GPTs change the way we think about AI? Could seaweed fashion be coming to a department store near you? How has streaming changed the career of Queen of Christmas Mariah Carey – and also an entire industry?

Find the answers in the new season of the Quartz Obsession podcast, where we’ll cover a range of innovations that are changing the way we live and work.

🎧 Listen where you get your podcasts: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher | Youtube


QUARTZ AT THE WORK’S TOP STORIES

🏢 Apprenticeships are sent from the shop floor to the office

📈 Next year’s job market may look a lot like 2019

🤝 Software developers bring handshakes to video meetings

📄 Non-compete agreements don’t just harm the workers who sign them

🤖 All the AI ​​assistants and me


YOU GOT THE MEMO

Send questions, comments and where you draw the line with AI praat@qz.com. Thanks for being a reader this year! We are grateful to have you. This edition of The Memo was written by Gabriela Riccardi.

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