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Workplace outlook: surprisingly positive

Empty office cubicles

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: BusinessWeek Magazine just did a poll of corporate executives and middle managers throughout the country. They were asked about the future of the workplace. For example, they asked: Are you on a first-name basis with someone works in India? 10 percent said yes, but 30 percent said they would be in the next decade. Peter Coy is an editor at BusinessWeek. Peter, some interesting questions here. One answer that stood out was that 90 percent of managers think they're among the top 10 percent of performers in their workplace. What'd you think of that?

Peter Coy: My editor-in-chief said that was the most amazing statistic he had ever seen. I guess it's human nature. Maybe you can't drag yourself into the office everyday unless you think you're really hot stuff.

Jagow: I really wonder though how that does impact the workplace?

Coy: All I can say is that maybe this is what causes bosses to sort of give everybody a middle grade because it's so hard to make those distinctions.

Jagow: Hm, 6 percent of respondents under age 30 said they've accidentally called their boss mom or dad.

Coy: That is the most embarrassing thing in the world. I guess I put that one in there because I think I did it once or twice.

Jagow: Did you?

Coy: Yeah, yeah, when I was young though.

Jagow: All right, so something else in the poll that struck me was 'which of these scares you the most?' and there were a few responses like my boss, my computer , my spouse . . .

Coy: Right.

Jagow: But then the two biggest things were Wall Street and China.

Coy: We picked those because they're the source of so much angst these days. And interesting that people are actually more afraid of China than Wall Street but the two of them stand way out.

Jagow: Anything else stand out to you in this poll?

Coy: Well this is part of a special BusinessWeek double issue on The Future of Work, and we found a lot of optimism actually. People think that it'll be easier for women and minorities to get ahead, that self-improvement, self-fulfillment will be a more important motivator than fear. But overall I guess I was pleasantly surprised by the degree of satisfaction out there in the workplace. We don't all hate our jobs and we don't all think things are going down the toilet.

Jagow: All right Peter Coy of BusinessWeek, thank you for joining us.

Coy: Thank you.

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