This Week in Culture

Have You Ever Heard of the “Coordination Tax”? 

It’s a buzzword that’s been popping up more and more, especially for those of us navigating the hybrid work maze. Originally used to describe the logistical headaches of expanding businesses, “coordination tax” now hits close to home for many, describing the daily grind of trying to sync up with scattered teams. As we flip between our kitchen tables and office desks, this new kind of tax is costing us more than just time—it’s sapping our energy and testing our patience. 

Think about it—how often do you commute to the office, only to end up in a ghost town, spending your day bouncing between Zoom calls that you could’ve just taken from your couch? That’s the coordination tax in action. It’s not just the hours wasted; it’s the missed opportunities for real, spontaneous collaboration that only happens when you bump into someone by the coffee machine. 

Some forward-thinking companies are getting creative to ease this burden. They’re carving out specific days for in-office collaboration or using tech tools to help everyone get their schedules aligned. Take companies like H.B. Fuller and Autodesk, for example. They’ve shaken up their workspaces and schedules to make sure that when you do come in, it’s worth it—ensuring that face-to-face time is productive and energizing. 

These moves show a growing recognition that our work environments profoundly impact our productivity and mood. By reducing the coordination tax, we’re not just streamlining operations—we’re also nurturing our teams’ well-being and their potential for growth. 

But how can these companies achieve success here without it being so taxing.  

  • Designate Collaboration Days: Set specific days each week for in-office collaboration. This helps ensure that when team members come to the office, they can maximize face-to-face interactions and spontaneous brainstorming sessions. 
  • Use Scheduling Tools: Implement tech tools like shared calendars and scheduling apps to help sync up team members’ availability, making it easier to plan meetings and collaborative work sessions. 
  • Optimize Workspace Layouts: Reconfigure office spaces to facilitate better collaboration. Create open areas for team meetings and quiet zones for focused work to enhance productivity and reduce wasted time. 
  • Flexible Work Policies: Adopt flexible work policies that allow employees to choose the best days for remote work versus in-office work, based on their tasks and team needs. 
  • Regular Feedback Sessions: Conduct regular feedback sessions to understand what’s working and what isn’t. More specifically focused feedback AND focused recognition can really drive productivity.  
  • Enhance Communication Channels: Streamline communication channels by consolidating tools and platforms. This reduces the noise and makes it easier for team members to stay informed and connected. 


Addressing this tax goes deeper than tweaking policies or introducing new scheduling tools. It’s about fostering a workplace where flexibility and transparency are the norm. It starts with really digging into what makes our teams tick—aligning our strategies with the diverse needs and rhythms of our people. 

For those grappling with the high cost of poor coordination, consider this: Strategies that sync your team’s schedules with your organizational goals and streamline communications can transform your workday dynamics. It’s about making every office visit count and ensuring that when your team logs in remotely, they’re just as plugged into the workflow. 

As the nature of work keeps evolving, the coordination tax is likely here to stay, but its impact doesn’t have to be a net negative. By leaning into strategic planning and cultural shifts, we can convert this challenge into an opportunity to boost collaboration and job satisfaction. This approach doesn’t just optimize output; it also fosters a more engaged and balanced team, crucial for driving loyalty and motivation. 

Elsewhere In Culture

Amazon’s struggling union joins forces with the Teamsters

The recent team-up between the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) and the Teamsters is shaking things up in the battle for better working conditions at Amazon. Despite their groundbreaking win at the Staten Island warehouse, the ALU has been stonewalled by Amazon, which keeps challenging their legitimacy and dragging out contract talks. Now, with the heavy-hitting Teamsters backing them up, the ALU is packing a serious punch. This powerhouse union, with its 1.3 million members and a history of nailing down big contracts, brings the muscle the ALU needs. Together, they’re ready to fight for higher wages, longer breaks, and safer working conditions. 

This move says a lot about workplace culture today. The ALU’s struggles echo a growing call for fair treatment and respect on the job—a message that’s hitting home in many industries. Amazon’s pushback isn’t unique; it’s part of a larger pattern where companies see unions as enemies rather than allies in creating a better workplace. But with the ALU and the Teamsters joining forces, there’s a real shot at changing that narrative. This partnership could set a new standard for how businesses can work with unions to create a positive, respectful culture that benefits everyone. It’s a bold reminder that collective action and solidarity can drive serious change, shaking up the status quo for the better. 

Amazon fined $5.9 million for breaking labor law in California

And speaking of Amazon, the company was recently hit with a $5.9 million fine for breaking labor laws in California. This penalty comes under the Warehouse Quota Law, designed to protect workers from aggressive productivity quotas that can jeopardize their health and safety. California’s investigation into two Amazon facilities revealed that the company failed to notify employees about these quotas, exposing workers to undue pressure and increased injury risks. This fine, the largest under the new law, highlights the critical role of transparency and fair practices in workplace culture, especially in high-demand environments like Amazon’s fulfillment centers. 

This incident sheds light on the broader issue of how workplace culture impacts employee well-being. Amazon’s undisclosed quotas are a prime example of how pushing for extreme productivity without considering the human element can backfire. A healthy workplace culture should prioritize worker safety and respect, ensuring that employees are informed and protected rather than pressured and overworked. The fine against Amazon serves as a wake-up call for companies to rethink their approach to productivity and worker treatment. By fostering a culture of transparency and fairness, organizations can not only avoid legal repercussions but also create a more positive, sustainable work environment that benefits both employees and the company.

If you want people to genuinely care, you need to change their beliefs, not only their actions.

I’ve been approached by countless CEOs and leaders, all expressing a shared frustration: despite reminding, urging, and implementing perks and benefits, they face a stark lack of genuine engagement.

This is precisely what we refer to as the “Action Trap.” The Action Trap occurs when leaders find themselves in a continuous cycle of implementing new processes and systems (taking new actions) to change results, rather than addressing the underlying experiences that lead to those results. Our beliefs stem from our experiences.

So, if you want to instill a new belief, you need to create a new experience.

That’s the key to making people care.

Should you care about workplace culture if you have a small business, or is it something you should start worrying about after you grow bigger?

This week on the hashtagCultureLeaders podcast, my guest is Colette B. Moore, Director and Senior Operating Partner at the Pacific Coast Regional Small Business Development Corp and a passionate advocate for small business development and community empowerment.

In this podcast clip, we explore the key things you need to think about as you begin to build a culture that aligns with your company.

Tune to the full episode here:

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