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People engage in joint activity for many reasons: because of necessity (neither party, alone, has the required skills or resources), enrichment (while each party could accomplish the task, they believe that adding complementary points of view will create a richer product), coercion (the boss assigns a group to carry out an assignment), efficiency (the parties working together can do the job faster or with fewer resources), resilience (the different perspectives and knowledge broaden the exploration of possibilities and cross check to detect and recover from errors) or even collegiality (the team members enjoy working together).

We propose that joint activity requires a “Basic Compact” that constitutes a level of commitment for all parties to support the process of coordination. The Basic Compact is an agreement (usually tacit) to participate in the joint activity and to carry out the required coordination responsibilities. Members of a relay team enter into a Basic Compact by virtue of their being on the team; people who are angrily arguing with each other are committed to a Basic Compact as long as they want the argument to continue.

One aspect of the Basic Compact is the commitment to some degree of goal alignment—typically this entails one or more participants relaxing some shorter-term local goals in order to permit more global and long-term goals to be addressed. These longer-term goals might be shared goals (e.g., a relay team) or individual goals (e.g., drivers wanting to ensure safe journeys). A second aspect of the Basic Compact is a commitment to try to detect and correct any loss of common ground that might disrupt the joint activity.

We do not view the Basic Compact as a once-and-for-all prerequisite to be satisfied, but rather as a continuously reinforced or renewed agreement. Part of achieving coordination is investing in those things that promote the compact as well as being sensitive to and counteracting those factors that could degrade it.

Mint has this series of articles on offices of well-known companies and how they help the brand. You can read the article here. They note “office design serves to motivate employees and instill a sense of belonging in them”. I wonder how our office space is perceived by our employees and the rare visitors. It is slightly messy with industrial looking cement flooring. Dust and cobwebs can be noticed if you look hard. When we moved in, the only thing we did was put a partition to make a meeting room and fixed a few desks on one side. Most desks were second-hand or donated or jugaad stuff we picked up from here and there (Three desks thanks to Rashmi Vallabhajosyula). Subbu donated the cane sofa set and the fridge. I brought the microwave and cups from my home. See Subbu at this 40-year-old desk. (This was my late father’s).

Social media is an irreversible phenomenon of unprecedented scale. It has already affected social behaviour more than many other technological breakthroughs. Social media are everywhere, including in the workplace, in the company’s systems and equipment, but also in the employees’ portable devices. That is why the mere blocking of social media websites by the companies does not prevent the employee from using their particular cellphones to access them while working or even post a comment about the company from the personal computer at any other time. This is an issue of growing importance in Latin America. With its improving internal revenue, the region, and particularly Brazil, is the home of several avid users of the different forms of social media. In 2013, Facebook had 156 million users in Latin America, with 56 million users in Brazil alone. Brazil also ranks second in number of Twitterusers in Latin America, with more than 33.3 million. Moreover, according to Reuters’ Digital News Report 2013, 60% of Brazilian respondents said social media was one of the top five ways in which they view news online, compared to 30% in the US, and 17% in the UK. Brazilians are also particularly enthusiastic about commenting on news stories posted on social networks; 38% of respondents said they comment on news items via social media at least once a week, compared to 21% in the US, and 10% in the UK. Further growth is all but guaranteed, Brazil has a population of around 200 million; this means that more than 30% of the country’s inhabitants have an account with at least one social media platform. Other countries in Latin America also show impressive figures: Mexico ranks second in the social media market, with 35.6 million users; while Argentina ranks third, with 17.4 million users. According to US market research firm eMarketer, by 2017 the number of Mexicans and Argentines using social media will reach 56.3 and 22.5 million respectively; Brazil will have approximately 91 million users. Considering that social media is a relatively new addition to Latin American workplaces, companies are still learning how to deal with the phenomenon in a satisfactory manner. It is perhaps incumbent for businesses, whether they are national or international, and their in-house counsel to consider recent guidance on social media usage in the workplace in these three jurisdictions.