Rory Sutherland

Rory Sutherland

Is it really such a shock that some people drink at work?

Thirteen years ago we shared an office building with a large international bank. A common lift connected both businesses to the underground car park. Here I once overheard one of the bank employees describing our offices: ‘And you know what else they have up there…’ He spoke in the kind of wide-eyed, aghast tone you

Are electric cars a Columbus’s egg?

The explosion in remote and flexible working accelerated by the pandemic slightly supports my assertion that the most important limits to future innovation may be psychological and behavioural, not technological. I am among a number of people who believe that the newly widespread use of video-conferencing is of great economic significance. A few economists and

Everyone should be sick in the street once

I learned a great deal at university, about half of it from a man called Raymond Foulk. Ray was not Professor Foulk or even Dr Foulk: Ray was a near contemporary — he was in the year below me — but a mature student, then aged about 44. Shortly before he arrived at the beginning

Why you shouldn’t always ‘follow the science’

Fairly early in the pandemic it was widely accepted in scientific circles that the likelihood of outdoor transmission of Covid at low-density events — say garden parties or beer gardens — was relatively low. It might therefore have seemed logical to allow such gatherings to take place sooner than we did. From a practical point

The key to happiness? Getting behind the wheel

A friend of mine recently visited a company in Europe which plans to manufacture human-carrying, pilotless drones. These would be capable of carrying a single passenger above the traffic at speeds of around 70 miles an hour. ‘What kind of onboard information would be conveyed to the passenger?’ he asked. Will they be told their

How men’s wardrobes prove constraints can be good for us

One thing that surprised every-one during lockdown was how many people derived unexpected pleasure from living under imposed restrictions. Can people become happier when temporarily prevented from doing things they would normally do? Almost certainly. Sometimes such circumstances force us to try something new which we subsequently prefer; at other times we enjoy having an

The problem with online property searches

In 1966, the legendary adman David Ogilvy set out to buy a home in France. He boarded a transatlantic liner to meet a French estate agent who had a perfect house waiting for him in Paris, but while still in mid-ocean he heard he had been gazumped. There were presumably other houses on sale in

The case for dodging cracks in the pavement

It is interesting to consider what would have happened if the Covid virus had emerged in 1921. Or 1821. Or 1521. There would have been no vaccine, for one thing. Treatment would mostly have been worse. In the 17th century we would have blamed the entire thing on Catholics. But in a few respects, bizarrely,

Rory Sutherland

How do we calculate the value of a painting?

There’s an intriguing conversation on YouTube between Mark Carney, former governor of the Bank of England, and the artist Damien Hirst. It will be easy to find on Google, since these are not names normally found on the same page. Ten minutes in, Hirst makes an engaging observation about the value we attach to art.

The economic case for flexible working

Is flexible working better or worse for productivity? What is the correct blend of remote and office work? Billions of once-healthy pixels will die in the conduct of this debate. But is it possible that we are asking the wrong question entirely? Instead of asking the proximate question ‘Do we want our employees to work

Why no one wants their holiday to last forever

I have been on holiday for two weeks. Well, not quite. You see, a bloke I once met told me that, when you take a long holiday, it’s good to work for a couple of days in the middle, as the contrast will cause you to enjoy your holiday more overall. Since the bloke in

Why cocktails are superior to wine

I often argue that, in theory at least, well-made cocktails are indisputably better than wines costing 20 times more. My argument runs as follows. In making a cocktail, you can mix, in any combination you wish, any of the liquids known to humanity. In making a wine, you are stuck with using grape juice harvested

What do oven chips have to do with virtue signalling?

Why does virtue-signalling matter? It’s a fair question. After all, if people display virtuous behaviour, need we care about their motivation? I understand why some are irritated by the term; deployed unsparingly, it can be used to denigrate any act of decency. Yet, if the phrase is relatively new, the concept isn’t. Several of the

Olivia Potts, Rory Sutherland and Tanya Gold

14 min listen

On this week’s episode, Olivia Potts says angry chefs could soon get their comeuppance. (00:56) Then, Rory Sutherland says over-qualification is leading to collective idiocy. (06:28) And finally, Tanya Gold wonders why people eat lobsters. (10:16)

The CV trick that guarantees you an interview

Sometimes the opposite of a good idea is, as Niels Bohr said, another good idea. But the converse is also true. The opposite of a bad idea can easily be an even worse idea. Something like this seems to have happened with the expansion of British higher education. When I left university in 1988, if

Why I won’t buy a Tesla

I loved the Ford Mustang Mach-E which I had on loan for four days. It was gorgeous to drive, and slightly saner than the Tesla Model 3 — in that some of the controls involve physical switches and buttons, rather than an on-screen interface. The only annoyance was a persistent whining noise. This came from

Taking charge: it’s time to buy an electric car

As a wise colleague once said: ‘Yesterday is a great time to buy a computer, because you have already enjoyed it for a day. Alternatively, buy a computer tomorrow. The computer you buy tomorrow will be both faster and cheaper than the computers available now. On no account, however, should you ever buy a computer

Richard Dobbs, Tanya Gold and Rory Sutherland

17 min listen

In this episode, Richard Dobbs reads his piece on why he’s considering giving up his second vaccine for people more in need (00:55); Tanya Gold reports from her Kent road trip in a Ferrari (07:50); and Rory Sutherland on the unexpected joys of lockdown and why we may miss it when it’s gone. (12:45)