Redesigning Work For The Hybrid Era

A year and a half (and counting) after COVID-19 lockdowns spurred one of the most significant evolutions in office work since the introduction of the internet, a geographically distributed workforce is customary, whether temporarily or indefinitely through hybrid-work models.

But in the rush to remote work, many organizations fell victim to the inertia of tradition and missed the opportunity to design work to fit specific needs of the business and remote employees themselves. As hybrid-work models emerge, leadership and team members need to partner in designing how work is defined, evaluated and compensated, starting with remote work.

This begins with mapping the outcomes needed to support business operations and how that work contributes value to the organization. This exercise can bring some stability and logic to compensation models in a remote environment. Rather than basing compensation on location, organizations need to devise structures that reward team members on their impact to the business.

While this can be a difficult exercise, employees will benefit greatly from not only knowing how their work generates revenue, serves customers or cuts costs, but also how much they’re valued because of that work.

Another aspect of redesigning work is to rethink what purpose “the office” serves in the hybrid era. Traditionally, offices have operated as the place for executing all the types of work needed in many job roles.

This includes “heads-down” work (research, analysis, customer support, coding, documentation, training and development); “heads-up” work (ideation, knowledge sharing, networking, strategic planning); capability demonstrations; and research and development. In actuality, though, heads-down work can be performed anywhere, while heads-up work has been facilitated best by the physical presence of other people.

In a world in which workers have unprecedented access to information about and alternatives to work, leaders must reimagine the basics of the working relationship to deliver on the promise of working from anywhere. Top talent, especially, will gravitate toward organizations with the widest range of work flexibility — increasingly essential in today’s highly competitive labor market.

What follows is step-by-step guidance, based on client engagements, on redesigning work for the hybrid age.

Devising a role-specific location rating

With hybrid workplaces, it will be important to redefine what types of work and work-related events are best done where. To do this, businesses should first identify the core activities that each individual role in the organization is responsible for completing.

From there, cross-hierarchy task forces can be created to evaluate the remote fitness of each of these activities by taking a look at how effectively specific job activities — not tasks — can be completed outside or inside the traditional office setting. This exercise must be completed using direct input from individual employees and their managers.

To complete this exercise, the following numerical values should be defined for each job activity:

  • Time spent: The estimated share of time that should be dedicated to each activity
  • In-office and remote ratings: Based on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing the function is best completed effectively in-office and 5 representing the function is well-facilitated remotely

Organizations can then combine these values to create a location rating (Time Spent X Rating / 5) that can be used to develop a location strategy for each role. By mapping these results, organizations can start to paint a clear picture of where roles can be located based on the work they do.

By incorporating these details into job descriptions, businesses can also help potential job candidates clearly understand what will be asked of them, what resources will be available to them, with whom they will work closely, etc. (in addition to the available compensation range). Within any job description, estimates should be included as to how much of the role can be performed successfully outside of the traditional office setting.

An interesting outcome of the heads-down/heads-up model is that senior leaders — many of whom have struggled to communicate the purpose, value, urgency and details of a return to the office order — are the very people whose jobs are most focused on the collaborative, heads-up work best supported by an in-office presence. It may be that senior leaders will be most apt to be found in the office vs. the majority of other workers who will find a balance between remote work and an in-office presence.

Mapping out a healthy workday

In addition to categorizing and evaluating the activities and outcomes for each role, businesses need to assess and map how team members should work together. This assessment should include specifics on meetings: their purpose, how they can be conducted effectively, how participants can contribute productively, and when they should be scheduled. Meeting hygiene should also be detailed, including calendar blocks to protect team members from rampant over-booking.

An ideal schedule would incorporate the following key tenets:

  • Mental health protections: Taking breaks for water, nourishment, exercise/stretching and mind clearing; schedule blocks for deep work (up to four hours per day), motion-activated thinking and logging off for the day after a reasonable contribution to the business.
  • Intentionality: When bringing team members together for meetings, be clear about the purpose, the objective and any necessary pre-work. Implement a multitasking-free zone to make space for undivided attention and engagement. No more meetings about meetings. Identify specific reasons to use video calls — not every call requires people to be on-camera.
  • Flexibility: Asynchronous work is a given with distributed teams. Identify and flag activities that require simultaneous effort to make sure team members are properly supported to complete tasks and activities according to plan. Schedule appropriate heads-up working sessions to complete synchronous work. Grant team members the autonomy to schedule all other work as they see fit.

For a more extensive look at updating corporate strategy to attract top talent by supporting employees who — for whatever reason — wish to work outside of the traditional office setting, see “A Guide to Modernizing Talent Management in the Hybrid-Work Era.”

Keahn Gary is a Senior Manager with Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work. Her research with the CFoW focuses on modernizing value systems

Source: Redesigning Work For The Hybrid Era

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Critics:

As companies continue adjusting their structure between remote and in-person work, leaning into the hybrid model can provide the best of both worlds—but not without its own set of challenges.

Wherever your organization is during this transitional period, here are 8 key tips to help design a hybrid model that’s inclusive of your entire population and to help your employees thrive in the middle ground.

Get your copy to learn:
  • 8 keys to make your hybrid workplace successful and keep your employees engaged.
  • How to prioritize the health and wellbeing of your employees in times of transition and uncertainty.
  • How a Homebase for Health® allows your organization to communicate a clear vision and adapt to the unexpected.

More contents:

The future of work: A bright future for the world of work

The shock: Labour markets are working, but also changing

Essential workers: The biggest losers from covid-19

Home working: The rise of working from home

Automation: Robots threaten jobs less than fearmongers claim

Government policy: Changing central banks—and governments

Flexicurity: The case for Danish welfare

How to think about work: Pessimism about the labour market is overdone

The future of work

A bright future for the world of work

The shock

Labour markets are working, but also changing

Essential workers

The biggest losers from covid-19

Home working

The rise of working from home

Automation Robots threaten jobs less than fearmongers claim

Government policy

Changing central banks—and governments

Flexicurity

The case for Danish welfare

How to think about work

Pessimism about the labour market is overdone

Sources and acknowledgments

The future of shopping: The return of one-to-one commerce

The marketplace: E-commerce profits may become harder to make

The merchants: The rise of the rebel brands

The travelling salesmen: Independent retailers may choose multiple sales channels

The food stall: The importance of “omnichannel” strategies

Mass craftsmanship: How to know what customers want

People: Shop assistants and the retail renaissance

The future: Welcome to democratised retail

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Navigating The Challenges of Hybrid Work

Work changed in 2020, but not just for the lockdown period—it changed forever. It’s become increasingly clear that we won’t return to the old working model.

Workers have become accustomed to the autonomy of a remote environment. The 2021 Employee Experience Imperative found that six in 10 employees prefer some amount of remote work. As vaccine rollouts make office work possible again, employers are realizing hybrid is the future.

However, hybrid work comes with a new set of challenges. Organizations must put effort into creating the collaboration, experiences, and efficiency the business and its workforce demand.

Hybrid work: Avoiding a two-tier experience

Many organizations are thinking about the space challenges of supporting hybrid work. Where will everyone sit? Will there be enough meeting rooms?

But there are some other big challenges to consider as well, such as inclusivity. Hybrid environments create a risk of uneven power dynamics between remote and in-person employees—a two-tier dilemma.

According to Harvard Business Review, the creation of these power differentials within teams can “damage relationships, impede effective collaboration, and ultimately result in reduced performance.” So, organizations must ensure all workers, whether remote or in person, get a consistent employee experience.

AI and Automation , Application Development, Careers , Crisis Management, Culture , Customer Experience , Customer Stories Cybersecurity and risk, Education , Employee Experience , Events, Financial Services, Government, Healthcare, IT Management ,Manufacturing, Now on Now, Now Platform, Telecommunications

5 ways to deliver a consistent experience

Avoiding a two-tier system starts with ensuring all employees—no matter where they work—have the same opportunities for support and collaboration. ServiceNow and Microsoft Teams are committed to bridging that gap. As of July 2021, Microsoft Teams has 250 million monthly active users.

Here are five things we’re doing together to help organizations deliver consistent experiences in this new world of work, for employees and the teams that support them:

  1. Through the ServiceNow and Microsoft Teams integration, employees can get help in the collaboration tools they use most frequently—from home or the office.
  2. Within the familiar and convenient Microsoft Teams environment, employees can submit and follow up on tickets from anywhere.
  3. With AI-powered recommendations, the ServiceNow Virtual Agent can provide answers to frequently asked questions by employees, and the power of Predictive Intelligence can help agents efficiently resolve cases as needed.
  4. For more urgent issues, employees and agents can simulate an in-person experience by initiating a video call, chat, or meeting directly in Microsoft Teams.
  5. With always-on virtual agents running in Teams, employees are able to get help from a single place, and in the tools they already use. They don’t need to toggle between apps or waste time finding whom to contact. The Virtual Agent deflects common service requests such as “How much was my last paycheck?” or “When will my benefits kick in?”—reducing the workload for IT, HR, and facilities teams and freeing them to focus on more strategic tasks.

genesis-768x148-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1Uniting people

As work changes, employees and businesses need tools that bring people together even when they’re apart. By integrating ServiceNow and Microsoft Teams, you meet employees where they are and increase employee collaboration and satisfaction—lessening the potential of a two-tier experience.

By: Chris Knepper

Source: Navigating the Challenges of Hybrid Work – ServiceNow Blog

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quintex-2-768x98-1-1-1-2-1-2-1-1

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ServiceNow a Strategic Leader in the 2021 Fosway 9-Grid™ for Cloud HR

3 ways to improve field service management

How Sportsbet enhanced data security with automation

Rethinking IT asset management using a zero-touch process

Back to Work: COVID Management in the Workplace

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Hybrid Work Needs Cloud PCs, Not VDI

A look at the differences between virtual desktops and cloud desktops, and why businesses need a fresh, cloud-native approach as hybrid working conditions continue to become the norm. With more people working remotely for the foreseeable future, the corporate network’s ability to protect assets has significantly eroded.

There’s been an explosion of commentary in recent months about the “future of work,” and much of it has reinforced a few key themes: most enterprises will embrace hybrid models in which more work is done outside the office, and to do so, they’ll leverage cloud technologies to make corporate assets and workflows available from anywhere on any device.

This is all fairly straightforward at a high level, but moving a bit closer to specific companies and specific business decisions, things can be more complicated. Specifically, for many organizations, the difference between virtual desktops and cloud desktops will be crucial.

I’ve seen this tension firsthand, having worked for years in both the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) space and the more recently-emerged market for Cloud PCs. Let’s look at the differences between the two and why only the latter is suitable for enterprises’ needs, both today and in the future.

Legacy VDI: Like using a horse-drawn carriage instead of a fleet of supersonic trains

Legacy VDI usually involves an enterprise running Windows in its own data center so it can provide remote access to workers. This solves the problem of making enterprise resources securely available outside the office, but that’s just about all it solves.

Many organizations rely heavily on Windows frameworks, not only for applications but also security, authentication, and overall workflows. In the pre-pandemic world, this was fine because most employees came into the office, logged onto the corporate network, and received updates to keep their devices secure. But with more people working remotely for the foreseeable future, the corporate network’s ability to protect assets has significantly eroded.

Moreover, many of the people working from home need Windows but have moved to other endpoints, such as Chromebooks. This is especially true for personal devices, and it’s quite common for work-from-home employees to use their preferred devices for professional tasks at least some of the time. As a result, securing a company-issued machine isn’t helpful if hybrid or remote employees are going to access enterprise resources from other endpoints.

The IT challenge is thus to support machines not only outside the corporate network but also outside traditional PCs. Some kind of remote desktop is obviously part of the solution, but most existing approaches cannot match the scale of this challenge.

Legacy VDI usually involves an enterprise running Windows in its own data center so it can provide remote access to workers. This solves the problem of making enterprise resources securely available outside the office, but that’s just about all it solves.

VDIs require a lot of IT resources to maintain—another potentially significant problem, given that most CEOs want their technical talent focused on strategic projects, not IT curation.

Physics can’t be cheated, so the farther workers are from that single data center, the worse latency and performance become. For example, let’s say a few years ago, a small group of contractors or remote employees needed access but were relatively close to the home office, so this wasn’t a big problem. However, as the number of users grew and their distance from the office increased, legacy VDI fell flat, offering slow, productivity-killing performance.

This situation, as unhelpful as it is, doesn’t even take into account that VDIs require a lot of IT resources to maintain—another potentially significant problem, given that most CEOs want their technical talent focused on strategic projects, not IT curation.quintex-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-2-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-768x114-1-1-2-1-1-4-1-2-2-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1

Because of these limitations of legacy on-premises VDIs, a variety of alternatives have emerged, but few of them meet the core demands for scalability, performance, and manageability. For instance, Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offerings are often just a VDI in a managed service provider’s (MSP) data center.

This doesn’t solve the challenge of scaling remote resources up or down as the workforce changes, and depending on the MSP’s geographic footprint, may not do much to address performance concerns either.

Even running VDI in a top public cloud is not the panacea it may seem. When it comes to managing a VDI, it’s just like legacy VDI, only with hardware maintained by someone else. This means that if a business wants to extend remote access to workers in new regions, it will need to duplicate its VDI solution into those regions.

So while this approach may not require the same capital expenses as on-premises VDI, in terms of IT resources required for ongoing management, it is still costly and onerous.

How are Cloud PCs different?

Rather than attempting to retrofit legacy VDI for today’s landscape, businesses need a fresh, cloud-native approach—a Cloud PC.

By cloud-native, I mean a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model defined by the following:

  • Elastic scale and flexible pricing: New Cloud PCs can be spun up as needed in less than an hour, without the traditionally lengthy and complex provisioning processes, and enterprises only pay for the resources they use. Just as the number of Cloud PCs can be scaled up or down as needed, so too can the underlying compute and storage resources. This gives the Cloud PC more potential power for intense and complicated tasks, compared to running the OS locally on each machine, let alone compared to legacy VDI.
  • Up-to-date security, low latency, and global availability: Because SaaS services are always connected to the network, they always offer the most-up-to-date security resources, and because Cloud PCs can be deployed on public cloud networks in the region closest to each user, latency is a non-issue.
  • Comprehensive visibility: Because the OS runs in the cloud, IT can monitor usage for security and insights. Moreover, if an employee logs in with their own device, rather than a corporate-issued machine, the SaaS model keeps a clean separation between personal and corporate data, which allows for end point flexibility without sacrificing security or employee privacy.
  • Multicloud compatibility: Some workloads run better on some clouds than others, and this relationship is not necessarily static over time, so enterprises need the flexibility to optimize and update their Cloud PC deployments over time based on their business requirements, employee preferences, and the strengths of different providers.

genesis3-2-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1Rather than simply shifting the legacy model to the cloud without any real modernization or improvement, the Cloud PC approach reimagines what a remote desktop experience is and how it should be delivered. As hybrid working conditions continue to become the norm, the enterprises that choose the more forward-looking options now will be poised for success as their workplace models continue to evolve for years to come.

Learn how Workspot deploys cloud desktops at scale in minutes with Compute Engine.

Amitabh Sinha is CEO at Workspot. Amitabh has more than 20 years of experience across enterprise software, end user computing, mobile, and database software.

Source: Hybrid Work Needs Cloud PCs, Not VDI

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This article “Hybrid workplace” is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:Hybrid workplace. Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.

The Remote Work Revolution Hasn’t Happened Yet

It’s hard to track all the ways this pandemic has upended “normal” life, but surely one of the most significant changes has been how and where, and even when, we work.

You might call the last year or so a remote work revolution, but that’s not quite right. For one thing, remote work wasn’t an option for most of the country. But even for the fortunate people who were able to work from home, what they were doing wasn’t really working. It’s more like a panicked compromise forged under the chaos of a national emergency.

But as we inch our way toward the other side of this pandemic — or at least the closest we’ll get to the other side of it — we have an opportunity to rethink our broken relationship to work. The pandemic was an inflection point, and what happens or doesn’t happen next is up to us.

This is the case that Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen make in their new book, called Out of Office, and it’s the best thing I’ve read so far on this topic. In truth, the book isn’t really about remote work — it’s about work. And not just what it has meant and could mean, but also why the status quo isn’t sustainable, for anyone.

I reached out to Petersen and Warzel for the latest episode of Vox Conversations. We talk about the world they hope we build, a world in which our jobs don’t trump everything else in our lives, where we think differently about our own labor and the ways we advocate for others, and where, in their words, “We don’t work from home because work is what matters most. We work from home to free ourselves to focus on what actually does.”

Sean Illing

It’s fair to say we’ve done a very bad job in this country of imposing boundaries around work and life. When you two look around the world, do you see better models of work-life balance?

Charlie Warzel

I’ll let Annie talk a little bit about the boundaries thing, because she came up with a really great framework for this. The one thing I’ll say is that yes, a lot of the erosion of any work-life balance is, it’s so thoroughly embedded in American culture that it’s not just that we have a hard time maintaining it or we don’t do a particularly good job of educating people about it; it’s that we value and celebrate the opposite of it. We value and celebrate the complete destruction of it.

People set expectations about when to work and how much to work and when to be in touch. And if you violate those standards or those expectations, it’s not seen as something to have a conversation with your boss about and say, like, “Hey, you’re really not sticking to the plan here.” It’s celebrated. And it’s like, “Well, why can’t you be a little more like so-and-so? They work on Sundays.” Even though the expectation is you’re not in the office, you’re not working those days.

Anne Helen Petersen

I’d say that I’ve been thinking a lot about how the American work ethic is a fetishism of work, the process of work, and not of the worker. The worker is kind of collateral damage in that understanding. And within that framework, within that understanding, it can’t be contingent upon the individual to try to change that. An individual cannot protect themselves from this larger ideological force, which is that better work is always more work.

And so the thing that I’ve thought a lot about is that instead of using this language of boundaries, because boundaries are the responsibility of the individual, they are always violated. And when they are violated, it is your fault as an individual for not maintaining them. Instead, we could think of guardrails. Out here in the West where we live, you have these guardrails on the mountain passes, which are maintained by the government, by a larger entity. And they are there to protect everyone. We all pay into them through taxes to protect everyone.

And I’m not saying that federally mandated work hours, or understanding of what good work is, has to look like that. That does not necessarily have to be the solution. In the book there’s some interesting case studies in other countries, where they have attempted to mandate no email after certain work hours and that sort of thing. And they failed, because they haven’t been robust enough to grapple with the realities of global capitalism. If you say, in France, you cannot email after 5 pm, there will be corporations, global corporations, that are always figuring out exceptions to this. People will just violate it.

So at least for the time being, until labor legislation catches up to the current reality of work — which I think is a major and an important goal moving forward — companies, if they do say that they want to value work-life balance, or say that they want their workers to not burn out, to be sustainable, they have to maintain standards of what good work looks like; these guardrails.

And so that looks like, “In our company, we do not correspond after 8 pm.” If you are a person who really does good work at night and that’s how you have arranged your flexible work schedule, great. But you do not send that email. You delay send, which is not a hard thing. You delay send that message, that email, whatever it is, until the morning, until standard working hours. And most importantly, if you violate that standard, that guardrail, it becomes something that is actually a problem, not a low-key way to garner praise.

Sean Illing

We have a vision of work in this country as the primary source of identity and status and, as you put in the book, “the primary organizing factor in our lives.” You argue that we have to overturn that. What does work look like, once it’s been decentered in the way you two think it should be?

Charlie Warzel

So there’s this really interesting company called Gumroad. And it’s a platform for creators, essentially. And they went through this whole reorganization and had to change the way that their company works. And now they don’t have any employees except for the founder. Everyone’s a contractor. And what’s fascinating is the ethos of the company is “You don’t owe us anything but the work. You come in and you do this thing. We are not going to be friends. We’re not going to talk.” It’s extremely transactional, in a way that’s almost kind of cold and in that calculated tech way.

I’m not saying this is a sustainable model for pretty much anyone or the way the company should be run, but what’s so refreshing about it is this idea of being transactional with your company. You do a job for us, we give you money or some kind of benefits. And we get the labor that we paid for in return. There’s not going to be any of this extraneous guilt or commitment or whatever.

And I think that it’s too extreme, but there’s something about the transactional nature of that that is really refreshing and very helpful. And I think far less toxic than the “we are a family” ethos. Because families, as we all know, have their own problems and have their own toxic relationships that develop. And again, things like guilt. And I think that the way that we work has sort of adapted and had a lot of that kind of stuff glommed onto it.

I think that a decentered working relationship is not completely cold, and there can be some personal relationship qualities to it. But at the end of the day, it’s a transaction. You are doing a job for some people, and the transaction comes to an end at some point, and you’ve fulfilled what you need to do for that amount of time.

So a decentered environment means that we’re not telling people that they have to labor in this job and also get all of their social interactions out of their job. That you don’t have to be friends with everyone in your company. And it really demarcates your life outside of work from your life inside it. And that allows you then, once you have more of a clear boundary and clear expectations, you can devote more time to what’s outside of it. And you can have a clearer sense of who you are and what you value when you’re not this person.

Anne Helen Petersen

I’ll just say that the greatest trick that offices ever pulled was convincing office workers that they’re not workers. That they aren’t labor. And instead that they’re doing what they love or following a vocation, a calling. And thus that exploitation is not something to be worried about, or to fight back against, or to understand as unacceptable.

I think there are so many conditions that office workers, and I will say nonprofit workers in particular, have come to find acceptable, because they do not think of themselves as labor. And one hope that I have, moving forward, is that office workers should think of ourselves as labor. We should think of ourselves in solidarity with so many other types of labor as well, because it’s good for other laborers who don’t have the privileges of remote work or of being able to labor at the same salaries, but it’s also good for preventing our own exploitation. 

Sean Illing

This raises the question of what will rise up to fill the void in a world in which work has been decentered. And you have a whole chapter in the book on community, namely the absence of it. And I guess, for me, it’s very hard to imagine a world in which professional identity isn’t the main identity, if we don’t have sources of connection and meaning and solidarity in our communities. That’s a long way of saying that work feels like the only natural ground for identity in a hyper-individualistic society like ours.

Charlie Warzel

I don’t know. I think the thing that we always guard against in this book is being too pie-in-the-sky and understanding that a lot of these things are super entrenched in our culture. But it becomes a self-defeating mindset when you say, “Well, this is how we are.” I do think there’s a huge power in pulling people away for a second, from the way that they did things, and the realization that comes of that.

So using ourselves as an example, using myself as an example, I knew that I worked too much when I lived in New York and was working for BuzzFeed. I knew that work was the central motivating axis that most of my life completely revolved around. But when I left, when we left and moved to Montana, a month or two in, it became incredibly clear to me just how dominating that was. The fact that I had actually pushed a lot of my relationships out to make room for my work relationships, and then extending those after hours. The people who I worked with — I mean, it’s no coincidence Annie and I met at work.

But our entire lives revolved around that. We went out almost every other night with people, and were we talking about work? Sort of, yes, no. But those are technically billable hours. And I didn’t realize how one-dimensional my life had become. I basically stopped doing things like hobbies. I certainly didn’t interact with my community. Work took up everything.

And then once I was removed from that situation for a little bit, it seemed almost ridiculous. It was like, “How did I not realize this was happening?” And I’m not going to say that I’m some community organization paragon. I still need to work on a lot of this stuff, but the clarity that you get from extricating yourself from that situation, from just trying to decenter work a little bit, I think is super powerful.

Anne Helen Petersen

Most adults that I know that are about my age, so mid- to late 30s, early 40s, find it really, really hard to conceive of taking regular time for anything in their life that isn’t their job or parenting. Even carving out an hour a day, or an hour a week, for something like a hobby — or even more importantly, a commitment to something that is not related to your kid. So not soccer practice, but volunteering at any sort of organization that, again, is not related to parenting. It just feels inconceivable.

I think that we should look at that very seriously, and think about the fact that if the only things that we say are valuable in our lives, through our actions, through the time allocated, are our jobs and our immediate families, we are not investing in our communities. We don’t value the people around us. And you see that reflected in avoidant choices.

This is not an ideology without consequences, but my hope is this is also — we have gone through cycles. There is very good scholarship on this sort of ricocheting back between an individualist ethos and a collectivist ethos, even in the United States, which is so individualistic. There was a peak of collectivist activity [and] ideology first in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and then it declined a bit. And then it went back up leading into World War II and in the postwar period.

And it wasn’t just like, “Oh yeah, let’s rally together around the war.” It was, “We want to be part of things. We want to hang out with other people.” And some of that affinity and joining was of things like the Klan, which are obviously not good sorts of community involvement. But then a lot of it too was just civic organizations broadly. Volunteer organizations, things like the Elks Club, being part of churches. Whatever you think about religious organizations or being religious in your own life, it allowed people to connect with people who weren’t their own immediate families or the people that they worked with.

Charlie Warzel

It’s made me think a little about our community involvement now and how tethered it is to work. A lot of people’s only volunteering happens because, like, JPMorgan has a “let’s go do a Habitat for Humanity day,” or a lot of people only do service when they’re in school, in order to earn hours so that it can look good on a college transcript or something like that. It’s all attached to this kind of individualist achievement or being good at your job or checking this box.

And it creates this attitude of service and community involvement to benefit just you. And I think Annie’s right, this is not without consequence. We see it reflected in our politics. We see it reflected in our culture in a really big way, and will working from home change that? No, but will decentering work in our lives potentially change that? Maybe. It’s certainly worth exploring, I think.

Sean Illing

Maybe one of the silver linings of the pandemic is that it reminded us how much life alone, really truly alone, sucks. And I was glad to see you write about worker solidarity in this book. One worry that I have is that a world of remote work, a world where workers are more separated and cut off, might create even more barriers to labor organization. And I’m curious if there are templates or models for organizing in a world where remote work is more the norm.

Charlie Warzel

All of this stuff is relatively new. Again, some of the organizing we’ve seen in some of the tech companies like Google are templates to some degree for that. There’s a danger to it, obviously — in-person organization work and recruiting into that allows you to have sort of conversations that aren’t totally documented, or they can’t be immediately scooped up by management. Those things are obviously super helpful, and if there’s no gathering place, etc., then that can be hard.

But at the same time, part of the reason why we are able to work from anywhere is due to a lot of technological advancements, and a lot of those technological advancements also give people a megaphone and the ability to easily create widely shareable content, to be loud and in people’s faces. So I think that you’ve seen a lot of labor movements recently leveraging those tools to put a lot of pressure on people, on management. And I think that is generally good. And a lot of these technological tools are great for gathering a bunch of people in a room or in an app somewhere. So there’s always going to be this push and pull between surveillance and the ability to organize.

Anne Helen Petersen

I think sometimes we get bogged down in these particulars of, like, “Oh, it’s going to be harder because we don’t have as strong of ties with individuals,” when the real barrier to organizing is anti-labor legislation. It is the actual policy that is in place.

And more importantly — something that you hear labor advocates talk about a lot — the current labor laws have not been updated in any meaningful way to address the fissuring of the economy, the way that most people work today, the way that work seeps into the corners of our lives, but also just the freelancification of work as well.

So those, I think, are the much larger goals that we need to be talking about and advocating for, instead of being more concerned about, like, “Oh, if I’m not going to lunch in person every day with the person next to me, it’s going to be harder to unionize.” It’s going to be harder to unionize when it’s so easy to union bust. That’s the larger conversation, I think.

Source: The remote work revolution hasn’t happened yet – Vox

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3 Bonding Exercises Businesses Are Using To Combat The Great Resignation

Quirky activities can improve employee retention and company culture, according to Inc. 5000 CEOs. It’s cheesy, but it works. So says Frank B. Mengert, founder and CEO of ebm, a North Haven, Connecticut-based benefits and HR tech company, about his company’s weekly video call, known as “Friday Vibes.” The one rule: You can talk about anything but work.

These unconventional meetings–ebm’s sometimes involve games like Two Truths and a Lie–have helped reduce turnover in the company since they started them in May 2020. At a time when employees are quitting in record numbers and rotating through workplaces without ever meeting co-workers in-person, such bonding activities can potentially improve team dynamics, says Timothy Golden, professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lally School of Management and a longtime researcher of remote work.

From Inc. 5000 CEOs, here are three ways to forge bonds between team members in your still-virtual workplace.

1. “Anything but work” check-ins

Consistency is crucial to Friday Vibes, Mengert says. Every Friday at 4 p.m., anywhere from half to all of ebm’s 47 employees hang out on one Zoom call and chat about non-work topics or play games, especially with new hires. Most Friday Vibes go over the allotted time, he adds. Serious topics like mental health come up sometimes, or the team might spend the whole hour discussing types of cars they’ve driven before.

A couple of months into the pandemic, the team at Burlingame, California-based gaming and strategy research firm IDG Consulting started to look a little haggard, says CEO and president Yoshio Osaki. The 11-person company went remote in 2018 but over time, IDG employees lost an element of interpersonal connection. “We were our own little islands,” he says.

When the pandemic hit and people started going through lockdowns and additional childcare stress, Osaki finally realized that since the company went remote he had been checking in on what people were doing, not how they were doing. And morale seemed to be taking a hit as a result.

That’s actually pretty common in a remote environment, Golden says. People tend to be more task-oriented than relationship-oriented, so managers have to find ways to rebuild interpersonal trust and rapport virtually. Osaki’s solution was to implement a 30-minute mandatory non-work chat every other week (it’s since expanded to 60 minutes).

The calls provided fun bonding time, but some turned less lighthearted. Osaki realized that some employees needed additional help and added an annual $1,000 self-care stipend to make it easier to pay for things like therapy. He learned an employee had back pain and bought them an ergonomic chair.

Another had gotten into building computers, so they bought him some tools, and he ended up building one for their data scientist. And beyond the insight on employees’ needs, Osaki says, “We saw an increase in productivity as well as creativity.” In sum, starting the chat has been an important factor in making 2021 a record year for IDG’s revenue.

2. Gratitude sharing

Telling your employees you appreciate them seems like obvious advice–but helping them do it in structured ways helps you keep from losing them, according to Keegan Caldwell, founder and managing partner of Boston-based Caldwell Intellectual Property Law. Every Friday at noon, employees share whom they’ve been grateful for over the last week.

“What we found was this was the most important meeting for us to have,” Caldwell says. He started it three years ago, inspired by his 12-step recovery process and his ability to make it through the associated challenges. Since then, he estimates, it’s improved retention by 10 percent.

For Boston-based Winthrop Wealth and CEO Max Winthrop, it’s about the “small wins.” On their morning call, the team has the option to share their tiny victories, like putting in extra effort to help a client’s family after their spouse died. The company started it after doing a workshop in the fall of 2020 with self-actualization and sharing activities–and Winthrop hasn’t lost an employee since. It also helps him keep perspective as a leader, he says: “The small contributions add up to the greater success.”

3. Games and experiences

Every month or so, employees at government IT contractor Kech play bingo and Pictionary, compete for who has the cutest pet photo, or speculate about how they would survive a zombie apocalypse. Chris Carpenter, the Williamsburg, Kentucky-based company’s CEO and co-founder, likes to mix it up. Her company, which operates call centers for government services, had high turnover before the pandemic. But she says she’s managed to keep a core group of employees by adding fun and human connection into their workdays.

Most events come with prizes, and Carpenter estimates she spends $2,000 on gift cards a year for the winners. She organizes them herself and regularly gets messages from employees asking when the next game will be.

When it comes to games, pick something that is collaborative rather than competitive to boost organizational cohesion, says Sean Newman, a visiting professor at Rollins College and senior vice president of operations at London-based financial services firm Aon. And try to use bonding activities or games to build up relationships between specific employees. “To the extent that your games can show the manager really cares and establish that relationship… it can be a real positive outcome for retention,” he says.

Games and more elaborate, planned events can help avoid the dreaded Zoom happy hour, says Jonathan Conelias, CEO of Boston-based ReElivate, which provides virtual experiences for clients including Amazon and Google. His advice: Try to plan something special and interesting that gives employees a shared experience to refer to, like an escape room.

Lauren Greenwood’s company, YouCopia, which is based in Chicago and provides organizational home goods for consumers, simply does  “welcome lunches”  on the first day for new hires with three weird questions for everyone else to answer. (The meals were virtual for part of the pandemic but now are in-person for smaller groups.) If you’re too busy to organize creative bonding activities–or it’s just not your thing–hire someone to handle it, she advises.

By Gabrielle Bienasz, Editorial assistant, Inc.@gbienasz

Source: 3 Bonding Exercises Businesses Are Using to Combat The Great Resignation | Inc.com

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