3 Tips for Increasing Happiness at Work

Given that many of us will spend up to one-third of our lives at work, it’s not surprising that happiness at work is a topic of concern. Research shows that our happiness at work determines how motivated, productive, and engaged we are.

As an ACHIEVE trainer for the Psychological Safety in the Workplace workshop, I have had many discussions with participants and teams about workplace well-being and satisfaction. I am often asked, “What actions and circumstances best lead to happiness at work?” 

The answer? Happiness at work is complex. Various influences and factors contribute to our well-being at work including organizational culture, the alignment between our values and the organization’s, and the level of job compensation and security.

While some of these factors may be beyond our control, happiness can be enhanced through specific behavioural and cognitive practices, referred to in positive psychology as “positive interventions.”

Here are three positive interventions you can use to increase your happiness at work:

Strive for the Happiness Zone

Research shows that 40 percent of personal happiness results from our own actions, behaviours, and thought patterns. This 40 percent zone is where you have some control over your happiness and where practicing positive interventions will be most helpful. However, this practice will be different for everyone. Some people are happiest when they accomplish a goal at work, while others feel most happy when they are connected and collaborating with colleagues. It’s important to understand which activities contribute to individual happiness at work.

Prioritize the behaviours, actions, and conditions that lead to a sense of well-being during the workday.

One way to begin is to prioritize the behaviours, actions, and conditions that lead to a sense of well-being during the workday. Take note of activities that seem to uplift your mood during the week. Carefully observe your workdays, becoming mindful of the activities, behaviours, or situations that create a sense of a good day versus a bad day. Look for a pattern across the days and weeks. Are there certain activities, situations, or circumstances that consistently seem to contribute to a positive workday? Make a conscious effort to prioritizing doing more of them.

Focus on Meaningful Interactions

The importance of interpersonal connections at work is noted in ACHIEVE’s book, The Culture Question: How to Create a Workplace Where People Like to Work. People are more apt to feel satisfied and engaged when they have positive relationships at work.

A first step to creating meaningful connections at work is to improve your listening skills and increase the depth and value of your interactions. During a workplace interaction, consciously choose to actively listen to what someone has to say and invite them to share more during the conversation. Researchers refer to this as listening generously – we allow the person to have the entire spotlight to feel genuinely listened to and validated.

Simple responses like “That’s great, I’d like to hear more,” or “It sounds like this is important to you, I’d like to learn more,” can make a team member feel more valued, resulting in increased well-being at work. As the listener, you feel good too because you are creating a more meaningful interaction. Remember, the more connected and positive interactions we have with work colleagues, the happier our work experience.

Generate Gratitude

Completing a gratitude exercise even once a week has been proven to increase happiness over time. There is no better place to practice gratitude than at work, given the amount of time we spend there.

People are more apt to feel satisfied and engaged when they have positive relationships at work.

One of the most simple and effective ways to practice gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. Record the things in your workweek you felt grateful for. Examples may include compliments you received about your work, small wins or accomplishments, or completing a difficult task. To make this team-based, try keeping a gratitude jar.

Invite your colleagues to join you in recording things they are grateful for. Use sticky notes, or if you are a virtual team, post something on a virtual collaborative whiteboard. On Friday, go through the notes. The best part of this simple exercise is the immediate uplift in mood and perspective shift that occurs from recognizing just how many things went well during the workweek.

Workplace happiness takes effort and practice, but the result is improved well-being, greater productivity, and stronger workplace connections – all of which can result in decreased stress and more work satisfaction. Happiness at work is truly worth the effort.

By:Jennifer Kelly

Source: 3 Tips for Increasing Happiness at Work | ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership

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Why Managers Fear a Remote-Work Future

In 2019, Steven Spielberg called for a ban on Oscar eligibility for streaming films, claiming that “movie theaters need to be around forever” and that audiences had to be given “the motion picture theatrical experience” for a movie to be a movie. Spielberg’s fury was about not only the threat that streaming posed to the in-person viewing experience but the ways in which the streaming giant Netflix reported theatrical grosses and budgets, despite these not being the ways in which one evaluates whether a movie is good or not.

Netflix held firm, saying that it stood for “everyone, everywhere [enjoying] releases at the same time,” and for “giving filmmakers more ways to share art.” Ultimately, Spielberg balked, and last month his company even signed a deal with Netflix, likely because he now sees the writing on the wall: Modern audiences enjoy watching movies at home.

In key ways, this fight resembles the current remote-work debate in industries such as technology and finance. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, this has often been cast as a battle between the old guard and its assumed necessities and a new guard that has found a better way to get things done.

But the narrative is not that tidy. Netflix’s co-founder and CEO, Reed Hastings, one of the great “disruptors” of our age, deemed remote work “a pure negative” last fall. The 60-year-old Hastings is at the forefront of an existential crisis in the world of work, demanding that people return to the office despite not having an office himself. His criticism of remote work is that “not being able to get together in person” is bad.

Every business leader should ask themselves a few questions before demanding that their employees return to the office:

  1. Prior to March 2020, how many days a week were you personally in the office?
  2. How many teams did you directly interface with? What teams did you spend the most time with?
  3. Do you have an office? If you don’t, why not?
  4. What is office culture?
    1. What is your specific office’s culture?
  5. Has your business actually suffered because of remote work?
    1. If so, how? Be specific.

Some of the people loudly calling for a return to the office are not the same people who will actually be returning to the office regularly. The old guard’s members feel heightened anxiety over the white-collar empires they’ve built, including the square footage of real estate they’ve leased and the number of people they’ve hired. Earlier this year, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, rolled out an uneven return-to-office plan for its more than 130,000 employees—the majority of workers must soon come back to the office three days a week, while others are permitted to keep working exclusively from home. One senior executive at the company has even been allowed to work remotely from New Zealand.

Remote work lays bare many brutal inefficiencies and problems that executives don’t want to deal with because they reflect poorly on leaders and those they’ve hired. Remote work empowers those who produce and disempowers those who have succeeded by being excellent diplomats and poor workers, along with those who have succeeded by always finding someone to blame for their failures. It removes the ability to seem productive (by sitting at your desk looking stressed or always being on the phone), and also, crucially, may reveal how many bosses and managers simply don’t contribute to the bottom line.

I have run my own remote company that operates at the intersection of technology, media, and public relations since 2013. I retained an office for a year or so that I got rid of because it was really just a place to meet before going off to have drinks. For seven years before the pandemic, some of my peers showed concern that my business “wouldn’t succeed without an in-person team.”

Some people really do need to show up in person. I live in Las Vegas, a city of more than 600,000 people with more than 200,000 hospitality workers, and thus I’m keenly aware of which tasks require someone to physically be there to complete them. You can’t wash dishes over Zoom. You can’t change bed sheets over Slack. Blue-collar workers are the backbone of the city, as well as the Consumer Electronics Show that the tech elite uses to champion code-based products. Local hospitality workers suffered painfully during the pandemic as tourism in the city dried up, because their jobs depend on thriving physical spaces.

But for the tens of millions of us who spend most of our days sitting at a computer, the pandemic proved that remote work is just work. Every company that didn’t require someone to physically do something in a specific place was forced to become more efficient on cloud-based production tools, and the office started to feel like just another room with internet access.

While many executives and managers spent the early months of the pandemic telling their employees that “remote work wouldn’t work for us in the long term,” they are now forced to argue with the tangible proof of their still-standing business, making spurious statements like “We’ll miss the office culture and collaboration.”

Now, with the coronavirus’s Delta variant threatening to delay many companies’ return-to-office plans, the value of in-person work faces an even greater test. If you have unvaccinated kids or live with an immunocompromised person, is risking your family’s safety worth experiencing “serendipitous conversation” with your colleagues?

Should you ever go back to the office?

Last fall, 94 percent of employees surveyed in a Mercer study reported that remote work was either business as usual or better than working in the office, likely because it lacks the distractions, annoyances, and soft abuses that come with co-workers and middle managers. Workers are happier because they don’t have to commute and can be evaluated mostly on their actual work rather than on the optics-driven albatross of “office culture,” which is largely based on either the HR handbook or the pieces of the HR handbook your boss chooses to ignore.

The reason working from home is so nightmarish for many managers and executives is that a great deal of modern business has been built on the substrate of in-person work. As a society, we tend to consider management a title rather than a skill, something to promote people to, as well as a way in which you can abstract yourself from the work product.

When you remove the physical office space—the place where people are yelled at in private offices or singled out in meetings—it becomes a lot harder to spook people as a type of management. In fact, your position at a company becomes more difficult to justify if all you do is delegate and nag people.

When we are all in the same physical space, we are oftentimes evaluated not on our execution of our role but on our diplomacy—by which I mean our ability to kiss up to the right people rather than actually being a decent person. I have known so many people within my industry (and in others) who have built careers on “playing nice” rather than on producing something.

I have seen examples within companies I’ve worked with of people who have clearly stuck around because they’re well liked versus productive, and many, many people have responded to my newsletters on the topic of remote work with similar stories. I’ve also known truly terrible managers who have built empires, gaining VP and C-level positions, by stealing other people’s work and presenting it as their own, something that, according to research, is the No. 1 way to destroy employee trust.

These petty fiefdoms are far harder to maintain when everyone is remote. Although you may be able to get away with multiple passive-aggressive comments to colleagues in private meetings or calls, it’s much harder to be a jerk over Slack, email, and text when someone can screenshot it and send it to HR (or to a journalist).

Similarly, if your entire work product is boxing up other people’s production and sending it to the CEO, that becomes significantly harder to prove as your own in a fully digital environment—the producer in question can simply send it along themselves. Remote work makes who does and doesn’t actually do work way more obvious.

Even if we’re discussing some sort of theoretical, utopian office in which everybody is contributing and everyone gets along, each day during which a business doesn’t fail because of going remote proves that the return-to-office movement is unnecessary. Those in power who claim that remote work is unworkable are delaying an inevitable remote future by using logic that mostly comes down to “I like seeing the people I pay for in one place.” I have yet to read one compelling argument for a company that has gone remote to fully return to the office, mostly because the reasoning is rooted in control and ego.

We have lionized the founders, CEOs, and disruptors who nevertheless have intra-office reputations as abrasive geniuses who treat their workers as eminently replaceable. Because most private companies don’t share revenue, we frequently tie headcount and real estate to success. Removing the physical office forces modern businesses to start justifying themselves through annoying things such as “profit and loss” and “paying customers.”

When you hire someone, you’re (supposedly) hiring them to do a job in exchange for money. But the anti-remote crowd seems to believe that the responsibility of a 9-to-5 employee isn’t simply the work but the appearance, optics, and ceremony of the work. Abusive work cultures grow from this process too.

Making people work late is much harder when you can’t trap them in one place with free food, a Ping-Pong table, a kegerator, or laundry services—benefits that you champion instead of monetary compensation. When you are a full-time employee, you might believe that you are owned by a company and should be grateful to its leaders for generously making you show up in their office every day.

Which brings us back to Hollywood.

Forty-six summers ago, it wasn’t enough to see Spielberg’s first masterpiece, Jaws, and be scared; the whole point was to experience it with a bunch of other people in a shared space and feel something intangible. But our world has changed. Two years after trying to keep streaming movies out of the Oscars, Spielberg’s company, Amblin Partners—the studio behind such made-for-the-big-screen blockbusters as Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park, and Back to the Futuresigned a deal with Netflix that, if nothing else, will mean more people will soon watch more movies at home.

Across multiple genres and decades, Spielberg has known his audience. The 74-year-old cinematic guru had to understand that whatever reservations he’d had about how and where people watched movies didn’t matter as much as making movies that people would see. Perhaps he realized that the world was evolving faster than he was, or that his judgments of streaming were antiquated and, on some level, anti-creative.

And perhaps we’ll see the business world follow suit.

By:  Ed Zitron

Ed Zitron is the writer of the tech and culture newsletter Where’s Your Ed At and the CEO of the technology public relations firm EZPR.

Source: Why People Like Working From Home – The Atlantic

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Fintechs Are Zeroing in on Everything Big Banks Aren’t

My north star(s) for philosophy, management, and politics are Star Wars, The Sopranos, and Game of Thrones, respectively. The Iron Bank (GoT) is a metaphor for today’s financial institutions, if present-day banks didn’t need bailouts or to invent fake accounts to juice compensation. Regardless, it was well known throughout Braavos that The Iron Bank will have its due.

If you failed to repay, they’d fund your enemies. So today’s Iron Bankers are the venture capitalists funding (any) incumbents’ enemies. If this makes VCs sound interesting/cool, don’t trust your instincts.

Lately, I’ve spent a decent amount of time on the phone with my bank in an attempt to get a home equity line, as I want to load up on Dogecoin. (Note: kidding.) (Note: mostly.) If Opendoor and Zillow can use algorithms and Google Maps to get an offer on my house in 24 hours, why does it take my bank — which underwrote the original mortgage — so much longer?

How ripe a sector is for disruption is a function of several factors. One (relatively) easy proxy is the delta between price increases and inflation, and if the innovation in the sector justifies the delta. Think of the $200 cable bill, or a $5.6 million 60-second Super Bowl spot, as canaries in the ad-supported media coal mine.

Another, easier (and more fun) indicator of ripeness is the eighties test. Put yourself smack dab in the center of the store/product/service, close your eyes, spin around three times, open your eyes, and ask if you’d know within 5 seconds that you were not in 1985. Theaters, grocery stores, gas stations, dry cleaners, university classes, doctor’s offices, and banks still feel as if you could run into Ally Sheedy or The Bangles.

It’s hard to imagine an industry more ripe for disruption than the business of money.

Let’s start with this: 25% of U.S. households are either unbanked or underbanked. Half of the nation’s unbanked households say they don’t have enough money to meet the minimum balance requirements. 34% say bank fees are too high. And, if you’re trying to get a mortgage, you’d better hope the house isn’t cheap.

Inequity is a breeding ground for disruption, leaving underserved markets for insurgents to seize and launch an attack on incumbents from below. We have good reason to believe that’s happening in banking.

Insurgents

A herd of unicorns is at the stable door, looking to trample Wells Fargo and Chase. Fintech is responsible for roughly one in five (17%) of the world’s unicorns, more than any other sector. In addition, there are already several megalodons worth more than financial institutions that have spent generations building (mis)trust.

How did this happen? The fintechs are zeroing in on everything big banks aren’t.

Example #1: Innovation. Over the past five years, PayPal has issued 26x more patents than Goldman Sachs.

Example #2: Cost-cutting. “Neobanks” offer the basic services of a bank, with one less expensive and cumbersome feature: the branch. A traditional bank branch needs $50 million in deposits to generate an adequate return. Yet nearly half (48%) of branches in the U.S. are below that threshold. Neobanks don’t have that problem, and there are now at least 177 of them. Founders frame these offerings as more progressive, less corporate. Dave, a new banking app, offers a Founding Story on its website (illustrated with cartoon bears) about three friends “fed up” with their banking experience, often incurring $38 overdraft fees. Fed up no longer: Dave provides free overdraft protection and has 10 million customers.

Example #3: Less inequity. NYU Professor of Finance Sabrina Howell’s research found fintech lenders gave 18% of PPP loans to Black-owned businesses, while small to medium-sized banks provided just 2%. Among all loans to Black-owned firms, Professor Howell found 54% were from fintech startups. Racial discrimination is the most likely explanation, as lenders faced zero credit risk.

Example #4: Serving the underserved. Unequal access to banking is a global botheration. Almost a third of the world’s adults, 1.7 billion, are unbanked. In Argentina, Colombia, Nigeria, and other countries, more than 50% of adults are unbanked.

But innovation is already on the horizon: Take Argentine fintech Ualá, whose CEO Pierpaolo Barbieri I spoke with on the Pod last week. In just 4 years, more than 3 million people have opened an account with his company — about 9% of the country — and over 25% of 18 to 25-year-olds now have a tarjeta Ualá (online wallet). Ualá recently launched in Mexico, where, as of 2017, only 2.6% of the poorest 40% had a credit card. This is more than an economic issue — it’s a societal issue, as financial inclusion bolsters the middle class and forms a solid base for democracy.

Interest(ed)

Chase savings accounts are offering, no joke, 0.01% interest. Wells Fargo? The same, though if you keep your investment portfolio with Wells, they’ll double that rate to 0.02%. Meanwhile, neobanks including Ally and Chime offer 0.5% — 50 times the competition.

There is also blood in the water for fintech unicorns that have created a debit, vs. credit, generation: The buy-now-pay-later fintech Afterpay has more than 5 million U.S. customers — just two years after launching in the country. As of February, its competitor Affirm has 4.5 million customers.

Unicorns are also coming for payments. The megasaurus in this space is PayPal, which has built the first global payments platform outside the credit card model and is second only to Visa in payment volume and revenue. Square’s Cash app is capturing share, and Apple Cash is also a player, as it’s … Apple.

Square, Apple, and a host of other companies are taking the “partnership” approach, bolting new services onto the existing transaction infrastructure. Square’s little white box is a low-upfront-cost way for a small merchant to accept credit cards. It’s particularly interesting that Apple teamed up with Goldman Sachs instead of a traditional bank. Goldman is looking to get into the consumer space (see Marcus), and Apple is looking to get into the payments space — this alliance could be the unsullied fighting with air cover from dragons. It should make Wells and BofA anxious.

The Big Four credit card system operators (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express) are still the dominant payment players, and they have deep moats. Their brands are global, their networks robust. Visa can handle 76,000 transactions per second in 160 currencies, and as of this week it had settled $1 billion in cryptocurrency transactions.

Still, even the king of payments sees dead people. In 2020, Visa tried to buy Plaid for $5.3 billion. Plaid currently helps connect existing payments providers (i.e. banks) to finance software such as Quicken and Mint. But it plans to expand from that beachhead into offering a full-fledged payments system. Visa CEO Al Kelly initially described the deal as an “insurance policy” to neutralize a “threat to our important U.S. debit business.” In an encouraging sign that American antitrust authorities are stirring, the Department of Justice filed suit to block the merger, and Visa walked.

Beyond Banking

Fintech is also coming for investing with online trading apps (Robinhood, Webull, Public, and several of the neobanks) and through the crypto side door (Coinbase, Gemini, Binance). Insurance is under threat from companies like Lemonade (home), Ladder (life), and Root (auto).

In sum, fintech is likely as underhyped as space is overhyped. Why? The ROI on your professional efforts and investing are inversely proportional to how sexy the industry/investment is, and fintech is … boring. Except for the immense opportunity and value creation — for multiple stakeholders. “Half the world is unbanked, but we need to colonize Mars,” said no rational investor ever.

Re: investing in fintech: What has, and will always be, a good rap? The guy/gal who owns the bank.

Life is so rich,

By: Scott Galloway

Source: Fintechs Are Zeroing in on Everything Big Banks Aren’t | by Scott Galloway | Jul, 2021 | Marker

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The IRS Has 35 Million Tax Returns In Backlog. Here’s How To Track Your Money

The IRS is facing numerous challenges that have caused setbacks in issuing tax refunds this year. A recent National Taxpayer Advocate report confirmed that some 35 million tax returns are yet to be processed and explained the long delays. The tax agency is tasked with more than usual this time of year. Many 2020 tax returns are requiring adjustments or corrections, disbursing stimulus checks, calculating other tax credits and refunding overpayment on 2020 unemployment compensation.

And then there’s the unprecedented situation brought on by the pandemic. The IRS is taking more than the standard 21 days to send refunds — some taxpayers are waiting months. It’s hard to get live assistance by phone, as many callers wait on hold or aren’t connected due to high call volumes. So what if you need your tax money to cover debt or household expenses? How can you check the status of your money without calling the IRS?

We’ll walk you through how to see your personalized refund status online through IRS tracking tools and what to do if you’re waiting for a tax refund on unemployment benefits, as well. For more on economic relief aid, here are some ways to know if you qualify for the child tax credit payments that start next week. If you’re curious about future stimulus payments or the latest infrastructure deal, we can tell you about that, too. This story has been recently updated.

Why is there a tax refund delay this year?

Because of the pandemic, the IRS ran at restricted capacity in 2020, which put a strain on its ability to process tax returns and created a massive backlog. The combination of the shutdown, three rounds of stimulus payments, challenges with paper-filed returns and the tasks related to implementing new tax laws and credits caused a “perfect storm,” according to a National Taxpayer Advocate review of the 2021 filing season to Congress.

The IRS is open again and currently processing mail, tax returns, payments, refunds and correspondence, but limited resources continue to cause delays. Earlier in the tax season, some refunds were already taking longer than 21 days, including those that required manual processing. The IRS said it’s also taking more time for 2020 tax returns that need review, such as determining recovery rebate credit amounts for the first and second stimulus checks — or figuring earned income tax credit and additional child tax credit amounts.

Here’s a list of reasons your refund might be delayed:

  • Your tax return has errors.
  • It’s incomplete.
  • Your refund is suspected of identity theft or fraud.
  • You filed for the earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit.
  • Your return needs further review.
  • Your return includes Form 8379 (PDF), injured spouse allocation — this could take up to 14 weeks to process.

If the delay is due to a necessary tax correction made to a recovery rebate credit, earned income tax or additional child tax credit claimed on your return, the IRS will send you an explanation. If there’s a problem that needs to be fixed, the IRS will first try to proceed without contacting you. However, if it needs any more information, it will write you a letter.

How can you track the status of your refund online?

To check the status of your income tax refund using the IRS tracker tools, you’ll need to give some information: your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, your filing status — single, married or head of household — and your refund amount in whole dollars, which you can find on your tax return. Also, make sure it’s been at least 24 hours (or up to four weeks if you mailed your return) before you start tracking your refund.

Using the IRS tool Where’s My Refund, go to the Get Refund Status page, enter your SSN or ITIN, your filing status and your exact refund amount, then press Submit. If you entered your information correctly, you’ll be taken to a page that shows your refund status. If not, you may be asked to verify your personal tax data and try again. If all the information looks correct, you’ll need to enter the date you filed your taxes, along with whether you filed electronically or on paper.

The IRS also has a mobile app called IRS2Go that checks your tax refund status. The IRS updates the data in this tool overnight, so if you don’t see a status change after 24 hours or more, check back the following day. Once your return and refund are approved, you’ll receive a personalized date to expect your money.

Where’s My Refund has information on the most recent tax refund that the IRS has on file within the past two years, so if you’re looking for return information from previous years you’ll need to contact the IRS for further help.

How can you check the status of unemployment tax refunds online?

Taxpayers who collected unemployment benefits in 2020 and filed their tax returns early have started to receive additional tax refunds from the IRS. Under new rules from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, millions of people who treated their unemployment compensation as income are eligible for a tax break and could get a hefty sum of money back.

However, it’s not easy to track the status of that refund using the online tools above. To find out when the IRS processed your refund and for how much, we recommend locating your tax transcript by logging in to your account and viewing the transactions listed there. We explain how to do that step-by-step.

What is the wait time for a standard tax refund?

The IRS usually issues tax refunds within three weeks, but some taxpayers have been waiting months to receive their payments. If there are any errors, or if you filed a claim for an earned income tax credit or the child tax credit, the wait could be pretty lengthy. If there is an issue holding up your return, the resolution “depends on how quickly and accurately you respond, and the ability of IRS staff trained and working under social distancing requirements to complete the processing of your return,” according to its website.

The date you get your tax refund also depends on how you filed your return. For example, with refunds going into your bank account via direct deposit, it could take an additional five days for your bank to post the money to your account. This means if it took the IRS the full 21 days to issue your check and your bank five days to post it, you could be waiting a total of 26 days to get your money. If you submitted your tax return by mail, the IRS says it could take six to eight weeks for your tax refund to arrive.

What do the IRS tax refund status messages mean?

Both IRS tools (online and mobile app) will show you one of three messages to explain your tax return status.

  • Received: The IRS now has your tax return and is working to process it.
  • Approved: The IRS has processed your return and confirmed the amount of your refund, if you’re owed one.
  • Sent: Your refund is now on its way to your bank via direct deposit or as a paper check sent to your mailbox. (Here’s how to change the address on file if you moved.)

What does an IRS TREAS 310 deposit mean?

If you receive your tax refund by direct deposit, you may see IRS TREAS 310 for the transaction. The 310 identifies the transaction as an IRS tax refund. This would also apply to the case of those receiving an automatic adjustment on their tax return or a refund due to new legislation on tax-free unemployment benefits. You may also see TAX REF in the description field for a refund.

If you see a 449 instead, it means your refund has been offset for delinquent debt.

What is the IRS phone number to check on a tax refund?

The IRS received 167 million calls this tax season, which is four times the number of calls in 2019. And based on the recent report, only seven percent of calls reached a telephone agent for help. While you could try calling the IRS to check your status, the agency’s live phone assistance is extremely limited right now because the IRS says it’s working hard to get through the backlog. You shouldn’t file a second tax return or contact the IRS about the status of your return.

Even though the chances of getting live assistance are slim, the IRS says you should only call if it’s been 21 days or more since you filed your taxes online, or if the Where’s My Refund tool tells you to contact the IRS. Here’s the number to call: 800-829-1040.

Why will a refund come by mail instead of direct deposit?

There are a couple of reasons that your refund would be mailed to you. Your money can only be electronically deposited into a bank account with your name, your spouse’s name or a joint account. If that’s not the reason, you may be getting multiple refund checks, and the IRS can only direct deposit up to three refunds to one account. Additional refunds must be mailed. Lastly, your bank may reject the deposit and this would be the IRS’ next best way to refund your money quickly.

For more information about your 2020 taxes, here’s the latest on federal unemployment benefits on your taxes and everything to know about the third stimulus check.

Katie Teague headshot

 

By:

Source: The IRS has 35 million tax returns in backlog. Here’s how to track your money – CNET

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Critics:

Tax returns in the United States are reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or with the state or local tax collection agency (California Franchise Tax Board, for example) containing information used to calculate income tax or other taxes. Tax returns are generally prepared using forms prescribed by the IRS or other applicable taxing authority.

Under the Internal Revenue Code returns can be classified as either tax returns or information returns, although the term “tax return” is sometimes used to describe both kinds of returns in a broad sense. Tax returns, in the more narrow sense, are reports of tax liabilities and payments, often including financial information used to compute the tax. A very common federal tax form is IRS Form 1040.

A tax return provides information so that the taxation authority can check on the taxpayer’s calculations, or can determine the amount of tax owed if the taxpayer is not required to calculate that amount. In contrast, an information return is a declaration by some person, such as a third party, providing economic information about one or more potential taxpayers.

References:

Break The Five Most Common Outsourcing Reform Myths

Break the five most common outsourcing reform myths

With 41 days to comply with the new regulation on Outsourcing, which comes into force on July 24, five myths prevail among Mexican companies. The new regulatory framework applies to companies of all sizes, however, SMEs are under more pressure because they do not have great internal support or consulting firms to carry out this transition.

In addition to the rush to comply with the new regulations, it must be taken into account that there is some confusion about the functions that can continue to be contracted through outsourcing. For SMEs, companies from 10 to 200 or 300 employees, internalizing the functions that were traditionally handled in outsourcing is complex and represents a challenge. Automation and support are key to successfully undergo this transformation and avoid the associated fines.

To dispel the main myths that exist regarding the new regulation, Business Republic organized a webinar to offer real facts and advice for the new regulation. At the event, Carlos Marina COO of Worky , Lorena Atondo and Gabriel Fernández, both from Reynoso & Atondo, Abogados, SC, agreed that this situation is significant, since it impacts more than 4.7 million workers, 17% of the formal jobs in the country.

And it is that urban myths and fake news abound that cause uncertainty and concern among clients and prospects, Carlos Marina warned.

The myths:

  1. “I can continue with my current outsourcing scheme, since the authority does not have the resources to detect it.”
  2. “I can avoid the new regulations by passing my collaborators to schemes of incorporation into the tax regime, fees, cooperatives or unions.”
  3. “We can pay a minimal amount in cash and the rest of the compensation can be handled through bonuses, commissions and vouchers.”
  4. “I don’t worry about the compensation schemes of the past, as there are no retroactive effects.”
  5. “The internalization of the payroll is too expensive, I better risk possible fines”

Each of these statements are not only false but risky. The specialists clarified that the new regulations are designed to improve the conditions of the workers and that in that spirit, the authority has organized itself to avoid precisely any act of simulation. At this juncture, solution providers have emerged that seem miraculous, but in reality only expose the company and its human capital to unnecessary risks.

Advice

“My advice to all employers is to take preventive measures to comply in a timely manner and to focus on the positive aspects that the internalization of staff brings in terms of employee satisfaction, loyalty, and company productivity,” commented Lorenia Atondo .

For his part, Gabriel Fernández, added that the sanctions are structured to promote broader compliance, since they range from 178,000 pesos to more than 4 million and even criminal sanctions are contemplated. It states, “The authority has full visibility of these myths and others, and is organized to detect and punish through mechanisms of collaboration between institutions and information exchange.”

The internalization of workers represents a change of capital dimensions for companies that currently depend on outsourcing for the management of their human resources. “For small and medium-sized companies, which do not have specialized departments or the support of consultants and law firms, this transition becomes even more delicate,” commented Marina, highlighting that Worky is dedicated precisely to companies with 20 and up to 200 employees for whom offers support throughout the internalization process with a 100% Mexican management platform designed to be affordable and relevant for this segment.

Hanz Dieter Schietekat, CEO of Business Republic and who moderated the event, ended the session by urging attendees to act promptly. “I hope it has become very clear that compliance with the new outsourcing standard is imminent and mandatory. Remember that if a solution sounds too good to be true, it probably is. With less than a month and a half remaining for compliance, it is imperative to have the right tools and advice. ”

By:

Source: Break the five most common outsourcing reform myths

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Critics:

Outsourcing is an agreement in which one company contracts a service bureau to be responsible for a planned or existing activity that is or could be done internally, and sometimes involves transferring employees and assets from one firm to another.

The term outsourcing, which came from the phrase outside resourcing, originated no later than 1981. The concept, which The Economist says has “made its presence felt since the time of the Second World War”,often involves the contracting of a business process (e.g., payroll processing, claims processing), operational, and/or non-core functions, such as manufacturing, facility management, call center/call centre support).

The practice of handing over control of public services to private enterprises, even if on a short-term limited basis,[7] may also be described as “outsourcing”.

Outsourcing includes both foreign and domestic contracting,and sometimes includes offshoring (relocating a business function to a distant country) or nearshoring (transferring a business process to a nearby country).

Offshoring and outsourcing are not mutually inclusive: there can be one without the other. They can be intertwined (offshore outsourcing), and can be individually or jointly, partially or completely reversed,involving terms such as reshoring, inshoring, and insourcing.

  • Offshoring is moving the work to a distant country. If the distant workplace is a foreign subsidiary/owned by the company, then the offshore operation is a captive, sometimes referred to as in-house offshore.
  • Offshore outsourcing is the practice of hiring an external organization to perform some business functions (“Outsourcing”) in a far-off country other than the one where the products or services are actually performed, developed or manufactured (“Offshore”).
  • Insourcing entails bringing processes handled by third-party firms in-house, and is sometimes accomplished via vertical integration.
  • Nearshoring refers to outsource to a nearby country.
  • Farmshoring refers to outsourcing to companies in more rural locations within the same country.
  • Homeshoring (also known as Homesourcing) is a form of IT-enabled “transfer of service industry employment from offices to home-based … with appropriate telephone and Internet facilities”.[16][17] These telecommuting positions may be customer-facing or back-office,and the workers may be employees or independent contractors.
  • In-housing refers to hiring employees.
  • An Intermediary is when a business provides a contract service to another organization while contracting out that same service.

See also

3 Ways to Get Minority-Led Small Businesses Back to Business

3 Ways to Get Minority-Led Small Businesses Back to Business

If the pandemic deepened the challenges of dealing with long-felt issues among business owners of color, the recovery is putting them in focus. Access to capital and racial inequity in America continue to weigh on underrepresented small-business owners.

That was the key takeaway from a recent virtual briefing dubbed “Back to Business: Restarting Main Street in the Wake of Covid-19,” which was hosted by Reimagine Main Street, a project founded last year to lead small businesses toward an inclusive economic recovery. The discussion convened business leaders and officials, who offered their own ideas for how to resolve these longstanding issues so that minority-led businesses can get back to business.

Here are their top three tips:

1. Help people get vaccinated.

As the pandemic fueled much of the recent difficulty hitting underrepresented business owners and entrepreneurs, a good first step is to do all you can to overcome the pandemic, which can be achieved by helping people get vaccinated. “You can’t get the economy back on track without beating Covid,” says Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser to President Biden. Specifically, he suggests offering vaccine incentives to employees, customers, and the communities you serve.

He proposes offering paid time off for employees to get a jab, and providing compensation for missing work because of vaccine complications as motivation. “So many people can’t afford to lose a day or two of work,” says Richmond, therefore servicing the needs of your employees is a crucial part of getting the economy up and running again.

As for customers, the more people who are vaccinated, the quicker it is you’ll return to normalcy. So consider rewarding consumers who are fully vaccinated. United Airlines, for instance, last week launched its “Shot to Fly” campaign, offering the chance to win a year of free flights to vaccinated customers. “We just appreciate the business community partnering with us to get it done,” says Richmond.

2. Create an inclusive recovery.

Ensuring Black and Latinx business owners continue to receive financial support is vital, says Tammy Halevy, co-lead of Reimagine Main Street. Passing the American Jobs Plan, Biden’s nearly $2 trillion plan to shore up the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and boost green jobs, would be a start, adds Halevy. Additionally, it would be helpful to offer new grant programs and to “push the [Small Business Administration] to process forgiveness applications faster” to Black and Brown business owners, who need help accessing capital.

But you can’t just rely on the government for help, says Richmond. It is important for all small-business communities to help one another. Yes, you need to focus on supply chains and other internal matters. However, intentionally supporting other ancillary businesses, such as law firms, accountants, and even the local car wash, is an important step in getting minority communities as a whole back in business.

3. Demand greater access to capital.

For many minority-owned small businesses, federal relief was not accessible throughout the pandemic, says Chiling Tong, president and CEO of Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce. “Sixty percent of AAPI businesses, who did not apply for federal relief, did not apply because they did not think they were eligible for relief.”

Tong notes that a lack of awareness was a problem. But also, she adds: There was a potential language barrier. She says that information regarding some federal aid programs was not translated into other languages, at least initially.

These technical disadvantages pervaded long before the pandemic, she adds. The government at all levels needs to partner with various chambers of commerce to disband technical disadvantages these communities face, making sure they have the capability to apply for and maintain the same access to capital that other businesses have, says Tong.

Through investments targeted toward an inclusive recovery, vaccine incentives, and expanding access to capital, small businesses will thrive, says Richmond, and “as [small businesses] succeed and flourish, we know that the economy and the country will do the same.”

By Alicia Doniger

Source: 3 Ways to Get Minority-Led Small Businesses Back to Business | Inc.com

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Critics:

Marketing plan

  • Market research – To produce a marketing plan for small businesses, research needs to be done on similar businesses, which should include desk research (done online or with directories) and field research. This gives an insight into the target group’s behavior and shopping patterns. Analyzing the competitor’s marketing strategies makes it easier for small businesses to gain market share.
  • Marketing mix – Marketing mix is a crucial factor for any business to be successful. Especially for a small business, examining a competitor’s marketing mix can be very helpful. An appropriate market mix, which uses different types of marketing, can help to boost sales.
  • Product life cycle – After the launch of the business, crucial points of focus should be the growth phase (adding customers, adding products or services, and/or expanding to new markets) and working towards the maturity phase. Once the business reaches the maturity stage, an extension strategy should be in place. Re-launching is also an option at this stage. Pricing strategy should be flexible and based on the different stages of the product life cycle.
  • Promotion techniques – It is preferable to keep promotion expenses as low as possible. ‘Word of mouth’, ‘email marketing’, ‘print-ads’ in local newspapers, etc. can be effective.
  • Channels of distribution – Selecting an effective channel of distribution may reduce the promotional expenses as well as overall expenses for a small business.

References

As Pandemic Upends Teaching, Fewer Students Want to Pursue It

Kianna Ameni-Melvin’s parents used to tell her that there wasn’t much money to be made in education. But it was easy enough for her to tune them out as she enrolled in an education studies program, with her mind set on teaching high school special education.

Then the coronavirus shut down her campus at Towson University in Maryland, and she sat home watching her twin brother, who has autism, as he struggled through online classes. She began to question how the profession’s low pay could impact the challenges of pandemic teaching.

She asked her classmates whether they, too, were considering other fields. Some of them were. Then she began researching roles with transferable skills, like human resources. “I didn’t want to start despising a career I had a passion for because of the salary,” Ms. Ameni-Melvin, 21, said.

Few professions have been more upended by the pandemic than teaching, as school districts have vacillated between in-person, remote and hybrid models of learning, leaving teachers concerned for their health and scrambling to do their jobs effectively.

For students considering a profession in turmoil, the disruptions have seeded doubts, which can be seen in declining enrollment numbers.

A survey by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education found that 19 percent of undergraduate-level and 11 percent of graduate-level teaching programs saw a significant drop in enrollment this year. And Teach for America, which recruits recent college graduates to teach in low-income schools across the country, said it had received fewer applications for its fall 2021 corps compared with this period last year.

Credit…Rosem Morton for The New York Times

Many program leaders believe enrollment fell because of the perceived hazards posed by in-person teaching and the difficulties of remote learning, combined with longstanding frustrations over low pay compared with professions that require similar levels of education. (The national average for a public-school teacher’s salary is roughly $61,000.) Some are hopeful that enrollment will return to its prepandemic level as vaccines roll out and schools resume in-person learning.

But the challenges in teacher recruitment and retention run deeper: The number of education degrees conferred by American colleges and universities dropped by 22 percent between 2006 and 2019, despite an overall increase in U.S. university graduates, stoking concerns about a future teacher shortage.

For some young people, doubts about entering the teaching work force amid the pandemic are straightforward: They fear that the job now entails increased risk.

Nicole Blagsvedt, an education major at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, felt a jolt of anxiety when she began her classroom training in a local public school that recently brought its students back for full in-person learning. After months of seeing only her roommates, moving around a classroom brimming with fourth and fifth graders was nerve-racking.

Ms. Blagsvedt’s role also encompassed new responsibilities: sanitizing fidget toys, enforcing mask use, coordinating the cleaning of the water bottles that students brought to school because they couldn’t use the water fountains. In her first week, she received a call from an office assistant informing her that one of her students had been exposed to Covid-19, and that she had to help shepherd the students out of the classroom so it could be disinfected.

“This panic crossed my mind,” she said. “I thought: This was what it’s going to be like now.”

Administrators running teacher preparation programs said the new anxieties were most likely scaring away some potential applicants. “People are weighing whether or not it makes sense to go to a classroom when there are alternatives that may seem safer,” said David J. Chard, dean of the Wheelock College of Education and Human Development at Boston University.

But for many students, the challenges posed by remote teaching can be just as steep. Those training in districts with virtual classes have had to adjust their expectations; while they might have pictured themselves holding students’ hands and forming deep relationships, they’re now finding themselves staring at faces on a Zoom grid instead.

“Being online is draining,” said Oscar Nollette-Patulski, who had started an education degree at the University of Michigan but is now considering swapping majors. “You have to like what you’re doing a lot more for it to translate on a computer. I’m wondering, if I don’t like doing this online that much, should I be getting a degree in it?”

In some instances, remote teaching has deprived education students of training opportunities altogether. At Portland State University in Oregon, some students were not able to get classroom placements while schools were operating remotely. Others were given only restricted access to student documents and academic histories because of privacy concerns.

Credit…Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

At the university’s College of Education there was a decline in applications this year, which the dean, Marvin Lynn, attributed to students in the community hearing about the difficulties in training during the pandemic.

Applications may tick back up as schools return to in-person learning, Dr. Lynn said, but the challenges are likely to outlast this year. Educators have struggled with recruitment to the profession since long before the pandemic. In recent years, about 8 percent of public schoolteachers were leaving the work force annually, through retirement or attrition. National surveys of teachers have pointed to low compensation and poor working conditions as the causes of turnover.

The pandemic is likely to exacerbate attrition and burnout. In a recent national study of teachers by the RAND Corporation, one quarter of respondents said that they were likely to leave the profession before the end of the school year. Nearly half of public schoolteachers who stopped teaching after March 2020 but before their scheduled retirements did so because of Covid-19.

This attrition comes even as many schools are trying to add staff to handle reduced class sizes and to ensure compliance with Covid-19 safety protocols. Miguel A. Cardona, the secretary of education, recently called for financial help to reopen schools safely, which will allow them to bring on more employees so they can make their classes smaller. The Covid-19 relief package approved by President Biden includes $129 billion in funding for K-12 schools, which can be used to increase staff.

Not all teacher preparation programs are experiencing a decrease in interest. California State University in Long Beach saw enrollment climb 15 percent this year, according to the system’s preliminary data. Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, the assistant vice chancellor for the university system, attributes this partly to an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom, which temporarily allowed candidates to enter preparation programs without meeting basic skill requirements because of the state’s teacher shortage.

Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City also saw an increase in applications this year, according to a spokesman, who noted that teaching has historically been a “recession-proof profession” that sometimes attracts more young people in times of crisis.

Even some of those with doubts have chosen to stick with their plans. Ms. Ameni-Melvin, the Towson student, said she would continue her education program for now because she felt invested after three years there.

Maria Ízunza Barba also decided to put aside her doubts and started an education studies program at the Wheelock College of Education at Boston University last fall. Earlier in the pandemic, as she watched her parents, both teachers, stumble through the difficulties of preparing for remote class, she wondered: Was it too late to choose law school instead?

Ms. Ízunza Barba, 19, had promised to help her mother with any technical difficulties that arose during her first class, so she crawled under the desk, out of the students’ sight, and showed her mother which buttons to press in order to share her screen.

Then she watched her mother, anxious about holding the students’ attention, perform a Spanish song about economics.

Ms. Ízunza Barba said she realized then that there was no other career path that could prove as meaningful. “Seeing her make her students laugh made me realize how much a teacher can impact someone’s day,” she said. “I was like, whoa, that’s something I want to do.”

Source: As Pandemic Upends Teaching, Fewer Students Want to Pursue It – The New York Times

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Former Astronaut Pleads Guilty in Crash That Killed 2 Young Girls

Fox News Intensifies Its Pro-Trump Politics as Dissenters Depart

Opinion: Covid’s Deadliest Phase May Be Here Soon

Opinion: Scenes From a Mogul’s Marriage or: The Troubling Fourth Act of Bill Gates

Man Rescued in Colorado Mountain Pass Is Accused in 1982 Murders

How a Cozy Neighborhood Restaurant Became a Celebrity Hide-Out

Paul Ryan Critiques Trump’s Grip on the Republican Party

A Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Splits the Gucci Family

Pride Said Gay Cops Aren’t Welcome. Then Came the Backlash.

Stephen Colbert Parodies Brian Kemp’s Version of the National Anthem

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References

Agrba L (27 March 2020). “How Canadian universities are evaluating students during the coronavirus pandemic”. Maclean’s.

iPhone Owners Could Get $500 Cash Back From Apple Over Batterygate

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iPhone owners in the U.S. could receive up to $500 compensation from Apple, following the settlement of the so-called Batterygate scandal.

The Batterygate affair saw Apple hamper the performance of certain iPhone models in order to preserve older batteries in the handsets. Apple has never admitted wrongdoing, but is paying up to $500m in a legal settlement to end the matter.

That now means owners of selected iPhone handsets can qualify for a rebate, which could potentially be as much as $500, but is estimated to be $25. Those handsets are:

  • iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus or iPhone SE that ran iOS 10.2.1 or later before December 21, 2017
  • iPhone 7 or 7 Plus that ran iOS 11.2 or later before December 21, 2017

Obviously, you would need a photographic memory to know what version of iOS your phone was running before a set date in December three years ago, so the online claim form is making it easy to check if you have a valid claim. You can either enter your phone’s serial number or your Apple ID and various details about the handset to check if you’re due compensation.

Up to $500 rebate

Apple has agreed to make a minimum payment of $310m to cover the cost of the claims, but that could rise to a maximum of $500,000 depending on the number of claims received by the deadline of October 6.

Only when all the claims have been submitted will it be decided how much each claimant will receive. However, if the number of claimants is low, the windfall per customer could be as much as $500.

“Under the proposed settlement, if the total value of approved claims submitted by Settlement Class Members does not exceed the $310 million floor, the value of each approved claim (per eligible device) may be increased on a pro rata basis, up to a maximum of $500 per device,” the settlement documents state.

On the flip side, if the settlement fund is flooded with applicants, the figure per customer could be less than the estimated $25 per customer that Apple is expected to pay out.

Affected customers don’t have to participate in the scheme to claim money back from Apple. The settlement website makes it clear that owners have the option to exclude themselves from the settlement and pursue separate legal action against Apple.

Affected customers can also object to the settlement and ask to speak at the final hearing or post an objection to the attorneys’ fees in the case.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I have been a technology writer and editor for more than 20 years. I was assistant editor of The Sunday Times’ technology section, editor of PC Pro magazine and have written for more than a dozen different publications and websites over the years. I’ve also appeared as a tech pundit on television and radio, including BBC Newsnight, the Chris Evans Show and ITN News at Ten. Hit me up if you’ve got a tech story that needs breaking at barry@mediabc.co.uk.

Source: https://www.forbes.com

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