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Google Staff Squirm as Remote Workers Face Pay Cuts

By Sophia Epstein
As more and more people switch to working from home, some are left counting the cost.

Box, Zoom chief product officers discuss how the changing workplace drove their latest collaboration

By Christine Hall

If the past 18 months is any indication, the nature of the workplace is changing. And while Box and Zoom already have integrations together, it makes sense for them to continue to work more closely.

Their newest collaboration is the Box app for Zoom, a new type of in-product integration that allows users to bring apps into a Zoom meeting to provide the full Box experience.

While in Zoom, users can securely and directly access Box to browse, preview and share files from Zoom — even if they are not taking part in an active meeting. This new feature follows a Zoom integration Box launched last year with its “Recommended Apps” section that enables access to Zoom from Box so that workflows aren’t disrupted.

The companies’ chief product officers, Diego Dugatkin with Box and Oded Gal with Zoom, discussed with TechCrunch why seamless partnerships like these are a solution for the changing workplace.

With digitization happening everywhere, an integration of “best-in-breed” products for collaboration is essential, Dugatkin said. Not only that, people don’t want to be moving from app to app, instead wanting to stay in one environment.

“It’s access to content while never having to leave the Zoom platform,” he added.

It’s also access to content and contacts in different situations. When everyone was in an office, meeting at a moment’s notice internally was not a challenge. Now, more people are understanding the value of flexibility, and both Gal and Dugatkin expect that spending some time at home and some time in the office will not change anytime soon.

As a result, across the spectrum of a company, there is an increasing need for allowing and even empowering people to work from anywhere, Dugatkin said. That then leads to a conversation about sharing documents in a secure way for companies, which this collaboration enables.

The new Box and Zoom integration enables meeting in a hybrid workplace: chat, video, audio, computers or mobile devices, and also being able to access content from all of those methods, Gal said.

“Companies need to be dynamic as people make the decision of how they want to work,” he added. “The digital world is providing that flexibility.”

This long-term partnership is just scratching the surface of the continuous improvement the companies have planned, Dugatkin said.

Dugatkin and Gal expect to continue offering seamless integration before, during and after meetings: utilizing Box’s cloud storage, while also offering the ability for offline communication between people so that they can keep the workflow going.

“As Diego said about digitization, we are seeing continuous collaboration enhanced with the communication aspect of meetings day in and day out,” Gal added. “Being able to connect between asynchronous and synchronous with Zoom is addressing the future of work and how it is shaping where we go in the future.”

3 ways to become a better manager in the work-from-home era

By Annie Siebert
Jeremy Epstein Contributor
Jeremy Epstein is the chief marketing officer at Gtmhub, the world’s leading SaaS provider enabling the OKR (objectives and key results) goal-setting methodology.

The average employee will prefer to work from home nearly half the time after the pandemic is over. Employees are also demanding flexible schedules and remote work, and as a result, executives are planning to reduce office space by 30%. The data surrounding the global shift to remote work is piling up and our post-pandemic professional landscape is starting to take shape.

Are you ready to lead a digital workforce?

The seismic shift in how we work requires a reassessment of how we manage, even for — or especially for — seasoned leaders. How do you wrangle a highly educated, decentralized workforce and rally them around a singular mission? How do you become a better people manager amid a workplace sea change?

As a seasoned CMO who has managed global workforces, I’ve finally hit my stride as a remote-only manager, all while navigating a global pandemic and riding my company’s unprecedented growth. What’s the secret sauce to managing today’s remote workforce? Strengthen your team by creating authentic workplace transparency, using numbers as a universal language and providing meaning behind your team’s work.

The biggest secret behind my management practices? It’s possible to produce more success with less stress. Consider these three ways I’ve strengthened my team and, in turn, become a more nimble manager.

Focus your team on meaningful work

A Harvard Business Review study found that knowledge workers are more fulfilled when they understand what organizations are trying to achieve and how their work lifts up their workplaces as a whole. In other words, meaning motivates your digital workforce.

On the surface, communicating your organization’s overarching mission, its reason for being, seems like a simple enough task. But I challenge you to ask each one of your team members to define your organization’s mission. If you have 10 employees, I bet you get nine or 10 different answers.

Instead of expecting employees to find your organization’s mission and vision on PowerPoint decks or on the website’s “about us” page, use the proven objectives and key results (OKRs) methodology.

The next piece of the puzzle helps you raise the visibility around why your employees are doing what they’re doing every day and creates a culture of motivation through meaning. Collaborate with your employees to create individual OKRs that identify goals and metrics for achievement. These OKRs should detail exactly how each employee contributes to the organization’s success and become the impetus behind everything an employee does.

I tell my workforce to review their OKRs every morning to help them focus on what’s important. It is like daily meditation for your business. So I didn’t worry when my director of marketing recently moved and had a baby. Because we had worked together to set thoughtful OKRs, my team member’s objectives and results were well defined. She knew where to focus her limited time. No distractions from the cacophony of requests. No anxiety over letting down her team. Just peace of mind that she was focusing on the right tasks.

More companies should shift to a work-from-home model

By Ram Iyer
Karl Laughton Contributor
Karl Laughton is president & COO of Insightly, which makes scalable CRM software that enables companies to go beyond transactions and grow lasting customer relationships.

Nearly three in 10 employees (29%) would quit their job if they were told they were no longer allowed to work remotely, according to a recent survey. In addition, a recent Harvard Business Study found that “companies that let their workers decide where and when to do their jobs — whether in another city or in the middle of the night — increase employee productivity, reduce turnover and lower organizational costs.”

Over the past 18 months, while instituting a remote work model, our turnover rate at Insightly was the lowest in company history and an internal survey found happiness levels to be twice as high from the previous year. This in the midst of a major pandemic, social movement, forest fires and a disruptive election — all happening at the same time.

As long as your employees are available when your customers are in need and goals are consistently met, 9 to 5 no longer needs to be a thing.

On a larger, global scale, employers from companies around the world are coming to the same realization: You don’t need an office to be productive and employees are happier working from home.

The next logical step is, at the same time, a majorly disruptive one and a 180-degree shift toward how companies have operated for over 100 years — the transition from in-person headquarters to a remote, work-from-anywhere model. In line with this shift, we’ve foregone our 40,000-square-foot Soma office space and employees are able to work from anywhere in the United States while keeping the same salary.

There will no doubt be challenges, and there already have been. But with these challenges also arises immense opportunity. Here are a few battle-tested tips on how to maintain productivity while delivering flexibility with this new work model:

Reallocate overhead savings

Let employees choose where they live. Allowing this option will better their lives and make for happy, engaged employees. Overhead costs, especially in large cities such as San Francisco, are the largest operating expense for most companies. Take this large sum of money and invest in employee happiness. You don’t need thousands of square feet in office space to be successful.

That massive overhead cost you just got rid of? Use this toward more meaningful employee experiences that will enhance their lives.

Bring your own environment: The future of work

By Ram Iyer
Michael Biltz Contributor
Michael Biltz is managing director of Accenture Technology Vision, where he leads the enterprise's annual visioning process to focus on how technology will impact the way we work and live.

The world has just witnessed one of the fastest work transformations in history. COVID-19 saw businesses send people home en masse, leaning on technology to maintain business as usual. Working from home, once the exception rather than the rule, became responsible for two-thirds of economic activity as an estimated 1.1 billion people around the world were forced to perform their daily jobs remotely, up from 350 million in 2019.

As we explain in the 2021 Accenture Technology Vision report, this transformation is just the beginning. Looking ahead, where and how people work will be much more flexible concepts with the potential to bring benefits to employees and employers alike. In fact, 87% of executives Accenture surveyed believe that the remote workforce opens up the market for difficult-to-find talent.

These benefits will only be fully realized if enterprises adopt a strategic approach to the future of work. Think back to a few years ago, when the bring your own device (BYOD) trend was in vogue. Faced with demand from workers to use their own devices in the enterprise setting, businesses had to think through new policies and controls to support this model.

Employers must now do the same thing, but on a much bigger scale. BYOD has become “BYOE”: Employees are bringing their entire environments to work. These environments include a broader range of worker-owned tech (smart speakers, home networks, gaming consoles, security cameras and more) and their work setting. One person may have a home office set up in a shed in their garden, another may be working from the kitchen table, surrounded by their family.

Businesses need to accept that their employees’ environments are a permanent part of their enterprise and adjust them accordingly.

The workplace reimagined

Looking ahead, the BYOE-style of work won’t be limited to employees’ homes. People will be free to work from anywhere, and they will want to work in the environment that’s best for them — whether that’s the office, home or a hybrid mix of the two. This is something leaders must accommodate rather than fight.

Indeed, leaders can rethink the purpose of working at the warehouses, depots, factories, offices, labs and other locations that make up their businesses. They should consider carefully when it makes sense for people to be at certain sites and with certain people. They will thereby be able to optimize their operations.

A few years from now, the organizations that succeed will be the ones that resisted the urge to race everyone back to the office and instead rethought how their workforce operates. They will have put in place a robust strategy for change that includes the adoption of technology enablers like the cloud, AI, IoT and XR. But more importantly, this will outline how their reimagined workforce model can support and enable their people and how this can be reflected in the corporate culture.

Enabling the new

The first step toward this future requires gaining visibility into the employee experience. With BYOE, the employee experience has never been more important, but it has also never been harder to monitor. Workplace analytics will therefore be critical to understanding how employees’ environments are impacting their work and finding insights that can improve their experience and productivity.

Security is another primary enabler. Businesses need to accept that their employees’ environments are a permanent part of their enterprise and adjust them accordingly. IT security teams will have to do more than ensure that a worker’s laptop is secured with the latest firewall patches, and consider the worker’s network security and the security of all devices linked to that network, such as baby monitors and smart TVs.

Once the technology, analytics and security foundations are in place, businesses will be better positioned to unlock the full value of BYOE: operating model transformation. When companies go virtual-first, they have new opportunities to integrate emerging technologies into the workforce. With a virtual-first BYOE strategy, for example, businesses can have a warehouse full of robots doing the physical work, coupled with offsite employees safely monitoring and overseeing strategy.

Cultural change is key

Success in BYOE will also come down to culture. The enterprise must accept that the employee environment is now part of the “workplace” and accommodate people’s needs. This will be a large, slow-to-emerge cultural shift, but there will be quick wins, too.

Take the disconnect between in-person and remote workers as an example. So much is currently tied to geography, but the future will be all about balance. Workers in different roles will benefit from the work environment best suited to their needs. However, without careful implementation, the approach could lead to a divided workforce, where in-office and remote workers struggle to collaborate. Quora is already looking to overcome this challenge by requiring all employees who are attending meetings, regardless of whether they’re home or in the office, to appear on their own video screen.

Reimagining the organization for BYOE is a moving target and best practices are still emerging. But one thing is already clear: You can’t afford to wait. To attract the best talent and keep employees engaged, start planning now.

Want to work at a Google campus? You’ll need to be vaccinated

By Brian Heater

Even for tech companies who create the tools for remote work, returning to the office is proving a major challenge. After early work-from-home recommendations last March, companies like Google eventually closed up shop, requiring employees to take their work home with them. The intervening year and change have been a fraught balancing act for the company (along with most of the world), which began outlining return-to-work plans for some employees as early as May 2020.

As Delta and other COVID-19 variants threaten anticipated returns to normalcy, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai offered a clearer look at the company’s new normal. In a letter to employees reprinted on the Google Keyword blog, Pichai noted that all employees working out of one of Google’s campuses will need to be vaccinated.

“We’re rolling this policy out in the U.S. in the coming weeks and will expand to other regions in the coming months,” Pichai wrote. “The implementation will vary according to local conditions and regulations, and will not apply until vaccines are widely available in your area.”

Further complicating matters is the second bullet point. While the rise of the Delta variant is extending the company’s work-from-home policy through October 18, it’s not entirely clear what happens after that date (assuming the virus doesn’t force another shift in the goal posts) to unvaccinated employees, who may not be able to work out of a Google office or remotely.

The post does, however, note some exceptions for those unvaccinated for “medical or other protected reasons.” Google hasn’t clarified how it will enforce such exceptions.

“For those of you with special circumstances, we will soon be sharing expanded temporary work options that will allow you to apply to work from home through the end of 2021,” Pichai wrote. “We’re also extending Expanded Carer’s Leave through the end of the year for parents and caregivers.”

Other tech giants like Apple have also pushed back return-to-office plans and implemented mask mandates in retail stores as restrictions have gone into effect amid increasing COVID-19 rates. Others, including Facebook, are sticking with original fall reopening plans.

“Expert guidelines state that vaccines are highly effective at preventing variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant,” a spokesperson for the social media giant recently told The Wall Street Journal. “Our timelines to reopen our offices haven’t changed.”

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