Remember when this was supposed to last two weeks?
It’s now been nearly nine months since many of us have stepped foot in the office. In that time, remote work has gone from being a novelty to being the norm. Talk of returning to the office has faded as the virus surges, and many employers are instead planning for a permanent “virtual-first” future.
Since May, I’ve been trying to capture attitudes and predictions about remote work using a tool very close to my heart: social media. I have a community of nearly 2 million passionate professional followers on social media. …
Climbing walls. Arcades. Weight Rooms. Beer Fridays. Not long ago, on-the-job perks like these were commonplace among the Googles and Facebooks of the world, not to mention countless startups aspiring to join their ranks.
Now, more than six months into the work-from-home era, they seem, well … kinda dumb.
And it’s not just because the gyms are sitting empty and the beer kegs are going flat. The reality is that, pre-pandemic, the standard buffet of startup perks was neither especially inclusive nor even well used. Critics have pointed out that lots of perks — from catered meals to foosball tables — skewed to the needs of one demographic: young, unattached men. …
Recently, Apple became the first U.S. company to be valued at $2 trillion. This is all the more striking considering just two years ago Apple became the first U.S. company to be valued at $1 trillion.
Nor is Apple alone. Across the board, tech — especially big tech — has been surging during a period when the economy at large is struggling. Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook, the five biggest publicly traded companies in America, have risen 37% in 2020. The rest of the S&P 500 has fallen by an average of 6 percent.
Why? Well, right now, technology scratches a very big itch. At a time when physical interactions are limited, digital and virtual interactions have become a lifeline for people and businesses. It’s hard to imagine a bigger problem, or a handier solution. …
I was recently involved in a high-level job search at my company — to replace myself.
After 12 years as founder and CEO, I had decided to move to chairman of the board and hand the operational reins over to a successor. Then, COVID-19 happened. The prospect of finding and vetting a new CEO — without ever meeting them in person — was beyond daunting. Yet, the constraints resulted in an excellent outcome (so far!).
Businesses everywhere are being tested these days, in so many ways. Those fortunate enough to be hiring have had to adapt to a virtual recruiting process on the fly. This comes with its share of challenges. Assessing candidates via Zoom isn’t always easy. …
Cramped and chaotic working quarters. Remote bosses breathing down your neck. Isolation from friends and colleagues. Some serious cabin fever.
We’ve probably all faced these issues adjusting to working from home during the COVID-19 crisis. But long before the pandemic, one group of people was wrestling with similar challenges, on a totally different scale.
Think about it: work doesn’t really get much more remote than outer space. Astronauts have to spend weeks, sometimes months, at a time cooped up with the same people. They have to face down stress and loneliness and isolation and still get the job done. …
The first time someone actually “punched in” to work was 1888. Invented by a jeweler named William Bundy, the mechanical time clock enabled factories to monitor — with machine-like precision — how long people worked and how much they were owed.
In many ways, the time clock was the consummate expression of the factory system that grew out of the Industrial Revolution. Workers, largely interchangeable, came to a centralized workplace. They worked standard hours, doing repetitive tasks, overseen by management. In exchange for their time, they got a paycheck.
Even though these practices date back hundreds of years, they probably seem pretty familiar. Fact is, conventions developed during the Industrial Revolution — from “clocking in” to the standard work week — continue to define workplace culture, even in the knowledge era. …
Let’s be honest. At the best of times, business conferences can be a little … dull. But now that conferences have gone virtual, the risk of boring people to tears is very real.
But the reality is virtual conferences and events are going to be a big part of our future, definitely in the short term and possibly much longer than that. Nor is that all bad news — in terms of accessibility, cost savings, environmental footprint, etc., virtual events have a lot going for them. We just have to find a way to make them less of a drag.
Some of this comes down to having the right technology and knowing how to use it — everything from the hosting platform to the proper mics and lighting. …
First came the crisis. Then the conspiracies. On Facebook, YouTube and other platforms, posts began popping up and going viral: 5G causes COVID-19; drinking bleach can cure it; Bill Gates is behind it.
For me, this felt like a bad case of deja vu: another global news event, another flurry of opportunists using social media to spread misinformation at the worst possible time.
But, then, something happened, both unexpected and long overdue. In contrast to the slow, tepid responses to everything from Russian election interference to doctored videos, networks acted swiftly, if not always effectually.
False stories were hunted down and actively removed; others were slapped with warning labels or downgraded to limit reach. Facebook has gone so far as to send out alerts to users who may have crossed paths with misinformation about COVID-19. Users are rallying, as well. Prominent entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den Dragon Michele Romanow recently supported a #CheckThenShare campaign “to stop the spread of misinformation because sharing bad information can be deadly.” …
This stat surprised me. According to recent figures from the Education Department, during the 2018–2019 academic year only 35% of postsecondary students in the U.S. took at least one course online.
Stop and think about that. Despite the ubiquity of high speed internet, the sophistication of video conferencing technology and the availability of high quality online learning platforms, two out of three students didn’t take a single online course last year.
Nearly overnight, of course, the number taking online courses has rocketed to 100%.
Certainly, that change has come with some growing pains, as students and professors adjust to an online learning environment. It’s challenging to replicate the energy and dynamics of a university class in a virtual space. …
The COVID-19 crisis has brought with it a new reality of remote working. Over the past weeks, millions of people have adapted to working from home, repurposing dining room tables, bedrooms and even ironing boards as temporary offices.
Finding the right technology has been a big part of this adjustment: video tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts for meetings; file sharing services like Google Drive and Dropbox; messaging platforms like Slack and Facebook Workplace.
But aside from the technology, there’s another new challenge we’re confronting: how to keep culture and connectedness alive at a distance. …