Daily Digest News – February 16, 2021


Hand selected flexible workspace news from the most reliable sources to keep you ahead of the pack. We find all the latest news, so you don’t have to. Morning and afternoon updates. Stay in the know.

Here’s what you need to know today:

Could Remote Working Benefit Older Workers?

It seems like the workplace’s transition to a technological-driven environment could create a wider generational gap, but a study from software firm ABBYY shows this may not be happening in the way we may expect.

In fact, the COVID-19 Technology and Business Process survey found that older workers are actually doing better than their under-35 colleagues.

Around 61% of the younger group stated that remote work made their jobs more difficult compared to only 36% of the 55-and-over workers that felt the same way.

Even more, two-thirds of younger employees said that there was a lack of information about how to navigate processes and protocols at work.

Additionally, 39% of younger workers stated they lacked motivation to work and 38% said they felt isolated with remote working arrangements.

This echoes many of the issues that have been expressed about remote working over the past year. 

However, there are a few ways companies can help struggling employees. This can range from offering flexible benefits for young parents, being transparent about remote working protocols and prioritizing nurturing a community with a distributed workforce.

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The Importance Of Hiring Workers With Disabilities

Diverse workers have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, facing more work-induced stress and fear over the future of their employment.

In fact, a million U.S. workers with disabilities lost their jobs between March and August of 2020. By the end of the year, the unemployment rate for this group was double the national average at 12.3%.

The unfair treatment of workers with disabilities has permeated the global workforce long before the pandemic. In the U.K., employees with disabilities were more likely to report increased workloads and decreased access to overtime compared to those who are able-bodied.

Additionally, the U.S. has been paying workers with disabilities with less than minimum wage for several years. 

Companies with an emphasis on diversity have been proven to be the most successful, and this includes providing workers with disabilities more opportunities.

Those with disabilities have been found to be some of the world’s biggest innovators, and without these team members, companies inevitably hurt from what could have been a great product or service.

Additionally, customers often feel a connection to a service or product when it is being provided by someone that is reflective of them. Representation is essential for any forward-thinking organization.

That is why companies who want to create a work environment need to include the crucial perspective of employees who are disabled, as well as address barriers they may face in the workplace.

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Having Discussions With Employees About Office Spaces

While vaccine distribution is making the idea of returning to the office seem more attainable, it is still up in the air what workers will need from the post-pandemic workplace.

Many businesses have already committed to cutting down their real estate footprint, indicating that remote working will continue to play a role in workplace operations.

“We’re not going back to the way things were,” said Brent Hyder, President and Chief People Officer at Salesforce. “I don’t believe that we’ll keep every space in every city that we’re in, including San Francisco.”

According to a study from recruitment specialist Vettery, hiring managers can increase the amount of top applicants by at least 85% by offering remote work options.

However, some employees do want an office to come into, whether it’s the company’s headquarters or a flexible space outside of major metropolitan areas.

It’s challenging to keep up with what workers want, as preferences continue to change month to month depending on how employees feel when they fill out a feedback survey.

The most important way to address the differing preferences of workers is to have a transparent discussion about what they need from their space, and how much they will need moving forward.

A January PwC survey found that 87% of employees view the office as an important place for collaborating. Over two-thirds of executives also stated that employees should be in the office at least three days each way to maintain collaboration, as well as company culture.

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    IT Teams Need To Adjust To Remote Working

    IT teams have had to switch gears in order to support the sudden transition to remote working. Now, IT leaders are faced with what the “new normal” of their industry looks like.

    With remote working arrangements clearly here to stay, IT teams will need to ramp up how they can keep distributed workers safe.

    Technology is more crucial than ever to the workplace, especially with remote workers, so IT professionals need methods to keep up with these work environments.

    According to an ISACA survey, 87% of IT professionals said that the quick shift to remote working increased protection and privacy risks.

    One way to keep companies safe with these new work arrangements is to build in security into the hardware of PCs. 

    This means incorporating hardware-enabled security systems that feature threat detection capabilities to help prevent any potential risks.

    Additionally, IT teams should utilize tools that create more secure remote management and allow them to handle potential problems no matter when and where they occur.

    These professionals should also be ready to prepare for multiple security risks and continue investing in solutions to improve their processes.

    This means teams should create security platforms that make implementing company wide updates easier.

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    Productivity Take A Hit As Remote Work Fatigue Kicks In

    Remote working is starting to have an impact on productivity, indicating that permanent remote structures are not ideal for all employees.

    However, this reality does not mean that employees will instantly rush to the office full-time after the pandemic. In fact, going back to “normal” is almost completely out of the question.

    “We are starting to see a curve of diminishing returns,” said  Mark Coxon, technology sales director at Tangram. “That initial productivity boost from having the extra couple of hours at home and not in the car is fading.”

    While the early days of the pandemic saw employees bright-eyed without the stress of daily commutes wearing them down, some remote working policies have started to hinder their productivity.

    For instance, Zoom fatigue has become a frequent occurrence, especially as employers up the amount of virtual meetings they host in order to keep track of their remote employees.

    This cuts into actual work time, leaving workers unable to find a good workflow.

    However, Coxon added that meetings in general need to be adjusted in order to better engage workers in a way that is new and optimizes productivity.

    “What we need to embrace is the idea of outcome-based design,” said Coxon. “The fundamental question becomes, is there a reason to meet in person? Could we just meet virtually? Do we need to meet at all? Thoughtfully addressing these kinds of questions can help build a hierarchy of decision-making.”

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    How Gyms Fit Into Office Buildings

    Fitness centers were once viewed as a necessary amenity for office facilities, which is why some New York City buildings have incorporated gyms to give employees a place to workout.

    However, it’s still too early to see if this trend will take off, especially as Cushman & Wakefield spokesman Michael Boonshoft notes that office landlords are actually closing gyms.

    This is largely due to fitness facilities being on the lower end of the list of in-demand amenities.

    Still, employers recognize the importance of physical health in their employees and that it can have a direct impact on an employees’ work.

    Prior to the pandemic, health clubs were on the uprise, with the state of New York having 2,263 clubs prior to COVID. 

    But revenue at these spaces has declined by 58% and 17% have been forced to permanently close according to a IHRSA report.

    “Even before this pandemic, we’ve always been laser-focused on the importance of fitness and wellness in a 24/7 office environment,” said Philippe Visser, president of Related Office Development, which oversees New York City’s Hudson Yards development. “We see it as a critical component to attracting top talent. We didn’t have a pandemic in mind when we planned all this originally, but all of those aspects help to future-proof Hudson Yards.”

    Still, Hudson Yards and similar properties have struggled with low occupancy and are looking for ways to revitalize their business once restrictions are lifted.

    That’s why some experts anticipate that health clubs, like the Equinox at Hudson Yards, will build in a community and social element to their services.

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