Daily Digest News – June 22, 2021

Daily Digest June 22

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:

Verizon Uses Software To Determine Work Arrangements

Employees at Verizon will learn whether they will continue working from home, return to the office or transition to a hybrid model on July 1.

Verizon used its own scheduling-software program to ask team directors a series of questions about the company’s operations and employees, then used the results to determine where employees should be. If the program suggests a hybrid model for an employee, it would also provide insight into how often the worker should come into the office.

“We started with the work and how we best get the work done,” said Christy Pambianchi, chief human resources officer at Verizon. “We want this to be successful. Things like this fail if there aren’t specific guidelines or expectations.”

According to Pambianchi, the company expects 15% of its employees to work from home, 40% to be on-site and 45% to go hybrid.

Employees who are decided to be in the office will return on October 1.

Among those returning to the office on a hybrid schedule will be network engineers, technical product managers, HR business partners and others. 

Those who will likely remain remote include customer service and telesales representatives.

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Tech Employees Unsatisfied With Returning To The Office

More tech professionals are expressing their discontent with their employer’s plans, or lack thereof, for remote working.

A new survey by anonymous professional network Blind finds that 66% of tech employees who were unsatisfied with their companies’ work from home policies want to leave their jobs.

The survey of 5,680 workers across major companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Amazon revealed just 6% were satisfied with their employers’ remote working policies.

However, Indeed, which provides permanent remote working options, saw 92% of their workers happy with this arrangement. This sentiment rang through all companies who were liberal in their WFH policies.

Despite the evident demand for more remote options, many companies are still trying to bring their employees back into the office this fall. 

For instance, Uber’s policy that requires employees to come into the office three days a week starting in September saw only 37% employee satisfaction and 42% wanting to leave the ride-sharing firm.

“These results are a clear sign that [a] one-size-fits-all approach to the reopening of offices will turn away a significant portion of the employee base,” said Kyum Kim, co-founder and head of U.S. operations at Blind. “Many employees have discovered the convenience of working from home during the pandemic and want the freedom to choose how they work.”

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Google To Slow Its Manhattan Expansion

Google’s footprint in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood is inescapable. 

The tech giant made its debut at 111 Eighth Avenue 11 years ago, dishing out what was the second-highest amount paid for a single building in the U.S. at $1.8 billion.

Since then, Google has continued to expand its presence in Chelsea. However, the pace in which it makes itself known is expected to slow as their real estate plans hit the brakes on making lavish deals.

In March, Google announced it had plans to spend around $250 million on its New York offices and grow its headcount from 11,000 to 14,000. However, compared to other major firm’s in the city, this number is miniscule. 

The trend for overall real estate plans seems to be shifting towards suburbs and secondary cities. Google itself is looking at outer boroughs for satellite offices so workers have a shorter commute to the office.

Last month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that around 20% of the company’s staff could work remotely indefinitely and that the majority of other workers could shift to a hybrid approach.

“Our campuses have been at the heart of our Google community and the majority of our employees still want to be on campus some of the time,” said Pichai. “Yet many of us would also enjoy the flexibility of working from home a couple days of week, spending time in another city for part of the year, or even moving there permanently. Google’s future workplace will have room for all of these possibilities.”

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The World’s Major Cities Are Struggling To Return To The Office

The slow return to the office has left workplace activity in areas like London, New York and San Francisco to remain 50% below its pre-pandemic levels according to data from Google.

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    While some companies like Apple and JPMorgan Chase are preparing to bring their staffers back into the office in an effort to nurture their culture, the process is proving to be quite complicated.

    This is because returning to the physical workplace depends on a few factors: vaccinations, the spread of variants, transportation, schools being open and pressure from employees to adopt more flexible arrangements.

    Taking all of these factors into consideration, returning to pre-pandemic life may never happen and the pace in which cities recover is going to greatly differ.

    For instance, Frankfurt’s Zeil retail district has seen an uptick in activity as areas begin to reopen. 

    However, according to Google’s data, weekday workplace mobility in the region is still down 17%. Its financial district remains quiet due to federal law requiring non-essential office workers to continue working remotely until the end of the month. Even more, the EU’s slow rollout of vaccines has delayed any sign of returning to normalcy.

    On the other hand, most workers in Hong Kong have already returned to their desks. Infection numbers have stayed near zero for weeks and office attendance is nearing pre-pandemic levels.

    Still, Hong Kong is still seeing low vaccination numbers, which could halt plans to fully reopen. Despite being one of the places in the world where vaccines are available to all adults, only 18.3% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

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     IoT Is Revolutionizing The Office

    The future of the work is largely driven by the technological advancements of the past few years. Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), applying the most optimal workplace solutions has become attainable for businesses large and small.

    Using this network of devices, leaders can create a seamless work experience, from improved connectivity to fully-equipped meeting rooms.

    By having an IoT ecosystem, leaders are able to monitor and keep track of building data to help improve upon current operations, maintain corporate rules and strengthen security measures.

    For instance, using keyless entry makes it simple for occupants to easily enter the building, while preventing the possibility of intruder entry.

    Building an advanced IoT ecosystem also plays a role in becoming more eco-friendly. For example, you can implement systems that close the blinds when the indoor temperature begins increasing, use motion-activated lighting in certain rooms or incorporate air purifiers to improve the air quality of the office.

    Additionally, IoT can be used towards improving the comfort of the space, such as including sensors that adjust the temperature in meeting rooms or soften the lighting depending on the time of day.

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    European Lawmaker Wants To Give Workers The Right To Disconnect

    Alex Agius Saliba, a Maltese lawmaker at the European Parliament, believes it is time to provide workers the right to disconnect.

    Addressing this issue aims to create rules that say employees shouldn’t be expected to take work calls and emails outside of working hours.

    “The political push is there because the visibility of overwork and this blurring between working time and private time has continued to be blurred during the pandemic because of the increase in the number of teleworkers, smart working, flexi-working so something needs to be done,” said Agius Saliba.

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, workers have realized the struggle of always-on culture due to having their work life and home life becoming intertwined.

    Even prior to the past year or so, companies and countries have attempted to address this problem. For instance, in 2012, carmaker Volkswagen barred staff from accessing emails in the evenings. In 2017, France implemented rules around when remote workers’ hours began and ended.

    Achieving a true work-life balance can be done through numerous methods, whether that be adjusting a companies’ policies or introducing new federal laws. However this is achieved, the focus must be on building a workforce culture that values work-life balance.

    “That cultural language of ‘it’s okay to switch off,’ that’s the one that’s harder to nail,” said Kaler Pilgrim, founder of recruitment agency Futureheads. “It’s about consistency and it’s about spotting when people are stressed, not taking those breaks and are trying to fit too much in their day.”

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