Your boss might tell you the office is more secure, but it isn’t

For the past 18 months, employees have enjoyed increased flexibility, and ultimately a better work-life balance, as a result of the mass shift to remote working necessitated by the pandemic. Most don’t want this arrangement, which brought an end to extensive commutes and superfluous meetings, to end: Buffer’s 2021 State of Remote Work report shows over 97% of employees would like to continue working remotely at least some of the time.

Companies, including some of the biggest names in tech, appear to have a different outlook and are beginning to demand that staff start to return to the workplace.

While most of the reasoning around this shift back to the office centers around the need for collaboration and socialization, another reason your employer might say is that the office is more secure. After all, we’ve seen an unprecedented rise in cybersecurity threats during the pandemic, from phishing attacks using Covid as bait to ransomware attacks that have crippled entire organizations.

Tessian research shared with TechCrunch shows that while none of the attacks have been linked to staff working remotely, 56% of IT leaders believe their employees have picked up bad cybersecurity behaviors since working from home. Similarly, 70% of IT leaders believe staff will be more likely to follow company security policies around data protection and data privacy while working in the office.

“Despite the fact that this was an emerging issue prior to the pandemic I do believe many organizations will use security as an excuse to get people back into the office, and in doing so actually ignore the cyber risks they are already exposed to,” Matthew Gribben, a cybersecurity expert, and former GCHQ consultant, told TechCrunch.

“As we’ve just seen with the Colonial Pipeline attack, all it takes is one user account without MFA enabled to bring down your business, regardless of where the user is sat.”

Will Emmerson, CIO at Claromentis, has already witnessed some companies using cybersecurity as a ploy to accelerate the shift to in-person working. “Some organizations are already using cybersecurity as an excuse to get team members to get back into the office,” he says. “Often it’s large firms with legacy infrastructure that relies on a secure perimeter and that haven’t adopted a cloud-first approach.”

“All it takes is one user account without MFA enabled to bring down your business, regardless of where the user is sat.”
Matthew Gribben, former GCHQ consultant

The bigger companies can try to argue for a return to the traditional 9-to-5, but we’ve already seen a bunch of smaller startups embrace remote working as a permanent arrangement. Rather, it will be larger and more risk-averse companies, says Craig Hattersley, CTO of cybersecurity startup SOC.OC, a BAE Systems spin-off, tells TechCrunch, who “begrudgingly let their staff work at home throughout the pandemic, so will seize any opportunity to reverse their new policies.”

“Although I agree that some companies will use the increase of cybersecurity threats to demand their employees go back to the office, I think the size and type of organization will determine their approach,” he says. “A lack of direct visibility of individuals by senior management could lead to a fear that staff are not fully managed.”

While some organizations will use cybersecurity as an excuse to get employees back into the workplace, many believe the traditional office is no longer the most secure option. After all, not only have businesses overhauled cybersecurity measures to cater to dispersed workforces over the past year, but we’ve already seen hackers start to refocus their attention on those returning to the post-COVID office.

“There is no guarantee that where a person is physically located will change the trajectory of increasingly complex cybersecurity attacks, or that employees will show a reduction in mistakes because they are sitting within the walls of an office building,” says Dr. Margaret Cunningham, principal research scientist at Forcepoint.

Some businesses will attempt to get all staff back into the workplace, but this is simply no longer viable: as a result of 18 months of home-working, many employees have moved away from their employer, while others, having found themselves more productive and less distracted, will push back against five days of commutes every week. In fact, a recent study shows that almost 40% of U.S. workers would consider quitting if their bosses made them return to the office full time.

That means most employers will have to, whether they like it or not, embrace a hybrid approach going forward, whereby employees work from the office three days a week and spend two days at home, or vice versa.

This, in itself, makes the cybersecurity argument far less viable. Sam Curry, chief security officer at Cybereason, tells TechCrunch: “The new hybrid phase getting underway is unlike the other risks companies encountered.

“We went from working in the office to working from home and now it will be work-from-anywhere. Assume that all networks are compromised and take a least-trust perspective, constantly reducing inherent trust and incrementally improving. To paraphrase Voltaire, perfection is the enemy of good.”

#articles, #bae-systems, #cio, #computer-security, #cto, #cyberattack, #cybercrime, #cybereason, #cybersecurity-startup, #cyberwarfare, #data-security, #gchq, #malware, #security, #soc, #telecommuting, #united-states

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Could Claap, an asynchronous video meetings platform, end the tyranny of Zoom calls?

Because of the pandemic, we’re all a lot more familiar with remote working than we used to be, whether we like it or not. But the remote tools of the pre-pandemic era – Slack, Trello, Zoom, Asana, etc, etc, etc – are, if we admit it to ourselves, barely scratching the surface of what we really need to be productive. Luckily a new era of remote-working tools is fast emerging. As I recently tweeted, we need to think far more in asynchronous terms if remote working is to be productive (and healthy!), long term.

Older tools can offer asynchronous collaboration, but a new wave of tools is coming. Loom, for instance, is one-way video for ’show and tell’. It’s raised $203.6M – however, it has a drawback: it doesn’t have many collaboration features.

Now a new European startup hopes to address this.

Claap, an asynchronous meeting platform with video and collaboration, thinks it might have part of the solution and a private beta launch is planned for this month.

It’s now raised $3 million in pre-seed funding from LocalGlobe, Headline, E.Ventures, Kima Ventures and angels including Front co-founder Mathilde Collin, Oyster co-founder Tony Jamous, Nest and GoCardless founder Matt Robinson and Automattic’s head of product Aadil Mamujee. It also includes a group of 30 angels such as Ian Hogarth (Songkick), Olivier Godement (Stripe), Roxanne Varza (Station F), Chris Herd (FirstBase), and Xavier Niel (Kima), Shane Mac (investor in Remote).

We all now know that what were previously small catch-ups are now 30-minute Zoom calls, which are pointless. ‘Asynchronous meetings’ could be the way forward.

Claap says its product allows employees to record a short video update on a topic, allow others to comment on the relevant part, and set a due date for team members to respond. Colleagues then view the video and respond in their own time. Claap bulls itself as the remote working equivalent of the ‘quick hallway catch-up’. It integrates with other workplace tools such as Trello or Jira so that when a decision is made on a project, it’s recorded for everyone on the team to see and refer back to. A subscription model is planned which will have a sliding scale depending on team size.

Because it doesn’t require real-time interaction, you don’t need t find a time that suits everyone for a meeting, so in fact the ‘meeting’ sort of disappears. . Instead, the platform creates a space for feedback and iterations.

Founders Robin Bonduelle and Pierre Touzeau looked at solutions already adopted by companies such as Automattic, and GitLab. Touzeau was previously at 360Learning which employed a strict limiting policy for meetings. Bonduelle has 10 years of product management experience, working at various startups and scaleups including Ogury where he was VP of Product, and Rocket Internet. He developed asynchronous communication habits while managing 50 people across 4 different countries and time zones. Touzeau has worked for businesses including L’Oreal and 360Learning, where he was most recently VP of Marketing.

However, asynchronous communication is not always perfect. As we know, Emails and Slack messages can go unread. Video MIGHT be the solution.

Robin Bonduelle, co-founder and CEO at Claap, said: “After a year of working remotely, people are realizing the benefits of not working in an office but at the same time grappling with one of its worst consequences: back-to-back video meetings. A query that in the office would take five minutes to solve now takes at least 30, leaving everyone more exhausted in the process. Claap is designed to solve this issue, allowing colleagues the tools to keep them engaged and connected but without taking up all their time. It’s a new meeting format that allows people to make quick decisions.”

Touzeau said: “Meetings are a necessary part of working, but it doesn’t need to be your entire day. Asynchronous meetings are the key to freeing up our calendars but making sure work still gets done and deadlines are met. We’re excited by the potential Claap has to empower people to work from anywhere.”

George Henry, General Partner at LocalGlobe, said: “We were impressed with Robin and Pierre’s vision and the potential for Claap to allow employees to connect on a project when they need to and facilitate the ability to work from anywhere.”

Jonathan Userovici, Partner at Headline, said: “Zoom may have been the go-to enterprise app over the past 12 months but for the thousands of businesses that are now going to be remote-first, video conferencing alone won’t be enough to keep teams connected and get work done. Claap is the challenger tool to end video-calling fatigue.”

#articles, #asana, #automattic, #chris-herd, #e-ventures, #europe, #general-partner, #gitlab, #gocardless, #groupware, #ian-hogarth, #jonathan-userovici, #kima-ventures, #localglobe, #matt-robinson, #rocket-internet, #songkick, #station-f, #tc, #technology, #telecommunications, #telecommuting, #trello, #video-conferencing, #web-conferencing, #zoom

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A Little More Remote Work Could Change Rush Hour a Lot

Peak commute time has long ruled our lives, our cities, our tax dollars. But it doesn’t have to.

#commuting, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #labor-and-jobs, #roads-and-traffic, #telecommuting

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6 U.S. Destinations for a Remote-Working Vacation

As workers prepare to return to the office in coming months, here are six towns and cities to consider squeezing in a working vacation or two.

#airbnb, #arizona, #auburn-ny, #brunswick-me, #california, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #diamond-head-oahu-hawaii, #finger-lakes-region-ny, #food, #hawaii, #historic-buildings-and-sites, #ithaca-ny, #kansas, #maine, #names-geographical, #petaluma-calif, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #restaurants, #rivers, #shawnee-kan, #sonoma-county-calif, #sonoran-desert, #telecommuting, #topeka-kan, #travel-and-vacations, #tucson-ariz, #watkins-glen-ny, #wines

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House Hunters Are Leaving the City, and Builders Can’t Keep Up

For years, people most wanted to live in places where it was the hardest to build. Now, with a rise in remote work, exurban areas look more appealing.

#building-construction, #central-valley-calif, #commuting, #labor-and-jobs, #millennial-generation, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #san-francisco-bay-area-calif, #telecommuting

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3 views on the future of meetings

More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, early-stage startups across the world are re-inventing how we work. But founders aren’t flocking to build just another SaaS tool or Airtable copycat — they’re trying to disrupt the only thing possibly more annoying than e-mail: the work meeting.

On an episode of this week’s podcast, Equity hosts Alex Wilhelm, Danny Crichton and Natasha Mascarenhas discussed a flurry of funding rounds related to the future of work.

Rewatch, which makes meetings asynchronous, raised $20 million from Andreessen Horowitz, AnyClip got $47 million in a round led by JVP for video search and analytics technology, Interactio, a remote interpretation platform, landed $30 million from Eight Roads Ventures and Silicon Valley-based Storm Ventures, and Spot Meetings got Kleiner Perkins on board in a $5 million seed.

We connected the dots between these funding rounds to sketch out three perspectives on the future of workplace meetings. Part of our reasoning was the uptick of investment as mentioned above, and the other is that our calendars are full of them. We all agree that the traditional meeting is broken, so below you’ll find each of our arguments on where they go next and what we’d like to see.

  • Alex Wilhelm: Faster information throughput, please
  • Natasha Mascarenhas: Meetings should be ongoing, not in calendar invites
  • Danny Crichton: Redesign meetings for flow

Alex Wilhelm: Faster information throughput, please

I’ve worked for companies that were in love with meetings, and for companies where meetings were more infrequent. I prefer the latter by a wide margin. I’ve also worked in offices full-time, half-time and fully remote. I immensely prefer the final option.

Why? Work meetings are often a waste of time. Mostly you don’t need to align, most folks taking part are superfluous and as accidental team-building exercises they are incredibly expensive in terms of human-hours.

I am not into wasting time. The more remote I’ve been and the less time I’ve spent in less-formal meetings — the usual chit-chat that pollutes productive work time, making the days longer and less useful — the more I’ve managed to get done.

But I’ve been the lucky one, frankly. Most folks were still trapped in offices up until the pandemic shook up the world of work, finally giving more companies a shot at a whole-cloth rebuild of how they toil.

The good news is that CEOs are taking note. Chatting with Sprout Social CEO Justyn Howard this week, he explained how we have a unique, new chance to not live near where we work in 2021, but to instead bring work to where we live. He’s also an introvert, which meant that as a pair we’ve found a number of positives in some of the changes to how tech and media companies operate. Perhaps we’re a little biased.

A number of startups are rushing to fill the gap between the new expectations that Howard noted and our old digital and IRL realities.

Tandem.chat might be one such company. The former Y Combinator launch-day darling has spent its post-halo period building. Its CEO sent me a manifesto of sorts the other day, discussing how his company approaches the future of work meetings. Tandem is building for a world where communication needs to be both real-time and internal; it leaves asynchronous internal communication to Slack, real-time external communications to Zoom and asynchronous external chats to email. I agree, I think.

#covid-19, #ec-future-of-work, #ec-proptech, #equity-podcast, #podcasts, #real-estate, #remote-work, #startups, #tc, #telecommuting

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Poor onboarding is the enemy of good hiring

The world of hybrid work is here, and the usual 10-minute intro call, swag bag and first-day team lunch are just not enough to make your new employee feel welcome.

While many companies have found a way to interview and select candidates in a fully remote environment, fewer have spent time and resources on aligning the “pre-boarding” and onboarding process for the new hybrid world of work. Many employers still rely on old ways of welcoming new hires, despite our totally changed work environment.

It’s important to capitalize on candidates’ enthusiasm and eagerness from the moment the offer is signed, instead of when they log in on Day One.

In our experience at Greenhouse, where we help companies as diverse as BuzzFeed, HubSpot and Intercom hire talent across their organization, first impressions can make or break a candidate’s chances of staying at a company.

In fact, 69% of employees will stay for more than three years if their onboarding experience is good, while 20% will leave within 45 days if it’s bad. That difference is costly, as it takes, on average, around $4,129 and 42 days to fill a position.

Replacing someone can cost up to 50%-60% of their annual salary. At the same time, 58% of organizations said they were guilty of centering their onboarding processes on administrative and paperwork requirements alone.

Here is how we advise our clients to set up every new hire for success right from the start.

The company’s Day One comes long before the candidate’s Day One

Most of us can remember the excitement (and anxiety) of receiving and signing an offer for a new job. It’s important to capitalize on candidates’ enthusiasm and eagerness from the moment the offer is signed, instead of when they log in on Day One.

#column, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #ec-how-to, #employment, #human-resource-management, #labor, #onboarding, #recruitment, #startups, #telecommuting

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What Digital Nomads Need to Know About Taxes Abroad

Working remotely while abroad has obvious appeal. But the tax consequences vary depending on where you go. Here’s what to know.

#americans-abroad, #aruba, #barbados, #bermuda, #cayman-islands, #content-type-service, #corporate-taxes, #costa-rica, #estonia, #federal-taxes-us, #iceland, #mauritius, #mexico, #taxation, #telecommuting, #united-states, #wages-and-salaries

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At Saks, Return to Office Means Mandatory Vaccines, Optional Manicures

Marc Metrick, the company’s chief executive, says employees will have more flexibility but for reasons having to do with corporate culture, “the default needs to be our office.”

#brookfield-place-manhattan-ny, #metrick-marc-j, #partnership-for-new-york-city, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #shopping-and-retail, #telecommuting

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How a Bank of America Executive Created a Tense Work Culture

Thomas K. Montag, the bank’s No. 2 executive, has long run its markets and corporate banking division with favoritism and an iron fist, employees say.

#bank-of-america-corporation, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #montag-thomas-k, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #telecommuting

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Ex-Aide to Congressman Claims He Was Fired for Voicing Virus Concerns

A former adviser to Representative Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican, contends in a federal lawsuit that the congressman flouted safety guidelines, contributing to an outbreak in his office.

#accidents-and-safety, #brandon-pope, #colorado, #colorado-springs-colo, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #doug-lamborn, #house-of-representatives, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #telecommuting, #united-states-politics-and-government, #workplace-environment, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

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Worksome pulls $13M into its high skill freelancer talent platform

More money for the now very buzzy business of reshaping how people work: Worksome is announcing it recently closed a $13 million Series A funding round for its “freelance talent platform” — after racking up 10x growth in revenue since January 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a remote working boom.

The 2017 founded startup, which has a couple of ex-Googlers in its leadership team, has built a platform to connect freelancers looking for professional roles with employers needing tools to find and manage freelancer talent.

It says it’s seeing traction with large enterprise customers that have traditionally used Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to manage and pay external workforces — and views employment agency giants like Randstad, Adecco and Manpower as ripe targets for disruption.

“Most multinational enterprises manage flexible workers using legacy MSPs,” says CEO and co-founder Morten Petersen (one of the Xooglers). “These largely analogue businesses manage complex compliance and processes around hiring and managing freelance workforces with handheld processes and outdated technology that is not built for managing fluid workforces. Worksome tackles this industry head on with a better, faster and simpler solution to manage large freelancer and contractor workforces.”

Worksome focuses on helping medium/large companies — who are working with at least 20+ freelancers at a time — fill vacancies within teams rather than helping companies outsource projects, per Petersen, who suggests the latter is the focus for the majority of freelancer platforms.

“Worksome helps [companies] onboard people who will provide necessary skills and will be integral to longer-term business operations. It makes matches between companies and skilled freelancers, which the businesses go on to trust, form relationships with and come back to time and time again,” he goes on.

“When companies hire dozens or hundreds of freelancers at one time, processes can get very complicated,” he adds, arguing that on compliance and payments Worksome “takes on a much greater responsibility than other freelancing platforms to make big hires easier”.

The startup also says it’s concerned with looking out for (and looking after) its freelancer talent pool — saying it wants to create “a world of meaningful work” on its platform, and ensure freelancers are paid fairly and competitively. (And also that they are paid faster than they otherwise might be, given it takes care of their payroll so they don’t have to chase payments from employers.)

The business started life in Copenhagen — and its Series A has a distinctly Nordic flavor, with investment coming from the Danish business angel and investor on the local version of the Dragons’ Den TV program Løvens Hule; the former Minister for Higher Education and Science, Tommy Ahlers; and family home manufacturer Lind & Risør.

It had raised just under $6M prior to thus round, per Crunchbase, and also counts some (unnamed) Google executives among its earlier investors.

Freelancer platforms (and marketplaces) aren’t new, of course. There are also an increasing number of players in this space — buoyed by a new flush of VC dollars chasing the ‘future of work’, whatever hybrid home-office flexible shape that might take. So Worksome is by no means alone in offering tech tools to streamline the interface between freelancers and businesses.

A few others that spring to mind include Lystable (now Kalo), Malt, Fiverr — or, for techie job matching specifically, the likes of HackerRank — plus, on the blue collar work side, Jobandtalent. There’s also a growing number of startups focusing on helping freelancer teams specifically (e.g. Collective), so there’s a trend towards increasing specialism.

Worksome says it differentiates vs other players (legacy and startups) by combining services like tax compliance, background and ID checks and handling payroll and other admin with an AI powered platform that matches talent to projects.

Although it’s not the only startup offering to do the back-office admin/payroll piece, either, nor the only one using AI to match skilled professionals to projects. But it claims it’s going further than rival ‘freelancer-as-a-service’ platforms — saying it wants to “address the entire value chain” (aka: “everything from the hiring of freelance talent to onboarding and payment”).

Worksome has 550 active clients (i.e. employers in the market for freelancer talent) at this stage; and has accepted 30,000 freelancers into its marketplace so far.

Its current talent pool can take on work across 12 categories, and collectively offers more than 39,000 unique skills, per Petersen.

The biggest categories of freelancer talent on the platform are in Software and IT; Design and Creative Work; Finance and Management Consulting; plus “a long tail of niche skills” within engineering and pharmaceuticals.

While its largest customers are found in the creative industries, tech and IT, pharma and consumer goods. And its biggest markets are the U.K. and U.S.

“We are currently trailing at +20,000 yearly placements,” says Petersen, adding: “The average yearly spend per client is $300,000.”

Worksome says the Series A funding will go on stoking growth by investing in marketing. It also plans to spend on product dev and on building out its team globally (it also has offices in London and New York).

Over the past 12 months the startup doubled the size of its team to 50 — and wants to do so again within 12 months so it can ramp up its enterprise client base in the U.S., U.K. and euro-zone.

“Yes, there are a lot of freelancer platforms out there but a lot of these don’t appreciate that hiring is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reducing the friction in working with freelancers,” argues Petersen. “Of the time that goes into hiring, managing and paying freelancers, 75% is currently spent on admin such as timesheet approvals, invoicing and compliance checks, leaving only a tiny fraction of time to actually finding talent.”

Worksome woos employers with a “one-click-hire” offer — touting its ability to find and hire freelancers “within seconds”.

If hiring a stranger in seconds sounds ill-advised, Worksome greases this external employment transaction by taking care of vetting the freelancers itself (including carrying out background checks; and using proprietary technology to asses freelancers’ skills and suitability for its marketplace).

“We have a two-step vetting process to ensure that we only allow the best freelance talent onto the Worksome platform,” Petersen tells TechCrunch. “For step one, an inhouse-built robot assesses our freelancer applicants. It analyses their skillset, social media profiles, profile completeness and hourly or daily rate, as well as their CV and work history, to decide whether each person is a good fit for Worksome.

“For step two, our team of talent specialists manually review and decline or approve the freelancers that pass through step one with a score of 85% or more. We have just approved our 30,000th freelancer and will be able to both scale and improve our vetting procedure as we grow.”

A majority of freelancer applicants fail Worksome’s proprietary vetting processes. This is clear because it says it has received 80,000 applicants so far — but only approved 30,000.

That raises interesting questions about how it’s making decisions on who is (and isn’t) an ‘appropriate fit’ for its talent marketplace.

It says its candidate assessing “robot” looks at “whether freelancers can demonstrate the skillset, matching work history, industry experience and profile depth” deemed necessary to meet its quality criteria — giving the example that it would not accept a freelancer who says they can lead complex IT infrastructure projects if they do not have evidence of relevant work, education and skills.

On the AI freelancer-to-project matching side, Worksome says its technology aims to match freelancers “who have the highest likelihood of completing a job with high satisfaction, based on their work-history, and performance and skills used on previous jobs”.

“This creates a feedback loop that… ensure that both clients and freelancers are matched with great people and great work,” is its circular suggestion when we ask about this.

But it also emphasizes that its AI is not making hiring decisions on its own — and is only ever supporting humans in making a choice. (An interesting caveat since existing EU data protection rules, under Article 22 of the GDPR, provide for a right for individuals to object to automated decision making if significant decisions are being taken without meaningful human interaction.) 

Using automation technologies (like AI) to make assessments that determine whether a person gains access to employment opportunities or doesn’t can certainly risk scaled discrimination. So the devil really is in the detail of how these algorithmic assessments are done.

That’s why such uses of technology are set to face close regulatory scrutiny in the European Union — under incoming rules on ‘high risk’ users of artificial intelligence — including the use of AI to match candidates to jobs.

The EU’s current legislative proposals in this area specifically categorize “employment, workers management and access to self-employment” as a high risk use of AI, meaning applications like Worksome are likely to face some of the highest levels of regulatory supervision in the future.

Nonetheless, Worksome is bullish when we ask about the risks associated with using AI as an intermediary for employment opportunities.

“We utilise fairly advanced matching algorithms to very effectively shortlist candidates for a role based solely on objective criteria, rinsed from human bias,” claims Petersen. “Our algorithms don’t take into account gender, ethnicity, name of educational institutions or other aspects that are usually connected to human bias.”

“AI has immense potential in solving major industry challenges such as recruitment bias, low worker mobility and low access to digital skills among small to medium sized businesses. We are firm believers that technology should be utilized to remove human bias’ from any hiring process,” he goes on, adding: “Our tech was built to this very purpose from the beginning, and the new proposed legislation has the potential to serve as a validator for the hard work we’ve put into this.

“The obvious potential downside would be if new legislation would limit innovation by making it harder for startups to experiment with new technologies. As always, legislation like this will impact the Davids more than the Goliaths, even though the intentions may have been the opposite.”

Zooming back out to consider the pandemic-fuelled remote working boom, Worksome confirms that most of the projects for which it supplied freelancers last year were conducted remotely.

“We are currently seeing a slow shift back towards a combination of remote and onsite work and expect this combination to stick amongst most of our clients,” Petersen goes on. “Whenever we are in uncertain economic times, we see a rise in the number of freelancers that companies are using. However, this trend is dwarfed by a much larger overall trend towards flexible work, which drives the real shift in the market. This shift has been accelerated by COVID-19 but has been underway for many years.

“While remote work has unlocked an enormous potential for accessing talent everywhere, 70% of the executives expect to use more temporary workers and contractors onsite than they did before COVID-19, according to a recent McKinsey study. This shows that businesses really value the flexibility in using an on-demand workforce of highly skilled specialists that can interact directly with their own teams.”

Asked whether it’s expecting growth in freelancing to sustain even after we (hopefully) move beyond the pandemic — including if there’s a return to physical offices — Petersen suggests the underlying trend is for businesses to need increased flexibility, regardless of the exact blend of full-time and freelancer staff. So platforms like Worksome are confidently poised to keep growing.

“When you ask business leaders, 90% believe that shifting their talent model to a blend of full-time and freelancers can give a future competitive advantage (Source: BCG),” he says. “We see two major trends driving this sentiment; access to talent, and building an agile and flexible organization. This has become all the more true during the pandemic — a high degree of flexibility is allowing organisations to better navigate both the initial phase of the pandemic as well the current pick up of business activity.

“With the amount of change that we’re currently seeing in the world, and with businesses are constantly re-inventing themselves, the access to highly skilled and flexible talent is absolutely essential — now, in the next 5 years, and beyond.”

#adecco, #artificial-intelligence, #copenhagen, #covid-19, #employment, #enterprise, #europe, #european-union, #fiverr, #flexible-work, #freelance-marketplace, #freelancer, #fundings-exits, #kalo, #labor, #london, #new-york, #personnel, #remote-work, #saas, #telecommuting, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #upwork, #work, #worksome

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When It Comes to Taxes, Being Tracked Can Be a Good Thing

With remote work more common now, tax apps that track your location have become relevant for professionals who want to work wherever they want to live.

#business-travel, #income-tax, #mobile-applications, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #taxation, #telecommuting

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Gatheround raises millions from Homebrew, Bloomberg and Stripe’s COO to help remote workers connect

Remote work is no longer a new topic, as much of the world has now been doing it for a year or more because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Companies — big and small — have had to react in myriad ways. Many of the initial challenges have focused on workflow, productivity and the like. But one aspect of the whole remote work shift that is not getting as much attention is the culture angle.

A 100% remote startup that was tackling the issue way before COVID-19 was even around is now seeing a big surge in demand for its offering that aims to help companies address the “people” challenge of remote work. It started its life with the name Icebreaker to reflect the aim of “breaking the ice” with people with whom you work.

“We designed the initial version of our product as a way to connect people who’d never met, kind of virtual speed dating,” says co-founder and CEO Perry Rosenstein. “But we realized that people were using it for far more than that.” 

So over time, its offering has evolved to include a bigger goal of helping people get together beyond an initial encounter –– hence its new name: Gatheround.

“For remote companies, a big challenge or problem that is now bordering on a crisis is how to build connection, trust and empathy between people that aren’t sharing a physical space,” says co-founder and COO Lisa Conn. “There’s no five-minute conversations after meetings, no shared meals, no cafeterias — this is where connection organically builds.”

Organizations should be concerned, Gatheround maintains, that as we move more remote, that work will become more transactional and people will become more isolated. They can’t ignore that humans are largely social creatures, Conn said.

The startup aims to bring people together online through real-time events such as a range of chats, videos and one-on-one and group conversations. The startup also provides templates to facilitate cultural rituals and learning & development (L&D) activities, such as all-hands meetings and workshops on diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Gatheround’s video conversations aim to be a refreshing complement to Slack conversations, which despite serving the function of communication, still don’t bring users face-to-face.

Image Credits: Gatheround

Since its inception, Gatheround has quietly built up an impressive customer base, including 28 Fortune 500s, 11 of the 15 biggest U.S. tech companies, 26 of the top 30 universities and more than 700 educational institutions. Specifically, those users include Asana, Coinbase, Fiverr, Westfield and DigitalOcean. Universities, academic centers and nonprofits, including Georgetown’s Institute of Politics and Public Service and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, are also customers. To date, Gatheround has had about 260,000 users hold 570,000 conversations on its SaaS-based, video platform.

All its growth so far has been organic, mostly referrals and word of mouth. Now, armed with $3.5 million in seed funding that builds upon a previous $500,000 raised, Gatheround is ready to aggressively go to market and build upon the momentum it’s seeing.

Venture firms Homebrew and Bloomberg Beta co-led the company’s latest raise, which included participation from angel investors such as Stripe COO Claire Hughes Johnson, Meetup co-founder Scott Heiferman, Li Jin and Lenny Rachitsky. 

Co-founders Rosenstein, Conn and Alexander McCormmach describe themselves as “experienced community builders,” having previously worked on President Obama’s campaigns as well as at companies like Facebook, Change.org and Hustle. 

The trio emphasize that Gatheround is also very different from Zoom and video conferencing apps in that its platform gives people prompts and organized ways to get to know and learn about each other as well as the flexibility to customize events.

“We’re fundamentally a connection platform, here to help organizations connect their people via real-time events that are not just really fun, but meaningful,” Conn said.

Homebrew Partner Hunter Walk says his firm was attracted to the company’s founder-market fit.

“They’re a really interesting combination of founders with all this experience community building on the political activism side, combined with really great product, design and operational skills,” he told TechCrunch. “It was kind of unique that they didn’t come out of an enterprise product background or pure social background.”

He was also drawn to the personalized nature of Gatheround’s platform, considering that it has become clear over the past year that the software powering the future of work “needs emotional intelligence.”

“Many companies in 2020 have focused on making remote work more productive. But what people desire more than ever is a way to deeply and meaningfully connect with their colleagues,” Walk said. “Gatheround does that better than any platform out there. I’ve never seen people come together virtually like they do on Gatheround, asking questions, sharing stories and learning as a group.” 

James Cham, partner at Bloomberg Beta, agrees with Walk that the founding team’s knowledge of behavioral psychology, group dynamics and community building gives them an edge.

“More than anything, though, they care about helping the world unite and feel connected, and have spent their entire careers building organizations to make that happen,” he said in a written statement. “So it was a no-brainer to back Gatheround, and I can’t wait to see the impact they have on society.”

The 14-person team will likely expand with the new capital, which will also go toward helping adding more functionality and details to the Gatheround product.

“Even before the pandemic, remote work was accelerating faster than other forms of work,” Conn said. “Now that’s intensified even more.”

Gatheround is not the only company attempting to tackle this space. Ireland-based Workvivo last year raised $16 million and earlier this year, Microsoft  launched Viva, its new “employee experience platform.”

#asana, #bloomberg-beta, #chan-zuckerberg-initiative, #cloud-storage, #coinbase, #computing, #digitalocean, #facebook, #funding, #fundings-exits, #groupware, #homebrew, #hunter-walk, #hustle, #li-jin, #meetup, #obama, #operating-systems, #perry-rosenstein, #recent-funding, #remote-work, #saas, #scott-heiferman, #social-media, #startup, #startups, #telecommuting, #united-states, #venture-capital, #walk

0

Let There Be Lunch!

For me, even the sad desk salad may now be a happy one.

#quarantine-life-and-culture, #restaurants, #telecommuting, #workplace-environment

0

How to Design a Hybrid Workplace

Many companies see the appeal of combining office life with work-from-home flexibility. How to strike the right balance can be less clear.

#labor-and-jobs, #saturdaynewsletter, #telecommuting, #workplace-environment

0

After His Heart Attack, a British Man’s Rules for Living Take Off on LinkedIn

Jonathan Frostick, a program manager at an investment bank, was still in the hospital when wrote a LinkedIn post vowing to step away from work and spend more time with his family. Thousands responded.

#anxiety-and-stress, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #frostick-jonathan, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #social-media, #telecommuting, #work-life-balance

0

Zoom Burnout Is Real — but It’s Worse for Women.

In a new study, women reported higher levels of fatigue associated with video calls than men. The solution, though, isn’t as simple as not having video calls.

#quarantine-life-and-culture, #telecommuting, #videophones-and-videoconferencing, #women-and-girls

0

After Pandemic, Shrinking Need for Office Space Could Crush Landlords

Some big employers are giving up square footage as they juggle remote work. That could devastate building owners and cities.

#boston-properties-inc, #buildings-structures, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #corporations, #dimon-james, #jpmorgan-chasecompany, #landlords, #manhattan-nyc, #property-taxes, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-commercial, #recession-and-depression, #renting-and-leasing-real-estate, #sl-green-realty-corporation, #stocks-and-bonds, #telecommuting, #united-states, #urban-areas, #workplace-environment

0

Returning to the Office Sparks Anxiety and Dread for Some

After a year of working remotely, some employees are not keen to go back to the office, and, so far, employers are being receptive to their concerns.

#amazon-com-inc, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #california-state-university-fullerton, #computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #de-blasio-bill, #executives-and-management-theory, #ford-motor-co, #goldman-sachs-group-inc, #jpmorgan-chasecompany, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #salesforce-com-inc, #shutdowns-institutional, #solomon-david-m, #target-corporation, #telecommuting, #workplace-environment

0

PingPong is a video chat app for product teams working across multiple time zones

From the earliest days of the pandemic, it was no secret that video chat was about to become a very hot space.

Over the past several months investors have bankrolled a handful of video startups with specific niches, ranging from always-on office surveillance to platforms that encouraged plenty of mini calls to avoid the need for more lengthy team-wide meetings. As the pandemic wanes and plenty of startups begin to look towards hybrid office models, there are others who have decided to lean into embracing a fully remote workforce, a strategy that may require new tools.

PingPong, a recent launch from Y Combinator’s latest batch, is building an asynchronous video chat app for the workplace. We selected PingPong as one of our favorite startups that debuted last week.

The company’s central sell is that for remote teams, there needs to be a better alternative to Slack or email for catching up with co-workers across time zones. While Zoom calls might be able to convey a company’s culture better than a post in a company-wide Slack channel, for fully remote teams operating on different continents, scheduling a company-wide meeting is often a non-starter.

PingPong is selling its service as an addendum to Slack that helps remote product teams collaborate and convey what they’re working on. Users can capture a short video of themselves and share their screen in lieu of a standup presentation and then they can get caught up on each other’s progress on their own time. PingPong’s hope is that users find more value in brainstorming, conducting design reviews, reporting bugs and more inside while using asynchronous video than they would with text.

“We have a lot to do before we can replace Slack, so right now we kind of emphasize playing nice with Slack,” PingPong CEO Jeff Whitlock tells TechCrunch. “Our longer term vision is that what young people are doing in their consumer lives, they bring into the enterprise when they graduate into the workforce. You and I were using Instant Messenger all the time in the early 2000s and then we got to the workplace, that was the opportunity for Slack… We believe in the next five or so years, something that’s a richer, more asynchronous video-based Slack alternative will have a lot more interest.”

Building a chat app specifically designed for remote product teams operating in multiple time zones is a tight niche for now, but Whitlock believes that this will become a more common problem as companies embrace the benefits of remote teams post-pandemic. PingPong costs $100 per user per year.

#ceo, #enterprise, #groupware, #operating-systems, #pingpong, #slack, #software, #startups, #tc, #telecommuting, #web-conferencing, #y-combinator, #zoom

0

Here Come Hot Desks and Zoom Rooms. And Holograms?

As more companies consider plans to bring workers back to the office, experts say to expect expanded gathering spaces and fewer personal workstations.

#architecture, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #interior-design-and-furnishings, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-commercial, #telecommuting, #workplace-environment

0

Remote Work Is Here to Stay. Manhattan May Never Be the Same.

New York City, long buoyed by the flow of commuters into its towering office buildings, faces a cataclysmic challenge, even when the pandemic ends.

#apple-inc, #empire-state-realty-trust-inc, #jpmorgan-chasecompany, #manhattan-nyc, #omnicom-group-inc, #pinto-daniel-e, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-commercial, #sl-green-realty-corporation, #spotify, #telecommuting, #vornado-realty-trust

0

The Tax Headaches of Working Remotely

“Each state has its own rules,” one tax expert says. So if you worked in a state other than your usual one in 2020, here are some tips on dealing with the tax season.

#content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #income-tax, #personal-finances, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #shutdowns-institutional, #states-us, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #tax-credits-deductions-and-exemptions, #tax-preparers-and-preparation, #taxation, #telecommuting

0

Passive collaboration is essential to remote work’s long-term success

In 1998, Sun Microsystems piloted its “Open Work” program, letting roughly half of their workforce work flexibly from wherever they wanted. The project required new hardware, software and telecommunications solutions, and took about 24 months to implement.

Results were very positive, with a reduction in costs and the company’s carbon footprint. Despite this outcome, long-term remote work never really caught on more broadly. In fact, the 2010s were focused on going the other direction, as open offices, on-site perks and co-working spaces sprung up around the idea that in-person community is an essential component of innovation.

In 2020, companies of all sizes, in all corners of the world, were forced to shift to remote work with the onset of COVID-19. While some companies were better positioned than others — whether it be due to a previously distributed workforce, a reliance on cloud apps and services, or already-established flexible work policies — the adjustment to a fully remote workforce has been challenging for everyone. The truth is that even the largest companies have had to rely on the heroics of employees making sacrifices and persevering through numerous challenges to get through this time.

Technology like high-quality video conferencing and the cloud have been integral in making remote work possible. But we don’t yet have a complete substitute for in-person work because we continue to lack tooling in one critical area: passive collaboration. While active collaboration (which is the lion’s share) can happen over virtual meetings and emails, we haven’t fully solved for enabling the types of serendipitous conversations and chance connections that often power our biggest innovations and serve as the cornerstone of passive collaboration.

Active versus passive collaboration

Those outside of the tech industry may think that software engineers only need a computer and a secure internet connection to do their work. But the stereotype of the lone engineer coding away in solitude has long been shattered. The best engineering work isn’t done in isolation, but in collaboration, as teams discuss, wrangle and brainstorm through problems. Video conference platforms and chat applications help us collaborate actively, and tools like Microsoft Visual Studio Code and Google Docs allow for dedicated asynchronous collaboration, too.

But what we currently lack are the moments of spontaneous engagement that energize us and invite new ideas that otherwise wouldn’t have been part of the conversation. The long-term impact of not having access to this has not yet been measured, but it’s my belief that it will have a negative effect on innovation because passive collaboration plays such a critical role in fostering creativity.

The whiteboard

The best way to think about the differences between passive and active collaboration is to look at a whiteboard. Someone recently asked me, “What is it with people in tech and whiteboards? Why are they such a big deal?” Whiteboards are simple and “low-tech,” yet have become quintessential in our industry. That’s because they represent a source of multi-modal collaboration for engineers. Let’s think back to before COVID. How many times have you walked by (or been a part of) a scrum meeting of engineers huddled around a whiteboard?

Have you ever stopped by because you overheard a snippet of a conversation and wanted to learn more or share your perspective? Or maybe something on a whiteboard caught your eye and caused you to start a conversation with another colleague, leading to a breakthrough. These are all moments of passive collaboration, which whiteboards so excellently enable (in addition to being a tool for real-time, active collaboration). They’re low-friction ways to invite new ideas and perspectives to the conversation that otherwise wouldn’t have been considered.

While whiteboards are one mode of facilitating passive collaboration, they aren’t the only option. Serendipitous meetings in the break room, overhearing a conversation from the next cubicle over, or spotting someone across the room who’s free for a quick gut-check are also examples of passive collaboration. These interactions are a critical piece of how we work together and the hardest to recreate in a world of remote work. Just as silos in the development process are detrimental to software quality, so too is a lack of passive collaboration.

We need tools that will help us peek over at what other people are working on without the pressure of a dedicated meeting time or update email. The free and open exchange of ideas is a birthplace for innovation, but we haven’t yet figured out how to create a good virtual space for this.

Looking forward

The future of work is one in which teams are more distributed than ever before, meaning we need new tools for passive collaboration not just for this year, but for the future, too. Our own internal survey results tell us that while some employees prefer the option to be fully remote once the pandemic is behind us, the majority want a more flexible solution in the future.

Crucially, the answer is not to create more meetings or email threads, but instead to reimagine virtual spaces that can function like the classic whiteboard and other serendipitous modes of collaboration. As we all still look for ways to solve this challenge, we at LinkedIn have been thinking about how to encourage cross-team conversations and open Q&As to share resources, as a start.

For decades, the tech industry has paved the way for innovations in employee experience, creating spaces and benefits that reduced friction in collaboration and productivity. Now, as we look ahead to a hybrid work world, we must find new ways to continue supporting employee productivity and creativity. It’s only when we’re able to fully realize passive collaboration virtually that we’ll have unlocked the full potential of remote and hybrid work situations.

#collaboration, #column, #distributed-workforce, #labor, #startups, #telecommuting, #video-conferencing, #whiteboard

0

Ministry of Supply Sold Office Apparel. It Has Had to Rethink Things.

The start-up had to decide what to do when its merchandise became virtually irrelevant during the pandemic. Revamping its focus was not easy, but the company has survived.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #e-commerce, #fashion-and-apparel, #ministry-of-supply, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #shopping-and-retail, #shopping-centers-and-malls, #suits-apparel, #telecommuting

0

Companies Put Return-to-Work Plans in Motion

Many employers are not making a decision until many workers are vaccinated. And some are making plans for “hybrid” work arrangements.

#avison-young-inc, #bank-of-america-corporation, #boston-mass, #charlotte-nc, #chicago-ill, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #duke-energy-corporation, #fifth-third-bank, #manhattan-nyc, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #rapid7-inc, #real-estate-commercial, #renting-and-leasing-real-estate, #san-francisco-calif, #seasons-and-months, #seattle-wash, #telecommuting, #texas, #vaccination-and-immunization, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

0

Covid Emptied Europe’s Cities. What Will Bring People Back?

City life came to a standstill from London to Berlin when the coronavirus struck. Now worries of a lasting exodus are pushing urban authorities to address long-festering problems.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #foreign-workers, #labor-and-jobs, #telecommuting, #urban-areas

0

11 Steps to Impress Your Boss and Thrive in Your Job

“Managing up” while you work from home can foster positive relationships with those above you, and give your career a boost.

#coaches-and-managers, #computers-and-the-internet, #content-type-service, #labor-and-jobs, #telecommuting

0

I Miss a Lot of Things About the Office. My Breast Pump Isn’t One.

Working from home has made breastfeeding easier. Let’s hope the flexibility lasts even after the pandemic ends.

#breastfeeding, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #parenting, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #telecommuting, #workplace-environment

0

Managing Up: How to Deal With a Bad Boss During Quarantine

The medium can be just as important as the message.

#content-type-service, #executives-and-management-theory, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #telecommuting, #workplace-environment

0

Omnipresent raises $15.8M Series A for its platform to employ remote-workers globally

Omnipresent, which helps companies employ remote-working local teams worldwide, has closed a $15.8M Series A funding round. The fundraise was led by an undisclosed investor with participation from existing investors, Episode 1, Playfair Capital and Truesight Ventures. The company said it closed the round five months after it’s July 2020 $2m in seed round.

Founders Matthew Wilson and Guenther Eisinger started the company as part of Entrepreneur First’s London cohort in 2019.

Omnipresent says it ensures the process of remote-hiring costs a fraction of what it would if the company did it on their own, by using Omnipresent’s platform to onboard employees compliantly in 150 countries. It provides employees with local contracts, tax contributions, and local and international benefits such as health insurance, pensions and equity options. 

In a joint statement, Guenther Eisinger and Matthew Wilson, Co-CEOs of Omnipresent said: “Even before the pandemic we recognized the revolutionary potential of breaking down legal and administrative barriers of international employment. As former business owners, we had first-hand experience of what a headache it is to navigate the complexity and bureaucracy of building global teams. Now with the pandemic and the global shift towards remote working it’s confirmed that we are on the right track.”

Wilson told me in an interview: “For instance, in Canada, we have a Canadian entity and we enter into an employment relationship with that person in Canada, on behalf of our client, so they don’t have to set up any of the legal infrastructure themselves in Canada, or any of the 149 countries that we operate in. We then manage all the ongoing administration of the employment relationship, whether that’s from an HR perspective, from an employee benefits perspective, or if they want to get health care for instance.”

The company competes with other firms like Remote.com and Boundless HQ.

Carina Namih, General Partner at Episode 1 Ventures commented: “While talent is evenly distributed around the world, for too long, opportunities have not been. I have experienced first hand the challenge of hiring globally. Omnipresent has already become a crucial piece of infrastructure for global teams working across different countries.”

Joe Thornton, General Partner at Playfair Capital commented: “Remote work undoubtedly represents the future of the modern workforce. The sooner companies adapt, the sooner they will reap the massive competitive advantage associated with a globally distributed workforce, including increased workforce productivity and satisfaction and a larger and more diverse pool of talent from which to recruit workers.”

Omnipresent said its own employer surveys show that over 85% of employers will be employing remote or international employees in 2021.

#canada, #employment, #entrepreneur, #episode-1-ventures, #europe, #general-partner, #health-insurance, #london, #playfair-capital, #remote-com, #tc, #telecommuting, #truesight-ventures, #workforce

0

Is Remote Work Making Us Paranoid?

Maybe everyone is actually judging your house on Zoom.

#labor-and-jobs, #layoffs-and-job-reductions, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #telecommuting, #videophones-and-videoconferencing, #workplace-environment

0

The Pandemic Helped Reverse Italy’s Brain Drain. But Can It Last?

Many young Italians who left for opportunities abroad are now working remotely from Italy. The government has welcomed them, but experts say the economic benefits will be fleeting.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #italy, #labor-and-jobs, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #telecommuting

0

The Future of Offices When Workers Have a Choice

Some work spaces in central employment districts may become housing, and some housing in residential areas may become work spaces.

#labor-and-jobs, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-commercial, #telecommuting, #urban-areas, #work-life-balance, #workplace-environment

0

What is the Future of Offices When Workers Have a Choice?

Some work spaces in central employment districts may become housing, and some housing in residential areas may become work spaces.

#labor-and-jobs, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-commercial, #telecommuting, #urban-areas, #work-life-balance, #workplace-environment

0

Use Git data to optimize your developers’ annual reviews

The end of the year is looming and with it one of your most important tasks as a manager. Summarizing the performance of 10, 20 or 50 developers over the past 12 months, offering personalized advice and having the facts to back it up — is no small task.

We believe that the only unbiased, accurate and insightful way to understand how your developers are working, progressing and — last but definitely not least — how they’re feeling, is with data. Data can provide more objective insights into employee activity than could ever be gathered by a human.

It’s still very hard for many managers to fully understand that all employees work at different paces and levels.

Consider this: Over two-thirds of employees say they would put more effort into their work if they felt more appreciated, and 90% want a manager who’s fair to all employees.

Let’s be honest. It’s hard to judge all of your employees fairly if you’re (1) unable to work physically side-by-side with them, meaning you’ll inevitably have more contact with the some over others (e.g., those you’re more friendly with); and (2) you’re relying on manual trackers to keep on top of everyone’s work, which can get lost and take a lot of effort to process and analyze; (3) you expect engineers to self-report their progress, which is far from objective.

It’s also unlikely, especially with the quieter ones, that on top of all that you’ll have identified areas for them to expand their talents by upskilling or reskilling. But it’s that kind of personal attention that will make employees feel appreciated and able to progress professionally with you. Absent that, they’re likely to take the next best job opportunity that shows up.

So here’s a run down of why you need data to set up a fair annual review process; if not this year, then you can kick-start it for 2021.

1. Use data to set next year’s goals

The best way to track your developers’ progress automatically is by using Git Analytics tools, which track the performance of individuals by aggregating historical Git data and then feeding that information back to managers in minute detail.

This data will clearly show you if one of your engineers is over capacity or underworked and the types of projects they excel in. If you’re assessing an engineering manager and the team members they’re responsible for have been taking longer to push their code to the shared repository, causing a backlog of tasks, it may mean that they’re not delegating tasks properly. An appropriate goal here would be to track and divide their team’s responsibilities more efficiently, which can be tracked using the same metrics, or cross-training members of other teams to assist with their tasks.

Another example is that of an engineer who is dipping their toe into multiple projects. Indicators of where they’ve performed best include churn (we’ll get to that later), coworkers repeatedly asking that same employee to assist them in new tasks and of course positive feedback for senior staff, which can easily be integrated into Git analytics tools. These are clear signs that next year, your engineer could be maximizing their talents in these alternative areas, and you could diversify their tasks accordingly.

Once you know what targets to set, you can use analytics tools to create automatic targets for each engineer. That means that after you’ve set it up, it will be updated regularly on the engineer’s progress using indicators directly from the code repository. It won’t need time-consuming input from either you or your employee, allowing you both to focus on more important tasks. As a manager you’ll receive full reports once the deadline of the task is reached and get notified whenever metrics start dropping or the goal has been met.

This is important — you’ll be able to keep on top of those goals yourself, without having to delegate that responsibility or depend on self-reporting by the engineer. It will keep employee monitoring honest and transparent.

2. Three Git metrics can help you understand true performance quality

The easiest way for managers to “conclude” how an engineer has performed is by looking at superficial output: the number of completed pull requests submitted per week, the number of commits per day, etc. Especially for nontechnical managers, this is a grave but common error. When something is done, it doesn’t mean it’s been done well or that it is even productive or usable.

Instead, look at these data points to determine the actual quality of your engineer’s work:

  1. Churn is your number-one red flag, telling you how many times someone has modified their code in the first 21 days after it has been checked in. The more churn, the less of an engineer’s code is actually productive, with good longevity. Churn is a natural and healthy part of the software development process, but we’ve identified that any churn level above the normal 15%-30% indicates that an engineer is struggling with assignments.

    #business-intelligence, #column, #developer, #engineer, #labor, #startups, #telecommuting, #usability

0

Are You Sure You Want to Go Back to the Office?

The future of work is flexibility.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #labor-and-jobs, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #telecommuting, #work-life-balance

0

Austin-based ReturnSafe raises $3.25 million for its employee health management tools

ReturnSafe, a symptom checking and contact tracing employee health management toolkit for businesses, has raised $3.25 million in financing from investors including Fifty Years and Active Capital. 

With companies looking to reopen operations and have their employees return to work safely, management toolkits that track employee health are piling into the market offering all sorts of strategies to maintain a safe work environment.

These include offerings from companies like WorkSafe; or the ProtectWell tool from Microsoft and UnitedHealth; or NSpace, which has similar features and a scheduling tool for booking office space safely.

For its part, ReturnSafe is boasting six figure monthly recurring revenue and is working with 50 organizations since its launch six months ago.

The pitch to investors and customers is that the need to manage employees and ensure that workspaces are free from health risks is only going to grow in a post-COVID-19 world.

Of course, the best way for employers to ensure the safety and security of their employees is to provide adequate leave and time off if employees are sick and to ensure that everyone has access to adequate testing at regular intervals should they not be able to work remotely.

Like other companies in the market, ReturnSafe offers a symptoms screener, a testing dashboard, a case management dashboard and a new vaccine management service. In addition to those software tools, ReturnSafe pitches a set of wearable devices with built-in social distancing alarms to ensure that employees maintain safe distances. 

 

 

#economy, #finance, #investor, #microsoft, #money, #tc, #telecommuting, #unitedhealth, #wearable-devices

0

5 questions every IT team should to be able to answer

Now more than ever, IT teams play a vital role in keeping their businesses running smoothly and securely. With all of the assets and data that are now broadly distributed, a CEO depends on their IT team to ensure employees remain connected and productive and that sensitive data remains protected.

CEOs often visualize and measure things in terms of dollars and cents, and in the face of continuing uncertainty, IT — along with most other parts of the business — is facing intense scrutiny and tightening of budgets. So, it is more important than ever to be able to demonstrate that they’ve made sound technology investments and have the agility needed to operate successfully in the face of continued uncertainty.

For a CEO to properly understand risk exposure and make the right investments, IT departments have to be able to confidently communicate what types of data are on any given device at any given time.

Here are five questions that IT teams should be ready to answer when their CEO comes calling:

What have we spent our money on?

Or, more specifically, exactly how many assets do we have? And, do we know where they are? While these seem like basic questions, they can be shockingly difficult to answer … much more difficult than people realize. The last several months in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak have been the proof point.

With the mass exodus of machines leaving the building and disconnecting from the corporate network, many IT leaders found themselves guessing just how many devices had been released into the wild and gone home with employees.

One CIO we spoke to estimated they had “somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 devices” that went home with employees, meaning there could have been up to 20,000 that were completely unaccounted for. The complexity was further compounded as old devices were pulled out of desk drawers and storage closets to get something into the hands of employees who were not equipped to work remotely. Companies had endpoints connecting to corporate network and systems that they hadn’t seen for years — meaning they were out-of-date from a security perspective as well.

This level of uncertainty is obviously unsustainable and introduces a tremendous amount of security risk. Every endpoint that goes unaccounted for not only means wasted spend but also increased vulnerability, greater potential for breach or compliance violation, and more. In order to mitigate these risks, there needs to be a permanent connection to every device that can tell you exactly how many assets you have deployed at any given time — whether they are in the building or out in the wild.

Are our devices and data protected?

Device and data security go hand in hand; without the ability to see every device that is deployed across an organization, it becomes next to impossible to know what data is living on those devices. When employees know they are leaving the building and going to be off network, they tend to engage in “data hoarding.”

#column, #cryptography, #cybercrime, #data-security, #encryption, #endpoint-security, #enterprise, #malware, #mobile-device-management, #security, #startups, #telecommuting, #the-extra-crunch-daily

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Google Delays Return to Office and Eyes ‘Flexible Work Week’

The Silicon Valley company now plans to have employees return to the office in September. It will be different when they get there.

#alphabet-inc, #computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #telecommuting, #workplace-environment

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What to expect while fundraising in 2021

At the end of 2019, no one would have predicted what an unpredictable and difficult year it has been for both startups and VCs in the fundraising world. Now we are staring down the end of 2020 and looking toward what we all hope is a better, safer 2021. What will this new year bring? With an end-of-year sprint to close deals, the anticipation of a new presidential administration and the hope of a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, startups and VCs know that change is on the horizon — but how much of that change will be positive?

As 2020 proved, no one can say for sure what 2021 will bring, but I’d like to put a few predictions on the table based on DocSend’s data and research, including the DocSend Startup Index, as well as some trends I’ve seen and my own experiences. These predictions center around how we’ll fundraise post-pandemic, how the funding divide may widen for some, what fundraising activity could look like into 2021, a few sectors we think will fare well and will incorporate some tips on how to succeed in the new year, no matter what comes our way.

We’ll interact through a mix of the old and the new

The pandemic forced all of us to drastically change how we work and interact with colleagues and clients. When the pandemic subsides and vaccines are widely available, in-person meetings and gathering back at the office will definitely resume, but it’s safe to say the old ways of networking and fundraising won’t shift back 100%. Founders and VCs alike have navigated the ups and downs of remote networking and fundraising interactions and will stick to what works and what doesn’t.

Is traveling to a conference the best way for a founder to have a chance at meeting the VC who is right to support their business? Will a VC want to drive an hour through Bay Area traffic for an in-person status update meeting on their latest investment? Zoom fatigue aside, video conference calls do have some benefits — efficiency, no travel time — although not all meetings are best conducted virtually.

No matter what 2021 has in store, founders can still take proactive steps to help them succeed in their fundraising efforts.

The extent to which businesses go in-person or stick to virtual meetings could depend directly on what round of fundraising they are working toward or have completed. Businesses in the pre-seed round might stick with more Zoom meetings in order to conserve resources.

Founders in the seed round will likely split between video and in-person meetings as they are under pressure to show traction in this round, as we found in our report on seed fundraising, yet will also need to conserve resources and time. For Series A, they might have to meet less in person because they have established relationships with their investors. Series B might see more in-person meetings as their business has reached a level of complexity that is difficult to communicate via a deck or video conference.

The funding divide may widen for those outside Silicon Valley

#business-networking, #column, #ec-entrepreneurship, #entrepreneurship, #fundraising, #private-equity, #startups, #telecommuting, #venture-capital

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Enter new markets and embrace a distributed workforce to grow during a pandemic

Many companies will not see the uncertainty of a global pandemic as the perfect moment to go international, but for others (particularly in healthcare, online communications, and workplace mobility) the market is stronger than ever and companies are having to respond quickly internationally to both service existing clients and take advantage of the growth in demand.

We and our team at Taylor Wessing advise 50 to 75 venture-backed North American companies each year on setting up in Europe or Asia. We’ve helped companies such as TaskRabbit, Lime, Glossier, InVision and many others translate their domestic success to new jurisdictions and cultures and to thrive as global businesses.

This is a practical guide to international expansion with the challenges of the current time in mind. It’s a quick-read providing some practical tips and sharing best practices from peer companies to help you come out of the pandemic with a strong international presence. A great deal of this advice is evergreen and will serve you well whatever the circumstances may be.

In particular, we’ll cover the rise (and risks) of distributed workforces — a way for CEOs to hire the best talent anywhere in the world. This has taken on new significance with the boom in remote working as one of several options for CEOs looking for strategic growth during and after COVID.

Is this the right time to expand overseas?

Ten years ago, the timing question was much simpler. Founders would first of all focus on developing a product and winning over their domestic market, funded through their Series A and B rounds, and then go on to raise their Series C round, which investors would expect to be used to push into new markets.

Since then, with the age of the smartphone in full swing and international direct ordering ubiquitous, opportunities to sell into new markets appeared far earlier in a company’s growth and there is no longer a canned strategy for timing your international expansion.

The current circumstances have exaggerated this trend. There are many challenges in traditional sectors, but also many new market opportunities quickly appearing in healthcare and other technology sectors with founders wanting to move quickly into new markets.

Although it may be tempting to just get a few sales people on the ground to go for it, we would still recommend laying some groundwork and making some key decisions before diving in. For example: ensuring management can give sufficient time and attention to the new market; tweaking your product to comply with local regulations; reworking your sales approach.

If you are early-stage, tread carefully. Our belief is that the Series B round is still the earliest a founder or board should consider international expansion.

If you are early-stage, tread carefully. Our belief is that the Series B round is still the earliest a founder or board should consider international expansion. The companies we’ve worked with who have moved earlier than the B round will generally end up realizing it’s too early. They’ll end up pressing pause, or making a full strategic exit, tail between legs.

International expansion is a matter of focus, as well as financial resources. Once you’re selling into a new market, everyone in the business needs to be thinking internationally, including the CEO, CFO, general counsel, the board, engineers and staff. It can stretch everyone before there are the necessary resources in place to cope.

Decision made: How do you get going quickly?

Even in the best of times our advice would be to not experiment or push the boundaries when it comes to your international strategy, do that elsewhere in your business. You should follow the path most travelled at this stage. This is especially true in the current climate. If you’re thinking of doing something new, something your peers haven’t done before, we should have a conversation first.

Whichever market you’ve chosen, there are some universal first steps (although they might vary slightly between jurisdictions). For example:

  • If you have a permanent establishment for tax purposes (i.e., the local tax authorities consider you established enough to be paying income tax and corporation tax), work on the basis that you’ll need to incorporate a company or register a local branch.
  • Consider flexible options when it comes to taking on people (more on this below). Remember that in all cases local employment contracts will be needed (subject to the use of PEOs – see below).
  • Perhaps most importantly, local agreements transferring IP ownership will be needed (see next chapter).
  • There will also be some local filings (e.g., tax, corporate, payroll) where you will need a local service provider such as an accountant and payroll provider.

Common international expansion traps … and how to avoid them

#asia, #column, #employment, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #european-union, #human-resource-management, #labor, #remote-work, #startups, #telecommuting, #venture-capital

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Salesforce to Acquire Slack for $27.7 Billion

The move caps an acquisitive streak by Salesforce and ends Slack’s run as an independent publicly traded company.

#computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #enterprise-computing, #mergers-acquisitions-and-divestitures, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #salesforce-com-inc, #slack-technologies-inc, #software, #telecommuting

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Back to the Office: Tough Call for Workers, and for the Boss

A toy company owner decided the benefits of having everyone together, with safeguards, outweighed the risks. Some were readier than others to return.

#basic-fun-inc, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #executives-and-management-theory, #labor-and-jobs, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #telecommuting, #workplace-environment, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

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The Digital Nomads Did Not Prepare for This

They moved to exotic locales to work through the pandemic in style. But now tax trouble, breakups and Covid guilt are setting in.

#americans-abroad, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #income-tax, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #sabbaticals-and-career-breaks, #telecommuting, #travel-and-vacations, #visas

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N.J’s Largest City Shuts Down Again as Virus Cases Surge

Newark required nonessential businesses to close indoor operations beginning at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Salons may open by appointment only.

#baraka-ras, #bars-and-nightclubs, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #halloween, #ironbound-newark-nj, #new-jersey, #newark-nj, #restaurants, #shutdowns-institutional, #telecommuting, #university-hospital-newark-nj

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How I Worked From Home Abroad in Mexico for 35 Days During the Pandemic

My partner and I both felt we could get away, safely. So we packed the large bottles of sanitizer, double-checked the Wi-Fi and off we went.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #computers-and-the-internet, #luggage-and-packing, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #telecommuting, #travel-and-vacations, #tulum-mexico

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July Is the New January: More Companies Delay Return to the Office

From Ford to Microsoft, white-collar companies are increasingly extending working from home through next summer.

#computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #facebook-inc, #google-inc, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #shutdowns-institutional, #summer-season, #telecommuting, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

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How to Connect With the Co-Workers You’re Missing

What you gain with remote work — increased flexibility and productivity — comes at the expense of interacting and socializing with colleagues in person. Here are some tips to help deal with that.

#content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #friendship, #loneliness, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #telecommuting, #workplace-environment

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