Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

How remote work is quietly remaking our lives

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Jakkii says: As someone who’s not only a remote worker but has seen an increasing acceptance of remote work amongst client organisations over the years as well, I appreciated this article looking at some of the ups and downs of remote working, the pros and cons if you will. As it mentions, not every job can be done remotely, and not every individual wants to work from home (though ‘remote’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘from home’). As a now-fully distributed company, we here at Ripple Effect Group each work remotely, sometimes from home, sometimes from offices, sometimes from client spaces, and other times from far-flung locations where we’ve travelled either for work or for fun. Remote work, and operating and managing a distributed company, is not without its challenges – juggling timezones, keeping a strong company culture, maintaining social cohesion, keeping ourselves and each other motivated and engaged, staying productive, and avoiding distractions to name but a few. Yet, if we’re realistic, those challenges aren’t out of place in organisations in which everyone works together in the office, either.

When people learn I work mostly from home, I’m often asked how I get any work done, followed by comments about how they’d be too distracted at home by everything other than work. It’s an understandable question, but it’s also an interesting one – I’ve never worked in an office in which I was never interrupted or distracted by others, often multiple times throughout the day. Social niceties, workplace politics and maintaining interpersonal relationships often make it harder to say no to or otherwise avoid interruptions and distractions in the workplace – other than a knock on the door for that much-anticipated parcel delivery, at home how distracted you are is really up to you. 

The other common question is about whether I miss the social aspect of the workplace – most often asked by those who actually like their coworkers. And the short answer is yes, I do sometimes. The longer answer is that it’s much more nuanced than that, because we all have social lives outside of the workplace and we have myriad ways to communicate, and ways to ‘hang out’ online with one another. It takes a more concerted effort and I’m pretty comfortable in saying no one anywhere is good at it 100% of the time! But managing loneliness and isolation is certainly a concern when it comes to remote work.

Looking at this graph, I exhibit exactly 0% surprise that ‘flexibility’ is the number one pro. It’s not just flexibility of work location – in my experience, there’s a much firmer commitment to true flexibility in organisations in which people are able to work remotely, and, where this is available to all whose jobs will allow for it, a much stronger culture of trust. The one thing I was surprised not to see called out in the ‘pros’ was avoiding a commute and all the extra hours that can bring into your life – presumably, at least some of this is captured in ‘time with family’, but it’s still an interesting missing item to me.

There’s also some interesting information on coworking spaces and, though US-focused, a ‘where we live’ section that discusses in part the rise of smaller, less expensive cities in which people are working remotely for companies for whom they’d otherwise have had to live in large, expensive cities such as New York. In Australia, I would suggest we see this more commonly at the moment in terms of people moving away from cities like Sydney and Melbourne and into nearby smaller cities like Wollongong or Geelong where the major city is still within easy reach for office and client meetings.

The article concludes with the view that remote work will continue to rise, particularly as we see non-knowledge-work displaced by knowledge work through things like automation. Another driver, one would imagine, is the desire to cut real estate costs in organisations – certainly that’s been a factor in the rise of activity-based working in Australia. Reading through the piece and reflecting on my own experiences and what we see in client organisations, I find it hard to disagree with their conclusion.

What’s your take? Is an increase in remote work the future of work? Let me know in the comments or on social media.

Readhttps://www.vox.com/recode/2019/10/9/20885699/remote-work-from-anywhere-change-coworking-office-real-estate

Meet the robot racing drone that could beat human pilots by 2023

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Joel says: I’ve dropped off following the eSports scene as much as I used to over the past couple of years, but this past weekend I was flicking through the channels on my TV and discovered a channel dedicated entirely to eSports, and it was airing something that instantly took my interest: competitive drone racing.

For those that may not be aware of what the sport entails, think of it like a V8 Supercars race but in a much smaller arena, filled with obstacles that try and instantly eliminate you from the race and instead of high powered cars, they’re racing powerful drones through the course. In the way the sport is currently run, the pilots manoeuvre the drones remotely and see what the drones see in real-time via cameras located on the front of the vehicles.

But now, just as advancements in Artificial Intelligence technology have disrupted numerous industries, it’s now hit the world of drone racing.

Teams of programmers from all around the world have been working for months to create the best software to autonomously pilot the RacerAI, a drone designed by the Drone Racing League, taking advantage of the unit’s cameras, propellers and processor. All while hoping their system beats that of the others competing.

The race, kicking off next week, will be the first in a new Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing series, a series of races consisting completely of AI piloted drones. Culminating in a race where the best AI system will be pit against a human pilot to see once and for all who is better: Man or Machine.

Industry professionals believe that by 2023, automated drones will ultimately prove superior.

“Everything really begins to shape up when you see robots outperform humans physically.”

Could this be the beginning of AI-driven sports? Who knows? Will we one day see a V8 Supercars race that’s driven completely by computers? It would certainly be interesting that’s for sure.

Readhttps://www.cnet.com/news/meet-robot-racing-drone-that-could-beat-human-pilots-by-2023/

How The Good Place taught moral philosophy to its characters — and its creators

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Jakkii says: I’ve mentioned The Good Place in previous Friday Faves – a comedy centred around moral philosophy that manages to make ethics and morality both accessible and interesting, helped, of course, by excellent writing and a fantastic cast.

I found this a really great read about tackling such subject matter on (network) TV that I think you’ll find interesting whether you’ve seen the show or not – though, fair warning, there are some spoilers throughout. Littered with links and authored by a writer who himself studied philosophy (under Tim Scanlon, whose work is referenced in the show), the article does a great job of unpacking some of the philosophical theories referenced through the show while examining show creator Michael Schur’s take on morality as it plays out within The Good Place.

One thing I certainly learnt from Nat was that we could all stand to apply more philosophical approaches to our thinking, and an understanding of philosophical theories and schools of thought are an obviously useful place to start. The Good Place deals mostly in Western philosophy (though Eastern philosophy should not, of course, be overlooked), and its exploration of ethical behaviour and what it means to be “good” makes it a great starting place to learn more a bit more about moral philosophy. Given the importance of ethics and ethical decision making for all of us, particularly with regard to advances in technology, having something to help us get our heads around concepts in moral philosophy while being entertained at the same time seems timely – and highly relevant.

Readhttps://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/9/26/20874217/the-good-place-season-premiere-season-4-moral-philosophy

This Week in Social Media

Politics, democracy and regulation

Privacy and data

Cybersecurity and safety

Society and culture

Extremism and hate speech

Moderation and misinformation

Marketing, media, advertising and PR

Platforms

Facebook’s Libra and Calibra

Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: part two of a special with Simon Kemp on data analytics. Sandra Peter (Sydney Business Insights) and Kai Riemer (Digital Disruption Research Group) meet once a week to put their own spin on news that is impacting the future of business in The Future, This Week.

Our guest: Simon Kemp, CEO of Kepios.

The stories this week

The State of Digital: April 2019 report

Other stories we bring up

Part one of our special with Simon Kemp

Simon’s articles on We Are Social

Listenhttp://sbi.sydney.edu.au/data-analytics-on-the-future-this-week/


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