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

Remote Working Meetup Group

working remotely laptop

Have you joined our meetup group? We’re an international community of remote workers – some who’ve worked remotely for a long time, others who are #suddenlyremote – who get together weekly, online, over a coffee (or wine) to discuss challenges, opportunities and new ways of working. As Easter is next weekend, the regular meetup will still be available on Friday 10th but for those taking the time out for the long weekend (at home), our next meetup will be Friday 17th April (in Australia, it may be Thursday 16th for you depending on where you live).

Joinhttps://www.meetup.com/Remote-Working-Meetup-Group/

Cartoon of the week

Anne says: This cartoon made me laugh out loud!! While so many of us are now working from home, the question of how effective we’re being, what access to workplace platforms we have, how are we using it and how’s our productivity? Anecdotal stories we’re collecting indicate there are new and varied distractions, yet, we’re actually getting stuff done! On the other hand, there’s article after article telling us how to be productive – everyone has tips – including finding the right tools!

The bosses who prefer when employees work from home

Anne says: Wait!! Did I read that right? I seem to have read more about how trust and surveillance is being used to ensure remote employees are actually working! (Heaven forbid if they walk away from their computer for a coffee or bathroom break, or family duties). This article shares the experiences of fully remote companies – interestingly the examples in the article are all tech companies, although I don’t think that’s necessarily representative.

The reasons quoted for remote working include:

  • Better access to talent;
  • Better culture and productivity; and
  • Economic opportunities (that wouldn’t be otherwise available).

They all agree, it requires planning (no surprises there). Partially, they describe the use of multiple platforms for communication and the need for enabling tools for productivity. A core principle outlined by the CEO of Trello is ensuring everyone can participate equally. The CEO of Veeva says they have no impromptu meetings – to avoid creating any sense of missing out. This would be particularly relevant to workers across timezones as well.

Another key point is the importance of communication. It needs to be deliberate to ensure everyone knows each other.  Zapier use a strategy that pairs up employees randomly each week to get to know each other. (We’ve designed similar random coffee meetups with our clients to create greater understanding across departments). Yet – in our current remote working environments, we’re hearing from people that are drowning in emails (one company said the volume of emails was up 250 times its usual level), and others are overexposed with too many Zoom/video calls – without specifically needing them.

All these fully remote companies have worked hard to maintain connections and effective communication. Our current suddenly remote environments have not been created with that level of intention. Managers, in particular, seem to be struggling to find their best way of managing – while employees just want to get their jobs done. But there’s another scenario – in the next article.

Readhttps://www.wsj.com/articles/the-new-rules-of-remote-work-11584038840

Bosses panic – buy spy software to keep tabs on remote workers

Anne says: Unlike the scenarios described in the previous article, this one takes us into the dark side of remote working. The article provides examples of remote software to track what people are doing online and being subjected to disciplinary actions if their daily tasks aren’t complete.

Does digital surveillance when it’s conducted in your home (which is your current workplace) breach laws of privacy? Apparently it doesn’t when you’re in the office. But in my home, that’s rather creepy. The companies explain that it’s to maintain security and productivity. Really? What sort of culture does that develop within the company?

I have to admit to being a little shocked at what was being implemented and the justifications. Even the quote from one of the workers declaring that it was a positive, an opportunity to demonstrate to your boss that you’re capable of working remotely.

Not all of them request the “on all day” video call, but others are insisting on constant status updates. No wonder people are designing backgrounds to their Zoom calls, including a photo of themselves watching the call – but in fact, they’ve walked away.

The final sentence aligns with my perspective on all of this:

…If you hired them, you should trust them. If you don’t, they have no reason to be part of the organisation

It’s all about trust really. Creating a supportive culture to enable people to be able to perform and contribute value to their company – versus not trusting them to do anything. It’s a mindset I really don’t understand. And in current times, a little more understanding and empathy for people being thrust into difficult environments with family committees and then expected to work as if they’re in the office.

Readhttps://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-03-27/bosses-panic-buy-spy-software-to-keep-tabs-on-remote-workers

Why Life During a Pandemic Feels So Surreal

“The surreal part, I think, comes when you’re thrown into a situation that you’ve never been in before. It’s extremely disorienting,” says child psychiatrist Fredrick Matzner, who studied the psychological shock of 9/11

Jakkii says: I, like many of you I imagine, have said this many times since this all began. It’s just so surreal. It’s an odd, almost visceral sensation, everything is normal but not normal, familiar yet unfamiliar, all just a little bit off, like peering through the looking glass into a similar yet different world.

As the author discusses, human beings tend to be pattern seekers. We look for the recognisable in things and how they relate to one another in order to make sense of the world around us. We’re also, generally, routine-based animals. We have routines and rituals – however small – that provide a sense of normalcy and comfort. Many of these routines have been completely altered, interrupted, or removed altogether.

“Our routine is the scaffolding of life,” says Adrienne Heinz, a clinical research psychologist at the Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD. “It’s how we organize information and our time. And without it, we can feel really lost.”

Fortunately, the article finishes with a suggestion for how to cope  – continuity. You can establish this for yourself by considering your social and normally-done-outside-the-home routines from before the pandemic crisis began and, where possible, finding ways to continue them. Have social catch-ups with friends over video conferencing. Facetime your family. Go for a run (but keep your distance from others!). Tune in to livestreams of musicians performing. Those threads of continuity give us something to hold onto, something to feel normal about, while everything continues to move and change around us at a rapid pace.

This is a tough time for everyone, for many different reasons. It’s OK to feel weird, or scared, or frustrated, or sad. It’s also OK to feel happy and joyful, and to find ways to feel ‘normal’. The unknown is challenging, and the inability to plan for the future is really hard, but we will get through it, together.

If you are struggling, don’t suffer alone. Reach out and talk to someone. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or text 0477 13 11 14.

Readhttps://www.wired.com/story/why-life-during-a-pandemic-feels-so-surreal/

A case of the Zoomies

Jakkii says: It’s not just dogs getting the zoomies anymore – everyone’s getting the zoomies these days with Zoom being used for everything from work to yoga to catching up with mates.

What the rise of Zoom reveals about how we talk to colleagues

This piece on Wired is an interesting discussion about our methods of communication – and not, as I originally assumed, a discussion about the language or tone or otherwise that we use. It makes a compelling point about the rise in demand for spoken communication via video, in stark contrast to our pre-pandemic trend of moving away from using the phone. It seems that people hate talking on the phone more than they actually hate talking to people. Who knew?? Except the many of us (notably millennials and Gen Z according to the article) who hate talking on the phone!

The 8 types of people we become on Zoom

According to The Ringer, now that we’re all on Zoom it turns out there are 8 types of people we become.

  1. The Unmuted Multitasker
  2. The Microphone Misunderstander
  3. The Manicured Tableau
  4. The Tony Reali
  5. The Confused Parent
  6. The Cross-Talk Screamer
  7. The Background World Traveler
  8. The Dog’s Costar

Which one are you?? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Virtual backgrounds

Did you know that you can apply a virtual background when using Zoom? Well, you can, and apparently, some people are using them to fool their colleagues into thinking they live in fancy apartments, or to loop videos and make it seem like they’re paying attention when they’re not. While we don’t recommend the latter, and virtual backgrounds are not appropriate for every meeting, they can be a great talking point and add a bit of fun to informal meetings and team catch-ups, and when you’re using Zoom to stay connected socially with friends and family. A few tips and suggestions for backgrounds:

Just be careful you don’t turn yourself into a potato and get stuck that way.

Beware the Zoombomber

Finally – have you heard of “Zoombombing” yet? If you haven’t, the short version: random people dropping into your Zoom calls uninvited. It’s not necessarily innocuous either; there’s been porn, and there’s been racist abuse. The Vox article (linked below) is an in-depth look at some of the issues with Zoom being revealed in the midst of its rapid growth and rise in popularity. (It’s worth noting that Zoom has now committed to providing weekly updates on how it’s managing privacy and security issues going forward)

Make sure you adjust your Zoom settings as appropriate to help you avoid being Zoombombed.

Readhttps://www.vox.com/recode/2020/3/31/21201019/zoom-coronavirus-privacy-hacks

Friday Funnies

COVID-19 Friday Five

Work Friday Five

Tech Friday Five

Social Media Friday Five

Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: COVID-19 grounds airlines, and business continuity learnings. 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: pandemic expert Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott from the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney.

Please note: our numbers regarding cases of COVID-19 and countries affected were accurate at the time of recording. Please check here for up to date information on cases and countries affected.

The stories this week

00:45 – Our guest Adam Kamradt-Scott on the business of pandemic response

09:14 – Australian airlines will suspend all international travel

26:23 – What else will have to change after COVID-19?

Other stories we bring up

Virgin Australia suspends its fleet

The Australian aviation industry to receive a $715m relief package

Corona grounds flights around the world (numbers)

The aviation industry may not fully recover from the effects of the pandemic

To stop coronavirus we will need to change almost everything we do

How food delivery drivers manage to work in China despite coronavirus

Cross-industry redeployment of staff during the crisis

World Health Organization’s influenza information site

Listenhttps://sbi.sydney.edu.au/covid-19-airlines-and-business-continuity-on-the-future-this-week/


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