for W3c validation
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.
The Future of Your Office Is in a VR Headset
VR is not a new technology and VR headsets used in games have been around since the early 1990s. The more recent development of consumer grade headsets enables the current innovations to be applied for remote and distributed workers to interact in their workplace. The program featured in the short video is interesting as it attempts to create a “holographic collaboration platform” and uses avatars, developed from photos, to represent you more realistically. The CEO of Spatial, Anand Agarawala, describes the experience as a combination of Zoom and teleportation. Perhaps that’s a little more SciFi or wishful thinking – but it illustrates what these types of companies are attempting to do.
The Spatial example demonstrated in the WSJ video is intriguing. Allowing that I’m not participating in the scene through a VR headset, I’m watching them interact as an observer on video, there’s a sense of weirdness – not creepy weird, more awkwardness. The eye contact is fascinating – considering how much interaction and communication is created through eye contact – watch the avatars’ eyes, they’re close enough that you don’t react or need to look away. However, for me, that’s about where the realism ends. The mouths are like a rough animation and the hands are oddly shaped, and then there’s the legs – wait, what legs? So you’re in your VR workplace, moving around like floating upper torsos. It reminded me of Second Life (remember that?) but less engaging.
While developments in these types of technologies are exciting and companies like Spatial are creating new ways of interacting, I think we still have a way to go before working from home will be via VR headsets. We need to think differently about how we are constantly striving to replicate the office experience. Perhaps we could gain more from exploring how we could enhance our virtual in-person experiences by embracing these new technologies in different ways.
We’d love to hear from anyone that has used VR or similar technologies and would like to share those experiences with readers of Friday Faves.
Moving beyond remote: Workplace transformation in the wake of Covid-19
Jakkii says: In partnership with GlobalWebIndex, Slack conducted a survey of around 9000 respondents across six countries that looked into remote work in 2020 – what’s working well, and what isn’t. This week, in conjunction with their conference Slack Frontiers (7-9 October, online for 2020), they’ve released the findings this week.
There are 5 key takeaways from their research:
- People prefer choice.
- Remote work is a net positive.
- But not for everyone.
- Relationships matter.
- It’s time to work differently.
With an additional 6th takeaway added about the Future Forum launching a “Remote Employee Experience Index” that aims to “gauge remote worker sentiment worldwide”.
For me, the findings are more validating than illustrative. By and large, they reflect what we’re seeing and hearing from clients, peers, friends and colleagues, and of course, our Remote Working Meetup Group as well. One of the more important findings here is around relationships, connection and belonging.
However, remote working comes with drawbacks: Workers’ sense of belonging (-5) appears to be worse when working from home. This is the one area where most knowledge workers are less satisfied with remote work. By investing in strategies and technology that deepen employee connections, organizations can help improve the remote work experience.
The cynic in me sees the last line there and says how convenient for a company like Slack whose entire business model is technology that plays in this space to find that technology is needed. Despite that cynicism, the finding certainly rings true, anecdotally of course but also in articles like “Remote work is harming workplace friendships, survey claims“, and “6 ways connections create a sense of belonging anywhere with any workplace“. A sense of belonging is an important part of both community and employee engagement, affecting the overall employee experience. Whether continuing to work from home or moving to a hybrid model, building and maintaining connection and belonging for employees should be a key goal for organisations looking to retain talent – and look after their employees. As Anne mentions above, there are plenty of companies out there trying to push technology and tools to help us do that in our workplaces, but perhaps what we need are some approaches that look at the problem in different ways – is it really about trying to replicate in-office experiences remotely, or is it about making the experience of connecting and belonging in our organisations better, from wherever you work?
Facebook rebuts The Social Dilemma
Jakkii says: Over the past two weeks, Anne (25 Sep) and I (2 Oct) have shared opinions and a variety of articles on Netflix’s docu-drama – and now social tech topic du jour – The Social Dilemma. This week, Facebook published a rebuttal: “What ‘The Social Dilemma’ Gets Wrong.”
We should have conversations about the impact of social media on our lives.
But ‘The Social Dilemma’ buries the substance in sensationalism.
That’s a heck of an opening! They refer to social media platforms being a convenient scapegoat for “difficult and complex societal problems” (not wildly dissimilar to my discussion last week), and complain about not including people who currently work at Facebook (would they have been allowed to participate, one wonders?) or experts with a different view (not an unfair point). They take issue with the docu-drama not giving them credit for taking any steps to address the points raised in the film, and seem particularly put out that people “allowed” to comment haven’t worked at Facebook for years.
They specifically raise 7 points:
- Addiction (Facebook builds products to deliver value, not make you a ‘Facebook addict’)
- You are not the product (sure, Jan)
- Algorithms (they seem particularly upset by the depiction of algorithms as sociopathic in the film’s dramatisation)
It seems to be the final 4 points for which they want credit for taking steps toward improvement. Without taking a deep dive into any of these, it’s probably fair to say that some steps have been taken as Facebook and other platforms grapple with these issues – and, let’s be clear, work to avoid regulation in jurisdictions around the world. It’s also worth noting, as CNBC point out in their report on the rebuttal, that Facebook’s business model is reliant on users returning to the platform, saying:
Facebook also argued that its product teams aren’t driven to build features to increase the amount of time people use its services. It said that it made changes in 2018 that decreased usage by 50 million hours a day.
Still, in every earnings call, Facebook highlights the metric of “daily active users,” which has increased steadily year after year. Those users are how Facebook makes money. Facebook needs them to keep coming back, whether it’s frequent or not.
Facebook’s rebuttal piece is undoubtedly at least somewhat PR spin, however, as we’ve seen in articles shared over the past couple of weeks, it’s also fair to say that some people well outside of Facebook or their interests also took umbrage with certain aspects of The Social Dilemma, particularly its oversimplification of how these platforms – and algorithms – work. It’s worth a read – it’s not super long – if only to get some insight into their messaging and thinking, but let’s not forget their vested interests here as we do so.
How ‘awe walks’ could do wonders for your wellbeing
Jakkii says: Back in 2017, I shared a piece in our Friday Faves on why we feel awe after having seen a keynote at JiveWorld17 by Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at UC Berkeley. In the keynote, Dacher discussed the power of awe as a mechanism for connection, and for letting go of our ego which enhances collaboration and a desire for helping others. He talked about spending time in nature and being mindful and intentional in taking in our surrounds and allowing ourselves to be inspired, get excited – and feel awe.
Clearly, the concept behind this article isn’t new, but I felt inspired to share it both because it brought back memories of that keynote (and the wonderful few days I got to spend in Yellowstone National Park afterwards), and because while we all continue to grapple with the pandemic and our current normal and the unknowns of the next normal, it seems all the more important for us to be intentional and purposeful in finding ways to look out for ourselves and our wellbeing.
Of course, things are rarely black and white, and there was an interesting piece in The Atlantic some time ago on whether awe is really good for us. In it, Keltner was quoted as saying:
“But if a significant number of awe experiences have fear as their central theme—if they make people feel stressful, alienated, or alone—then we have to be careful about suggesting awe as something people should practice regularly, like gratitude.”
It would seem then some care is needed to feel positive effects, and it may not work for everyone – if people feel a sense of awe that’s combined with fear, they may not see the positive benefits that awe can bring. In this week’s article, the study it refers to – while small, and specifically focused on older adults – found that “people who took a fresh look at the objects, moments and vistas that surrounded them during brief, weekly walks felt more upbeat and hopeful in general than walkers who did not.” I think this simple approach is one many of us could take in order to discover the benefits of awe for us and our wellbeing.
Not surprisingly, they found that the awe walkers seemed to have become adept at discovering and amplifying awe…Overall, the awe walkers felt happier, less upset and more socially connected than the men and women in the control group.
It’s worth noting that in addition to the fact the study was focused on older people, as the article points out emotions are subjective (and self-reported) so the effects are, in some ways, hard to truly quantify. But hey, a walk is usually good for us as it is, and I think for most of us it’s worth a try to get out there and try to find awe in the world around us, no matter whether it’s in the big or the small, the common or the unusual. It just might work!
Around the house
I miss walking into a store and immediately realizing it’s too fancy but pretending to look around for a few minutes for the benefit of the salesperson who already hates me by default
— Sarah Lazarus (@sarahclazarus) September 21, 2020
Jakkii says: How’s everyone doing this week? Hopefully, we’re all feeling like we’re coping, no matter the state of restrictions where we are, and staying home, staying safe, and staying healthy! To help keep you sane at home, though, here’s another round-up of a few things to do, watch or read at home this week.
- Climate change: The Arctic hasn’t been this warm for 3 million years – and that foreshadows big changes for the rest of the planet
- Fan of pop culture & trivia? Join one of my locals’ online trivia each Wednesday on Twitch (6.30pm QLD time): https://www.twitch.tv/netherworldarcade
- Be mesmerised by the bouncing DVD logo. Will it hit the corner??
- Get some ideas for your Halloween costume with this history of how Halloween trends have changed over the years
- Learn to tone down your anxiety by recognising when you feel OK
- ‘My life as a hater’: The dire warning from a white power leader’s son
- Culture: How President Trump ruined political comedy
- US Fires: The West’s infernos are melting our sense of how fire works
- Find out why your kid loves the garbage truck so much
- A fascinating read on autopsies and why they’re more important than you think (note: this article contains imagery of tissue samples and organs)
I like when people abbreviate “out of office” as “OOO” because it’s like: “OOOooo! Someone has healthy work/life boundaries! Soooo fancy!”
— Josh Gondelman (@joshgondelman) October 5, 2020
my kid just unwrapped her new peppa dinner set and I accidentally ordered a french version and now it says groin groin groin all over the plates and cup ffs pic.twitter.com/3IfXzVfjTL
— Maggy (@maggyvaneijk) September 30, 2020
Every US state if they had an independence movement like Brexit pic.twitter.com/KDlXTrkmCj
— Terrible Maps (@TerribleMaps) October 6, 2020
- Mail-in voter fraud: anatomy of a disinformation campaign
- Facebook widens ban on political ads as alarm rises over election
- Revealed: Trump-linked consultant tied to Facebook pages warning election will cause civil war
- Twitter analysis suggests late nights make Trump angrier — and hurt his reelection odds
- Collapsing levels of trust are devastating America
Misinformation Friday Five
This person on tiktok has developed a classification model for conspiracy theories pic.twitter.com/fFJ4ZVfeQ8
— casey briggs (@CaseyBriggs) September 26, 2020
- Conspiracy theories are everywhere about Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis. He helped make them happen.
- Trump is a super-spreader of disinformation
- Some people are more likely to believe conspiracy theories. Here’s how to know if you’re one of them.
- Twitter is building ‘Birdwatch,’ a system to fight misinformation by adding more context to tweets
- Misinformation about illicit drugs is spreading on social media – and the consequences could be dangerous
QAnon Friday Five
- Facebook is removing QAnon pages and groups from its sites, but critical thinking is still the best way to fight conspiracy theories
- Facebook and Twitter said they would crack down on QAnon, but the delusion seems unstoppable
- Facebook and Instagram just banned all QAnon accounts, “even if they contain no violent content”, as QAnon reaches LinkedIn
- As QAnon grew, Facebook and Twitter missed years of warning signs about the conspiracy theory’s violent nature
- 17 Republicans voted against condemning QAnon after a Democrat got death threats from its followers
COVID-19 Friday Five
- How do pandemics end?
- White House coronavirus cluster: who has tested positive?
- An Excel error may have led England to under-report COVID-19 cases
- Aged care COVID tragedy was years in the making
- Atlanta Falcons to use drones to clean stadium after games
Work Friday Five
- G Suite is now Google Workspace because ‘work is no longer a physical place’ (though everyone, even Google, keeps getting its new name wrong)
- Slack is getting Instagram-like stories and push-to-talk audio calls for the pandemic era
- Inside MYOB’s new virus-safe HQ
- As the job market collapses, Gen Z is making résumés on TikTok
- These are the types of people struggling most with remote work and how managers can help employees handle loneliness and isolation
Tech Friday Five
- Antitrust investigation recommends major changes to Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon
- Esports could be quietly spawning a whole new generation of problem gamblers
- Can algorithms violate fair housing laws?
- Why AI can’t ever reach its full potential without a physical body
- Apple sues recycling partner for reselling more than 100,000 iPhones, iPads, and Watches it was hired to dismantle
Social Media Friday Five
- Instagram turns 10. Here’s 5 ways it’s changed us
- Instagram’s built-in shopping cart is coming to IGTV and Reels
- Online violence against women ‘flourishing’, and most common on Facebook, survey finds
- Facebook to launch mental health portal to connect users to info, support
- A new social-media platform wants to enforce “kindness.” Can that ever work?
Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast
This week: we talk about design and design thinking in an uncertain world, as we problem-solve our way out of the pandemic.
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.
The stories this week
Other stories we bring up