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

If we rebuild, will they come back?

Anne says: This is a report from the Deloitte Center for Integrated Research and in a series researching the issues surrounding COVID-19 on the workplace. Set in the context of returning to the workplace – the report focuses on the human factors of the workplace, not the physical rebuilds that are being done to manage people during a pandemic. Their findings identified the dominant issue that will influence all people returning to the workplace: trust. No surprises there, really. However, what makes this report a valuable read is how they uncovered what trust was (yes, past tense) in “yesterday’s workplace” and then take the forward-looking perspective to understand people’s concerns and how they might be addressed to redevelop trust.

A finding that has been consistently reported across many research projects currently studying the working from home experience is viewed through the lens of why would people return to the office if:

Overall, the workers we interviewed have proven to be incredibly resilient, creative, and resourceful in establishing new remote-working routines—which for many appear to be more effective than they had ever imagined.

If working from home, allowing for juggling priorities with family or cohabitation arrangements, has become something people are now relatively comfortable with, then how or why will they return into the physical office space of yesterday?

The factors, or “return intention drivers” as the report labels them, are not unexpected during a pandemic, but completely new territory for organisational culture and building trust. The basic premise is safety but interestingly, there was a broad variance in the personal threshold of what was deemed safe. Some people cited living with high-risk people, like elderly parents, or some were in the higher-risk categories themselves – hence, impacting their safety thresholds.

All who do make the journey back to the office, be it sooner or later, are placing their trust in their organization to make the work environment as safe as it can be

The re-entry strategies in the findings recommend competence – in the sanitization of the work environment; care – that demonstrates more than competence by putting their best interests first; calibrate expectations – setting realistic expectations of what the office environment may be like, how things may need to change again; communications – clear and transparent; and collaboration and creativity – possibly the most challenging of the strategies. This last strategy almost sounds like a warning – allow people to have agency, they’ve managed to work under difficult conditions working from home, why impose previous ways of working and potentially erode the trust that had accompanied their remote working approaches.

The standout message: we may all return to the office, one day, but the way we work and engage with our companies has changed, forever. As the authors conclude, it may not be a revolution but it’s definitely an evolution and a time to engage differently, based on foundations of trust.


Work from home space winner

Anne says: And if you’re re-entering lockdown and not returning to the workplace anytime soon, you might be considering redesigning your home working space (I’m not even going to call it an office!). This winning entry in a competition for new office designs caught my eye. It was self-contained, portable, flexible and adapts to work needs, looks funky but there’s just so much more to it.

The designers are graduates from the University of Michigan and their project is named “Olli”. In the words of their submission:

Olli is a modular ensemble of four unique quadrants, designed to accommodate different users.

And… it’s inflatable! Each of the four coloured quadrants have different ways of using them. There’s combinations for different scenarios – build your own adventure style! The images on the site explain in more detail the materials (eco-friendly, naturally), the main function of each quadrant and the configurations. Really, there’s only one unanswered question: Where can I get one??


State of Remote Work 2020

Jakkii says: This report from Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics looks at the state of remote work in the US in 2020. It is the 4th edition of this annual report, so it provides the ability to reflect on changes from their 2019 report to their 2020 one, and will, of course, be interesting to see what it looks like next year and beyond.

The survey was conducted during June & July in 2020 and had over 2000 responses from full-time employees in the US, working for companies with 10 or more employees and in the age range of 21-65.

You can take a deeper dive into the demographics of the respondents as well as all the findings yourself, but here are the key stats:

  1. Almost 70% of full-time workers in the U.S are working from home during COVID-19
  2. 1 in 2 people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work after COVID-19
  3. 77% of respondents agree that after COVID-19, being able to work from home (WFH) would make them happier
  4. 75% of people are the same or more productive during COVID-19 while working from home
  5. In 2020, people are using video meetings 50% more than pre-COVID-19
  6. 1 in 2 people would move if they were able to WFH all or most of the time
  7. Working remotely saves 40 minutes daily on commute
  8. In 2020 after COVID-19, 80% expect to work from home at least 3x/week
  9. 1 in 5 people report working more during COVID-19
  10. Only 20-25% of companies pay or share the cost of home office equipment, furniture, cable, chair
  11. 80% agree that there should be one day a week with no meetings at all
  12. 81% of respondents think their employer will support remote work after COVID-19
  13. 23% of full-time employees are willing to take a pay cut of over 10% in order to work from home at least some of the time
  14. 44% did not find it necessary to get dressed up (think: clothing, hair, makeup) for a video meeting
  15. During COVID-19, on average, people are saving $479.20 per month

Although US-based, there are few surprises on that list to me. I think point 13 where almost a quarter of those responding were prepared to take a pay cut of over 10% in order to keep working from home at least some of the time is an interesting one, as it does suggest that at least some of the respondents feel they are reasonably well-paid in their current role if there’s enough scope to reduce their salary by over 10%.

While I wouldn’t expect an exact correlation between a US survey and an Australian one, I think there are some things here for organisations to be aware of, especially if they’re not seeing it or hearing it from their employees already. Particularly relevant I think are the findings around the desire for people whose jobs allow for it to continue to WFH at least some of the time, as well as the 1 in 2 not wanting to return to jobs that won’t offer remote work after COVID. Extrapolating from these results you would also imagine the ability to WFH at least some of the time having an impact on attracting top talent, as well as retaining it. I think, too, the fact we’re not seeing 100% of people asking to WFH permanently and exclusively implies that the trend toward a hybrid workplace is not only useful for businesses trying to manage physical workspaces and social distancing, but also in managing different needs and expectations of work on an individual basis, not just on a role or job-to-be-done basis. For those organisations already working towards a hybrid future, survey results such as these may provide some external reassurance they’re heading in the right direction, while for those who aren’t, it may add some additional data to the pool of consideration for what their best future approach might be.


Around the house

Jakkii says: another week on and it’s the same story – all around the world we’re running at different speeds, with a mix of low restrictions and restrictions easing, right through to heading back into lockdown. Whatever the status where you live, we all still need ways to keep ourselves occupied during the time we’re at home, so here’s this week’s roundup. Stay healthy, and stay safe!

Friday Funnies

Look at it from r/memes

US Election Friday Five

Bonus: 100 years ago, the first commercial radio broadcast announced the results of the 1920 election – politics would never be the same

Misinformation Friday Five

Bonus: A QAnon supporter has been elected to Congress for the first time

COVID-19 Friday Five

Work Friday Five

Tech Friday Five

Social Media Friday Five

Bonus: When women are banned for embracing who they are online, they suffer in real life too

Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: Jevin West joins us to discuss disinformation in social media in the wake of the US election.

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

How social media platforms try to curb misinformation

Our guest this week

A. Professor Jevin West, Director of the Center for an Informed Public, University of Washington

The Center for Informed Public

The Election Integrity Project

Jevin West’s book with Carl Bergstrom “Calling bullshit: The art of skepticism in a data-driven world”

Uncertainty and misinformation: what to expect on election night and days after

Other stories we bring up

Dressing up as hand sanitiser this Halloween

‘Scary creepy good’ Halloween movie: The Social Dilemma

Our previous review of the Social Dilemma on The Future, This week

Tesla’s self-driving feature is ‘scary as hell’

Our previous discussion of autonomous vehicles and self-driving cars on The Future, This Week

ABC’s AR app shows how one town survives and adapts to intense bushfires and severe storms

Apophis ‘God of Chaos’ large asteroid heading towards Earth

NASA’s terrifying Halloween posters

Micro-targeting of ads has become scarily detailed

Our previous discussion with Jevin West on The Future, This Week

What global elections have taught Silicon Valley about misinformation

Researchers following fake news

President Trump is single largest driver of the infodemic

Our previous discussion of Twitter banning political ads on The Future, This Week

Facebook widens ban on new political ads close to the election

MIT research on putting warning labels on fake news

Twitter blocks links to NY Post article

Twitter changes how retweets work to slow misinformation

Ocean Spray, TikTok, and accidental influencers

Teens and TikTok conspiracy theories

TikTok tries to stay ‘apolitical’ ahead of US election


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