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Five Ways to Make the Future of Work More Human

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It is the question on every executive’s mind: is pushing for return to office the right thing to do? Will productivity drop if people keep working from home? 

In fact, 80% of Australian managers surveyed by CIO.com in November 2021 said that the shift to working from home had created a more positive view of remote work policies within their company and was now informing how they planned for office space, tech staffing and overall staffing levels in the future.

The issue for business leaders is the pervasive worry that if everyone is working at home in isolation, company culture – the je ne sais quoi that makes a company better than the competitors – might dwindle over time, especially as new people are inducted into the business.

It is obvious that coffee chats and lunch discussions have dropped away with more people working from home. How can that five minute conversation culture be rebooted? How can staff crosstrain new joiners if they can’t provide swivel-chair mentoring? 

From the workforce’s perspective, though, the benefits of working remotely are many: more flexibility around young childrens’ schedules, more regular family time, more sleep, no commute time and reduced daily costs, not to mention the ability to control personal risk in relation to the virus still circulating in the community.

It’s going to take experimentation

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that 2021 will be a year of experimentation, and this will no doubt carry into 2022. No company on Earth has all the answers yet about striking the perfect balance of hybrid work.

For example, Google recognises that the office isn’t going to be the same as before – most people will be working remotely some of the time – which means when they do come in, it won’t necessarily be to sit down at their normal desk to do work; it’ll be more about collaboration with their team and extended stakeholders. 

So Google and our customers are trialling new types of work spaces, made possible by making use of the large ecosystem of technology partners that Google works with.

Here are some of the key improvements we’ve made to make hybrid work more human.

#1 Making remote participants equal in meetings

The biggest complaint from remote meeting participants is the sense of feeling unequal to people in the room – actually a serious problem for a workplace looking to get the best out of all its team members. 

Google investigated how it could make meetings equal for everyone, whether dialled in or in the room and developed a concept of “immersive meetings” where remote participants appear on displays around the table. 

For the people in the room, a central camera with multiple lenses tracks the faces of each in-person participant so that at the remote end, they appear as separate tiles on screen. The result is that in the room, everyone has a seat at the table, and remotely, everybody appears as a separate video tile. 

Google’s new ‘companion mode’ (in preview) also lets people in a meeting room present with the same level of precision as someone presenting remotely. This makes the experience consistent, no matter where a participant is. Take a look at the video below to see how it works.

#2 Making the most of time when the team is together

If teams are coming together for a design sprint, the last thing they need is a cramped meeting room with a single whiteboard and six red markers, all of which are dried out. 

Dedicated sprint spaces allow teams to book a space to come together with all the equipment they need to get work done quickly. 

Large displays, a presentation space, small pods where two team members can collaborate together and multiple digital whiteboards make it possible for teams to get work done quickly.

#3 Making the best use of space with flexible team pods

Sitting with team members will still be important on the days teams come together. However, density limits will continue to be important in the office as the pandemic trails on and even in the annual flu season, so it’s important that the office can move around teams’ needs.

Consider how you can best support staff when they do choose to come into the office – that may mean reconsidering the banks of desks designed for staff to work at all day and instead reconfiguring them into small bookable neighbourhoods designed for focused collaboration. 

It might also help to add more dividers into office desk areas and space between pods to allow smaller groups of people to come together safely. If these are not permanent dividers, then the office can be easily reconfigured according to changing team needs. 

#4 Putting collaboration first

If you’re moving to a hybrid work model, why would you leave your office technology as is and expect the same results? It’s essential that the software platforms you provide your team are built from the ground up for online collaboration, not as a bolted-on afterthought. 

Google Workspace was built around live document collaboration, and it works well on any device through a web browser. Video chat is built right in to the apps themselves, so team members can talk to each other right on the live document where they’re doing the work, rather than having to “share screen”. 

And, because the documents live in the cloud by default, team members quickly get used to not emailing documents round to each other, but instead working on them collaboratively in real time.

#5 Making hybrid work more human

Many employers have found that their teams transitioned surprisingly smoothly to remote working, thanks to a fortunate confluence of collaboration technologies maturing and fast broadband being available across Australia. 

However, staff also told them through surveys that working from home posed a challenge to wellbeing – it’s easy to feel that wall-to-wall video meetings sitting in a chair can be less enjoyable than the social side of a workplace. 

That’s where it can be helpful to set up staff social events including remote team members that are a bit more than just 5pm drinks on a Friday. 

It might be a bartender hosting a drink-making class where everybody concocts cocktails along with their team members, or an online Wiki-style contest to put together a cookbook with staff recipes. 

Perhaps team members can book a 10 minute 1:1 video session with a chef to learn how to whip up a healthy home lunch. 

Find out more about how Google’s helping Australian companies redefine the future of work.

Original Article: cio.com

Finance

China’s Economy Grows Despite Int’l Challenges: Turkish Expert

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© Provided by Xinhua

China would continue to contribute to the global economy, especially with the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, said Turkish economist Sinan Alcin.

ISTA

Original Article: bignewsnetwork.com

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UK PM Boris Johnson Arrives in India for Two-day Visit

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], April 21 (ANI): UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday landed in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad for a two-day visit to India with focus on stepping up cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, giving momentum to negotiations on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries as well as enhancing defence ties.
Johnson started his visit from Ahmedabad where he is scheduled to meet with leading business gr

Original Article: bignewsnetwork.com

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Senate Panel Advances Sandra Thompson’s Nomination As FHFA Director

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The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs confirmed the nomination of Sandra Thompson to serve as the next director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, sending her nomination to the full Senate.

The vote passed 13 to 11, with all 12 of the committee’s Democrats and one Republican voting in favor of advancing Thompson’s nomination.

During the session, the committee also approved the re-nomination of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, the nomination of Federal Reserve Gov. Lael Brainard to be Vice Chair, and Philip Jefferson was confirmed as a member of the Federal Reserve.

Lisa Cook’s nomination to be a member of the Federal Reserve concluded in a tie. Cook, if confirmed by the full Senate, would be the first Black woman to serve on the Federal Reserve board.

Thompson in a statement said that she appreciates the support from Committee members and looks “forward to continuing to work with Congress as [she] fulfills [her] current role as Acting Director while the nomination process proceeds.”

In February 2022, the confirmation process of Thompson and a handful of Fed nominees stalled after Senate Republicans boycotted the vote.

At the time, Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick Toomey, the ranking Republican on the committee, critiqued the nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin, who was nominated to be vice chair for supervision of the Federal Reserve.

Toomey questioned Raskin’s ties to Reserve Trust Company, a Colorado-based fintech startup that gained access to the Fed’s payment system in 2018. After Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said he would not vote for Raskin due to her views on climate change, Raskin withdrew her nomination.

The committee’s confirmation of Thompson, who has been leading the FHFA since June 2021, will be welcome news to many industry stakeholders and affordable housing advocates who have been calling on her confirmation.

Bob Broeksmit, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association, called Thompson “a breath of fresh air” during the ICE Experience Conference in Las Vegas this week.

“Her administration is really focusing on the ways in which Fannie Mae and Freddie can achieve its mission to make homeownership available and affordable to low- to- moderate income borrowers and to black and Hispanic borrowers who own homes at shamefully lower rates in this country, than people who look like me,” he said. “And I think that Fannie and Freddie, under Sandra Thompson’s direction, will come up with some really innovative ideas.”

Early on in her tenure leading the FHFA, Thompson said that she would prioritize sustainable lending practices and expand credit to underserved communities.

“As a longtime regulator, I am committed to making sure our nation’s housing finance systems and our regulated entities operate in a safe and sound manner,” Thompson said in June 2021, when she was appointed acting director. “We can accomplish this, and at the same time have a laser focus on mission and community investment. There is a widespread lack of affordable housing and access to credit, especially in communities of color.”

Since then, Thompson has made substantial headway. Within three months of her tenure, she set new affordability benchmarks to expand access to credit in underserved communities, made on-time rental payment history part of Fannie Mae’s underwriting process and signed a historic interagency fair lending agreement.

The post Senate panel advances Sandra Thompson’s nomination as FHFA director appeared first on HousingWire.

Source: housingwire.com

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