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Hybrid is not the perfect compromise you think it is

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. We’ve returned to your inboxes after the long Juneteenth weekend. It’s never too early to start planning for next year if your company didn’t designate the holiday as a day off. Today: A generation of tech workers might never know what it’s like to work full-time from an office. Law firms that fight tech unions are leaving huge messes behind, and research shows that although women are more likely to be considered for roles than they were in the past, they’re still less likely than men to be interviewed for them.

A Gen Z WFH lament

I’ve never worked in an office full-time. Unless you count my college newspaper or my summer internship in 2019. But even these abbreviated experiences taught me there’s nothing quite like the hustle and bustle of a newsroom. Surrounded by over-caffeinated reporters and no-nonsense editors, I truly felt in the loop — an incredible feeling for a young person just starting to fall in love with journalism.

I’ve come to accept that those days are over. I’m lucky that Protocol has offices where my colleagues and I can choose to work in-person when we want or need to. But none of us commute into the office five days a week now that working from home is so convenient. I’m grateful to spend less money and energy on commuting, and I love taking calls without worrying about disturbing my desk neighbors. During COVID peaks, I’m able to keep relatively safe from exposure.

But part of me wishes I never found out how good working from home really is.

The benefits of working remotely are well-documented at this point. We’ve seen them play out in real time over the past two years.

  • For the most part, workers can live wherever they want. For tech workers fed up with San Francisco’s sky-high rent, cities in Texas or Colorado have looked more appealing.
  • Companies’ applicant pools grow immensely when positions aren’t limited to specific cities.
  • Parents can more easily juggle childcare, pets are less lonely and hybrid work might be better for the planet.

But we’re missing out on that in-person connection.Work metaverse or not, nothing can replicate the casual absorption of knowledge that comes from simply being around your coworkers all day.

  • Gen Z in particular feels left behind. According to a study from the National Society of High School Scholars, 63% of Gen Z students want in-person training from their employers. Mentorship is harder over computer screens. You have to be more enterprising, reaching out to coworkers explicitly to get advice rather than walking over and casually starting a conversation.

Hybrid is not the perfect compromise we all thought it would be. The victorious return-to-office — hampered repeatedly by the pandemic — has hit many a snag.

  • Bosses want workers back in-person, full-time. Leaders like Elon Musk and Lux Capital Co-founder Josh Wolfe vehemently oppose remote work. “They should pretend to work somewhere else,” Musk tweeted about remote Tesla employees.
  • But now that workers have tasted the ease of remote work, why would they want to go back? At this point, our work setups and schedules are configured for WFH. Due to the work-home boundary blurring, some workers are even working more than they would in an office.
  • Now that going into the office is a special occasion and not the norm, socializing can get in the way of deep focus. And then you have to catch up on your work at home anyway.

The pandemic completely upended the workplace; of course there are growing pains. Still, sometimes I’m wistful for the daily colorful clamor of a real-life office that I’ll probably never know.

— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (email| twitter)

Fighting unionization has long-term culture consequences

It’s no secret that most tech companies would rather not have a unionized workforce. But that’s no longer an option for much of the industry, which has been facing an increasing wave of union interest over the last two years. So I dug into what happens when tech workplaces decide to fight back.

Long story short, union avoidance and union busting will often successfully squelch the organizing effort. But in the months and even years that follow, companies will have to battle both reputational damage and a loss of trust between workers and management, both of which often combine to create a major talent drain and make new hiring more difficult.

Mapbox, which successfully defeated a union effort in summer 2021, makes a great case study for these outcomes. Current and former employees told me that after the union effort failed, the company’s culture of openness and trust seemed to fade away.

— Anna Kramer, reporter (email| twitter)

Read the full story.


Executives that don't align CX ambitions with accounts receivable leave money on the table

Fewer than half of executives (44%) see better communication with customers as a benefit of digitizing AR. Meanwhile, 72% state that their AR department isn't customer-oriented enough, implying that executives understand the need for customer-oriented AR departments, but aren't aware that they can close that gap as part of their AR digitization project.

Click here to read more from Versapay

The state of wage inequality in tech

There’s still a racial and gender wage disparity within the tech industry, but the gap is narrowing. That’s according to new data from Hired’s State of Wage Inequality in the Tech Industry report, which is based on data from over 819,000 interview requests and job offers.

  • Across race and gender, the wage gap is narrowing, but still persistent. In 2021, the wage gap narrowed by race and gender across all races, except for Black women.
  • There’s also an “expectation gap” (the difference in what a candidate lists as their preferred salary between various groups): Latinx and Black women only expected $0.91 to every dollar salary of their White male counterparts.
  • Another issue? Interview discrimination, with 36.7% of interview requests being sent only to men in 2021. Things are getting better though, as that’s a 5.7% decrease from 2020.

More stories from us

Did your company explicitly give you the day off for Juneteenth? Here’s what Meta did instead.

Head of? Director? VP? Title inflation is happening in the tech industry, and here’s how to deal with it.

In a town hall meeting last week, Elon Musk told Twitter employees that workers who are “exceptional at their job,” can work remotely, but everyone else not so much. Here’s what else he said.

The latest in Big Tech’s war against the growing labor movement: Mapbox was just sued by the NLRB for firing union organizers.

Updated: Here’s the latest on layoffs, hiring freezes and slowdowns in the tech industry.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

Abrasive? Brilliant? Overachiever? Researchers surveyed 25,000 people at 250+ organizations to find out who is more likely to be called what in their performance reviews.

The economic downturn is shaking workers’ career confidence. They don’t feel as powerful as they used to and, as a result, are going back to the office and looking for stable jobs.

SpaceX reportedly fired employees who wrote and distributed an open letter criticizing Elon Musk, according to three employees who spoke to The New York Times.

In other Musk news, Tesla’s layoffs are reportedly going to affect hourly workers as well.

Millions of American workers are up for grabs. They’re buckling under stress and burnout, and they’re willing to move for a better opportunity.


Executives that don't align CX ambitions with accounts receivable leave money on the table

A resounding 96% of respondents claimed that there is work to do in digitizing their AR departments, yet 60% agreed that their AR departments haven’t been prioritized as much as other departments for digitization. At a time when the importance of securing cash flow is higher than ever, many businesses are not putting enough focus on it.

Click here to read more from Versapay

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to workplace@protocol.com.

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