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The office is the new offsite

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Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter where we share the latest tips, tools and insights to help you stay informed about the modern tech office. Today: Time spent at the office, holiday parties, and employee monitoring software.

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—Amber Burton, Reporter (twitter | email)

The Big Picture

Welcome back to work. See you next week.

Social media is awash with the cognitive dissonance of how many people are still working from home (it's less than some might think). But those who are going back to the office are also spending a lot less time there. Many of the people with the flexibility to choose what days and how often they go into the office appear to be adopting the "less is more" strategy.

Protocol spoke with OfficeTogether's founder and CEO Amy Yin to learn more about the trends related to the return to work. The desk reservation and team-scheduling startup was born in the age of the pandemic and its software helps companies figure out who is coming to the office and how to complete health checks for those returning. Insights have poured in as workers head back to their respective office spaces. Here are some of the biggest takeaways.

The office is now more about fostering culture than getting work done.

  • "People are redefining what it means to go into the office. A lot of what I'm hearing is the office is not to get work done, it's not for productivity — it's about connection and culture."
  • Workers are being more intentional about when they go into the office and they're going to the office more for specific events, like big meetings and gatherings. Yin said they're not seeing people spend eight hours in the office on workdays like people commonly did before the pandemic.
  • The office has become the offsite — "We're seeing our companies just book their own office space to do events. So you basically treat your own office like a venue or like a third space to bring the team together."

OfficeTogether has found Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the most popular days to go into the office.

  • A lot of companies are working toward creating "fixed anchor" days — common days in which everyone comes to the office — and are using the findings of when their employees are coming into the office to pick the best days to gather. Modern Health and Figma are two of the companies currently working on setting up fixed anchor days for employees.
  • "If you want to think about inclusion, it's actually a little bit better if you create a fixed schedule, so that everyone's coming in on certain days. So that way, you don't have people who are not getting any facetime and some people who are getting a lot of facetime in. It creates a little bit more certainty."

The time in which people go into the office and the frequency in which they do so has changed.

  • People are going in later to miss the morning commute, Yin told Protocol.

57% of OfficeTogether users across companies only go to the office once a week. 24% go to the office twice a week. They're only seeing about 10% of people come in four to five days a week.

Protocol Event

The new benefits package

In-office work perks don't appear to be coming back anytime soon. Gone are the days when employees were encouraged to get their teeth cleaned, go to the gym and eat from a free buffet at lunch in the office. So what kind of perks can you offer to employees who now work across multiple locations? Protocol speaks with a panel of HR experts, investors and execs on Oct. 21 at 10 a.m. PT to discuss the most engaging benefits to hire and retain talent in today's work world.

RSVP here.

A MESSAGE FROM PROEDGE, A PWC PRODUCT

How can you develop an inclusive approach to upskilling? Start by making employees feel represented and included in their learning environment. Check out how Upskilling can drive progress on diversity, inclusion & equality efforts.

Learn More

Work Spot

Where do you stand on holiday parties this year?

It's beginning to look a lot like remote holiday work parties again this year. Venue managers say their bookings for the holiday season have yet to return to pre-pandemic numbers, according to reporting this week by my colleague Allison Levitsky. Many tech companies say they will host smaller holiday parties this year, or forgo them altogether. Both Google and Facebook told Protocol that they would be skipping any major holiday parties this year. Tech companies that plan to take the party online to platforms like Zoom, say they'll focus on making it a more immersive experience.

Read the full story here.

Today's Tips and Tools

Last week we explored how employees are sharing their salaries to boost pay equity. While transparent conversations about pay are productive, managers are often left wondering what role they should play in pay transparency. In continuation of Protocol's Salary Series, here's a look at what managers can do if their employees are sharing their salaries.

  • Be proactive — Both compensation and HR experts alike recommend employers get ahead of possible tension regarding pay by instating regular pay reviews and analyzing compensation alongside employee demographic data.
  • Don't make exceptions — Hiring managers should avoid making exceptions in the recruiting process unless they plan to provide the same for other employees. Companies should be prepared to adjust other people's salaries or clearly document the reason for the exception, Bethanye McKinney Blount, co-founder and CEO of Compaas, told Protocol.
  • Re-examine practices — Reevaluating your pay practices can help you pinpoint practices that are perpetuating pay inequity. Standardizing incentives like sign-on bonuses can go a long way.

A MESSAGE FROM PROEDGE, A PWC PRODUCT

How can you develop an inclusive approach to upskilling? Start by making employees feel represented and included in their learning environment. Check out how Upskilling can drive progress on diversity, inclusion & equality efforts.

Learn More

By the Numbers

Monitoring remote workers

That feeling that you're being watched while working from home isn't so paranoid after all. About 60% of employers require monitoring software for their remote workers, according to a Digital.com survey of over 1,200 employers. The primary motivation? To understand just how their employees are spending their time at home. Here's what else Digital.com found:

  • 77% of companies in the IT and computer industry said they require work monitoring software for remote workers.
  • The survey found that of the employees working from home who are being monitored, 53% are spending three or more hours each day on non-work related activities. But at the same time, 81% of companies using employee monitoring software said that they observed an increase in their employees' productivity.
  • 79% of employers said they are using the software to understand how workers spend their time, 65% said they use it to ensure employees are working a full day and 50% said they use it to make sure employees aren't using their equipment for personal reasons.

Making Moves

  • Marketing tech company Kinesso hired Nick Bass as the company's first EVP global talent experience leader. Prior to joining Kinesso, Bass was the global HR lead at Dentsu.
  • Agricultural tech company Iron Ox appointed Claudia Fulga as its vice president of people. Prior to joining Iron Ox, Fulga was a tech startup adviser for PeopleTech Partners.

Around the Internet

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

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to workplace@protocol.com. Have a great weekend, see you Tuesday.

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