August 28, 2022
Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who’s heard of the corn song. And the kind who doesn’t spend enough time on TikTok. If you’re the former, please enjoy these finds from corporate HR corn TikTok. Today, the hybrid problem is hard to solve, but one startup is throwing money at the problem. Slack’s accessibility manager explains how her job works, and new research from Upwork reveals the roles that are hardest to hire for right now.
Plus, read to the end for a thoughtful Twitter back and forth on the role of the corporate whistleblower.
Hybrid work has its shortcomings. Companies are paying for underused offices, teams are getting disparate amounts of in-person time with leadership, and hybrid meetings are still … hybrid meetings.
This week I spoke with a chief operating officer who said his company culture was “fractured” when it tried hybrid work, so it found a better way to get people together. Ken Weary, COO of the 312-person analytics company Hotjar (owned by Contentsquare), explained why Hotjar closed its office and now gives every employee a yearly 2,000-euro stipend to work together around the world.
Before settling in Portugal during the pandemic, Weary himself spent years living and working nomadically, moving his family of four around Central America, Europe and Africa. Hotjar’s mailing address — and CEO — are in Malta. The rest of Hotjar’s team spans 46 countries.
Hotjar’s office experiment took place in 2019. The Malta team would go in on Wednesdays, work together in person and have lunch with the CEO.
Now, Hotjar takes a different approach: IRL coworking weeks that the company calls Work Togethers. Any employee can use their 2,000 euros to travel to a Work Together or to host colleagues for a week of coworking in their home city.
It’s not a travel free-for-all, and Weary said a few rules are key. Work Togethers aren’t all-company meet-ups, nor are they team or department meetings — those happen separately. And they aren’t vacations.
Companies considering a similar model should build it thoughtfully and consider what problems it’s trying to solve, Weary said.
Before Sommer Panage joined Slack, there was no centralized team working on accessibility.
Panage said there were some people who focused on desktop accessibility and others who worked on Slack for mobile, but they were scattered across the company. Panage joined Slack a few months ago as senior engineering manager and helped bring the company’s accessibility efforts under one roof. Before joining, she worked on accessibility efforts on iOS at Apple and held roles at Twitter before that.
Slack recently improved keyboard navigation and introduced a new interface for screen readers as well as what the company called “an ongoing effort to bridge gaps.” Panage said bringing together one unified accessibility team has helped Slack focus on these different areas and work with teams across the company to build new features with accessibility in mind. But she stressed that the work is ongoing.
“Accessibility is never done,” she told Protocol. “A common challenge for companies is to say, ‘Oh, we made our product accessible. And now it's done.’ But it's not the case.”
DataRobot's AI Cloud for Financial Services Unlocks the Art of the Possible: DataRobot continues to attract clients in financial services who want to de-risk their AI investments and rapidly scale AI to almost every part of their operations, resulting in improved productivity and higher customer satisfaction.
Upwork’s annual “Future Workforce Report” found that businesses are struggling to hire top talent. The report, using survey data from over 1,000 U.S. hiring managers, came out Thursday.
The traditional business card is dying. According to The Wall Street Journal, at least one person has replaced it with a contact information-carrying chip in his hand. That’s a bit extreme, though; you might want to consider using a business card QR-code generator instead.
A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.
Back in the office, but you still want to keep swiping? Hide it from your boss with Tinder’s new refresh of desktop mode. (Fortune)
Americans expect to be paid more. (Bloomberg)
Google employees are mad about COVID outbreaks since returning to the office. Some want the company to drop its vaccine mandate. (CNBC)
Here’s your gift for making it to the end of the newsletter. Protocol’s Issie Lapowsky and The Atlantic’s Ian Bogost discuss the “decaying concept” of the corporate whistleblower.
DataRobot's AI Cloud for Financial Services Unlocks the Art of the Possible: Banks need to secure a competitive advantage in an increasingly tight race to harness best-in-breed technology. Decision makers need to not just plan a future-ready strategy, but also recognize the value of AI that could boost not just their performance in-house but also their reputation among their global customers.
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.