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Tech's big new ideas about work

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Good morning! This Thursday, in the war for talent, companies are giving employees more and more flexibility. I’m Allison Levitsky, and I recently took my first surf lesson!

Flexible work is ‘here to stay’

Tech workers can demand more flexibility than ever, and companies are taking note. Since the new year, both Bolt and Panasonic have joined the short but growing list of tech companies offering a four-day workweek. Coinbase announced Monday that it will shut down for four separate weeks per year to give employees a break, and Robinhood revealed yesterday that it’s now a remote-first company.

These moves toward condensing workweeks, coordinating time away from the (home) office and allowing for work-from-anywhere all point to one thing: the talent wars. As people are able to move about more freely for a job, companies are offering various benefits to entice employees to stay.

Companies are offering three-day weekends, but every weekend. Bolt committed to the four-day workweek after a three-month trial last fall proved a success. 94% of employees and 91% of managers supported making the schedule permanent.

  • Many tech companies have designated one day a week when they don’t have meetings. Bolt is aiming to go further, according to founder and CEO Ryan Breslow. “We’re turning Fridays into something more like Saturdays or Sundays,” Breslow said in a blog post.
  • The schedule demands that employees get their work done by Thursday, which likely means working 10-hour days rather than cutting back to a 32-hour work week, Bolt Chief People Officer Jennifer Christie told my colleague Amber Burton.
  • Panasonic also introduced an optional four-day workweek, the company told investors Friday. Other companies that have embraced this schedule include Canadian video game developer Eidos-Montréal and the software maker Wildbit.

Companywide shutdowns are another pandemic-era trend reflected in Coinbase’s announcement. LinkedIn, Twitch and Hootsuite are among the companies that have also tried this.

  • Similar to the four-day workweek, shutting the whole company down synchronizes time off work — and therefore lets employees really relax without worrying about the pile of emails and Slack messages waiting for them upon return.
  • The catch: Coinbase will encourage employees to limit their flexible time off to those four “recharge weeks.” There’s still some wiggle room, according to a blog post in which Chief People Officer L.J. Brock said, “We know that’s not always possible, and that’s OK.”
  • Essentially, Coinbase is scheduling employees’ vacations for them in order to get them to step away from jobs where, as Brock said, “many days and weeks are long.”

There’s a growing list of remote-first companies, including Robinhood, Dropbox, Twitter and, yes, Coinbase.

  • Robinhood isn’t going fully remote: All employees will still have access to its offices, and some teams will still have to live near the office for “regulatory and business reasons,” according to a company blog post.
  • Most, however, can live and work from anywhere. Employees asked for this flexibility, according to Robinhood.
  • Many tech companies are rethinking how much they even need offices as remote work remains popular. Autodesk is closing its new, 117,000-square-foot San Francisco office eight months after opening it because 55% of its employees would rather work remotely, the San Francisco Business Times reported Tuesday.

And it doesn’t seem like this trend will die down anytime soon. One in four U.S. workers who quit their jobs during the pandemic did so in order to be able to work from anywhere, according to a Conference Board survey from last month. Workers are more likely to leave over flexibility than they are for more pay or a better job title, hiring managers and HR professionals told Fiverr and Hibob in another December survey.

“Employees absolutely have their say in terms of what they’re looking for,” said Steve Black, the co-founder and chief strategy officer of the HR software maker Topia. “This world of flexible working is here to stay.”

— Allison Levitsky (email | twitter)

A MESSAGE FROM SAP

As businesses grow during the pandemic, they also encounter pressing challenges to maintain that success. Among them is the pressure to strengthen their digital backbone, which leads to the question: How can companies find the ideal technology provider suited to their evolving needs?

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People are talking

The White House is gathering tech leaders to talk cybersecurity today, and GitHub's Mike Hanley said developers need more help to keep their projects secure:

  • "First, there must be a collective industry and community effort to secure the software supply chain. Second, we need to better support open source maintainers to make it easier for them to secure their projects."

Stewart Butterfield said customers want Slack to work with Microsoft, not against it:

  • “There are almost no companies that want us to compete [with Microsoft]."

Some would drop millions on the metaverse because it’s as important as the real world, real estate broker Oren Alexander thinks:

  • “It’s not about what you and I believe in, but it’s about what the future does.”

Making moves

Mike Filippo is leaving Apple for Microsoft, where he’ll work on processors within Azure, sources told Bloomberg. Filippo has worked on chips at Apple for a couple of years.

Shay Banon is stepping down as Elastic’s CEO but will stick with the company as CTO. CPO Ashutosh Kulkarni will replace Banon.

Stephanie Garcia is 8x8’s new chief HR officer. Garcia has worked in HR and talent at Postmates, Salesforce and PayPal.

Jessica Neal and Christopher Brummer joined Public’s board. Neal is Netflix’s former chief talent officer, and Brummer is a Georgetown professor and adviser to Paradigm.

Coinbase is buying FairX, a futures exchange. A few dozen FairX staffers will join the company.

In other news

A website to order at-home COVID-19 tests should be up this weekend, a White House adviser told "PBS NewsHour." Rapid tests are expected to arrive throughout this month.

Apple got rid of Wordle copycats in the App Store, a win for all the developers who just want to make their fun free games in peace.

Starbucks’ mobile app has become big for business, The Wall Street Journal reported. Almost a quarter of all transactions were mobile last year, and many online orders happened as a result of customers uploading gift cards to their mobile apps.

Don't hold your breath for the Cybertruck. Tesla removed all mention of "2022" from its website over the last few weeks, and given the delays the truck has already faced, even 2023 might be a pipe dream.

Jack Dorsey is trying to stand up for bitcoin developers. He launched a nonprofit group called the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund, which aims to defend bitcoin developers from lawsuits.

Twitter is back up in Nigeria. The country’s government suspended the platform in June.

Scientists and doctors are pressing Spotify to create a misinformation policy. Over 260 health professionals and others urged the platform to implement some rules after Joe Rogan promoted an anti-vaccine rally in one of his episodes.

When the internet loves you, your dreams may come true. Just ask Axel Webber: While his goal of attending Juilliard didn’t come true, he became such an online sensation in the process that he instead signed with a modeling agency.

An online service for NYC schools has been down for days. The platform IO Classroom went dark after an attempted security breach.

What’s your favorite internet debate?

Developer Neal Agarwal wants to settle some of the biggest internet debates. Xbox or PlayStation? Are we living in a simulation? iPhone or Android?

We want to hear from you! What’s your favorite debate happening on the web right now? Do you have strong feelings about how to pronounce "GIF"? Do you feel strongly that a taco is a sandwich? Aren’t internet debates so fun that you never want them to end? Reply to this email to let us know, and Protocol’s David Pierce will include the best debates in the Sunday edition of Source Code.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Juilliard. This story was updated on Jan. 13, 2022.

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