Honey, I shrunk the office
Photo: Eder Pozo Pérez/Unsplash

Honey, I shrunk the office

Source Code

Good morning! Companies haven’t mentioned anything about their return-to-work plans lately. Hm, wonder why…

What office?

Need an update on back-to-office plans? A business that feeds tech workers for a living might give you a clue: Sweetgreen said this week that it’s losing money because people aren’t going back to in-person work, and the company needs to lay off some staff as a result.

Unfortunately for Sweetgreen, tech workers might never come back.

Companies are getting rid of their office space across the board. What used to be a conversation about “when we go back” is now more like “if we go back at all.”

  • Twitter vacated or downsized its offices in New York, San Francisco and elsewhere and scrapped plans to build a new office in Oakland. Employees there aren’t being laid off; they’re just working from home.
  • Between the start of the pandemic and now, at least 43 companies have subleased, downsized, sold or let their office leases expire, according to a running list compiled by Buildremote. Salesforce, Uber, Pinterest and others are on that list.

So what happens next? People who haven’t gone back to the office yet probably won’t anytime soon.

  • We may also see much more downsizing in the next few years. According to commercial real estate firm CBRE’s Spring 2022 Occupier Sentiment Survey, a little more than half of companies plan to cut down on office space in the next three years because of remote work and space efficiency.
  • Office occupancy floated around 44% over the past four months, according to Kastle Systems’ workplace occupancy barometer, indicating that the office-goers will continue to go to the office, and the people who haven't yet gone back to the office probably never will.

Still, calling office life entirely “over” might be a stretch. Let’s not forget about Google’s shiny new Manhattan office, which it built last year. But the idea of a “back to normal” return to the office is all but gone fading fast, and companies need adjust to the new reality.

— Sarah Roach

To bank or not to bank?

A group of senators yesterday called for a review of current regulation that allows banks some freedom to work in crypto. The letter brings up a central question in an ongoing debate between lawmakers and the industry: How should traditional banks interact with digital assets?

Laying out more-thorough rules for how banks and crypto should work together is the first step, according to the letter, which was addressed to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • The senators cited the recent Voyager and Celsius bankruptcies as a clear indication that “stronger protections are necessary to mitigate crypto’s risks to the financial system and consumers.”
  • The current guidance (put in place in 2020 by the former OCC head who now leads a crypto company) gives certain banks clearance to provide crypto custody service, hold reserves backing stablecoins and use the blockchain to verify bank-to-bank payments.

But not having stronger regulation could cause systematic risks, according to lawmakers. And that’s especially true amid the crypto crash.

  • "We don't really know much about how exposed banks are to crypto risks or how regulators are weighing in,” Mark Hays, a senior policy analyst on fintech at Americans for Financial Reform, told Protocol’s Ryan Deffenbaugh. “Given the recent crash, we should.”
  • One trade group argues that limiting the banks’ ability to work within the crypto industry while letting firms that aren’t classified as banks operate with little regulation makes responsible financial innovation “nearly impossible.”

Little movement has been made in regulating crypto, though it’s not at a complete standstill, at least in the Senate. But the senators’ letter could signal that the rules could soon become less blurry.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

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People are talking

Ricardo Castro of the social streaming platform Plex doesn’t want users to feel like they’re doomscrolling:

  • “It shouldn't feel like this endless stream of content that you can never finish.”

Making moves

Naved Sheikh joined CoVenture as general counsel. He was previously an executive director at Morgan Stanley.

Ben Chestnut is stepping down as Mailchimp’s CEO after about 21 years. Rania Succar, who leads the QuickBooks Money team, will take over the role.

Sonos CFO Brittany Bagley is leaving after three years. She will join Axon (the company that makes Tasers) as its CFO and chief business officer in September.

Nick Grudin is leaving Meta for Dapper Labs, where he’ll serve as chief business officer. Grudin most recently led Meta’s content and community partnerships.

Trevor O’Brien stepped down as Medium’s chief product officer but will stick around as a board member. O’Brien’s also leaving Projector, the graphic design platform he founded.

Michael Lohscheller is Nikola’s new CEO. He’s been the company’s president since March.

Todd Merriweather got promoted as Brooks Bell’s VP of delivery innovation. Merriweather previously served as Globant’s tech director and worked at IBM before that.

Galvea Kelly is joining Spotter as its first CMO. Kelly previously held the same role at Collective and worked at L’Oreal and Chobani before then.

In other news

Who's responsible for calculating the Twitter bots? Elon Musk's lawyers are asking that Twitter turn over the names of those people.

Apple's stepping up its podcast game. It signed a deal with Futuro Studios to fund and produce new podcasts and is talking with other companies about future deals.

Samsung's testing how much people are willing to pay for phones. The company introduced a high-end foldable phone yesterday for $1,800, and a more compact version for $1,000.

Unity won a multimillion-dollar contract to provide the U.S. government with its digital simulation tech.

Coinbase said it received subpoenas and requests from the SEC for information on “existing and intended future products.”

The FCC rejected Starlink’s application for an $885 million subsidy to provide broadband to rural communities, saying it didn’t demonstrate that it could “deliver the promised service.”

Disney+ is raising its prices to $10.99 per month, and will charge $7.99 per month for an ad-supported tier.

Microsoft accused Sony of trying to sabotage Xbox Game Pass by signing contracts with game developers that prohibit distribution through it.

Please don’t be the CEO who publicly cries after announcing layoffs. And if you do cry, please don’t post a selfie on social media.

Using email correctly

Does an email that starts “per my last email” make you feel like you’ve been hit in the gut with a soccer ball? Turns out, you’re not alone. A new study asked workers about some of the most passive-aggressive phrases used at work:

  • “Kind regards” doesn’t really sound that kind.
  • “Going forward” could mean “please don’t mess this up again.”
  • “Friendly reminder” may not be taken in a very friendly way. Just say what you mean.

Instead use phrases like “I’d value your advice on this” or “How does this sound to you?” And most importantly, remember that some communication shouldn’t be done over email at all. Sometimes a phone call or an in-person meeting can clear up any confusion better than signing an email with “Best” can.

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

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