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What tech employees really think

An empty office

Good morning! This Wednesday, tech employees want to work from home forever, Google foe Jonathan Kanter will lead the DOJ's antitrust section, Netflix confirms that it's getting into mobile games, and Venmo finally listens to everyone about its global transactions feed.

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The Big Story

What tech employees want

If anyone thinks they know anything about how the return to work is going to go, they're … probably wrong. Even Apple, after doubling down on its hybrid office plan for September, has been forced to push the return to office to October because of rising counts of coronavirus cases.

Apple's office plans might just be the tip of the iceberg, as many companies are still contemplating how to navigate this post-pandemic world. One way to help figure that out is by asking employees. So we did.

  • The Protocol | Workplace team, in partnership with Morning Consult, surveyed 750 tech workers to get insight into how they're thinking about returning to work.
  • You can sign up to download the full set of results, and we'll have more analysis on Protocol.com in a couple of hours. In the meantime, here's a sneak peek.

Being able to work remotely is key, according to the survey results. Seventy-five percent of surveyed workers say it is important for their companies to allow them to work remotely indefinitely.

  • Men dramatically prefer working in a traditional office environment to women (71% compared to 54%, respectively), and more than 40% of all workers worry that managers will prefer employees who work in the office over those who stay remote.
  • But despite wanting to be at home, many employees miss their free food, snacks and drinks on tap. What they don't really miss: gyms, shuttle buses, game rooms and other nonedible perks.

Employees are divided over political and cultural issues, like political views, NDAs and unionization, outside of remote work.

  • Men and Democrats feel more comfortable talking about their politics at work than women and Republicans. But by far the people who are least comfortable talking about social and political issues are independent voters, especially independent female voters.
  • We also asked workers whether they are interested in joining a union, and half of them said yes. Just under half also said there is interest from others in forming a union in their workplace, and the interest didn't vary much by racial or ethnic identity.
  • "I don't think race matters much in these things," Wesley McEnanay, the director of the CODE-CWA unionization effort, told me. "Workers have issues. Tech companies have problems that are problems for everybody."

NDAs in particular are on the minds of employees: 15% of those surveyed said they strongly agreed that they had been silenced by an NDA before, and another 19% somewhat agreed. While that's less than half of the tech workforce, that's still a large percentage of workers who feel that they would have liked to say something publicly about their company or work, but were being silenced by an NDA.

We'll be seeing big political debates about some of these questions in the coming months, too. In California, a bill that would make it illegal for companies to force people to sign NDAs that keep them from speaking out about discrimination will soon be up for a vote. And on the federal level, union advocates are pushing for a bill that would make it far easier for people to form unions.

— Anna Kramer (email | twitter)

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People Are Talking

Jeff Bezos has Amazon to thank for his space flight:

  • "I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all of this."

Cannabis activists, like the Marijuana Policy Center's Matthew Schweich, think Amazon could be the key to legalization:

  • "If Amazon were able to lend its political support to federal reform and fund state level efforts, that would be a net positive for the cannabis reform movement in this country."

On Protocol: Cyber policy expert Samm Sacks says China's lofty cybersecurity goals aren't surprising:

  • "The growth of the digital economy has driven demand for cyber security. On demand, the spate of cybersecurity regulations and standards mean companies need to buy products and services to be compliant and keep up with best practices."

Making Moves

Clearwater Analytics is eyeing an IPO. The company is working with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley on the deal, which could be valued at about $4 billion if it goes through, according to Bloomberg.

On Protocol | Policy: Jonathan Kanter will lead the Justice Department's antitrust section. The lawyer is super pro-competition, having pushed for an antitrust case against Google for years.

Shaoul Sussman joined the FTC as Lina Khan's attorney adviser. He previously researched antitrust law and Big Tech as a legal fellow at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Jacob DePriest is GitHub's new VP of security operations. He previously served as a senior director of IT at the National Security Agency.

In Other News

  • Joe Biden turned up the heat on social media companies. Officials are reviewing Section 230 in a push to stop vaccine misinformation. This follows Biden and Facebook's clash last week over the same topic.
  • Strangers can't see your Venmo transactions anymore. This shouldn't come as a surprise: BuzzFeed spotted Biden's Venmo account and traced it back to his friends and family, highlighting a national security issue.
  • On Protocol | China: Female gamers aren't often taken seriously. On the Chinese gaming platform Bixin, men often hire peiwan, or online companions who are mostly female, for pure entertainment. And at its worst, peiwan can be subjected to harassment and exploitation.
  • China called out a bunch of apps for violating user rights. The country's IT unit named nearly 150 apps made by companies like Amazon and ByteDance for illegally taking user information, and gave them until Monday to address the issue.
  • It's official: Netflix confirmed its video game aspirations. Subscribers won't be charged any fees to play the games, which will initially be focused on mobile.
  • Apple wants a place in Hollywood. The company is looking to build a massive production facility in the area as part of a broader push to level up AppleTV+ to compete with other streaming services.

One More Thing

Your stationery fix

We may be glued to our phones and computers, but there's really nothing like writing something down using a good pen. And if the paper also feels good to write on, that's a bonus.

If you're on the hunt for some really good writing utensils, give The Pen Addict podcast a shot. The two hosts spend each episode obsessing over stationery and offer advice on the best pens, pencils and other tools to use. Recent episodes include one on fountain pens and one on bulky notebooks, so have a listen, stock up on some good stationery, and enjoy writing the old fashioned way for a change.

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