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Quick shoutout to Sarah Boland, Cameron Herold, Martin Cloake, Cassy Aite, Sweta Regmi and the 3,960 people who answered my last TECH AND WORK poll asking what remote-work perks are needed most. In case you’re wondering, 46% of people said health and wellness benefits, 32% said home office stipends and 19% said childcare solutions.
Thought Of The Week — Empty Nest? Not During Covid
I saw a couple things recently that made me stop and think how profoundly the crisis has impacted a whole generation of workers out there.
First, Axios reported that the majority of 18-29 year olds are currently living at home, the first time this has happened since the Great Depression. Now, there’s nothing wrong with living with your parents. But to me this crystallizes how profoundly Gen Z has been affected by the fallout from the pandemic. With colleges going remote and unemployment near all-time highs, an entire generation has essentially been pushed back into the nest.
At the same time, Upwork recently published a report showing that half of Gen Z is now engaged in some form of freelance work. The gig economy has been on the rise for years now, but I’d argue that lots of people treat these jobs — from delivering food to driving cars to picking up assignments on TaskRabbit — as a stepping stone. The fact that half of an entire generation is now relying on a side hustle to make ends meet indicates that there may be challenges ahead.
Flash poll: Have you engaged in more gig/freelance work since the crisis started? Click here to vote on LinkedIn.
But maybe this news isn’t so bleak. I’m not a doom-and-gloom guy, and it’s possible to read these trends in different ways. Take living at home during college. Sure, much of Gen Z is missing out on the whole campus experience right now. But the classic four-year degree is enormously expensive and inefficient. The shift to online learning promises to reduce expenses for students and, just maybe, accelerate learning outcomes. This is a change whose time has come.
And gig work may not sound glamorous, but I’d argue it’s indoctrinating a generation of people with core entrepreneurial values like hustle, self-motivation, grit and accountability. As the economy continues to evolve, those individuals who can blaze their own path — rather than remain dependent on any one company or employer — will be positioned to not only survive but thrive.
On that note, here are a few must-read articles on unexpected work-from-home hacks, as well as the future of work and AI.
Articles Worth Skimming
Naps destigmatized Nice bit of scientific confirmation here for all of us catnappers. Sleep scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research confirmed recently that “brief daytime naps of 10-20 minutes decrease subjective sleepiness, increase objective alertness, and improve cognitive performance.” This insight seems especially pertinent during the work-from-home era, when the bed or couch may be just a few short steps from the desk. My advice: instead of reaching for a coffee during that after-lunch lull, take that cat nap. We’ve had nap rooms in Hootsuite’s physical offices, and I think it’s equally important to take advantage of power naps at home.
Dopamine dressing Lots of us have taken advantage of remote working to abandon all those stuffy sartorial trappings of office culture (from suits to high heels) and replace them with comfy sweatpants, crocs and plenty of athleisure. But wait … it turns out we can take this a step further. I discovered recently there’s something called “dopamine dressing” — choosing your wardrobe to elicit real moments of joy during the day, which is supposed to release a soothing dose of dopamine into the body. Achieving this comes down to a concept called congruence, i.e. ensuring your outer style matches your inner personality. Translation: if you really want to wear those crazy slacks silkscreened with pictures of adorable kittens, go for it. That’s what WFH is all about.
Bye-bye Moore’s Law. Hello, Huang’s Law: You’ve probably heard of Moore’s Law. It postulates that the processing power of computer chips doubles roughly every two years. Well, it turns out that after decades of holding true, Moore’s Law is actually slowing — we just can’t cram any more circuits onto a chip. However, a new law of sorts is taking its place: Huang’s Law. Named after AI pioneer Jensen Huang, it holds that artificial intelligence power is now doubling every two years. Thanks to a combination of hardware and software advances, everything from autonomous cars to facial recognition and voice transcription is getting dramatically better, all the time. Fascinating to think about — though whether we’re racing toward an AI utopia or Terminator-style reckoning probably depends on your point of view.
Feedback From Readers
I got some great comments back from my poll asking what remote-work benefits are needed most. The answers ran the gamut, from subsidies for coworking spaces to reimbursement for home-office cleaning. One of the most insightful answers came from my former Hootsuite colleague and startup advisor Kemp Edmonds:
The responses here will likely reflect the individuals responding:
Childcare = Parents with a need
Home office = Those with available space to improve
Health + Wellness = e’r’body.
— Kemp Edmonds
Thanks, Kemp. This totally nailed it for me. The remote work era is all about choice. On a macro level, we’re realizing that we can design our own work experience, not have it dictated from on high. That’s impacted everything from standard office hours, to dress codes, to the ways we physically set up our home office. So it’s only natural that this desire for choice would extend to perks and benefits. Stay tuned for a new article I’m writing on why personalized perks may be the next workforce wave.
One other reader feedback item: Jim Shaffer pointed out that I used the acronym WFH in my last newsletter without explaining what it meant. It stands for “work from home.” Appreciate the reminder not to get lost in corporate lingo and buzzwords, Jim.
Thanks, everyone. Please reach out with any comments, suggestions or feedback, and tell your colleagues to subscribe here. Until next time!
As always, love to know your thoughts! What’s the most surprising work-from-home hack you’ve come up with over the last few months? #remotework #leadership #inspiration