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Five Ways to Make the Future of Work More Human

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It is the question on every executive’s mind: is pushing for return to office the right thing to do? Will productivity drop if people keep working from home? 

In fact, 80% of Australian managers surveyed by CIO.com in November 2021 said that the shift to working from home had created a more positive view of remote work policies within their company and was now informing how they planned for office space, tech staffing and overall staffing levels in the future.

The issue for business leaders is the pervasive worry that if everyone is working at home in isolation, company culture – the je ne sais quoi that makes a company better than the competitors – might dwindle over time, especially as new people are inducted into the business.

It is obvious that coffee chats and lunch discussions have dropped away with more people working from home. How can that five minute conversation culture be rebooted? How can staff crosstrain new joiners if they can’t provide swivel-chair mentoring? 

From the workforce’s perspective, though, the benefits of working remotely are many: more flexibility around young childrens’ schedules, more regular family time, more sleep, no commute time and reduced daily costs, not to mention the ability to control personal risk in relation to the virus still circulating in the community.

It’s going to take experimentation

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that 2021 will be a year of experimentation, and this will no doubt carry into 2022. No company on Earth has all the answers yet about striking the perfect balance of hybrid work.

For example, Google recognises that the office isn’t going to be the same as before – most people will be working remotely some of the time – which means when they do come in, it won’t necessarily be to sit down at their normal desk to do work; it’ll be more about collaboration with their team and extended stakeholders. 

So Google and our customers are trialling new types of work spaces, made possible by making use of the large ecosystem of technology partners that Google works with.

Here are some of the key improvements we’ve made to make hybrid work more human.

#1 Making remote participants equal in meetings

The biggest complaint from remote meeting participants is the sense of feeling unequal to people in the room – actually a serious problem for a workplace looking to get the best out of all its team members. 

Google investigated how it could make meetings equal for everyone, whether dialled in or in the room and developed a concept of “immersive meetings” where remote participants appear on displays around the table. 

For the people in the room, a central camera with multiple lenses tracks the faces of each in-person participant so that at the remote end, they appear as separate tiles on screen. The result is that in the room, everyone has a seat at the table, and remotely, everybody appears as a separate video tile. 

Google’s new ‘companion mode’ (in preview) also lets people in a meeting room present with the same level of precision as someone presenting remotely. This makes the experience consistent, no matter where a participant is. Take a look at the video below to see how it works.

#2 Making the most of time when the team is together

If teams are coming together for a design sprint, the last thing they need is a cramped meeting room with a single whiteboard and six red markers, all of which are dried out. 

Dedicated sprint spaces allow teams to book a space to come together with all the equipment they need to get work done quickly. 

Large displays, a presentation space, small pods where two team members can collaborate together and multiple digital whiteboards make it possible for teams to get work done quickly.

#3 Making the best use of space with flexible team pods

Sitting with team members will still be important on the days teams come together. However, density limits will continue to be important in the office as the pandemic trails on and even in the annual flu season, so it’s important that the office can move around teams’ needs.

Consider how you can best support staff when they do choose to come into the office – that may mean reconsidering the banks of desks designed for staff to work at all day and instead reconfiguring them into small bookable neighbourhoods designed for focused collaboration. 

It might also help to add more dividers into office desk areas and space between pods to allow smaller groups of people to come together safely. If these are not permanent dividers, then the office can be easily reconfigured according to changing team needs. 

#4 Putting collaboration first

If you’re moving to a hybrid work model, why would you leave your office technology as is and expect the same results? It’s essential that the software platforms you provide your team are built from the ground up for online collaboration, not as a bolted-on afterthought. 

Google Workspace was built around live document collaboration, and it works well on any device through a web browser. Video chat is built right in to the apps themselves, so team members can talk to each other right on the live document where they’re doing the work, rather than having to “share screen”. 

And, because the documents live in the cloud by default, team members quickly get used to not emailing documents round to each other, but instead working on them collaboratively in real time.

#5 Making hybrid work more human

Many employers have found that their teams transitioned surprisingly smoothly to remote working, thanks to a fortunate confluence of collaboration technologies maturing and fast broadband being available across Australia. 

However, staff also told them through surveys that working from home posed a challenge to wellbeing – it’s easy to feel that wall-to-wall video meetings sitting in a chair can be less enjoyable than the social side of a workplace. 

That’s where it can be helpful to set up staff social events including remote team members that are a bit more than just 5pm drinks on a Friday. 

It might be a bartender hosting a drink-making class where everybody concocts cocktails along with their team members, or an online Wiki-style contest to put together a cookbook with staff recipes. 

Perhaps team members can book a 10 minute 1:1 video session with a chef to learn how to whip up a healthy home lunch. 

Find out more about how Google’s helping Australian companies redefine the future of work.

Original Article: cio.com

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Moroccan B2B ECommerce Platform Chari Nets Funding on $100M Valuation

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Morocco-based B2B eCommerce and FinTech startup Chari could see a valuation of $100 million after a new bridge round of funding, TechCrunch reported Thursday (Jan. 20).

Chari functions as a mobile app, allowing traditional proximity store owners in Morocco to order products and have them delivered.

The company is trying to get more into the FinTech space after closing a bridge round which was led by the Saudi Arabia-based venture capital fund Khwarizmi Ventures, AirAngels (Airbnb Alumni Investors) and Afri Mobility, the venture capital arm of AKWA Group.

“Chari will use the money from this bridge round to test the BNPL services with its existing customers,” said Ismael Belkhayat, Chari’s CEO. “Upon successful results, Chari will acquire a local credit company to enable shop owners to lend money to their end users and further grow their business.”

Chari works with over half of the proximity stores in Casablanca, and has expanded into Tunisia. Last August, the company also acquired Karny, a mobile credit book application.

The Karny acquisition gave Chari more data on the loans given by grocery stores to customers, letting it credit assess unbanked shop owners and determine the best payment terms.

Chari was also a participant in the startup investor and incubator Y Combinator S21 batch and raised $5 million in late 2021. PYMNTS writes that Karny’s services help convenience stores use smartphones to manage credit arrangements with customers.

See also: Morocco’s eCommerce Startup Chari.ma Acquires Mobile Credit Book App

The company has around 15,000 convenience store customers. According to Y Combinator’s website, Chari “is an eCommerce and FinTech app for traditional retailers in North Africa allowing them to order any consumer goods they sell and get delivered for free in less than 24 hours.”

Chari also works as a financial services provider for retailers, offering micro-credit facilities.

PYMNTS also reported on Chari’s fundraising last year, writing that it could help the company expand into French-speaking Africa.

Related: Moroccan B2B eCommerce Firm Chari Raises $5M 

Article: pymnts.com

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Hudson Swafford Breaks From Pack Late to Win the American Express

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Hudson Swafford went eagle-birdie at the 16th and 17th holes to cap a busy final round and win The American Express on Sunday in La Quinta, Calif.

Swafford’s eagle, nine birdies and three bogeys added up to an 8-under 64 that catapulted him to victory after starting the day three strokes off theleaders. At 23-under 265, Swafford beat Tom Hoge (68 Sunday) by two shots.

Brian Harman also shot a 64 earlier in the day to se

Original Post: bignewsnetwork.com

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Is Putin Following in Steps of Peter the Great

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Three hundred and forty kilometers east of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, lies the city of Poltava.

At its heart is a semi-circular square with a cast-iron column and nearly two dozen eighteenth-century Swedish cannons captured in the 1709 Battle of Poltava, a decisive encounter in the Great Northern War, waged between Russia’s Peter the Great and Sweden’s Charles XII for supremacy in eastern Europe.

Russia’s

Original Post: bignewsnetwork.com

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