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Inspiration for Action
The Newsletter / Edition 004
From Sylvain Labs, this is Progress Report.
In our monthly Off-White Papers, we provide practical guidance on how to respond to our rapidly-changing world. This weekly newsletter explores those topics in real-time, with information and action steps on how to make progress now. 

In today’s newsletter…
  1. Asking colleagues to get dolled up for Zoom calls from Jillian
  2. Calls for corporate change in rise-and-grind lifestyle from Steven
  3. Reevaluating our metrics of success from David
  4. The outsized effects of WFH on women from Osei
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From the Field

01 / Don’t Tell Us to Wear Makeup 

From Jillian Rosen
A new study finds that bosses are urging female-identifying employees to “dress sexier” and “wear makeup” during Zoom calls, with more than a third of women reporting that they’ve felt subjected to this form of sexism since lockdown began. Bosses defend their behavior by arguing that it would “be more pleasing to clients” and would “look nicer for the team;” many women are complying, worrying about negative impact on their careers. 
Why It Matters
This type of sexism and gender imbalance in the virtual workplace has gone almost completely unreported. As the “workplace” becomes further and further removed from our reality, how do women (and all of us) deal with sexism virtually?
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Establish clear expectations of behavior and respect in the new contexts of distributed work.
Sexism isn’t new, but the space between us is. It’s critical that leaders and managers hold the behaviors of their teams to the same (nay, *higher*) standards than those at the office. The simulated distance of screen-to-screen or text-based interaction can embolden surprising behavior, so nip that kind of toxic environment in the bud before it’s too late.

02 / The End of the Grind  

From Steven Ebert
A recent interview in GQ with productivity “guru” Tim Ferriss explores the evolving relationship between productivity and emotional well-being. Ferriss unpacks the downside to the cult of productivity— a cult he played a large part in creating— that it often doesn’t deliver on the more important emotional outcomes that adherents often overlook. 
Why It Matters
This reorientation toward emotional wellness represents a notable philosophical shift toward the role work plays in our identities, and exists amidst a significant cultural reappraisal of the Silicon Valley ethos. Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Work Week, was a quasi-bible for tech industry optimizer-types, and created a specific shade of lifestyle content often referred to derisively as “Hustle Porn.” A focus on mental wellness is an increasingly common pivot amongst Ferriss’ ilk, a cloying attempt to retain clout amidst a seismic reorientation of our cultural values.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Reinforce the importance of a healthy work/life balance for your teams.
The pandemic has massively shifted our relationship to work, blurring the lines between work and home. While those with experience working from home have found ways to strike this balance, those who are new to the game run the risk of burnout and, well, despair. Reinforcing the need to unplug and to take time away from work is not only the responsible thing to do, it also helps to ensure that your workforce is recharged, ready to go, and more productive when they need to be.

03 / In It for the Long Haul

From David Volle
Google announced this week that all employees will be allowed to work remotely through the end of June, 2021. This signals that Google is prepared to ride out a longer pandemic, but also that WFH may not be as temporary as some hoped.
Why It Matters
One year gives Google leadership all the time it needs to determine if a permanent WFH policy is the best way forward, a similar approach to other companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Square. Going through this ‘beta’ allows companies to observe and analyze all of the data necessary to decide whether employees can operate at acceptable standards while working remotely and if this temporary solution becomes more of a permanent evolution. 
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Reset measures of—and investments in—success for a longer distributed work horizon.
While many businesses are questioning their very existence a year out from now, there’s no question that planning for the worst and hoping for the best has strategic merit. This might mean resetting OKRs or goals, redefining year-end targets, and measuring team success based on any dynamics you want to incentivize in this new context. You wouldn’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, so why judge your employees on metrics that are obsolete?

04 / A Woman’s Worth

From Osei Kwakye
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, women in the workforce have been disproportionately impacted. Not only have the industries in which they’ve traditionally had greater presence been the hardest hit, but they’ve also been the slowest to recover. But what began as a higher share of unemployment insurance claims has quickly morphed into a more insidious strain of discrimination that may have lasting effects on women in the economy.
Why It Matters
While COVID-19 has presented challenges for all workers, domestic responsibilities have been unduly placed upon working mothers in this moment of crisis. Child care access has always had an inverse relationship with maternal labor force participation, but in order to fuel a growing knowledge economy and rebound from the current downturn, our society will need to meaningfully recognize just how essential women are outside of the home.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Adopt rhythms that are responsive to the needs of working parents.
Whether we like it or not, our personal lives and our work lives are interconnected. And when we feel supported in both, they each have more space to thrive. For workers who have children, a lot more has shifted in their lives beyond working from home. As such, now is the time to work with parents, especially mothers, to ensure that they have the support they need to fulfill their responsibilities to both their jobs and their families.

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