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Inspiration for Action
The Newsletter / Edition 005
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. An unexpected love language of a pandemic from Jillian
  2. The unfinished business of activism in the workplace from Steven
  3. Corralling the lawless land of data-driven marketing from Makena
  4. Furry friends coming to our rescue from Eliza
And as always, our illustrations from Katie Sadow.
From the Field

01 / A Love Language at Work 

From Jillian Rosen
A new study from Slack shows that remote workers on the platform are using 80% more emojis to convey their state of mind since quarantine began, and they’re choosing to use more affectionate symbols with fellow employees. In fact, the red heart is the most commonly used emoji this year. Some companies are even creating custom emoji that can be used to easily indicate status on anything from a workflow to that feeling of ‘what is time anymore’ (you know the one; step away from the screen).
Why It Matters
Emoji are even more essential in communicating the emotional context and intent of textual communication in distributed work. Quarantine has heightened the impact of the unassuming emoji and made it limitless. *Prayer hands* *Strong Arm* *Wink*
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Embrace ways emoji can expand your company vocabulary and cement team communication.
Creating a custom set of emoji is still limited to services like Slack and Discourse right now. But emoji can tell you more about the spirit of your company today than you ever imagined they could. Don’t discount them as the arbitrary language of angsty teens that can’t be bothered to type in complete sentences. There is so much more we can do with them if we commit the time to making them a tangible tool - they may just be the glue holding your team together.

02 / When Activist Outcomes Aren’t Equal 

From Steven Ebert
A fascinating essay from Aeon explores the relationship between feminist activism and the 9-to-5 workday; specifically, advocating for increased flexibility to accommodate the needs of working mothers. Be it from labor protests in the early 20th century that instituted guardrails for wages and working hours, to second wave feminists advocating for female representation in white collar industries, to increased flexibility for women who also were the primary caregivers of their children, activism has made significant inroads for many. But the application of a flexibility-focused model hasn’t fixed everything; significant inroads still must be made in ensuring more positive outcomes across class and racial barriers.
Why It Matters
Activism lies at the heart of the structure of our workday. As we become more attuned to the needs of our teams, leaders must ensure that the fight for equitable systems in the workforce are cognizant of the diverse, intersectional needs of workers.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Create an open forum for discussing equitable conditions for all employees in your company or team.
Despite our best intentions, we often still have blind spots. Understanding, acknowledging, and meeting the needs of all workers, not just the ones we’re most naturally inclined to accommodate, is a critical step in creating equitable work environments. Regularly soliciting feedback from team members - and making clear that criticism is welcome - is a great first step; you can’t fix problems you aren’t yet aware of. Progress is a process.

03 / A Watchout for Watchdogs

From Makena Drutman
This opinion piece from Business Insider explores how recent events related to data surveillance will disrupt the future of data-driven marketing tactics. As Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and the US government begin rewriting the rules of data privacy and ownership, marketers and leaders at large will have to rewrite their playbooks of how they gather valuable information about consumers and how they use hyper-targeting to connect with them.
Why It Matters
This imperative to rethink the standards for data-driven marketing is fueled by consumers growing increasingly sensitive to protecting—and aware of the value of—their data. However, there’s a hidden opportunity here to foster legitimate relationships with customers: instead of workarounds to spy on consumers’ habits/needs/interests, companies can just ask consumers themselves (especially Gen Z, notoriously vocal and eager to share feedback with brands).
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Start building a relationship based on a transparent data-value-exchange immediately. 
As we’ve seen with other rapid shifts in consumer sentiment, it’s crucial to be out in front. Establishing clear communication about what data is being used, guardrails around the way data can be repurposed, and what consumers get in exchange for that data is vital. Consumer research is a great model, and one we’re intimately familiar with, where people are paid directly in exchange for their input. Giving people a sense of agency and control of their data will be critical.

04 / Praise the Pandemic Pet

From Eliza Hadjis
Pets are being adopted at incredible rates since the onset of the pandemic. As one headline quips, “Thanks to Sheltering in Place, Animal Shelters are Empty.” These new ‘coworkers’ of ours (along with our children) have inspired a treasure trove of Grade-A meme content. And while kids may be destroying our chance for productivity, pets may be increasing it.
Why It Matters
In stressful times, pets have shown a demonstrable ability to alleviate anxiety. One day (maybe?...eventually?) we’ll go back to the office, but both people and pets alike have gotten used to each others’ ever-present company. Pets may actually play an important role in alleviating the stresses of transitioning teams back to an office while also creating a boost in productivity.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Establish or review your pet policies to capitalize on the benefits of animals in your reopening plans.
While having pets in the office can elicit “kids these days” workplace gripes, there is a lot of data about the positive benefits they can provide employees. Pets may just be the missing link we need to bridge yet another jarring shift in our daily routines as we return to the office. And an invitation to the office may just be what our furry friends need to weather this shift as well.
Your Move
How are furry friends factoring into your quarantine?
— I bought a new pet.
— I am doubling down on my existing pet relationship.
— Not much change, to be honest.
— I align with PETA’s stance that pet keeping is, at a minimum, less than ideal, and take umbrage with the term ‘pet’ as it diminishes the animal by implying that it is an object or possession to be owned. It would be better for society if we all could respond to animal domestication with clear acknowledgement of the realities therein, and embrace a proactive mindset of spaying and neutering animals so as to reduce the overpopulation that often leads to significant animal harm.
— Not really a pet person.

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