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Inspiration for Action
The Newsletter / Edition 016
From Sylvain Labs, this is Progress Report.
In our 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. Making use of “all this ‘free’ time” from Zach Visotsky in Chicago, IL
  2. The nomadic approach to work-life from Merideth Bogard in Richmond, VA
  3. Working from ANYWHERE anywhere from Gretchen Devero in Amsterdam, NL
And as always, our illustrations from Katie Sadow.
From the Field

01 / ~14,094 Minutes, Make it Count

From Zach Visotsky
Last week at the International Monetary Fund virtual event, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, rhetorically asked a panel of speakers, “Can you imagine a society where people have 2 more hours of a day where they don’t have to commute and forth?” Without discounting the tragic impact of COVID-19, Fink encouraged employees to embrace the silver linings of the pandemic, starting with the newfound free time that comes with the increasingly popular WFW (work from wherever) culture.
Why It Matters
While the time saved as a result of WFW is actually closer to ~54 minutes each day in the United States, working professionals are realizing that commutes came at a significant, yet under-appreciated, opportunity cost to personal and productive time. Fink’s question is an inspiring call to action for employees who find themselves with a little more free time on their hands, but it uncovers an important question for WFW employers: can you imagine a workplace where employers help employees make the most of those 14,094 minutes...or is that crossing the work-life barrier?
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Encourage employees to maximize their minutes their way.
While nobody wants to be told what to do with their time, there’s room for employers and leaders to help employees take full advantage of these precious minutes. It could be as simple as a reminder, encouraging employees to spend that extra time as they see fit, say, with their families, instead of feeling obligated to start the job an hour earlier. It could also gradually manifest as leaders set a worthy example, talking openly about what they’re doing with their new “free” time and inspiring the rest of the team to make use of theirs.

02 / Beautiful Disruption

From Merf Bogard
Kibbo is a start-up emerging from the wake of COVID that combines the best of “van life” with co-living. Community members rent converted Sprinter vans and travel between a network of “clubhouses” where they can gather while working, preparing meals, and hanging out. The founder envisions a future of tech-enabled “ephemeral cities,” where community infrastructure is ever-shifting and connected through a system of roving vans and fluid clubhouses.
Why It Matters
Whether you believe a Kibbo-esque future sounds utopian or dystopian, it’s clear that COVID’s disruption is opening up new opportunities for innovation. In fact, sometimes the best way to identify disruptive opportunities is to embrace the extremes of new realities. What if work truly becomes borderless? What if we all fully embrace digital nomadism? If we lean into the extremity of these new possibilities, what innovation opportunities could emerge?
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Take a moment to imagine the new normal is entirely nomadic – what new products, services, or business models could you create?
  • Step away from your device and embrace the possibilities of a blank page
  • Write an extreme question in the center (e.g. What if we all fully embrace digital nomadism?)
  • Using a spider diagram, radiate out and capture the new needs that’ll arise in that extreme scenario
  • From each emerging need, continue to branch out, imagining new products, services, models you could invent to solve those needs
  • Continue to play, iterate and invent, as needed

03 / The World is Your Hot-Desk

From Gretchen Devero
With support from the Japanese Environmental Ministry, Japanese national parks and resorts are attempting to lure office workers back to nature through rentable workstations and pop-up, wifi-enabled campsites. After favorable feedback from a trial run from April to July, it was brought back this past September. This shouldn’t come as a surprise—countless studies tell us that working in nature increases our memory, boosts concentration, and positively affects our well-being.
Why It Matters
A stipend for common office supplies (e.g. a dual monitor, an ergonomic desk chair, noise-cancelling headphones, etc.) may have alleviated employees’ initial discomfort working from home, but our home offices (aka our kitchens and bedrooms) have a long way to go before we say they’re ‘delightful environments that induce productivity and well-being.’ Working from anywhere (WFA) gives us a unique opportunity to break the feeling of “Groundhog Day” and surround ourselves with new stimuli that creatively inspires us.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Make it easier (and more accepted) for your employees to work from anywhere.
WFA can benefit pretty much everyone, especially parents – it’s likely they’ll feel more energized, productive and happier than when they were working from home. That said, a few thought-starters:
  • Create a list of pre-approved ‘anywhere’ workstations across the world (or your region) – this could be a custom list or re-purposed from platforms like AirBnB
  • Create a list of employees who are willing to ‘house swap’ with colleagues who live in different states
  • Check to see if there’s budget to enable Wi-Fi hotspots so desk-bound employees have an option to work outside

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