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Inspiration for Action
The Newsletter / Edition 001
From Sylvain Labs, this is the 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.  The increasing challenge of finding work/life balance from Joey
  2.  The new face of employee compensation from Steven
  3.  What it takes to attract & retain fresh talent from Jess
  4.  Ideal team communication dynamics from Trevor

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From the Field

01 / Three More Hours 

From Joey Camire
Bloomberg explores the increasing length of the workday in quarantine: NordVPN found that people in the U.S. are spending 3 more hours online a day on average compared to before the pandemic; Eagle Hill Consulting found 45% of people working from home were “burnt out” by early April.
Why It Matters
While there’s been some [uptick in productivity] according to a few sources, it’s not coming without a cost. There are [extensive studies] on the effects that burnout has on long-term health, happiness, and yes, productivity. We’ll need to watch for the potential pendulum swing, and whether this level of productivity is actually sustainable. 
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Have open conversations about work time (windows and duration) and document them visibly for teams.
It starts with trust. People are working, but (literally) can’t be seen, so they are overcompensating for fear of reprisal. This is a unique opportunity for people to work more closely attuned to their biological clocks—morning people can greet the sun and night owls can continue to question what is wrong with morning people. As part of the conversation, ask people to document their preferred working times and set expectations of those times with teams and managers. And now finally, maybe, we can get mid-day naps going.

02 / Compensation Conversations 

From Steven Ebert
With new distributed workforces, compensation for employees is taking new shape: Google announced a $1,000 stipend for WFH equipment, and Zuck announced that employee salaries would be adjusted by employee location in a distributed team. And this thread touched on a facet we hadn’t considered: the potential shift of the real estate burden from employer to employee in a distributed workforce.
Why It Matters
Leaders need to facilitate adequate home working conditions at minimum, but perhaps too reconsider the cost of employment, and in turn compensation, of their distributed workforce.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Conduct an audit of your team's home-working resources.
It is obviously a sensitive subject when employment discussions move into our homes, however it’s vital to ensure people have what they need to be effective, and, uh, sane. This spans from tools and utilities at their disposal to softer things like comfort. 

We created a tool in our Off-White Paper to help with this.

03 / Defending Fresh Talent 

From Jess Vander
In early May, a poll found 43% of students planning on starting work said their summer jobs had been postponed or made remote. For the surviving plurality of entry-level talent, the WSJ investigated early tactics for preserving any internships left standing: businesses are grappling with how to create a meaningful internship experience at a distance.
Why It Matters
Talent is a long-game: while many companies have frozen hiring, those that haven’t have a remote opportunity to forge relationships with future talent.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Build win-win talent recruitment exchanges.
1. Create a  “shadow board”: providing interns direct access to leaders to weigh in on and spark ideas for larger strategic business decisions.
2. Design publicly facing learning tools for prospective talent: doubles as a head-start on onboarding, eh?
3. Set round tables with leaders and a group of young talent— exchanging inspiration for advice.

04 / Bursty is Best 

From Trevor Larry
A new study in Academy of Management Discoveries reveals that teams who communicate in “bursts” —short periods of high activity—are more productive and collaborative than their “less bursty” counterparts, whose exchanges take place over longer periods of time and across multiple threads.
Why It Matters
If communication style and ‘burstiness’ are better indicators of team performance than “composite skill,” we may need to rethink how we build our working teams and processes.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Restructure meetings around windows of “deep work” and “active collaboration”.
1. Use tools like Gcal and Calendly to set aside frequent times to be available for questions as needed without forcing everyone onto the same video call if they need more time to work. 
2. Go for short and sweet daily stand-ups, varying frequency as needed.
Your Move
As we start to settle into the familiarity of seeing our coworkers’ bedrooms and envy others’ outdoor spaces, we’ve become comfortable commenting on each other’s home environments. With this open line of sight into each other’s lives, we’re mutually disclosing personal information—a recipe for increased emotional closeness. Is it really bringing us closer together? Or does this strange intimacy have bad side effects?

So—what’s your take?

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