Remote Working Risks, Benefits, Winners and Losers – The New York Times - Freelance Rack

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Remote Working Risks, Benefits, Winners and Losers – The New York Times

Our DealBook Debrief call this week is with Tom Friedman, the Times Opinion columnist, who will discuss American diplomacy in a post-pandemic world, and take your questions. Register here to join us on Thursday, July 30 at 11 a.m. Eastern. (Want this delivered to your inbox each day? Sign up here.)

Many office workers have been logging in from their living rooms for the past few months. As this looks to become the norm for some time to come, The Times’s Noam Scheiber considers the profound changes that may endure, beyond all those Zoom meetings.

Good for some, but not for all. Greater flexibility helps high-skilled workers pitch themselves more widely, instead of being limited to a specific area. This could be a boon for those who live away from major metropolitan areas. At the same time, a more remote, transactional relationship with employers may promote companies’ use of contractors — which can be more lucrative but less stable for the people accepting such work. And when workers are spread out, they may have a harder time sharing information and organizing for better pay or working conditions.

The biggest changes are cultural. We’ve covered how small talk at the office can have a huge effect on morale, but many companies are also learning that informal, person-to-person interactions are also crucial to the flow of mission-critical information. Businesses that successfully ran largely remote work forces before the pandemic tend to exhaustively document their processes and knowledge. That enables employees to join projects and get up to speed on their own time, without having to consult colleagues first. This reflects “sound management that companies with physical offices didn’t adopt simply because they could afford to be sloppy,” Noam writes.

What could go wrong? These 47 things, for starters. A report out today by a London-based financial industry body makes for bracing reading about the risks of long-term remote working. Although it’s meant for traders, who were mostly forbidden from working at home before the pandemic, the 47-item “risk register” (laid out in a spreadsheet, naturally) is useful reading for anyone worried about the sudden shift to widespread remote working. A few of the risks it raises:

• “Improper behavior may not be identified until much later”

• “Risk to confidentiality and client privacy if family members or housemates work for competitors”

• “Individuals feel compelled or coerced to return to offices to gain visibility or for career progression”

• “Risk of staff disengaging from the culture of the firm leading to reduction in shared values and increased propensity to work around existing controls”

• “Without the natural rhythm and with no opportunity for decompression from work as no commute time, staff are often working much longer shifts and so more prone to errors and to suffering mental health issues”

What do you think? What’s the biggest risk from remote working? The biggest benefit? Let us know. Include your name and location and we may include your response in a future newsletter.

ImageOprah Winfrey’s magazine will cease regular print publication this year.
Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Congress is set to battle over extra unemployment benefits. Enhanced aid for jobless Americans is set to expire at the end of the week. Republicans are poised to unveil a narrow coronavirus relief bill focused mostly on extending those benefits — but with Democrats demanding a comprehensive, multitrillion-dollar aid package, that approach is likely to fail.

Gold is setting new highs. The price of the precious metal surpassed its previous record in trading today. Moving in the opposite direction is the dollar, whose value against a basket of other currencies fell to a low last seen in 2018. The likely drivers: concerns about the direction of the pandemic and growing tensions between the U.S. and China.

Pharma executives made millions from vaccine news. Some corporate insiders sold shares shortly before positive Covid-19 treatment announcements, while others received fortuitously timed stock grants, The Times reports.

The pandemic is hitting the remittance economy. Migrant workers who send money to family abroad are finding it hard to find jobs, potentially leading to a 20 percent drop in those kinds of transfers, The Times reports. That could drive the first increase in global poverty since the Asian financial crisis of 1998.

Oprah Winfrey’s magazine goes out of print. O, The Oprah Magazine, a joint venture between the billionaire and Hearst magazines, will cease regular print publication after its December issue. The title, which claims a circulation of 2.3 million, will focus on its digital operations.

Credit…Ruben Sprich/Reuters

Bridgewater Associates, the firm founded by Ray Dalio, has long been the envy of the hedge fund industry. Not this year.

The firm has laid off several dozen employees, The Wall Street Journal reports. The cuts hit research, client services, recruitment and management training. The firm also deferred many incoming first-year analysts.

• Shortly after the report, Mr. Dalio tweeted passages from “Principles,” his book about his approach to life and management. An example: “Meaningful relationships and meaningful work are mutually reinforcing, especially when supported by radical truth and radical transparency.”

Bridgewater’s core hedge fund is down 13.6 percent for the year through June, the WSJ notes, “effectively wiping out the fund’s returns from the prior five years.” The average hedge fund was down about 3.5 percent for the first half, according to HFR, an industry research group.

And the firm’s former co-C.E.O. has sued over withheld compensation, the WSJ adds. The executive, Eileen Murray, who stepped down this year, accused Bridgewater of holding back up to $100 million worth of pay after she disclosed her claims of gender discrimination at the firm to regulators.

• This month, an arbitrator rejected Bridgewater’s claim that two former employees who started a new hedge fund had stolen trade secrets.

The Tesla C.E.O. had been riding high as the electric-car maker’s stock — and his net worth — soared (until recently). But Mr. Musk has got into a few more public scrapes in recent days, including briefly with his partner, the musician Grimes.

Senator Bernie Sanders criticized him for opposing further coronavirus stimulus. On Friday, the former Democratic presidential candidate tweeted: “What a hypocrite. Elon Musk has received billions in corporate welfare from U.S. taxpayers. Now he wants to stop 30 million Americans who lost jobs from receiving $600 a week in unemployment benefits, while his wealth has gone up by $46.7 billion over the past 4 months. Pathetic.”

• Mr. Musk noted that he supports universal basic income, in which people are paid directly by the government, over “the blunt tool of legislation,” even for coronavirus relief.

“I love you but please turn off ur phone.” That was the message from Grimes, who was admonishing Mr. Musk for a tweet in which he wrote, “Pronouns suck.” Critics on Twitter saw his message as mocking the use of gender-neutral pronouns by transgender and nonbinary individuals.

Tesla accused an upstart rival of stealing trade secrets. Mr. Musk’s company sued Rivian, which is producing an electric truck, accusing it of hiring four former Tesla employees and ordering them to take confidential information before joining.

Otherwise, Mr. Musk himself appears to be doing fine. In a wide-ranging and very on-brand interview with The Times’s Maureen Dowd, the billionaire shed light on domestic life with Grimes and their two-month-old son, his thoughts on his Twitter account being hacked (he’s not worried) and his contentious views on politics and the pandemic. It’s a must-read.

🏛 On Wednesday, the C.E.O.s of four tech giants — Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — will testify virtually at a congressional hearing addressing the companies’ market power. The companies have a combined market cap of $4.8 trillion, and the executives themselves are collectively worth $280 billion.

📉 The Federal Reserve may announce more stimulus measures at its policy-setting meeting on Wednesday, followed by the first reading of America’s second-quarter G.D.P. on Thursday. Analysts predict an annualized drop of more than 30 percent, with similarly ugly second-quarter reports expected from Hong Kong (Wednesday), Mexico (Thursday) and the E.U. (Friday).

• Fresh from their congressional grilling, Facebook will announce results on Wednesday; and Alphabet, Amazon and Apple on Thursday.

• Investors will quiz pharma executives on the progress of their Covid-19 treatments on earnings calls for Amgen and Pfizer on Tuesday; GlaxoSmithKline on Wednesday; AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly and Gilead Sciences on Thursday; and AbbVie and Merck on Friday.

• Big losses are expected from the oil majors Shell on Thursday, and Chevron and ExxonMobil on Friday.

• The state of consumer spending will be the subject of discussion at Visa on Tuesday, PayPal on Wednesday and Mastercard on Thursday.

• The damage done by restaurant closures will loom over results for McDonald’s and Starbucks, which report on Tuesday; and Shake Shack and Yum Brands on Thursday.

Others releasing earnings this week include Barclays, Boeing, Caterpillar, Comcast, Credit Suisse, Ford, G.E., G.M., Kellogg’s, Kraft Heinz, Procter & Gamble and Qualcomm.

🏀 The N.B.A. resumes its pandemic-shortened season on Thursday, with all games played at a sealed-off complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando. (For an inside look at life in the “bubble,” check out the Philadelphia 76ers rookie Matisse Thybulle’s YouTube channel.) The N.H.L. season resumes on Saturday, with an expanded playoff tournament split between arenas in Edmonton, Canada; and Toronto. Now that there are more sports back on, will the gamblers who turned to day trading during the lockdown go back to betting on games instead of on stocks?

🗓 From The TimesMachine: On July 27, 1866, the successful laying of a trans-Atlantic telegraph cable established permanent communication between Ireland and Newfoundland — or, “the Old and New Worlds,” as The Times put it. Previous attempts to connect the continents never lasted for more than a few weeks.

Credit…The New York Times


• SAP is spinning off Qualtrics, a maker of customer-feedback software, less than two years after buying the company for $8 billion. (Business Insider)

• International Airlines Group, the embattled parent company of British Airways, renewed a credit card agreement with American Express worth nearly $1 billion. (Reuters)

Politics and policy

• Larry Kudlow, the White House economic adviser, said that the Trump administration would extend a federal ban on evictions, which expired on Friday. (Politico)

• How a loophole in the federal government’s initial pandemic relief aid gave some wealthy retirees a sizable tax break. (WaPo)


• Facebook agreed to pay $650 million to settle a long-running lawsuit over its facial-recognition software. (Recode)

• “Don’t Ban TikTok. Make an Example of It.” (NYT)

Best of the rest

• C.E.O.s are qualified to make money, not drive social changes, argues the economist Greg Mankiw. (NYT)

• New immigration restrictions from the Trump administration have bolstered the economic prospects for au pairs already working in the U.S. (NYT)

• Artisanal flour makes great sourdough — and may hint at the future of the U.S. economy. (NYT Opinion)

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