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Could the shift to remote working make tech more inclusive?
Taking the commute out of the picture just might make for more diverse teams.
- Tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon, have already stated they'll be adapting company policies to allow for more remote working.
- In the business software and tech infrastructure sectors, which are more in-demand than ever, it seems likely that recruiting will resume quickly, with companies seeking to fill specifically remote positions.
- The tech sector has long suffered from a diversity problem, and remote working fosters a better culture of inclusivity.
As the coronavirus pandemic has gripped the world, remote working has become a necessity for many of us. According to Gallup research published in April, 62 percent of employed Americans said they had been working from home during the crisis, double the percentage that responded similarly in March.
Now that many countries and US states are pushing to implement a "new normal," it seems that remote working is likely to become far more prevalent even once it's no longer required. Tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon, have already stated they'll be adapting company policies to allow for more remote working.
"Many companies are learning that their workers are just as or even more productive working from home," Andy Challenger, senior vice president of staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told USA Today.
Employers are also realizing the benefits of having a more remote workforce. Corporate real estate in prime locations such as San Francisco and New York is expensive, and the big tech firms have historically offered employees a host of amenities, including on-site subsidized cafes, gyms and valet parking. One benefit of having employees work from home is the potential to reduce some of these overheads.
Many firms haven't been hiring during the crisis due to ongoing economic uncertainty, while layoffs and furloughs have been instituted at scores of startups. There's also reason to believe that over the summer and fall, a sizable swath of startups will need to close up shop. However, particularly in the business software and tech infrastructure sectors, which are more in-demand than ever, it seems likely that recruiting will resume quickly.
Indeed, many tech firms, including Cisco, Oracle, Red Hat, and HubSpot, had begun hiring even back in April, this time seeking to fill specifically remote positions.
The switch to remote is happening elsewhere in the world, too. Tech is big business in India, and firms there are planning to leverage the shift to remote to implement a "hub and spoke" approach to a hybrid of telecommuting and office work. With the COVID-19 office closures prompting so many team members moving to locations outside the major cities, Zoho VP Praval Singh recently told the Times of India that "we are considering opening small remote offices based on the situation in those areas."
As a result, "We'll create opportunities and encourage people to move to rural areas and be able to work from there."
A cynically-minded person would point to the fact that employing people outside of prime city locations is also going to result in cheaper salary bills. They'd be right, of course. Mark Zuckerberg was the target of much criticism last month when he announced that Facebook was going to become a 50 percent remote company indefinitely, while at the same time telling employees that "We pay a market rate, and that varies by location. We're going to continue that principle here."
On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons why a shift to hiring remote workers would be highly beneficial for both employers, employees, and society at large. Here are some of the biggest reasons.
A bigger talent pool
About 86 percent of hiring managers have said they've struggled to find qualified tech talent. By widening their hiring activities beyond the major city hubs, employers will find they can reach a far bigger pool of available candidates.
A qualified candidate living in one of the flyover states or rural America may not want or be able to relocate to the bigger cities. Until now, that's meant that these people have been largely excluded from the market. The ability to work remotely means a tech firm can capture this talent. Critically, employers benefit from this vastly increased talent pool without increasing their cost base.
Joonko, a hiring platform used by leading tech firms like Intuit, PayPal, and Atlassian, recently announced the rollout of its Remote-Ready planner tool, aimed at helping firms recruit remote talent, more inclusively. "Employers willing to take a remote-ready approach have the opportunity to reduce overheads, gain the benefit of geographical arbitrage, while giving themselves access to a vastly more diverse pool of talent based in locations all around the country," explained Ilit Raz, the company's CEO, via email. "Employees who work at home are also generally more productive without the pressure of a daily commute."
The numbers back this claim. According to an April poll from Citrix of 10,000 U.S. employees, 77 percent said they were more productive working at home, and 69 percent said they were working the same number of hours, or more, than they put in when they'd been office-bound.
Historically, many tech firms have attempted to mitigate their hiring challenges by setting up offices close to institutions such as Stanford or MIT. This trend only perpetuated the situation, though, as companies were born from the same ecosystems that they used as recruiting hubs. However, the new shift to remote allows them to diversify their locations, potentially shifting to places where real estate isn't some of the most expensive in the world and non-white talent is easier to come by.
More flexibility and more diversity
Controversial pay cuts aside, employees also appear happy with the shift to remote working. The same research by Gallup found that, of those who were working at home during the pandemic, 59 percent wanted things to stay that way even once restrictions are lifted.
Without being compelled to move to big cities, employees have far more flexibility to manage their work-life balance without the daily commutes. They can also eliminate commuting expenses.
The talent connection works both ways too. Just as employers have access to a bigger talent pool by casting the net more widely, candidates in remote locations also have the opportunity to apply for jobs from which they were previously excluded. Remote working, then, fosters a better culture of inclusivity.
The tech sector has, of course, long suffered from a diversity problem. It's been over five years since the industry buckled in to pressure and finally committed to publishing diversity reports, making tech companies headcount cohorts more transparent. And given the current climate of "enough is enough" when it comes to racial inequalities, it's especially shocking to see that little progress has been made over time.
"We're at a crucial crossroads — I don't think what tech companies have done to date is anywhere near enough," Freada Kapor Klein, a partner at Kapor Capital, told CNBC earlier this month.
And this isn't only about race. Women are traditionally underrepresented compared to their male counterparts, and women of color represent only 4 percent of the overall tech workforce, according to McKinsey.
Raz, Joonko's CEO, feels strongly about this, having founded her company largely in response to the challenges faced by women in tech. "Today's active parents are extremely busy with their roles as family caregivers, which often means they're excluded from jobs as they can't relocate," she said. "Even when they decide to move to a different city for a career opportunity that comes up, they still need to be around at home during traditional working hours to ferry kids to and from school and activities. A remote-ready approach opens up massive opportunities for this segment of the workforce, for employers as well as fathers and mothers."
A better society and a more balanced economy
Opening up remote opportunities creates a more equitable workforce in a way that isn't contrived. Raz believes it presents an ideal opportunity for companies to walk the talk, from a diversity and inclusion perspective.
"With smart remote hiring in 2020, tech companies have the opportunity to break out of the cycle of diversity pledges that are perceived by the public as lip service. Today it's possible to achieve diversity and inclusion with real value – not only as a matter of quota compliance or publicity play," she said. "Going remote gives recruiters the ability to onboard physically and mentally challenged individuals, single parents and seniors, in addition to women and minorities. It's time to meaningfully give everyone a place at the table."
More diverse companies create more inclusive tech products, and they make it easier for ethnic minorities and women to believe that they can pursue the career paths that speak to them most. Diverse companies happen to also drive superior business performance, according to a recent report from the United Nations Technology Innovation Labs (UNTIL).
Furthermore, a more diverse, remote workforce could help to address the huge problem of housing bubbles in cities such as New York and San Francisco, which have become unsustainable. A more remote workforce reduces the pressure on employees to find homes in these vastly overpriced locations, making them a better place to live for long-time residents or people who grew up there.
In recent decades, as these tech hubs have risen, locals providing key services such as healthcare or public transportation have seen themselves priced out of their own neighborhoods. Some office workers in San Francisco are now already relocating themselves, reducing their rental costs and taking pressure off the already buckling housing market.
Creating new opportunities
Nobody can argue that the coronavirus crisis has been a good thing. However, it has forced us to look at many elements of life through a different lens. The tech sector has been operating based on the decades-old paradigm that employees need to be at desks in offices if they're going to be productive, which doesn't fit with what tech companies actually need from their teams.
The necessary shift to remote working has shone a light on the benefits of a different way. Companies, employees, and society at large can now continue to reap those benefits long after the crisis recedes.
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Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.