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If we have learned anything over the last two years amidst the global pandemic, it’s that employees want and need work-life integration.
This is a step beyond work-life balance. ‘Balance’ implies that things are equal and that a person is giving their professional and their personal lives the same amount of time and energy. The reality is that, after work, sleep, commuting, eating, and taking care of others, we don’t have a lot of time left for our personal lives. Balance is nearly impossible, so integration is the next best thing.
Work-life integration is the blending of personal and professional lives and responsibilities and finding areas of compromises — and that’s what Sheryl Sandberg reported that she wasn’t able to do at Meta. Sandberg announced that she would be stepping down in the fall of 2022, saying that, “It’s a job that I love, but it’s 24/7…it’s not a job you can do and also do other things.”
Women in many industries, including tech, have long been considered “unable” to handle the responsibilities of work and home life. And some organizations have used that as an excuse to either not hire women or not promote them.
Sheryl Sandberg’s blueprint for success
For so long, Sandberg’s success challenged that notion. After 14 years at Meta and an even longer career in general, we would hope that she more than proved what is possible for women in tech. Unfortunately, a lot of women in the tech industry will likely hear a chorus of “I told you so” after Sandberg’s departure — but is that sentiment really warranted?
Women, more so than their male counterparts, are often looked to for several tasks outside of their normal “9 to 5.” In addition to often having increased responsibilities at home, women frequently take on non-revenue generating tasks at work such as party planning and note taking. Those activities add to the culture and success of the organization, but they don’t garner the same attention as activities that directly impact the bottom line.
Thus, in industries like technology where women are very much the minority and are often assumed to be unable to compete, it can set them back even further.
Sandberg’s blueprint gems
Thankfully, Sandberg left a blueprint for how women can succeed in the tech industry.
In her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, she shares that blueprint gems like:
- Build and display your core skills as you go: “Women need to shift from thinking, ‘I’m not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that — and I’ll learn by doing it.’”
- Look for companies that have women in executive leadership: “The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves. Acting like a coalition truly does produce results.”
- Be bold in everything you do: “Fortune does favor the bold and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.”
- Partner with others who can help you both at work and at home: “When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects, or even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.”
Sandberg’s departure from Meta will undoubtedly be felt for many years. But she left behind a legacy and a plan for women to continue to grow their careers in tech and every other industry. It’s now up to every company out there to realize the goldmine they have in their female staff and make sure they have every chance to succeed.
But the desire for work-life integration isn’t limited to any one gender. With Sandberg being so vocal, many may think that the tech industry is a walk in the park for men, but the truth is, employees of all demographics are facing difficulties and all employees are hoping for the same outcomes — success, autonomy, flexibility, and life integration.
The push for productivity and control often has the opposite effect
Elon Musk’s recent insistence that employees end remote work, combined with the even more recent discovery that he was spying on employee’s personal social media to learn more about their desire to unionize, go against everything we know about keeping employees engaged and connected to a company.
In a recent study, 77% of respondents said they want to work for a company that gives them the flexibility to work from anywhere. As an example, when Apple took a stance against remote working as an option, they experienced a spike in resignations.
Similarly, when we think of organizations monitoring their employees, we are reminded that moving away from a surveillance model to a performance- or outcome-focused approach increases engagement and performance. For many managers, remote work made them feel a lack of control over their business so they, like Elon, moved towards surveillance. But this pushes employees to an avoidance mode — that is, seeking to avoid being “watched” — and that fixed mindset stifles creativity and engagement.
Elon Musk seems to believe that the way to boost productivity is to monitor and remove all autonomy and flexibility from employees. The opposite is actually true. We’ve learned that in most industries, tech included, employees working remotely boosts productivity.
So the question is: Is the return to the office about productivity or about monitoring employee activity? Unfortunately in some cases, it has seemed to be the latter. Managers push for productivity and control by increasing monitoring and decreasing options provided to employees. This in turn leads to increased turnover and lower productivity — two things no company can afford right now.
As the tech industry continues to see changes, leaders are faced with the opportunity to continue to build on the success they have seen historically.
Women like Sheryl Sandberg have left a lasting impression and hopefully will continue to, ultimately bringing the industry with them.
That success will be amplified if the industry can provide all employees the autonomy and flexibility they need to produce the stellar results all companies are looking for.
Christy Pruitt-Haynes is a consultant at NeuroLeadership Institute
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NASA Says Hurricane Didn’t Hurt Artemis I Hardware, Sets New Launch Window
NASA’s Artemis I moon mission launch, stalled by Hurricane Ian, has a new target for takeoff. The launch window for step one of NASA’s bold plan to return humans to the lunar surface now opens Nov. 12 and closes Nov. 27, the space agency said Friday.
The news comes after the pending storm caused NASA to scrub the latest Artemis I Iaunch, which had been scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 2. As Hurricane Ian threatened to travel north across Cuba and into Florida, bringing rain and extreme winds to the launch pad’s vicinity, NASA on Monday rolled its monster Space Launch System rocket, and the Orion spacecraft it’ll propel, back indoors to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
The hurricane made landfall in Florida on Wednesday, bringing with it a catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding that left dozens of people dead, caused widespread power outages and ripped buildings from their foundations. Hurricane Ian is “likely to rank among the worst in the nation’s history,” US President Joe Biden said on Friday, adding that it will take “months, years, to rebuild.”
Initial inspections Friday to assess potential impacts of the devastating storm to Artemis I flight hardware showed no damage, NASA said. “Facilities are in good shape with only minor water intrusion identified in a few locations,” the agency said in a statement.
Next up, teams will complete post-storm recovery operations, which will include further inspections and retests of the flight termination system before a more specific launch date can be set. The new November launch window, NASA said, will also give Kennedy employees time to address what their families and homes need post-storm.
Artemis I is set to send instruments to lunar orbit to gather vital information for Artemis II, a crewed mission targeted for 2024 that will carry astronauts around the moon and hopefully pave the way for Artemis III in 2025. Astronauts on that high-stakes mission will, if all goes according to plan, put boots on the lunar ground, collect samples and study the water ice that’s been confirmed at the moon’s South Pole.
The hurricane-related Artemis I rollback follows two other launch delays, the first due to an engine problem and the second because of a hydrogen leak.
Hurricane Ian has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone but is still bringing heavy rains and gusty winds to the Mid-Atlantic region and the New England coast.
What You Get in McDonalds’ New Happy-Meal-Inspired Box for Adults
You’ve pulled up to McDonald’s as a full-on adult. You absolutely do not need a toy with your meal, right? Joking. Of course you do.
The fast-food chain will soon sell boxed meals geared toward adults, and each one has a cool, odd-looking figurine inside.
The meal has an odd name — the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box — that’s based on the fashion brand collaborating with McDonald’s on this promotion.
According to McDonald’s, the box is inspired by the memory of enjoying a Happy Meal as a kid. The outside of the box is multicolored and features the chain’s familiar golden arches.
The first day you can get a Cactus Plant Flea Market Box will be Monday, Oct. 3. Pricing is set by individual restaurants and may vary, according to McDonald’s. It’ll be available in the drive-thru, in-restaurant, by delivery or on the McDonald’s app, while supplies last.
You can choose between a Big Mac or 10-piece Chicken McNuggets. It will also come with fries and a drink.
Now about those toys. The boxes will pack in one of four figurines. Three of the four appear to be artsy takes on the classic McDonald’s characters Grimace, Hamburglar and Birdie the Early Bird, while the fourth is a little yellow guy sporting a McDonald’s shirt called Cactus Buddy.
In other McD news, Halloween buckets could be returning to the chain this fall. So leave some room in your stomach for a return trip.
Why companies like iHeartMedia, NBCU rely on homegrown IP to build metaverse engagements
To avoid potential blowback from a skeptical audience, retailers as well as media and entertainment companies are learning to invest in their homegrown intellectual properties while building virtual brand activations inside Roblox or Fortnite.
Take, for instance, when they get it wrong.
Earlier this week, Walmart launched its own Roblox world — called Walmart Land — and was roundly mocked for it across social media given the announcement’s disjointed brand message and apparent lack of life. In one viral tweet, a Twitter user described a clip of Walmart CMO William White introducing the Roblox space as “one of the saddest videos ever created.”
To some extent, this sort of criticism is to be expected during the early days of the metaverse.
“Walmart is an iconic brand; when you see them coming into a platform like Roblox, people are going to be 10 times more critical of what is being launched,” said Yonatan Raz-Fridman, CEO of the Roblox developer studio Supersocial.
But Walmart’s size is not its only disadvantage as it dips its toes into Roblox. Although Walmart has a widely recognizable brand, it owns few intellectual properties that users are actually interested in experiencing virtually — a shortcoming reflected by the somewhat cavernous emptiness of Roblox’s Walmart Land.
The success of other recent brand activations is evidence that media and entertainment brands are better equipped to build metaverse spaces that can dodge online skepticism, thanks to their wealth of owned IP.
“They are having to reinvent themselves, to a certain degree, but that is in their DNA,” said Jesse Streb, global svp of technology and engineering at the agency DEPT. “So they have a unique advantage over, say, some kludgy company that sells lumber, or a construction company.”
For example, iHeartMedia’s Roblox and Fortnite spaces were inspired by the mass media corporation’s wealth of popular real-life events, such as the Jingle Ball Tour and iHeartRadio Music Festival, with virtual versions of musicians like Charlie Puth performing pre-recorded concerts that allow real-time audience interaction.
“There’s a strong brand association with the IP, down to a station level — you’re in the New York area, you probably know Z100,” said iHeartMedia evp of business development and partnerships Jess Jerrick. “The same is true for the event IP, or the IP that we now have in the podcasting space, and of course our radio broadcast talent. So there’s no shortage of really strong IP we can bring into these spaces.”
Translating real-life properties into the metaverse is also an enticing prospect for brands that view metaverse platforms as an experimental marketing channel, allowing them to bring tried-and-true IP into their virtual activations instead of designing them from the ground level. This was part of the strategy behind the recent Tonight Show activation in Fortnite Creative, which was designed in collaboration between NBCUniversal and Samsung. “We’re looking at it holistically — how do we find fans in new ways, and use IP that fans love in new ways?” said NBCU president of advertising and client partnerships Mark Markshall.
Since opening on Sept. 14, iHeartLand has already enticed over 1.5 million Roblox users to visit. The company aims to retain that attention with a schedule of virtual programming featuring popular musicians and personalities.
“At our core, we are essentially an influencer network; our broadcast talent are some of the most connected, most engaging influencers at work in media today,” said Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeart Digital Audio Group. “That gives us this sort of superpower, to be able to go into new-ish platforms, like Roblox or Fortnite, because we talk to our listeners through those influencers.”
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