March 2021 – on doing nothing, asking the right questions, being a zoom zombie, and working from anywhere

From the common-sense department

In a survey of remote workers, 54% said that even a small gesture such as a consistent “thank you” would make them feel less stressed about their performance, 31% said that it would make them more motivated, and 25% said that it would make them more productive.


Nearly a year into remote work, some companies have moved past happy hours and other non-work-related Zoom meetings as ways to build morale and asked their leadership teams to deliver trophies, bonuses, or other notes of appreciation to employees’ homes.

Adverse context

Since April, 35 states have seen increases in the number of parents who have dropped out of the workforce because of issues with childcare. In those states, the average increase is 36%, making childcare the third-most common reason why people are out of work behind layoffs and furloughs.

Many parents are struggling to find affordable childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic: even pre-pandemic, over half of parents relied on family or friends for childcare because of the cost, and during the pandemic, costs have increased by 47% at childcare centers and 70% for home-based care, often resulting in higher prices for families.

Is this being discussed and worked on in your place of work?

Survey: less than 30% of employers said that their caregiving and well-being programs have effectively supported employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. They identified stress and burnout (54%) and poor mental health (40%) as the biggest challenges.

Hit Reply and let me know how, how much, and by whom.


Study: nearly 90% of organizations said they are open to negotiating salary with a job candidate, but only 42% would negotiate bonuses and 32% would negotiate benefits with a potential hire.

We’re becoming zoom zombies

In part because webcams are not good enough. Here is a pretty thorough review that might help you find a good camera.


New Citigroup CEO says Fridays are zoom-free

Jane Fraser is banning internal video calls on Fridays, encouraging staff to set boundaries for a healthier work-life balance and instituting a firm-wide holiday.

The blurring of lines between home and work and the relentlessness of the pandemic workday have taken a toll on our well-being. It’s simply not sustainable.

Since a return to any kind of new normal is still a few months away for many of us, we need to reset some of our working practices.”

While Zoom meetings with clients and regulators will still happen on Fridays, employees will conduct meetings over the phone to give workers a break from nonstop videoconferences.


Ford Motor Co.

Told about 30,000 of its employees worldwide who have worked from home that they can continue to do so indefinitely, with flexible hours approved by their managers.

Beyond WFH is WFA

A case study from Spotify that launched their own Work From Anywhere program.

It’s early days for big reflections on how successful the program is overall, so we can’t speak to that at the moment. What we can share is a bit more around our thinking and the data that we used to inform us before we took the decision to become a distributed-first workplace, offering our employees more flexibility in the way they work.


What makes a great manager isn’t the problems they solve, but the questions they ask.

Wade foster, CEO of Zapier, recommends we start with these 16 questions.

My faves (and the first ones to ask):

  • What’s at stake here?
  • What would happen if you didn’t do anything at all?


A reminder from prize-winning architects Lacaton & Vassal

When you go to the doctor, they might tell you that you’re fine, that you don’t need any medicine. Architecture should be the same. If you take time to observe, and look very precisely, sometimes the answer is to do nothing.

I say management should be the same also. Choosing to do nothing is doing something.

April is National Poetry month and it’s also Jazz Appreciation month. Hit those links for suggestions on how to take part in these celebrations. By the way, one of my favorite poets is Antonio Machado and one of my favorite jazz artists is Oscar Peterson. Who are yours?

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