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Slack’s remote-work research yielded interesting results

October 7, 2020, 9:40 AM UTC

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Good morning.

The COVID lockdown may be the biggest social science experiment in history. That’s why the folks at Slack have created Future Forum—to learn its lessons. Brian Elliott, the Slack executive running the Forum, will reveal early research findings at the Slack Frontiers Executive Forum later today.

The survey covers 4,700 “knowledge workers” in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Japan and Australia. Respondents rated five key elements of remote work—productivity, work-life balance, managing work-related stress and anxiety, sense of belonging, and satisfaction with working experience—on a five-point scale, ranging from “much better” to “much worse.” CEO Daily got an early look at the output, and found some interesting results:

  • As previously reported, knowledge workers are generally more satisfied with work from home than work at the office (+9.2).
  • The biggest increases in satisfaction are in work-life balance (+25.7), satisfaction with working arrangement (+20.1), managing work-related stress and anxiety (+17.3) and productivity (+10.7). Sense of belonging, however, was rated worse (-5).
  • Mothers with children outside the U.S. scored work from home noticeably higher on work-life balance (+20.4) than those in the U.S. (+12), possibly because of differences in access to child care.
  • Excessive meetings actually undercut sense of belonging. Workers who attend weekly status meetings felt worse about their sense of belonging during the pandemic (-2.7) while those who received status updates “asynchronously through digital channels” (think Slack) felt more belonging. (+5.8)
  • Surprisingly, historically underrepresented workers valued the remote experience more highly than their white colleagues. And underrepresented groups actually reported an increased sense of belonging with remote work—Black (+8.4), Asian (+7.6), Hispanic (+5.2)—while white workers reported lower sense of belonging  (-1.3).

I asked Elliott about the notion that an office provides a better environment for encouraging creativity and innovation. His response:

“Offices with whiteboards and water coolers don’t create innovationpeople do. Studies show that loosely structured in-person brainstorming sessions mostly lead to groupthink. Used correctly, digital tools can enable a broader swath of employees with more diverse perspectives to contribute on a level playing field.”

More research to come on that. Other news below. And check out Geoff Colvin’s analysis of why the recession is over—even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

TOP NEWS

Stimulus confusion

President Trump yesterday urged an end to talks over a potential second stimulus package, deferring such a move until after the election. The market-knocking move came as voters were already cooling on Trump's handling of the economy—polls used to give him the edge over Joe Biden on this front, but no longer—and after Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned "too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses." The Journal blames the Democrats for blowing up the negotiations. By the evening, Trump seemed to be reversing course, appealing to lawmakers to fund airlines and small businesses, and to approve more stimulus checks for individuals. Fortune

Big Tech

Democrat-led House lawmakers released a report yesterday accusing Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google of becoming "the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons," and calling for them to be essentially broken up on antitrust grounds. The lawmakers also called for the reform of U.S. antitrust laws. Fortune

Amazon questions

In the wake of Amazon's controversial job listings for intelligence analysts that might monitor "hostile political leaders," a cross-party group of members of the European Parliament have written to Jeff Bezos to ask whether the company had actually spied on politicians. The lawmakers are also concerned about the job listings' mention of targeting "labor organizing threats against the company." Guardian

Cryptocurrency regulation

Ripple, the San Francisco-based cryptocurrency giant, is threatening to leave the U.S. due to its regulatory climate. Ripple is engaged in a long-running argument with the SEC and investors over the nature of its XRP digital currency—it claims XRP is decentralized and therefore should be exempt from securities laws. Likely destinations if Ripple does flee the States? The U.K. or Singapore. Fortune

AROUND THE WATER COOLER

Citi conspiracist

Citi has sacked a manager in its tech department for running a QAnon website. Jason Gelinas "is no longer employed by Citi. Our Code of Conduct includes specific policies that employees are required to adhere to, and when breaches are identified, the firm takes action," the company said. QAnon is a conspiracy theory that holds senior Democrats and Hollywood liberals are part of a global cabal of Satanic child sex-traffickers and cannibals, and President Trump is out to stop them. Facebook just banned QAnon pages from its platform. Reuters

Richer billionaires

The coronavirus crisis has seen the world's billionaires increase their combined wealth by a quarter, according to a new report from UBS and PwC. The report found there are now 2,189 billionaires, up from 2,158 in 2017, and their combined wealth amounts to $10.2 trillion. A couple hundred of them publicly donated $7.2 billion to help fight the pandemic. Deutsche Welle

Comparing vaccines

Results from various COVID-19 vaccine trials should start rolling in over the next few weeks, but how best to compare them? With that aim, the global public-private partnership CEPI has established uniform testing procedures in five labs around the world that will enable like-for-like comparisons between vaccine candidates. Fortune

Voting resources

The CEOs of the U.S.'s leading outdoor recreation brands—too many names to list in this summary—write for Fortune to detail how they are making sure employees have time to vote on Nov. 3: "We have seen how our collective efforts can change and improve the lives of everyday Americans. Imagine if industries applied this same united spirit to supporting the electoral process." Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.