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The future of collaboration

March 22, 2021, 10:41 AM UTC

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Good morning.

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Meanwhile, those of us at Fortune are still struggling, like everyone else, to figure out what the world will look like as vaccination rates continue to rise and we emerge from our pandemic crouch. 

One question: Will we continue to order delivery from restaurants, since it is so much easier than getting dressed up and going in person? A new JD Power study being released this morning found 50% of customers using restaurant delivery services say they don’t expect their behavior to change much when the world reopens. 21% say they may even use restaurant delivery more. Count me in that group.

Another question: How will we ensure collaboration in a “hybrid” world if people are coming to the office on different days and different hours. Gensler co-CEO Diane Hoskins has a piece in Fortune this morning that cites a study showing that U.S. workers who worked from home only spent 27% of their time “collaborating” in 2020, compared to 43% for all U.S. workers in 2019. And collaboration, she argues, has important business benefits in terms of speed, quality of work, engagement and innovation (and, as a result, profits.). The challenge for those returning to the office will be to structure “a balanced design that supports both collaboration and focus.” Ironically, having gotten used to working from home, some may find it harder to focus in a open-plan office.

And here’s another: Will the focus on employee mental health continue once we’ve returned? Fortune’s Worksheet columnist S. Mitra Kalita says this morning that loneliness was a thing even before the pandemic hit, with 60% of Americans reporting feelings of being lonely, left out, poorly understood or lacking companionship. The pandemic intensified those feelings, but they won’t go away when it ends. Kalita quotes Susan McPherson, author of The Lost Art of Connecting, who says the end of the pandemic is a rare opportunity for a “do-over… Now we have the ability to go forth knowing how important, how vitally necessary having hugs and meaningful deep conversation is, to gather in groups outside of existing family. We also know the power of technology, good and bad. We have the chance to do it right.”

By the way, McPherson is speaking today with the Fortune CONNECT Fellows—an elite and diverse community of corporate leaders who have been chosen by their companies as candidates for the next generation of C-Suite leadership. If you are interested in learning more about CONNECT, go here, or shoot me an email.

News below.

Alan Murray


Tesla in China

Following the Chinese military's reported ban on Tesla cars in its facilities, CEO Elon Musk has said his company would be shut down if its cars were used for espionage. "There’s a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information," Musk said. Reuters

AstraZeneca latest

[Deep breath] AstraZeneca's vaccine has been shown to be 79% effective in preventing COVID-19—in a U.S. trial, which means U.S. approval could lie ahead. However, the recent European wobble over the vaccine's potential links to rare blood clots has badly dented confidence in its safety. Meanwhile, the EU is reportedly set to block AZ exports to the U.K. from a Dutch plant that is making the stuff and piling it up, but not releasing it for use in the EU yet because AZ hasn't asked the EU for approval yet.

Lira plunge

Economists predicted that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's sacking of central bank governor Naci Agbal on the weekend (the third time Erdogan has fired a central bank chief) would hit the lira hard when markets opened today. And lo, it came to pass: a 15% drop, taking the lira close to record lows. Reuters

Sharing Loaning vaccines

The U.S. will finally export COVID vaccines—sort of. The country is sitting on 7 million AstraZeneca doses that it hasn't yet approved for domestic use (see above), so it will loan 2.5 million doses to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada. The U.S. has vaccinated more than 12% of its population, while supply-starved Canada and Mexico have only been able to manage 1.7% and 0.5% respectively. NPR


Tax avoidance

The U.S.'s highest earners are dodging far more tax than previously thought, IRS researchers and academic economists estimate. Based on newer methodologies, it appears the top 1% of households fail to report around 21% of their income, with 6 percentage points of that being attributable to offshore accounts, plus partnerships and similar entities. The top 0.1% fail to report twice as much income as previously estimated. Experts say greater scrutiny of pass-through businesses is needed. Wall Street Journal

Care economy

Time's Up Now CEO Tina Tchen writes for Fortune that economic-recovery investments must include caregivers: "For too long, our approach in the United States has been to treat caregiving as a “personal” issue that workers, mostly women and particularly women of color and women with little financial recourse, are supposed to figure out on their own." Fortune

British coal

The U.K. will soon have just one operational coal-fired power station left, following reported plans by France's EDF to shutter its West Burton A plant by September 2022. The British government's deadline for phasing out coal power is October 2024. Times of London

Wolf thoughts

Jordan "Wolf of Wall Street" Belfort spoke to Fortune's Shawn Tully about Bitcoin, the GameStop/Robinhood phenomenon and more. Belfort on GameStop: "My fear is that the little guy can't hold these stocks up forever." And on "free" trades: "I saw a marketing demo from one of the big 'free trades' players advertising how they were 'helping the little guy,' and they're hand in hand with the big guys. It was like a betrayal of trust." Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.