Friday, January 21News That Matters

Tag: Workplace Environment

Gamers Greet Microsoft’s Activision Deal With Guarded Optimism

Gamers Greet Microsoft’s Activision Deal With Guarded Optimism

Technology
Activision’s track record with some of its games also became spottier. In November, it delayed new versions of Diablo and Overwatch. That same month, the newly released Call of Duty: Vanguard was widely panned as being boring and full of glitches.Parris Lilly, a video game streamer and co-host at Gamertag Radio, said Microsoft’s deal to buy Activision would not only help Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s video game subscription service, but also let Activision’s developers step off the treadmill. Microsoft’s purchase might permit developers to “take a well needed break” so they can improve games over time, rather than update them so frequently, Mr. Lilly said.He added that the acquisition could be an opportunity to fix Activision’s workplace issues under Mr. Kotick. Mr. Kotick declined to say in...

Building Apps Help Make the Office Return a Touch-Free Experience

Technology
The app is “an important piece of technology that helps people feel safe coming back to the office,” said Myrna Coronado-Brookover, senior vice president of asset services at Transwestern, a commercial real estate company, who helped oversee the introduction of the app in the building.Building apps also offer the ability to monitor the use of conference rooms, cafeterias and parking lots in an effort to improve operations. This data collection is part of the larger move toward “proptech,” an approach to real estate that allows companies to track how many people are in different parts of a building, which can help save money on heating, cooling and lighting in unused areas.But privacy advocates say they are worried about the collection of workers’ personal data.Companies have tracked employ...

When You’re Stuck in the Middle of a Workplace Battle

LifeStyle
Unfair Advantages?I recently had the opportunity to bring three provisional junior members into my team, with the option to progress them to permanent roles after a year if I can demonstrate their importance to the business. Depending on budget, there might be room for only one or two to progress.I’m assessing them on their productivity as well as contributions in other areas. All three are hard workers with great attitudes and high productivity, and I’m currently building business cases to keep each on board permanently. I’ve also received unsolicited praise from three senior managers for one of them in particular — who happens to resemble a young Michelle Pfeiffer. These individuals are all older straight men, which is unfortunately the main demographic here at the upper levels.“Michelle...

How the Pandemic Changed H.R. Jobs

Business
For George Boué, who ran H.R. at Stiles, a commercial real estate company based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the anxieties of his job began to increase this fall. He kept jerking awake at 3 a.m., his mind racing with questions. How was he going to roll out a vaccine mandate to his colleagues who viewed it as an intrusion? More important, how was he going to keep everybody in his office safe?Mr. Boué, who is fully vaccinated, was surrounded by friends in South Florida who were citing misinformation about the vaccine. He estimated that one-third of his 300-person staff is most likely not fully vaccinated. When the Labor Department rolled out its vaccine rule in November, requiring large businesses to get their workers vaccinated or tested weekly, Mr. Boué started drafting the terms for his comp...

Goldman Sachs Follows Wall Street Rivals in Asking Staff to Work From Home

Business
Goldman Sachs told its U.S. employees on Sunday to work from home for the first two weeks of the year, joining Wall Street competitors that had already given similar instructions as coronavirus cases have surged.Employees who are able to work remotely should do so until Jan. 18 in response to rising infection rates, the investment bank said in an email to employees. Just last week, the firm announced new booster and testing requirements, but, unlike many of its peers, did not encourage staff to work from home. Goldman called most workers back to the office in June, and its chief executive, David M. Solomon, is a strong advocate of working in the office. The bank has 43,000 employees, many based in its Manhattan headquarters.The United States is averaging more than 300,000 new cases a day f...
How Much for That Doggie in the Cubicle?

How Much for That Doggie in the Cubicle?

LifeStyle
I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough go of it and hope your situation improves, and quickly. We are in a pandemic. Nothing is normal, and employers have to recognize that their employees are human beings in human bodies.Keeping Up AppearancesThe proliferation of Zoom since the start of the pandemic seems to have also ushered in unwelcome comments about my appearance. I was told by one male colleague that I should try to bring more “energy” when I’m on video calls — despite feeling completely exhausted, in the middle of a global pandemic, and trying my best to remain sane while I attempt to help my school-age kids tackle the challenges of remote learning. A year later, I’m on another call, at a different company, and the first thing another male colleague says is that I look too “serious” when...
Air Filters and Outdoor Spaces: Office Costs Rise as Workers Return

Air Filters and Outdoor Spaces: Office Costs Rise as Workers Return

Business
Employers are paying attention to air quality as never before, said Nellie Brown, a health and safety specialist who provides training and technical assistance for New York State workplaces through Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.“If you don’t spend money on upgrading your ventilation, you might be spending it on sick people,” Ms. Brown said. She added that these upgrades could have helped reduce the spread of the seasonal flu in years past had they been in place.Upgrading HVAC systems can be expensive and add monthly costs. New equipment for a typical 100,000-square-foot office building in Chicago, for example, might cost up to $100,000 to install, Ms. Mueller said, and can add 5 to 10 percent to monthly bills. For offices in milder climates, just opening the...

Supreme Court to Hold Special Hearing on Biden Vaccine Mandates

Business
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said on Wednesday evening that it would hold a special hearing next month to assess the legality of two initiatives at the heart of the Biden administration’s efforts to address the coronavirus in the workplace.The court said it would move with exceptional speed on the two measures, a vaccine-or-testing mandate aimed at large employers and a vaccination requirement for certain health care workers, setting the cases for argument on Friday, Jan. 7. The justices had not been scheduled to return to the bench until the following Monday.Both sets of cases had been on what critics call the court’s shadow docket, in which the court decides emergency applications, sometimes on matters of great consequence, without full briefing and argument. The court’s decision to he...
Whiplash on U.S. Vaccine Mandate Leaves Employers ‘Totally Confused’

Whiplash on U.S. Vaccine Mandate Leaves Employers ‘Totally Confused’

Business
“You can’t really mandate booster shots yet,” he said. “It hasn’t been signed off on by any federal agency.”JPMorgan Chase, whose decision to require vaccines is complicated by its sprawling retail operations across the United States, declined to comment on how the court’s most recent decision, along with the recent spike in cases, affected any plans to mandate vaccines. But the bank on Friday told its American employees who do not work in bank branches that “each group should assess who needs to come into the office, work priorities and who should revert to working from home on a more regular basis over the next few weeks.”Walmart, which has mandated vaccines for mainly its corporate staff, also did not have any comment on broadening that requirement. Only 66 percent of its roughly 1.6 mi...
Apple Pushes Return to Office Date Back to T.B.D.

Apple Pushes Return to Office Date Back to T.B.D.

Technology
Apple, which had already delayed its employees’ return to physical offices from September to October to January to February, has a new timeline: to be determined.Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, told employees in a message viewed by The New York Times on Wednesday that the company was delaying a return to hybrid work “to a date yet to be determined.”He said the decision was made because of the surge of the coronavirus around the world, fueled by the contagious Omicron variant. Mr. Cook also said the company would provide an additional $1,000 to each employee to help furnish home offices.The company confirmed the postponement but declined to comment further.The news came on the heels of Apple’s temporarily closing three retail stores, in Miami, Annapolis, Md., and Ottawa, amid a spike of ...