Tag Archives: Work

What Do Women (and Men) Want at Work? LinkedIn Looked at 'Billions of Interactions' and Reached 8 Key Conclusions
March 6, 2019 6:00 am|Comments (0)

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Rule #1 for employers: Be transparent.
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Google Is Paying Employees for Six Months of Charity Work
January 17, 2019 12:49 am|Comments (0)

Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, has launched a new program that will pay its employees to do pro bono work for nonprofit groups for up to six months.

Google announced the new program, called the Google.org Fellowship, on Tuesday. The purpose is to let Google employees take on full-time pro bono work for the organization’s nonprofit partners, which include groups like the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Girls Who Code, and Amnesty International.

The company aims to achieve 50,000 hours of pro bono work this year.

The fellowship extends Google’s community service outreach and adds to a growing list of volunteer-based initiatives offered by tech companies. It also helps Google accomplish two goals: aid the community with the company’s expertise—as well as motivate employees and help them sharpen their skills, according to the company’s blog.

The launch of Google’s fellowship came after the company piloted a six-month program in which it sent five Googlers to work with Thorn, a nonprofit founded by Ashton Kutcher that develops technology to protect children from sexual abuse. Through the partnership, Google employees helped build tools to find patterns in data that would assist law enforcement in identifying and locating child victims faster.

Since then, seven Google.org fellows, including software engineers and data scientists, started working with Goodwill Industries International, to which Google.org gave $ 10 million in 2017. Googlers will help the organization get better insight about what works best in their job training programs.

Prior to this program, Google had already offered employees volunteer hours, though a much smaller number, for community service projects.

Google launched GoogleServe in 2008, aiming to encourage employees to participate in community service projects for a day in June. The program also helps match employees’ skillsets to nonprofits’ needs and allows them to spend up to 20 hours of work time volunteering. Last year, more than 5,000 employees volunteered more than 50,000 hours across 400 project, according to Google’s website.

Along the same lines, Salesforce.org, the philanthropic arm of business software company Salesforce, has a Pro Bono Program that offers employees 56 hours of paid volunteer time annually. Between the program’s debut in 2014 and October 2017, Salesforce employees had volunteered 166,000 pro bono hours with 5,700 organizations.

Twitter also offers a community service day. The #TwitterForGood Day, a biannual event at the company, gives employees the chance to do community service at partnering organizations.

Apple premiered its employee volunteer program in 2015. The Apple Global Volunteer Program helps employees organize and support organizations and events in their communities. The program offers training and tools to help them create and promote volunteer events.

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Want to Work From Home in 2019? Starting Today, You Can Get Paid $10,000 Extra to Do It. (There's Just 1 Catch)
January 1, 2019 6:00 am|Comments (0)

Perhaps you’ve been thinking that 2019 is the year that you’ll finally do it: You’ll take control of your destiny and do what’s required so that you can work from home.

Of course, it’s not as if most people who work for someone else can just flick a switch and suddenly have the right to work from home. They have to negotiate with their employers, make their case, and act.

But, if you’ve been on the fence about doing it, one U.S. state might have just the impetus you need to make the jump: $ 10,000 for up to 1,000 people who can show that they work from home for an out-of-state company.

I wrote about this when the Vermont government first approved the program, but now it’s finally here: One of the requirements is that you have to move to Vermont after January 1, 2019, since the government didn’t want to pay people who were already going to live there and work from home anyway.

But that day is finally here today (assuming you’re reading this on the day it was published): New Year’s Day, 2019).

Beyond that, the restrictions seem pretty easy to comply with, assuming you truly and legitimately are working remotely from an out of state company. You have to:

  • be a full-time employee of a business “with its domicile or primary place of business” outside Vermont
  • perform “the majority of…employment duties remotely from a home office or a co-working space located in the state”
  • demonstrate qualifying expenses

In theory, the payment is supposed to reimburse you for the cost of moving to the Green Mountain State (you’ll have to learn that nickname if you’re going to live there). And note that you can actually work from a co-working space, not only out of your house.

That last point seems like a good idea if you’re going to move to a new state; many of us meet people through work, but you’d otherwise literally be working alone and from  home. It turns out there are at least 19 co-working spaces in Vermont, spread around a state of only 625,000 people. 

That last number — the population of only 625,000 — mostly explains why the state is doing this to begin with.

That, combined with the fact that the population is aging, and that the tax base is dwindling. (There’s a similar program now for people who want to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma, by the way).

So what can you expect if you move to Vermont? In short: a relatively exercise-conscious, healthy living state with a high intelligence and a quaint New England standoffishness, apparently. Over the past year we’ve seen that it’s:

Oh, and it’s cold in the winter–but beautiful almost all year round.

If you’re thinking about it, I’d recommend visiting now or in February, so you’ll see if you’re really the kind of person who can thrive in that climate. 

Then check out the fine print — including being aware of just how many people wind up qualifying — and get ready to apply.

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New Research Proves That You Should Really Only Focus on Your Own Work (and Not What Others Are Doing)
November 28, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

And the advice rings true. When we focus too much on others, we can lose sight of ourselves and our own progress. Now researchers are figuring out why.

A team led by Steven Buzinksi at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has investigated how the judgments and decisions of students can be guided by their perceptions of how others like them behave. This idea was explored previously — another study, concerned with how students overestimate how much their peers drink alcohol, found that this “widespread overestimation” actually influences students to drink more themselves.

However, this Chapel Hill team wanted to see if study habits and behaviors were affected in similar ways by inaccurate perceptions.

In studying hundreds of social psychology undergraduates, researchers found that exam scores could actually take a hit when students miscalculated how much their peers studied.

Overall, students had a tendency to underestimate how much time peers spent studying for upcoming exams. Even further, how much a student studied correlated with what they perceived was a normal amount of time to study, according to what they perceived about everyone else.

However, Buzinski and his team found that students’ misconceptions about the study time of their peers were not always positive influences for actual exam performance. One would normally assume that underestimating typical study time would lead to choosing to study less, and receiving poor test grades.

But, in fact, researchers surprisingly found that those students who overestimated, not underestimated, their peers’ study time actually performed worse in the subsequent test.

The reason? Buzinski’s team speculate that anxiety and self-doubt arrived when a student felt as if his or her peers were hitting the books too hard (even though it is likely that this perception was inaccurate).

Future research will be needed “to confirm the robustness of these findings,” and it may be necessary to “directly observe how correcting misconceptions affects students’ study behavior and their confidence.”

Ultimately, it may benefit you to apply these findings to your own working life — to think about how hard others may be working may actually cause you stress and anxiety, damaging your performance. Plus, you may be wrong about how hard your peers are working — so yes, make sure to focus on you.

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From Work to Play, the Most Innovative Holiday Gifts of 2018
November 27, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

Need a Cyber Monday jolt? Time published its best Inventions of 2018 last week.  While this is not a gift list per say, you can draw inspiration from this collection of innovations, which I have organized into three categories for the office, relaxation and night riders (for all of you cyclists out there). Let’s start with the richest price tag and work our way down. 

Work

Open-office plans are all the rage today, but several studies have shown that they lead to distractions and sick days for workers. Help your employees find privacy with this soundproof phone booth by ROOM ($ 3,495).  Zenbooth offers a slightly larger model with an even steeper price tag.

Want supplies in a flash? Zipline made history by launching the first commercial drone service in Rwanda, expediting the delivery of blood and medical supplies to remote areas. This year, the California startup unveiled a new version of its craft that carries up to 3.85 lb. at 80 m.p.h. for up to 100 miles per round-trip.  They also streamlined their launch and recovery process, enabling Zips to make 500 deliveries per day.  While Zipline will continue serving rural communities in Africa, the startup has broad ambitions.  Zipline started testing emergency medical-supply delivery in the U.S. and will begin regular service in North Carolina in early 2019.

When it comes to safety, StrongArm Tech’s Fuse Risk Management Platform, helps employers protect vulnerable workers–and, by extension, their own bottom lines. On-the-job injuries and accidents cost U.S. companies some $ 59.9 billion per year. Since debuting in April, Fuse has been used by more than 10,000 workers, including those from 10 Fortune 100 companies.

Sleep

With a cold Thanksgiving in the northeast, weighted blankets were a hot topic around our dinner table. Gravity has sold $ 18 million worth of it’s weighted blankets ($ 249 each), which are available in 15, 20 or 25 pound varieties. Many swear by the therapeutic benefits, and they are certainly a fad on Instagram. 

Bose Sleepbuds ($ 250), are designed specifically to enhance your slumber. They are small enough to fit inside the ear without bothering your face or your pillow, and light enough to feel weightless. Their silicone tips are said to stay in place, even if you toss and turn.  Users choose from a preset menu of 10 soothing sounds, such as ocean waves, warm static or rustling leaves.

When you are ready to wake up, Philips’ Somneo ($ 199) is designed to simulate a natural sunrise every morning–along with soothing audio that gently rises in volume–to provide a less jarring wakeup experience.  If you can get this to work with the sleepbuds that would be brilliant. When it’s time for bed, the Somneo can simulate a sunset, as well, dimming the lights until you are fast asleep.

Play

Nocturnal athletes can now glow in the dark with this Solar Charged Jacket ($ 350) from Vollebak. The jacket’s phosphorescent membrane absorbs light during the day and releases “kryptonite green energy” after sunset. Part of the jacket’s appeal, of course, is novelty: because it can absorb light from almost any source, but more importantly from a safety standpoint, it allows runners and bikers to be visible after dark. If you get stranded, rescuers can spot you.

Cyclists will also love the story of Eu-wen Ding, a business-school student living in Boston who was looking for a better way to ride. “All I wanted to do was get from point A to B without dying,” said Ding. Eventually, that goal led to the creation of Lumos Kickstart Helmet ($ 180), whose LED lights not only increase a cyclist’s visibility but also blink to indicate a left or right turn. Riders can trigger the signal by clicking a wireless remote mounted to their handlebars or by syncing the helmet with their Apple Watch and making a hand signal. The Lumos launched in 2017 after a Kickstarter raise, and became the first light-up helmet sold in the Apple Store. 

Beyond these examples, the full list of inventions encompasses breakthrough products for fashionistas, new parents and even environmentalists.  Enjoy.

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Researcher in Facebook scandal says: my work was worthless to Cambridge Analytica
April 24, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

LONDON (Reuters) – A researcher at the center of a scandal over the alleged misuse of the data of nearly 100 million Facebook users said on Tuesday the work he did was useless for the sort of targeted adverts that would be needed to sway an election.

Aleksandr Kogan, who worked for the University of Cambridge, is at the center of a controversy over Cambridge Analytica’s use of millions of users’ data without their permission after it was hired by Donald Trump for his 2016 election campaign.

Kogan said it was unlikely Cambridge Analytica had used the data in the Trump campaign, although he also said that its suspended CEO Alexander Nix had lied to a committee of British lawmakers about how the two worked together.

Kogan said that even if the dataset he compiled was used in a political campaign, it would be little use for targeted advertising.

“Quite frankly, if the goal is micro-targeting using Facebook ads, (the project) makes no sense. It’s not what you would do,” he told a parliamentary committee, adding that Facebook itself had better tools for such adverts and that the work was worth “literally nothing”.

“If the use case you have is Facebook ads, it’s just incompetent to do it this way.”

Facebook has said that the personal information of about 87 million users may have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, after Kogan created a personality quiz app to collect the data.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have blamed Kogan for alleged data misuse, but he has said that he was being made a scapegoat by the companies for the scandal.

Kogan said that former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, who was also a director of the consultancy’s parent firm SCL Group, had previously lied to lawmakers when he said he had not received data from Kogan.

“We certainly gave them data, that’s indisputable,” Kogan told lawmakers. Asked if Nix had lied, Kogan answered: “Absolutely.” A spokesman for Cambridge Analytica declined to comment on Nix’s testimony, noting that he was suspended pending an investigation.

Kogan said Facebook provided him data in an email, and he had not needed to sign an agreement to use it. However, he said that he did not sell the data provided to him by Facebook.

Instead, Kogan said he collected new data through an app for work with SCL, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company.

He hired a market research firm called Qualtrics to recruit 200,000 to 300,000 people to take the quiz to collect the data, resulting in expenses of $ 600,000-$ 800,000. Kogan’s company was paid 230,000 pounds ($ 320,643.00) by SCL for its predictive analysis based on the findings, Kogan said.

In written evidence to parliament, Kogan said that all of his academic work was reviewed and approved by the University’s ethics committees.

However, a letter from 2015, published by the Guardian, shows that the ethics committee rejected one of Kogan’s projects in 2015 and said that Facebook’s privacy project was “not sufficient protection” to address concerns.

Kogan said that the data he collected had now all been deleted, to the best of his knowledge, but he would double check that none remained. Cambridge Analytica also said that it had deleted the data when asked to by Facebook.

“We’re extremely sorry that we ended up in possession of data that clearly had breached Facebook’s terms of service,” spokesman Clarence Mitchell told reporters.

“That’s something that we wouldn’t have wanted to happen. But we have put in place the procedures to begin to rectify it.”

Mitchell also said that the data was not used in the Trump campaign after it had been demonstrated to be ineffective.

“Any suggestion that the GSR Kogan data was used in that campaign is utterly incorrect. Its effective uselessness had already been identified by then,” he said.

Kogan said that he never drew a salary from GSR, the company that he founded to do the research that was wound up last year. Most of the money received from SCL was spent on coding work, acquiring data and legal fees. He was allowed to keep the data he gathered on the project.

Kogan said that GSR had a close relationship with Facebook, and one of his partners at the firm, Joseph Chancellor, now worked for the social media giant.

“This has been a very painful experience, because when I entered into all of this, Facebook was a close ally,” Kogan said.

“I was thinking this would be helpful to my academic career and my relationship with Facebook. It has very clearly done the complete opposite”

($ 1 = 0.7173 pounds)

Aleksandr Kogan, a researcher at Cambridge University who created a personality quiz to collect users data on Facebook, gives evidence to Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committe in Westminster, London, Britain, April 24, 2018. Parliament TV handout via REUTERS

Reporting by Alistair Smout and Douglas Busvine; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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Lawmakers publish evidence that Cambridge Analytica work helped Brexit group
April 16, 2018 6:02 pm|Comments (0)

LONDON (Reuters) – British lawmakers on Monday published evidence that Brexit campaign group Leave.EU benefited from work by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy at the center of a recent storm over use of Facebook data.

FILE PHOTO: A person is seen inside the building which houses the offices of Cambridge Analytica as investigators from Britain’s Information Commissioners Office entered, following the granting of a search warrant by a High Court judge, in London, Britain March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

Nigel Oakes, founder of SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, said the consultancy was lined up to do work with Leave.EU in the event that it was designated as the official campaign to leave the European Union, according to transcripts of interviews published by a parliamentary committee.

Oakes said that “there was no contract and no money” but that they did do work to demonstrate their capabilities. A transcript of another interview with Leave.EU official Andy Wigmore says the campaign group copied Cambridge Analytica’s methods.

“Leave.EU benefited from their work with Cambridge Analytica before the decision was made on which Leave campaign would receive the official designation for the referendum,” Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said in a statement.

Cambridge Analytica lies at the center of a storm for using data obtained from millions of Facebook users without their permission after it was hired by Donald Trump for his 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.

The analytics firm is also under scrutiny over campaigning for the 2016 referendum when Britons voted to leave the European Union, a move seen by critics as a colossal historical mistake but by admirers as a vital reassertion of British sovereignty.

Oakes said Wigmore’s claim to have copied Cambridge Analytica’s techniques raised “more questions about how Leave.EU developed their database to do this, and whether consumer data from other companies they had a relationship was used to support their campaign.”

The interview transcripts were submitted by Emma Briant, an academic who interviewed figures from SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU.

In the event, “Vote Leave” beat Leave.EU to become the officially designated campaign to leave the EU ahead of Britain’s referendum, though Leave.EU continued to campaign for Brexit.

Leave.EU founder Arron Banks has said that because it did not win the designation and due to concerns about the consultancy, it did no work with Cambridge Analytica, and received no benefit in kind.

Former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix told the committee in February that the firm did not work with Leave.EU, but he has been recalled for a new hearing, which will take place on Wednesday.

The lawmakers were also critical of Wigmore and Oakes for speaking in admiring terms about Nazi propaganda techniques, and said there were also questions about Cambridge Analytica’s closeness with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

“The propaganda machine of the Nazis, for instance – you take away all the hideous horror and that kind of stuff – it was very clever, the way they managed to do what they did,” Wigmore said, according to one interview transcript.

Collins said that the “extreme messaging” around immigration during the campaign meant “these statements will raise concerns that data analytics was used to target voters who were concerned about this issue, and to frighten them with messaging designed to create ‘an artificial enemy’ for them to act against.”

Reporting by Alistair Smout, Editing by William Maclean

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OracleVoice: Fedcap Discovers New Ways To Help America’s Most Vulnerable Find Living-Wage Work
January 3, 2017 11:10 am|Comments (0)

Fedcap Rehabilitation Services uses Oracle Database Cloud to analyze contracts, applicant profiles, and placement histories to help disadvantaged people land jobs that pay a living wage.


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GE and Microsoft work together on IoT cloud services
July 12, 2016 2:10 am|Comments (0)

GE and Microsoft have teamed up to bring the industrial giant’s Predix platform-as-a-service offering to the Azure cloud, the two companies announced …


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9 fresh ways to start a conversation with anyone at work
April 5, 2016 11:25 am|Comments (0)

Conversation

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You can be extroverted or introverted or somewhere in the middle, but no matter where you fall on the personality spectrum, there’ll be times when conversation doesn’t come easy. Overthinking it will generally get you nowhere, but not having a plan of action or a back pocket full of topics regardless of who you’re talking to also won’t help your communication game. If you’ve ever gone way out of your way to avoid an impromptu chat, fumbled with what to say, or defaulted to the weather (again!), the following guidelines should help.

And yes, while “guidelines” is a scary word, I promise that none of them require you to be a genius small-talker, the world’s most charming person, or outgoing at all. Read more…

More about Work, Conversations, Work Environment, Communication, and Career Advice


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