Tag: Pandemic

14
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

How A Pandemic Pushed Us To Embrace A Long Overdue Future Of Work

Founder & CEO of SlicedBrand, a global PR agency with an award winning team, she’s successfully led PR for thousands of technology companies

The pandemic has created a new thought process to reconcile when it comes to how we physically operate as a business. I immediately recognized that the fear of unleashing employees faded, if only out of necessity. Optimism grew, and ultimately everything new started to just seem normal. Now, it’s hard to even picture the days of our old office-bound lives.

Approximately six months into a forced remote office experiment, here are a few of the things I’ve learned.

My employees don’t need an office to be productive.

While I’ve been able to run a brand completely remotely, widespread adoption of a complete work-at-home workforce hasn’t been as rapid as industry leaders may have hoped.

The novel coronavirus kicked into overdrive the move to a fully or mostly remote staff. Managers may have noticed a slight downturn in productivity as employees adjusted, but everyone needs a second to acclimate. The shift from an office to your dining room table — complete with kids running amok, Amazon deliveries and breaks to take the dog outside — comes with a side of chaos. 

The truth is that if you hire the right people and train the right people, then your employees will likely be productive wherever they sit. Mine are all over the world, and there is no lack of productivity or engagement with the work. 

I think we’ll see that over the longer term, productivity will prove to be a benefit of a work-at-home environment. In our current experiment, I realize that we really don’t have a choice but to let workers figure it out at home. And they have been. In a survey of more than

14
Oct
2020
Posted in internet

Governments are using the pandemic as an excuse to restrict internet freedom

The news: Global internet freedom has declined for the 10th year in a row as governments use the coronavirus pandemic as cover to restrict people’s rights, according to a report by think tank Freedom House. Its researchers assessed 65 countries, accounting for 87% of internet users worldwide. The report covers the period from June 2019 to May 2020, but some key changes took place when the pandemic struck.  

The pandemic effect: In at least 20 countries, the pandemic was cited as a reason to introduce sweeping new restrictions on speech and arrest online critics. In 28, governments blocked websites or forced outlets, users, or platforms to censor information in order to suppress critical reporting, unfavorable health statistics or other content related to the coronavirus. In at least 45 of the countries studied, people were arrested as a result of their online posts about covid-19.

Many countries are also conducting increasingly sweeping surveillance of their populations, with contact tracing or quarantine compliance apps particularly ripe for abuse in places like Bahrain, India, and Russia. In China, the authorities used high- and low-tech tools to not just manage the outbreak of the coronavirus, but also to stop people from sharing information and challenge the official narrative. 

Other non-pandemic related findings include:

  • The US’s standing as a global leader for internet freedom is increasingly under threat. Internet freedom declined in the US for the fourth consecutive year, the report concluded. Federal and local law enforcement agencies have adopted new surveillance tools in response to historic protests against racial injustice, and several people faced criminal charges for online activity related to the demonstrations. The report directly criticized President Donald Trump for issuing draconian executive orders on social media regulation, and for helping to create and spread dangerous disinformation. 
  • The “splinternet” is well and truly
14
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Governments are using the pandemic to crack down on digital rights, report finds

In their fight against the coronavirus, some governments are introducing digital surveillance and data collection tools that could pose a lasting threat to citizens’ rights, according to a new report by research institute Freedom House.



People wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) scan a QR code (C) with their smartphones to check their "Health Kit" to enter an area on a street in Beijing on October 13, 2020. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP) (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)


© Nicolas Asfouria/AFP/Getty Images
People wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) scan a QR code (C) with their smartphones to check their “Health Kit” to enter an area on a street in Beijing on October 13, 2020. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP) (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Freedom on the Net 2020 report, an assessment of 65 countries released Wednesday, found that the pandemic has accelerated a decline in free speech and privacy on the internet for the tenth consecutive year, and accused some governments of using the virus as a pretext to crack down on critical speech.

“The pandemic is accelerating society’s reliance on digital technologies at a time when the internet is becoming less and less free,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, which is funded by the US government. “Without adequate safeguards for privacy and the rule of law, these technologies can be easily repurposed for political repression.”

Amid the pandemic, internet connectivity has become a lifeline to essential information and services — from education platforms, to health care portals, employment opportunities and social interactions. But state and nonstate actors are also exploiting the crisis to erode freedoms online.

Nowhere has that approach been more apparent than in China, according to Freedom House, which rated the country worst for internet freedom for a sixth year in a row.

Since the coronavirus outbreak emerged in Wuhan last December, China has deployed every tool in its internet control arsenal — from digital surveillance, to automated censorship, and systematic arrests — to

13
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Manhattan Emptied Out During the Pandemic. But Big Tech Is Moving In.

Facebook has just leased enough new office space in Manhattan to nearly triple its current local work force, including at one of the city’s most iconic buildings, the 107-year-old former main post office complex near Pennsylvania Station.

Apple, which set up its first office in New York a decade ago, is expanding to another building in Manhattan. And Google and Amazon are stitching together corporate campuses in the city more quickly than anywhere else in the world. Amazon paid roughly $1 billion in March for the iconic Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue.

Despite a pandemic that has ravaged New York, hollowed out many of its office buildings and raised fundamental questions about its future, the four companies collectively known as Big Tech are all significantly expanding their footprint in the city, giving it a badly needed vote of confidence.

With fears that the virus could spike again in the colder months, many companies are grappling with how, when and even if office workers will come back to buildings in Manhattan. And the tech giants have not brought their workers back yet, either.

Even so, the giants have not only moved forward with previous growth plans, but have also increased their pace of hiring and office acquisition during the pandemic.

The industry’s embrace of New York City comes despite the tumultuous reception that Amazon received last year when it proposed building a sprawling headquarters in Queens. Amazon abandoned the plans in the face of political and community opposition, but now has acquired more than 2 million square feet of office space for corporate workers, as well as warehouses from Staten Island to Queens to the Bronx.

After Amazon bought the Lord & Taylor building, it announced in August that 2,000 employees would eventually work there, increasing by half its

13
Oct
2020
Posted in programming

Grant will help University of Iowa museums and libraries spread art and programming even in pandemic

A collaboration between four University of Iowa-based institutions will soon help bring their programming to wider audiences who can’t access them during the pandemic.

The Stanley Museum of Art, the Office of the State archaeologist, the Pentacrest Museums and University Libraries are partnering on the project, which secured a $200,327 grant to expand their senior programming in Southeast Iowa.

The money will be used to digitize collections from the four institutions and to create virtual events that senior living facilities can do with their residents. They also will record events, such as talks with scholars or art projects. The recordings will be available to access anytime online.

“We have about 4 million objects in our collection,” said Elizabeth Reetz, director of strategic initiatives at the Office of the State archaeologist. “We’ll be taking high-quality images of a lot of our objects and writing interpretation and question guides that can go with them … We have a lot of photographs digitized but haven’t had the time and money to really ramp up digitizing objects before now … The Pentacrest and UI Libraries are getting special cameras to do 3D tours of their galleries.”

She’s already been doing digital outreach during the pandemic, holding online lectures and discussions with archaeologists. This will be a chance to expand that effort.

“Since the pandemic, we’ve all been dabbling in this. It’s been a really short time to learn new ways of engagement and outreach,” she said. “Before, my office in particular spent a lot of time traveling to give in-person and classroom classes, and that all stopped.”

The grant is funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which set aside money for museums and libraries responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The grant also will help pay salaries for project staff