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October 19-25, 2020: Bill Gates predicts a big future for videoconferencing, Shelly Palmer spells out the differences between a vendor and a solution provider, highlights from the October Federal Reserve Report, new advances in “exploration-based algorithms” for recruiting, the results of a survey of 800 execs on the postpandemic workplace, the OFCCP asks government contractors for their employee training materials, and a California appeals court rules on who can be classified as a contractor. Just another week at work.

25 Years Ago Bill Gates Predicted Videoconferencing. Here’s What He Says Is Next

Twenty-five years ago, Bill Gates foresaw that videoconferencing would come to replace many face-to-face meetings. Now, he predicts, videoconferencing will get much, much better. At-home screens will get much, much bigger. And we’ll never return to pre-Covid levels of business travel…. business travel will never return to its pre-Covid levels. “In two or three years, will business travel be down 50 percent? It might well be,” he said. “When you’re a salesperson calling on customers, it used to be that unless you’re there physically, you’re not showing your seriousness. Now, for both parties, connecting digitally for many of those meetings is going to be simpler and more effective.”

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Vendor vs. Solution Provider

Hire the best and let them work. Solutions providers may be vendors, but they don’t think of themselves that way. Solutions providers will always ask questions that you did not think of. They will offer suggestions that will often expand your thinking. They will always find a way to get your mission accomplished. And the best of them will point you in the right direction if they do not feel they are right for your engagement. A solutions provider’s goal is to earn your trust by solving your problem.

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Highlights from the October 2020 Fed Beige Book

In more than one region, staffing firms had unfilled orders. For example, [the report noted] “Staffing firms reported that activity continued to increase but tended to remain below pre-pandemic levels by 10–15 percent. Staffing contacts continued to note more orders than they can fill with available labor.” IT solutions and services appear to be benefitting from the increase in work from home arrangements. [The report noted] “The transition to remote work and online transactions has accelerated the need for new software solutions and increased cybersecurity measures.” … and “increasing capital spending on technology as a result.”

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Exploration-based algorithms can hiring quality and diversity

MIT researchers have developed a new approach for using algorithms in the recruiting process that can help companies draw talent from a more diverse pool of job applicants. The approach yields more than three times as many Black and Hispanic candidates than companies may have considered using traditional resume screening algorithms. The algorithm also generates a set of interviewees that is more likely to receive and accept a job offer, which can help companies streamline the hiring process. A new working paper, “Hiring as Exploration,” details the results.

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What 800 executives envision for the postpandemic workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruption to our working lives in the short term, and is likely to change the way that we work in the long term.1 To understand these changes, McKinsey commissioned a survey of business executives around the world in June 2020. The results suggest that the crisis may accelerate some workforce trends already underway, such as the adoption of automation and digitization, increased demand for contractors and gig workers, and more remote work. Those changes in turn will create greater demand for workers to fill jobs in areas like health and hygiene, cybersecurity, and data analytics.

The responses to the survey point to a period of disruptive change ahead. Not only has COVID-19 thrown millions of individuals out of work, but the mix of jobs that emerge from this crisis is likely different than those that were lost. People with the lowest incomes and educational attainment have been disproportionately affected, putting strains on achieving inclusive growth and potentially raising income inequality. Small and midsize businesses and communities of color, already more severely affected by COVID-19, are also more vulnerable to disruption from increased automation.

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Agency Asks Federal Contractors for Copies of Diversity Training Materials

The agency that monitors whether federal contractors comply with requirements against discrimination in employment is asking employers to provide copies of diversity training materials as part of its push to enforce President Donald Trump’s recent Executive Order (EO) dealing with diversity efforts. On October 21, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the division of the U.S. Department of Labor responsible for ensuring that employers doing business with the federal government comply with nondiscrimination laws, released the Request for Information (RFI), which was published in the Federal Register on October 22. The announcement of the RFI calls on federal contractors, federal subcontractors, and employees of federal contractors and subcontractors “to provide copies of any training, workshop, or similar programming having to do with diversity and inclusion as well as information about the duration, frequency, and expense of such activities.”

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Uber and Lyft must reclassify drivers as employees, appeals court finds

In a blow to Uber and Lyft, a California appeals court said Thursday that the companies must reclassify their drivers as employees rather than independent contractors, affirming an earlier court decision.
The ruling marks a significant development in a months-long legal fight between the companies and the state of California, which in May sued Uber and Lyft and claimed they were in violation of state law. It also puts greater pressure on the companies to successfully pass their California ballot measure which seeks to exempt them from the law…. A reclassification of their workers would represent a radical shift forced on the two businesses, which have built up massive fleets of drivers by treating them as independent contractors and not providing them benefits that they would be entitled to as employees, such as minimum wage, overtime, paid sick leave and unemployment insurance.

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