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Microsoft’s Work Trend Index took data from people using its products and surveys around the world.

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Millions of people are embracing a new way to work. The coronavirus pandemic has compelled employers to largely accept remote-working arrangements to keep employees safe and flexible schedules to let workers take care of family. But though large margins of people Microsoft surveyed in January about work habits said they hope the flexible office will remain when COVID-19 subsides, Generation Z workers are struggling.

A new study from Microsoft, released Monday, found that among the more than 31,000 workers it surveyed, 73% hoped remote work options would continue when the pandemic ends. Even Gen Z applicants were slightly more likely to apply for a job with remote options than for one strictly in an office. But those workers are also facing particular drawbacks.

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Gen Z workers, born roughly between the mid-1990s and mid-2010s, responded to Microsoft’s surveys generally by saying they’re more stressed and find they’re struggling more than their peers. They tend to be single, since they’re younger, leading them to feel isolated. And since they’re early in their careers, they don’t have financial means to create a good workspace at home if their employer won’t pay for it. And they’re not having those in-person meetings that sometimes help them land in career advancing projects, or even to get in good with the boss. 


Working from home can be isolating, even if we’re all still talking.

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“Without hallway conversations, chance encounters, and small talk over coffee, it’s hard to feel connected even to my immediate team, much less build meaningful connections across the company,” wrote Hannah McConnaughey, a product marketing manager at Microsoft who’s a Gen Z worker. “Networking as someone early in their career has gotten so much more daunting since the move to fully remote work — especially since switching to a totally different team during the pandemic!”

Gen Z is not alone in struggling, of course. Tech employees with children have faced resentment from colleagues as they struggle to balance work with overseeing kids who are learning at home. And though companies have attempted to offer more benefits for parents, including more paid time off, tech industry employees in particular tell surveyors they feel worked to the bone.

Employees also say they want flexibility rather than fully remote jobs. Of the workers Microsoft surveyed, 73% said they want remote work options to stay, with 46% saying they plan to move now that they can work remotely. Still, 67% said they want more in-person work or collaboration too. In short: We don’t seem to know what we want yet.

Which is why Microsoft’s survey underscores the complex new world we’ll all face when social distancing guidelines ease and we enter the new normal. A century ago, the new world that arrived after World War I and the 1918 pandemic gave birth to the Roaring ’20s, highlighted by rising wealth and quality of life. The present-day new normal seems increasingly poised to raise quality of life once again, by giving many workers more time away from the office and more flexibility to care for family.

The great COVID pandemic work experiment has largely been a success. Big tech has gotten bigger, with some of the highest profits it’s ever seen. Productivity has risen among well-established companies too.


There’s been a focus on parents struggling as schools shut down. But Microsoft said Gen Z needs attention too.

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For companies that’ve obsessed for years about how to make their workspaces more productive, though, this has required a change of heart. Facebook kept its desks out in the open, with everyone expected to come to work each day to see, hear and interact with one another. Apple dotted its massive “spaceship” campus with trees and walking paths so workers could come together — on campus — and brainstorm in an open space with built-in changes of scenery. And Google offered free meals at work, which encouraged people to not only stay at the office longer, but also to congregate during lunch hour and maybe, perhaps, come up with that next billion dollar idea, instead of waiting in line at the local deli. 

“Our findings have shown that for Gen Z and people just starting in their careers, this has been a very disruptive time,” George Anders said in the study. Anders is a senior editor-at-large for LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft. “It’s very hard to find their footing since they’re not experiencing the in-person onboarding, networking, and training that they would have expected in a normal year.”

In its conclusions, Microsoft suggests companies invest in technology that helps bridge the physical and digital worlds, so teams can work remotely and in the office. Additionally, it says Gen Z employees need more career support.

“Be ready to build a new plan — not just once, but maybe two, three, four times,” Anders added. “What worked for your people and business in April may not be the same as November.”

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Walmart gives workers off on Thanksgiving.

Walmart workers won’t have to work this Thanksgiving..

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Black Friday deals aren’t limited to just the Friday after Thanksgiving. Retailers start their sales on Thanksgiving, but this year, it’ll be different at Walmart

The retail giant said Friday it’s giving workers the day off on Thanksgiving due to their work during the pandemic. It joins Target, which said in January it wouldn’t be open on Thanksgiving

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“Closing its stores on Thanksgiving Day is an additional way the retailer is thanking associates for their dedication to serving customers and their perseverance throughout the pandemic,” the company said in a press release Friday. 

Walmart also closed its stores on Thanksgiving last year due to the pandemic. 

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Apple reports improved behavior in its supplier chain.

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Apple reported improvements in its manufacturing partners’ operational conduct in 2020 while grappling with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Apple’s annual supply-chain responsibility report for 2021 focuses on a range of topics, including labor and human rights, worker health and safety, and the environment, among other things.  

Apple reported a reduction in major violations of its Code of Conduct among its suppliers and didn’t mention discovering any cases of child labor. It also found no instances of forced labor. Most of the violations Apple reported related to violations of the company’s working-hours policy or labor data falsification.

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During the year, Apple conducted 1,121 supplier assessments in 53 countries to ensure compliance with the company’s Code of Conduct. The company also said it conducted 57,618 interviews with supply chain workers to ensure those workers participating in the assessment process weren’t retaliated against.

While Apple’s 113-page report (PDF) didn’t mention uncovering child labor being employed in suppliers’ facilities, the company did find that one facility had “misclassified the student workers in their program and falsified paperwork to disguise violations of our Code, including allowing students to work nights and/or overtime, and in some cases, to perform work unrelated to their major.” Apple said it placed the supplier on probation and stopped doing business with the facility until the issue was corrected.

The report didn’t identify the supplier that was suspended, but in November, Apple reportedly froze any new business contracts with Pegatron, one of its key suppliers, after the Taiwanese company was found to be breaking the company’s supply chain rules by falsifying paperwork and misclassifying workers in order to cover up labor violations.

Apple found a major reduction in violations of its code of conduct in 2020, reporting nine during the year compared with 17 the year earlier and 48 in 2017. Seven of the nine cases in 2020 related to working hours or labor data falsification. Overall, the company reported 93% compliance with its working-hours rules, which require suppliers to restrict work weeks to 60 hours.

Apple also said it rejected 8% of prospective suppliers for code-related risks.

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The Boeing Company reached an agreement with the US Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday that requires it to pay at least $17 million in penalties, after the Chicago-based manufacturer installed equipment with unapproved sensors in hundreds of 737 Max and NG aircraft.

“Keeping the flying public safe is our primary responsibility,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “That is not negotiable, and the FAA will hold Boeing and the aviation industry accountable to keep our skies safe.”

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The settlement comes as the FAA seeks to step up its scrutiny of airline production and safety. In February, the Department of Transportation’s inspector general’s office said the FAA needed to strengthen its aircraft review process and issued a 55-page report detailing how the agency had misunderstood the 737 Max’s MCAS flight control system. Though not related to today’s settlement, that system was ultimately blamed for two crashes that, combined, killed 346 people.

In addition to the penalties, Boeing has agreed to take a number of corrective actions, including measures meant to ensure future compliance with FAA regulations and to reduce the chance that Boeing again submits aircraft with nonconforming parts for airworthiness certification. If Boeing fails to comply within 30 days, the FAA will direct the company to pay up to $10.1 million in additional penalties.

“We take our responsibility to meet all regulatory requirements very seriously,” a Boeing spokesperson told CNET. “These penalties stem from issues that were raised in 2019 and which we fully resolved in our production system and supply chain. We continue to devote time and resources to improving safety and quality performance across our operations. This includes ensuring that our teammates understand all requirements and comply with them in every way.”

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