Data points

Published November 22, 2021
A general view of a beach on the Philippine island of Boracay is shown. The Philippines will soon welcome back foreign tourists, the government said last week, as it prepares a partial re-opening to vaccinated travellers 20 months after closing its borders to contain 
the coronavirus.—AFP
A general view of a beach on the Philippine island of Boracay is shown. The Philippines will soon welcome back foreign tourists, the government said last week, as it prepares a partial re-opening to vaccinated travellers 20 months after closing its borders to contain the coronavirus.—AFP

Boost productivity with WFH

Working from home (WFH) around one day a week will boost productivity by 4.8pc as the post-Covid economy takes shape, according to a recent study of more than 30,000 US employees co-authored by José María Barrero of Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México and others. Much of that one-off increase is projected to come from reduced commuting time, a factor not usually captured by economists. In remarks on Aug. 17, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell alluded to a fundamental shift: “I think we know that we’re not simply going back to the economy we had before the pandemic, but it will take time to see exactly what the changes will be.” The pandemic has weakened the gravitational pull of city centres, with new forces now reshaping knowledge-based economies. Public transport journeys into cities are down, as are coffee shop sales, while demand for real estate in leafy suburbs is up. New digital tools mean that retail and hospitality — as well as knowledge-intensive industries — are already undergoing far-reaching change.

(Adapted from “The Hybrid Work Revolution Is Already Transforming Economies,” by Libby Cherry, published on August 26, 2021, by Bloomberg Businessweek)

Changing MBA

Each year, EY hires about 200 to 300 MBA graduates well-versed in the foundations of finance, marketing, and economics who inject a dose of enthusiasm — and youth — into the accounting firm’s global workforce of 312,000. But the new hires are not always equipped to respond to rapid changes in the business landscape, so EY last year introduced an in-house MBA to teach tech-centric skills that traditional programs sometimes gloss over. “Technologies are changing so quickly that it had to be future-focused,” says Trent Henry, EY’s global vice chair of talent. EY is among a growing number of companies developing bespoke MBAs after concluding that university programs aren’t keeping pace with their needs. Employers want B-school graduates to be equipped to tackle broad-scale digital transformation, according to executive education consultant CarringtonCrisp, which recently published a survey of international employers finding that 77pc believe the traditional MBA needs to change. Corporations are taking a more active role, investing in rather than just hiring talent.

(Adapted from “In-House B-Schools Give Firms MBAs With the Skills They Want,” by Chris Stokel-Walker, published on November 10, 2021, by Bloomberg Businessweek)

The grass is greener

This fall had been billed across corporate America as the Great Office Reopening. The Delta variant intervened, and mandatory return-to-office plans turned optional. Still, many people chose to report back to their desks. In New York a November survey of 188 major employers showed that 8pc of Manhattan office workers are back in the office full time, 54pc are fully remote and everyone else — nearly 40pc — is hybrid. Few are finding it a smooth transition period. Some companies used their tentative return dates as an unwitting excuse to avoid questions about how to balance the needs of their remote and in-person employees. That has resulted in a mushy middle ground: video calls where remote workers have trouble hearing, a sense that people at home are missing out on perks (teammates), while those in the office are, too (pyjamas). And the stakes aren’t just who is getting talked over in meetings. It’s whether flexibility is sustainable, even with all the benefits it confers.

(Adapted from “The Worst Of Both Worlds: Zooming From The Office,” By Emma Goldberg, published on Nov 16, 2021, by The New York Times)

Stealing crypto

In April, after a Coinbase user bought 200 bitcoin, a notification popped up, alerting them that their account had been locked, according to a complaint filed by the US Attorneys Office in Los Angeles. Although the notification appeared to be from Coinbase, it wasn’t. Instead, the fake notification was the first step in alleged fraud. In the moments that followed, almost $11.6m in crypto, about 206 bitcoin, was removed from the user’s account, investigators said. The Coinbase user, who was identified in court documents only as G.R., called a phone number on the notification, thinking it would connect to a Coinbase customer service rep, according to a federal complaint filed by investigators last month. An unidentified individual answered the call and asked G.R. to make a series of changes to the account, according to the complaint.

(Adapted from “A Coinbase user lost $11.6 million in under 10 minutes after falling for a fake-notification scam, the US attorney’s office said,” by Kevin Shalvey, published on Oct 31, 2021, by Business Insider)

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, November 22nd, 2021

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