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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan – Newsletter #13

By: Patrick Donegan

For some time, I’ve been looking for one “source” that curates modern takes on HR Tech, perspectives from the people who build it, and its impact on enterprise — something that’s tailor-made by professionals for decision-makers.

I never found it — so I decided to build it.

Every week, I’ll be sharing fresh insights on tech platforms, design, data, and the future of work — straight to your inbox.

My Thoughts

Like many other tech companies, Reddit is moving toward a hybrid work model. CEO Steve Huffman put it this way: “The only thing I know for sure is I am not going to be working in the office five days a week, and I’m not going to be working from home five days a week.” Over a majority of employees say they want flexibility about whether to work from home or in the office.

But unlike other tech companies, Reddit has said it will not reduce pay based on cost of living — meaning that employees can move out of places like San Francisco and still receive a Bay Area salary. 👏🔥💸 This makes a difference, because it’s not presenting remote work as a trade-off between lifestyle and professional growth. This isn’t the right solution for all employers, but I’ll be curious to see the packages companies roll out to vie for top talent in a hybrid work world.

Tech Innovation at Work

Chances are, if you’re not on Clubhouse, you’re looking for someone to send you an invite. 🎙️🏠 What’s appealing about the app is its content medium — audio — which distinguishes it from social media platforms like FacebookInstagram, and TikTok. Clubhouse’s rise is no surprise; podcasts have already demonstrated that people appreciate the presence and intimacy of another person’s voice. 🔥📈 The company is on track to grow to two million active users and a potential $1 billion valuation. It has competition, however — Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter are all developing similar platforms. Even if Clubhouse falls out of fashion, the trend for audio is here to stay. 🔮🙌

Okta just bought Auth0 — a software provider that offers customer management services — for $6.5 billion. The company’s already received a substantial boost from the widespread switch to remote work in the past 12 months. 😎🌟 Even without the acquisition, the company says it expects to grow revenue 29-30% in its new fiscal year to at least $1.08 billion. Auth0 adds to Okta’s capabilities in identity management. 🤔💪👨‍💻 Okta Chief Executive Todd McKinnon said in a statement: “In an increasingly digital world, identity is the unifying means by which we use technology—both at work and in our personal lives. It’s critical that we deliver trusted customer-facing identity solutions.”

For a while, I’ve been noting the innovative uses of VR and AR in fashion and retail. Machine-A, a London-based concept store, uses AR to recreate the in-store experience. 🛍️📱💃 Developed in collaboration with London Fashion Week, Machine-A offers a digital rendering of a sales floor where customers can look at collections, get inspiration from designers, and explore unfinished pieces. E-commerce is already a must-have in retail — and I’ll be interested to see how many retailers adopt AR technologies going forward. Shopping from home might actually help brands build closer relationships with customers in the long run, and AR is another trend worth following. 

Photo: Vogue / The Institute of Digital Fashion

Here’s a fun SEI case study. Working with Justinmind, the SEI DC Team is helping to modernize healthcare. 👩‍⚕️📱SEI consultants use Justinmind to create prototypes so clients can participate in the design process. 💡🎨 Clients guide the design from start to finish, working with the SEI team to create a solution that truly works for them. Clients end up feeling a real sense of ownership and engagement, which makes all the difference. This time, they helped develop the initial wireframes, proof of concept, and design components for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This helps ensure that the CMS can secure funding to build new medical solutions. 

Photo: Justinmind

The Changing Workplace

There’s already been a lot of talk — and concern — about developing vaccine passportsCLEAR, the secure digital identity app, has joined forces with CommonPass, a health apps that lets users access vaccination records. ✅😷 Americans can now download the CLEAR app to show their vaccination record. This will likely help the US get back to normal, but there are still kinks to work out with accessing digital records from different hospitals. 🏥📁 Although, with full vaccination on the horizon, one wonders if the technology is coming too late to make a real impact. But either way, a quick and secure way to share health data will come in handy in the future. 

HR has come a long way since its early, compliance-focused approach. But employee handbooks and policy guides have yet to catch up. A promising new entry, however, is Lars Schmidt’s book Redefining HR. 👏📚📈 In it, he explains how modern teams are transforming outdated approaches. Today, HR should be focused on leveraging people ops to drive performance. What’s important is creating frameworks that empower employees instead of micro-managing them. 💪⚖️👨‍💻 According to Schmidt, integrating HR with the functions it supports is key: “Rather than a vertical HR function that was often siloed from the business, modern people teams are integrated into the teams they support. You can trace some of this shift back to the creation of one particular position: the HR business partner. Rather than keeping HR isolated as a centralized team, this model embedded HR practitioners inside the business functions they support, allowing them to integrate more deeply into business units and support employees.” 

This is both surprising and unsurprising: 43% of internships at for-profit companies do not pay. ✊💴 Pay Our Interns is a nonprofit organization founded in October 2016 with the goal of getting Washington organizations to pay their interns. They’ve helped make some amazing strides — Congress has set money from the new budget aside to pay office interns. But this is just a start. Hopefully more organizations, think tanks, and nonprofits will follow suit.

All About Data

There are 510 million square kilometers of area on the Earth’s surface, but less than 30% is covered by land. 🌍📊According to data from the United Nations, the largest countries by surface area are Russia (3.35%), Canada (1.96%), and China (1.88%). If you’re curious how much surface area each country in the world occupies, you can use the data visualization tool here.  

Graphic: VisualCapitalist.com

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Patrick Donegan

Managing Director

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