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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan — Newsletter #86

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

AT&T 📶 employees are battling with company leadership over a hard return-to-office policy handed down earlier this month. The union representing AT&T workers, the Communications Workers of America, has successfully negotiated an extension of the remote work program. Yet, employees report that AT&T is exploiting fine print in the agreement and forcing employees to return to the onsite call center despite their concerns of COVID — or simply a desire to work from home. 

When I read this story, my only thought was: We’re still doing this? 🤨

After so many companies have attempted — and bitterly relented — to force employees back into the office, headlines like these are just somewhat shocking to me. 📰 We’ve been doing this song and dance for nearly three years, and what we have to show for it is piles of research demonstrating the benefits of hybrid work, flexible career options, and the power of a physical workspace that can materialize on command to support company culture. Moreover, AT&T is more than aware of the inevitable transition to flexible work models, thanks to research conducted by the organization itself in March of this year. 😬 Still, employees say executives have made it clear that they aren’t willing to discuss hybrid work options for their call center teams.

So, if any of you readers are recruiting for remote customer service roles, it looks like some talent is about to hit the market. 🔥

Tech Innovation At Work

A new party has entered the quiet quitting debate. Employee monitoring software companies are claiming to offer companies a new, data-driven way to identify workers engaging in “quiet quitting” behaviors like text sentiment and a slower-than-usual pace. 💻 🔍 👀 Since the transition to remote work gave rise to concerns about employee productivity, monitoring software has become increasingly more widespread and complex (to any avail? No, not at all). There’s no doubt that employers are feeling the heat from the flames 🔥 of the act your wage revolution, but this is not the time to risk further damaging employee morale with invasive practices. Because, even if employee monitoring software were generally agreed to be a positive contributor to workplace culture, where most employers are struggling right now is not with understanding why their employees are unhappy, but rather what to do about it. There’s no secret keystroke logger to help with that. ✋ 🎤

The Changing Workplace


The “digital nomad” lifestyle has exploded in the post-COVID era. When we envision the modern nomad, the themes are pretty ubiquitous: young knowledge workers, glamorous 🚐 camper vans, Zoom meetings from white sandy beaches (still wondering where the WiFi strength comes from). However, that’s only one segment of workers taking advantage of “work from anywhere” opportunities. The nomadic digital family ⛺ is a fast-emerging group of working parents with children taking advantage of their career flexibility to travel the world. The needs of parents and families on long-term “workcations” is already adding a new layer of complexity to work. Working on the road, parents are seeing the costs of child care rise while education options decrease — especially when traveling outside of their country of origin. 🗺️ 👪 Already, a new market for digital nomad villages like Boundless is popping up in popular travel destinations around the world. These gathering spaces provide workspaces and social connections, and many provide child care and core curriculums to keep students academically engaged while away from their home schools.

New court rulings have added protections for transgender workers under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 🏳️‍⚧️ 🏳️‍⚧️ 🏳️‍⚧️ The Fourth Circuit US Court of Appeals wrote in a majority opinion, “we see no legitimate reason why Congress would intend to exclude from the ADA’s protections transgender people who suffer from gender dysphoria.” 💯  The ruling was made in a case regarding the treatment of a transgender inmate in a Virginia prison. In the workplace, the precedent will protect the jobs of transgender employees and require employers to provide reasonable accommodations, just as they must do with mental illness and physical disabilities. Learn more about the implications of this ruling for HR leaders here. 👈

All About Data

All About Data is back for the return of our end-of-the-month round-up! Here are three studies and their actionable insights for you to take into the final stretch of Q3:

SaaS organization WalkMe is walking us through the reality of digital transformation failures in its annual State of Tech Adoption report. 👋 💸 Hold onto your wallets, because:

Fast Facts:

  • Medium-sized enterprises lost $20 million to failed digital transformation projects in 2021. 
  • 17 applications and digital processes are added to employee tech stacks every year.
  • 70% of enterprise leaders don’t know who’s responsible for digital adoption initiatives in their organization.

Actionable Takeaways: Here’s a chance to learn from other people’s costly mistakes. With 67% of enterprises feeling “incredible pressure” to accelerate digital transformation, understanding where organizations are most likely to fail and the most effective ways to support and retain employees is something you should be diving into right now. (❗)


That’s what can happen when digital adoption goes wrong, but what about when it goes right? 😌 Salesforce surveyed nearly 800 knowledge workers about the specific benefits they received from automation solutions:

Fast Facts:

  • 83% of respondents said they had free time to learn new skills. 
  • 90% of IT workers said automation has improved collaboration across departments.
  • 80% said they’re now actively looking for new tasks to automate at work.

Actionable takeaways: Increasing productivity and enhancing employee engagement? Here’s a chance to get yourself and your team excited about the opportunities that automation can provide. 🥳 Before you get too ahead of yourself, though, make sure you read the first report, too.

Editor’s Picks

Patrick Donegan Chief Strategy Officer

Patrick Donegan

Chief Strategy Officer

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