A Tale of Two Blogs
I am pretty new to the bologsphere or blogiverse or blog-o-rama (pick your favorite) so I jump around a little to see different approaches to blogging and to see what different topics seem to have some “buzz”. Imagine my surprise when, in a short time, I run across two blogs in two different locations, about two completely different subjects that strike me as nasty– nothing that I think is worthy of a second thought and yet they both stuck in my mind. As they whirled around in there, I finally realized what it is that keeps me coming back to both of them. It seemed to me they both exploited the blogging platform to make the writer’s pet position seem superior by denigrating the subject of the post.
The First Tale
In one of the posts, written on Redfin’s site by Carol Hian was a post about Kris Berg and her husband, agents in San Diego who worked for a competitor whose business model was more traditional. The post I read by Ms. Hian was condescending, sarcastic, cruel, and written from a position of unwarranted superiority.
I understand that this blog was a response to a blog by Kris Berg about Redfin regarding a new service they were introducing called “Redfin Select”where buyers could be taken on tours to see homes by Redfin’s agents. That blog used the USDA meat grades as an analogy to the Redfin Service, and was critical of Redfin’s new service. I could understand why an advocate for Redfin would want to respond.
I don’t know either of the agents involved, and they are a continent away from my market. Yet I found Kris Berg’s blog to be less offensive to my sense of fair play. In her blog, she discusses a business model, not personalities. Agree with her or not, the conversation is about how a company does business, not about personalities. The rebuttal should be the same.
In Ms. Hian’s blog, the attack felt personal. The author calls them Barbie and Ken, and castigates the Berg’s efforts in organizing a canned food drive, faulting them for not providing “can openers, a cooktop and plasticware”. She goes on to say
Barbie and Ken have accrued quite enough wealth of their own and could easily throw a gracious party. Yet, they choose to feed on the wealth of others instead
This was, I understand to compare the canned food drive to a party organized by Redfin as a thank you to their customers and clients.
The reaction of the blogging community was pretty quick. By the time I had read the blog, the author had been dismissed from their position at Redfin, and the company’s CEO had written a blog apologizing, though the offensive blog was left up in the interests of transparency . Though the blog is still there, a disclaimer has been added to the top of the blog explaining that this was a post that was not in keeping with the company’s policies.
And Another Attack Began
So a little later, I come across a blog on the BloodhoundBlog by Barry Cunningham reviling NAR . The post, entitled “The National Association Of Realtors Announces That The Typewriter Is State Of The Art Technology” was an unwarranted , and more importantly inaccurate attack on NAR and 2007 President Pat V. Combs.
This post mocked NAR and Past President Combs for a video posted on a new website called NAR Confidential which NAR ” designed to educate our membership about technology-related topics and investigate how NAR can best use Web-based technology to communicate with members.” Loosely translated, this was a new communication initiative – an experiment.
The fact that NAR has set up a website utilizing streaming video, soliciting videos from members, podcasting to iTunes, and using a Commoncraftexplanation of Podcasting to help members understand the podcasting process is laudable, but not the focus of the post I read. There are no Kudos to NAR for trying to reach out to the members in an inventive manner. Instead the focus of the post is about the presence of a typewriter in the office of an NAR Past President.
When Pat is not donating her time to improve the industry as a member of NAR, this 37 year veteran of the real estate industry is Vice President of the 2nd largest Real Estate company in Michigan. That makes her company pretty succesful in their marketplace don’t you think? In a video showing the technology being used by one of her offices, she shows us electronic lock boxes, laptops, desktops, faxes, copiers, color printers, multi-function (copier/scanner/fax) machines, and a typewriter, discussing how all of these things are used by the agents in her very successful company.
Cunningham’s blog states,”There you have it. For all of us who did not know, it is the typewriter that no real estate agent can do without because you simply can not fill out forms in any other manner. Ummm…okay“. That isn’t what was said in the NAR video (though this fiction does make for better reading then the reality).
The truth is that during the tour Pat makes the comment, “I think all real estate offices have typewriters because there are a lot of forms and a lot of deeds and a lot of things that you have to prepare, that you can only do on-site on a typewriter that you can’t do on a computer” At the same time a balloon appears on the video that says “the first commercially successful typewriter was invented in 1867 “. Now I consider myself technologically savvy, and no one loves new toys or applications more then I, but I have to reveal a terrible truth to the world – I own a typewriter! And I don’t care who knows it- Is that really so terrible? In our company, we found out a long time ago, that having new technology doesn’t mean you need to get rid of all the old technology- sometimes you do need those things.
I don’t know what Mr. Cunningham’s issue is with NAR. On BHB he is listed as a “Real estate Broadcaster and Investor”. I only know what I have read of his, and he may have some background which makes him an authority on what it takes to run a successful real estate office or a large Trade Organization. But he seems to have very little first hand information on the workings of NAR or diversity of the business operations of its members. In response to one of the comments on the post that asks his relationship to NAR he says ,”I don’t have a relationship with NAR nor do I desire one”. Its a shame that this articulate writer feels that its better to criticize NAR then it is to contribute to an organization that does so much for our industry.
As I said, I’m the new kid here, and he seems to be well known as a blogger. But picking on NAR is easy because its an organization, and organizations that are not designed for the specific purpose of communicating in this arena don’t have a blogger alarm that goes off every time that an inaccurate comment is made. Maybe posts like these are just about creating controversy, but I don’t believe that controversy for its own sake helps anyone. I do think in this type of arena, you might recognize someone of something for their efforts rather then jumping to criticise or denigrate the effort that they made.
Can’t we all just get along?
Look, I’m a fan of controversy, and I’m not saying that anyone should abandon their position or that reasoned articulate disagreements are not enjoyable to participate in or to observe. Nor do I think that NAR, or any company, agent or business should be exempted from discussion or above criticism, but I do think that there should be some standards.
It is so easy to take swipes when you speak as an individual on the Internet. And so much harder for someone to respond on behalf of a company or an organization. After all they need to be not only articulate but well reasoned and factual, because they are not speaking for themselves, they are speaking for the larger group and therefiore have an obligation to act responsibly. As we saw from Ms. Hian’s dismissal, individuals speaking on behalf of an organization need to be mindful of that organization’s position before they begin to rant.
I think all of us need to be balanced. Not impartial, but balanced. As I said earlier, I don’t know much about the participants in the Hian controversy so I’ll use the NAR situation to illustrate my point since I’m more familiar with that.
I am a big supporter of NAR. I believe in the organization, and its role in making the industry better. I believe that our staff is exceptional and that they work diligently to improve the industry and provide meaningful and important services to the membership and the public. I also believe that the individuals who volunteer are are working hard to keep the organization effective and bring a tremendous amount of practical real estate experience to their efforts at NAR. I also believe that most people that criticize the organization often do so from an abysmal lack of knowledge about the organization. But none of that means that someone else can’t have a valid viewpoint, or that we might not have an articulate and respectful disagreement.
All I ask is that if you quote somebody or something, don’t paraphrase them unless you identify it as your paraphrase. When you take a position, articulate the position and your suggestion for reaching some objective. Try to acknowledge the position of the other party even when you disagree, and demonstrate some understanding of the challenges of the person or company or agent or organization even if you oppose them.
It might be easier to write something negative or critical, but I have to believe that well reasoned, substantive discourse provides more for all of us. I think that our readership deserves more then a sharp staement that has form without substance.
Buffer’s four-day workweek experiment: Boost or bust?
(BUSINESS MARKETING) After trying out a four-day workweek last year, Buffer is moving forward with the format going into 2021, citing increase in productivity and work-life balance.
The typical five-day workweek is a thing of the past for Buffer, at least for now. The company has decided to implement a four-day workweek for the “foreseeable future.”
Last year, the company surveyed its employees to see how they are dealing with the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic and the anxiety and stress that came along with it. They soon learned employees didn’t always feel comfortable or like they could take time off.
Employees felt guilty for taking PTO while trying to meet deadlines. Juggling work and suddenly becoming a daycare worker and teacher for their children at the same time was stressful. So, Buffer looked for a solution to help give employees more time and flexibility to get adjusted to their new routines.
Four-Day Workweek Trials
In May, Buffer started the four-day workweek one-month trial to focus on teammates’ well-being. “This four-day workweek period is about well-being, mental health, and placing us as humans and our families first,” said Buffer CEO and co-founder Joel Gascoigne in a company blog post.
“It’s about being able to pick a good time to go and do the groceries, now that it’s a significantly larger task. It’s about parents having more time with kids now that they’re having to take on their education. This isn’t about us trying to get the same productivity in fewer days,” Gascoigne said.
Buffer’s one-month trial proved to be successful. Survey data from before and after the trial showed higher autonomy and lower stress levels. In addition, employee anecdotal stories showed an increase in worker happiness.
With positive results, Buffer turned the trial into a long-term pilot through the end of 2020. This time, the trial would focus on Buffer’s long-term success.
“In order to truly evaluate whether a four-day workweek can be a success long-term, we need to measure productivity as well as individual well-being,” wrote Director of People Courtney Seiter. “Teammate well-being was our end goal for May. Whether that continues, and equally importantly, whether it translates into customer and company results, will be an exciting hypothesis to test.”
Buffer’s shorter workweek trials showed employees felt they had a better work-life balance without compromising work productivity. According to the company’s survey data, almost 34% of employees felt more productive, about 60% felt equally as productive, and only less than 7% of employees felt less productive.
However, just saying productivity is higher isn’t proof. To make sure the numbers added up, managers were asked about their team’s productivity. Engineering managers reported that a decrease in total coding days didn’t show a decrease in output. Instead, there was a significant output increase for product teams, and Infrastructure and Mobile saw their output double.
The Customer Advocacy team, however, did see a decline in output. Customer service is dependent on customer unpredictability so this makes sense. Still, the survey showed about 85% to 90% of employees felt as productive as they would have been in a five-day workweek. Customers just had to wait slightly longer to receive replies to their inquiries.
With more time and control of their schedules, Buffer’s survey shows an increase in individual autonomy and decreased stress levels reported by employees. And, the general work happiness for the entire company has been consistent throughout 2020.
What’s in store for 2021?
Based on positive employee feedback and promising company results, Buffer decided it will continue the company-wide four-day workweek this year.
“The four-day work week resulted in sustained productivity levels and a better sense of work-life balance. These were the exact results we’d hoped to see, and they helped us challenge the notion that we need to work the typical ‘nine-to-five,’ five days a week,” wrote Team Engagement Manager Nicole Miller.
The four-day workweek will continue in 2021, but the company will also be implementing adjustments based on the pilot results.
For most teams, Fridays will be the default day off. For teams that aren’t project-based, their workweek will look slightly different. As an example, the Customer Advocacy team will follow a different schedule to avoid customer reply delays and ticket overflow. Each team member will still have a four-day workweek and need to meet their specific targets. They will just have a more flexible schedule.
Companies who follow this format understand that output expectations will be further defined by area and department level. Employees who aren’t meeting their performance objectives will have the option to choose a five-day workweek or might be asked to do so.
If needed, Fridays will also serve as an overflow workday to finish up a project. Of course, schedules will be evaluated quarterly to make sure productivity is continuing to thrive and employees are still satisfied.
But, Miller says Buffer is “establishing ambitious goals” that might “push the limits” of a four-day work week in 2021. With the world slowly starting to normalize, who knows when a four-day workweek might reach its conclusion.
“We aren’t sure that we’ll continue with the four-day workweeks forever, but for now, we’re going to stick with it as long as we are still able to hit our ambitious goals,” wrote Miller.
Should your content management system go headless?
(BUSINESS MARKETING) You may be familiar with your typical content management system, but had you heard of a ‘headless’ model? Let’s dig into it together.
At some point, you have probably worked with a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal. If you haven’t already, you at least know that this computer software is used to manage website content.
But, have you ever heard of a headless content management system before? We didn’t. So, we set out to find out what it’s all about and how beneficial, or not, it can be for your company.
What is headless CMS?
Unlike your classic CMS, headless CMS is a back-end only content management system. It decouples where your content is stored and authored (body) from the front-end where your content is displayed (head).
This CMS isn’t tied to a particular output like a web page. Content is transmitted as data over an application programming interface (API). It’s a content repository that delivers content seamlessly to any device.
Benefits of Headless CMS
Headless CMS isn’t your classic “monolithic” CMS so you aren’t constrained to an all-in-one system that might work for websites but not mobile devices.
Content is consumed by customers in more than one place now. Headless CMS provides a more versatile way to deliver multi-channel content to websites, Android and iOS apps, and even IoT (internet of things), like a smartwatch or in-store kiosk.
Businesses will benefit from this because only one back-end is needed to manage and publish content for different services and products.
No need for specialized developers
If you already have a talented developer, you don’t have to scramble to find someone else who specializes in a specific system or language you are moving to. Your current developer can do the job for you in the best way they know-how.
Security is important. Not being married to the front-end, headless CMS has a security advantage a regular CMS doesn’t. Usually, content provided to a headless CMS is read-only, and the admin portion lives on a different server and domain.
With the back-end detached from the presentation layer, there is a smaller target area to attack. Also, layers of code can be used to hide the content-delivering API making it safer than a traditional CMS.
With two separate systems, content editors and web developers can work concurrently. This shortens a project’s timeline and helps get your product and services to market quicker. Also, content editors don’t have to spend more time creating the same content for each system. Designers and developers can take care of that.
Downsides of Headless CMS
As with anything, headless CMS isn’t perfect and isn’t for everyone. It has its disadvantages.
Little technical involvement is called for in a traditional CMS. As a result, the tool can be picked up quickly by almost anyone.
A deeper understanding of CMS, coding languages, and front-end technologies is needed when using headless CMS. You must have a developer that can build the web or app just for you.
With the body separated from the head, there are two systems to maintain. Implementation and maintenance could potentially become complex.
Bigger price tag
Building a system from scratch costs time and money. With a traditional CMS, there is one account, and, most likely, one payment. With headless CMS, you’ll have multiple payments for the CMS, a developer, and the infrastructure running your website or app.
Your custom CMS also isn’t coming from a pre-built content management system. All that hard work takes time (and patience) to get it done right.
Headless CMS lets you create a unique user experience and allow for cross-platform publishing, but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all content management system.
Before you jump ships, take inventory of all your content needs. Does your content need to be published on different platforms? Will a simple stand-alone website work for you? Only you can decide what works best with your business, but we hope this information helps.
Spice up your remote team building with a fully virtual escape room
(BUSINESS MARKETING) As part of a remote team, team building has become even more of a groan. But this virtual escape room seeks to make a fun and unique challenge for remote teams.
Team building events aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. While some enjoy getting to know coworkers they don’t normally socialize with, others dread the day before it arrives. Plus, there’s always work that needs to be taken care of, and using some of that time to mingle might seem like a waste of time.
Love it or hate it, working remotely has made team building slightly better, maybe? You don’t have to worry about physically being present in a place you don’t want to be. You’re not awkwardly talking to a co-worker whose name you can’t quite remember.
Nonetheless, it also has its downsides. We don’t see each other anymore so it’s easier to not be on the same page, and this makes learning how to work together much harder.
We’re almost a year into the pandemic and happy hour Zoom calls no longer hold the glamour they once did. So, what else is there to do in this virtual world?
Skyrocket Your Team has just the answer for you. This company provides virtual team building experiences through collaborative online escape rooms. The escape rooms are designed with remote teams in mind and can be tailored to accommodate different sized groups.
“If you’re working remotely, Skyrocket Your Team will help your team feel closer together and improve your internal communication,” wrote Co-Founder Jorge Sánchez Hernández. “Our puzzles are designed for teams by adult educators to trigger a set of emotions, feelings, and situations. Everyone sees a different screen and you need to communicate in order to get through the challenges. There is no way to continue without teamwork!”
From the comfort of your office or couch, each team member joins from their own computer and location. The escape room consists of an immersive story about astronauts trapped in a damaged spaceship. By solving puzzles and challenges, the team must work together to repair the spaceship and return to earth.
After hopefully, safely landing your rocket, there is a debriefing session. During this time, teams can share their experiences and discuss what they learned.
Skyrocket Your Team says their new form of team building will bring your company several benefits like:
- Bringing your team closer together
- Fostering collaboration instead of internal competition
- Improving communication across your company
The end goal of the experience is to learn how to communicate effectively by solving the different sets of problems together. And, I think we can all agree that’s a good thing.
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