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Opinion Editorials

Should the social media giants be killing the culture of chronology?

“Most Recent” on Facebook and “Live” on Twitter are the first things I click when I login to my social media accounts, yet my social media perusing habits will soon be changing. The social media gods have decided that instead of listing content chronologically that I should care more about what my friends think is important, instead.

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Instagram on the bandwagon

“Most Recent” on Facebook and “Live” on Twitter are the first things I click when I login to my social media accounts, yet my social media perusing habits will soon be changing. The social media gods have decided that instead of listing content chronologically that I should care more about what my friends think is important, instead.

First Facebook, then Twitter, and now it appears Instagram is set to follow suit into the world of the non-chronological timelines. With Instagram poised to become the next big opportunity for advertising on social media, surpassing Facebook and Twitter, it’s natural that they’d be looking to monetize their popularity as much as possible.

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Maybe this is something we want…

In theory, a fancy algorithm that selects which stories, posts, or in Instagram’s case, photos, that are most interesting to me should be useful, and welcomed. Based on the likes of my friends, and the past interactions I’ve had on Instagram, the algorithm weeds out the posts I most likely don’t want to see. I have to admit, there is some reasoning to it – if I never like a business’ or individual’s photos then why would I want to see them? Why not just remove that distraction from my feed?

When I followed that business, I really did want to follow them

The problem is by curating my feed into something you think I want Instagram is actually removing exactly what I liked best about the platform – the ability to see a variety of different photos, all the time. When Facebook started relying on the formula to determine what was most valuable to me, it began filtering things that were indeed very valuable to me.

When I “like” or “follow” a business it’s because I want to see updates, photos, and specials that those businesses offer. When I “friend” someone I know, it’s because I am interested in the updates and photos they share. Instead of automatically removing the things that are suspected to be “uninteresting”, instead let me decide what I do and don’t want to see.

Don’t remove, add more options

I would encourage social media platforms to provide more filtering options, including an all-everything chronological option, as there are times when I want to see everything just as there are times when an overview, or “best of” snapshot would be best. By providing these options for filtering it puts me in control of the content I consume and I enjoy the ability to decide what I see. While this algorithm based, non-chronological filtering is touted as something that we should want, as something meant to give us exactly what we want to see and filter out the noise, it’s actually a guise.

All about that money

In reality, this new formula is a ploy to force the hand of businesses to spend more and more and more money on social media advertising if they want to ensure their content is being seen. As a businessperson, I can’t say I blame them, as the reasoning is genius. With 88.2% of Americans reporting having a social media account, the advertising dollars are there for the taking.

Yet, as someone who has worked in small business for over 10 years, I think this strategy is detrimental to growing businesses with small budgets. While social media has historically been the perfect platform for growing small businesses, algorithms that are influenced by money will ultimately squeeze out the little guys.

Keep it real, yo

So, from a moral, small-business focused standpoint and from a consumer annoyance standpoint I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Instagram doesn’t travel the exact path as Facebook. I’m sure I’m not the only one that hopes to maintain more control over the content I receive and push out without the need to buy the attention of my customers, or be infiltrated with purchased content that isn’t relevant. Although, I have to admit, a few less post-workout pictures, wouldn’t be terrible, either.

#Chronology

Megan Noel, a veteran ex-educator with a PhD in Early Childhood Education, enjoys researching life through the eyes of her two young children, while writing about her family’s adventures on IndywithKids.com. With a nearly a decade in small business and marketing, this freelance writer spends most evenings pouring over new ideas and writing articles, while indulging in good food and better wine.

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Opinion Editorials

Remote work or no work? Concerns about WFH vs. returning to office

(EDITORIAL) There is an ever-growing divide and concern between employers and employees regarding policies over work in office or from home.

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Work in office with headphones on, making use of flexible four-day workweek.

When the pandemic started and work from home become the uncomfortable-at-first norm, no one knew exactly where the idea of remote work for office jobs was headed.

We know now, and the office just isn’t all it was cracked up to be.

From better views and healthier lifestyles to huge decreases in childcare costs, transportation, and wardrobe expenses, many workers say they’re not interested in going back, and some bosses aren’t happy. Other managers and owners aren’t giving their employees a choice. The remote exception is gone.

In March, Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees to be prepared for a return to their campus in a hybrid model this week.

“We will begin the hybrid pilot in full on May 23, with people coming to the office three days a week — on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday — and working flexibly on Wednesday and Friday if you wish,” he said in a memo sent to staff in April.

Cook is not alone. Across corporate America, management is insisting employees return to the office.

Even President Biden chimed in during the State of the Union speech saying,

“It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again,” Biden said. “People working from home can feel safe to begin to return to the office. We’re doing that here in the federal government. The vast majority of federal workers will once again work in person.”

A Good Hire survey of 3500 American managers shows 75% of managers want a return to the office even though they said productivity did not decline during work from home. 51% believe their employees want the same thing. However, a Future Forum survey by slack found just 17% of employees want to return to the office daily and only 34% of employees want a hybrid model.

The reasons for the disconnect are plenty.

Mother.ly contributor Beau Brink shared in a column last July about the impact Work From Home has had on her employee resource group for people with disabilities, neurodiversity, and invisible illnesses.

“Even though 2020 had been hard, the upside was that we were managing our conditions better.”

Women bore much of the weight of moving work out of the office when the pandemic started.

Overall, women lost a net of 5.4 million jobs during the recession caused by the pandemic—nearly 1 million more job losses than men.

When some who had lost their jobs found new work from home employment, they also found a new perk. A raise because they no longer had to pay high childcare costs.

Employees cite better health as a reason they want to continue working from home as well. COVID numbers ebb and flow, but it’s more than that, they say. They’re able to work out, eat a more nutritious diet, and set a more casual, less stressed schedule.

In her mother.ly column, Brink brings up the fact that the company she worked for actually did better in the transition to working from home. As the Good Hire survey showed, most companies saw the same success.

“Why any CEO would push for a move backward in the name of collaboration makes my head spin.”

The why’s are many. And indicative of a possible shift in how we view work.

If most work moves to remote permanently, are employees entitled to the same benefits they’ve seen in the past? Are they actually employees or contractors?

Those questions will have to be answered. We were on the path to having to answer them before the pandemic.

Remote work isn’t new. The pandemic just pushed it to the norm, but even before COVID, technology changes were opening remote opportunities for employees.

In the Good Hire survey managers who said productivity actually increased also showed a distrust of remote work in general.

Right now though, the survey says,

“As long as there is a talent and labor shortage, employers will still have to be flexible, and even in 100% back-to-the-office situations, workers will still be able to negotiate some remote working scenarios.”

For over two years forced remote meant comfy clothes and fresh air. Will that change? We’ll see.

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Opinion Editorials

Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for

(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.

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Man holding money in the dark representing false salary transparency.

It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.

Don’t be this employer

User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.

Don’t obfuscate wage information

Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.

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Opinion Editorials

3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)

(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.

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Clean work desk representing the need to declutter.

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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