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The pandemic has broken the grip of corporations’ control of tech workers

Yehia El Amine

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It will come to no one’s surprise that the pandemic has drastically changed the landscape and dynamic of the global workforce, forcing companies worldwide to either adapt or fall victim to the swiftness of the new working norm.

Businesses scrambled to adjust, especially when making the switch to remote work arrangements; this, not only showed the true demeanor of an institution toward their employees, but also presented workers with a much more flexible vision of how they’d like to lead their professional lives.

Facing one lockdown after the other, employees stayed put with their refreshed view of the job market; up until various COVID-19 vaccines surfaced, and vaccination campaigns around the world started rolling out.

Now is the time for change.  

Almost 77 percent of technology professionals will voluntarily leave their current jobs in search of new ones in 2021, according to the Michael Page Talent 2021 report.

The study highlighted that tech workers cited lack of growth opportunities, potential for higher pay and better benefits, and underutilized skills among the factors that would prompt the workforce to jump ship for another one that meets their goals.

Several IT companies have already taken note of this goal-oriented migration and have decided to employ various talent attraction strategies such as competitive remuneration and benefit packages, remote/flexible work arrangements, professional development opportunities, and constant technology advancement.

“Tech professionals are currently in great demand. Hence, it is pertinent for employers to consider remote and hybrid working models to expand the candidate pool to attract the best talent. Entrepreneurs who have had a stellar track record are now looking to shut shop and explore new opportunities due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. And with that, companies can look to hire these entrepreneurial talents for their growth startups,” the report said.

This statement was echoed by Raya Khalife, Group HR & Quality Manager at Monty Mobile, a leading VAS & telecom solutions provider, who considers that hybrid model is indeed on the rise around the world.

“The pandemic has really shifted the workforce’s mindset in terms of being able to get the job done from the comfort of their own homes, which is really changing what employees are looking for,” Khalife told Inside Telecom.  

The Michael Page study noted that skills within artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are on the rise in terms of demand, especially with skyrocketing adoption and migration to the cloud across public, private, and hybrid models.

Not only that, but larger tech and IT companies are attempting to shore up sizeable capabilities in automation and digital transformation, as they prep for the up-and-coming Industry 4.0, specifically within the manufacturing setups; with cloud architects, full stack engineers, and head of engineering roles being among the most popular.

The report also found that average salaries within the sector will also increase almost 15 percent to 25 percent from what is currently being offered.

But while better job benefits, pay, and work/life balance are considered the main tangible headlines of tech workers around the globe, an overwhelming number of professionals in the field are reporting cases of burnout from their workplaces during the pandemic, especially women.

Earlier in March, Girls in Tech reported in their 2021 study, “The Tech Workplace for Women in the Pandemic,” that male bosses have been burning women out at a lot more alarming rates than female bosses in the tech industry.

Girls in Tech, a San Francisco-based global nonprofit, works to erase the gender gap in the technology work sector.

“The results from our study were abundantly clear: women in technology are burned out from COVID and organizations must recognize this is at crisis-level,” said Adriana Gascoigne, founder, and CEO at Girls in Tech, adding “we were particularly stunned to learn the impact a supervisor’s gender has on women’s burnout rate.”

The study found that, among 552 members of Girls in Tech and other respondents between September 15, 2020 and October 22, 2020, 63 percent of women with male supervisors reported feeling burned out, as compared to 44 percent of those with female supervisors.

While the technology sector was once heralded as a workplace that would level the playing field between men and women of equal competency, this has not been the case. In a variety of studies – including the recent Girls in Tech – both the reality of gender treatment, and the perceptions among women are in the lower percentile.

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Yehia is an investigative journalist and editor with extensive experience in the news industry as well as digital content creation across the board. He strives to bring the human element to his writing.

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Consumer confidence hitting record high, but with hangovers left from pandemic

TK Maloy

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Consumer confidence

Global consumer confidence soared to record heights in the first quarter of 2021, according to The Conference Board: Global Consumer Confidence Survey, as vaccination campaigns broadened, travel restrictions loosened, and governments and central banks continued to provide robust economic stimulus.

These factors are contributing to various geographic regions returning to a “state of normalcy sooner” including increased spending across the spectrum, but some economic hangovers persist from the global pandemic crisis.

The Conference Board is a member-driven think tank that has delivered economic insights since 1916. It released this recent global consumer confidence survey on Wednesday. Their methodology for what is comparably a business cycle index is based on a point system where a figure above 100 is considered positive, or below 100 representing decline. This survey also employs opinion polling which is expressed as percentages.

“The lightening of consumer moods globally bodes well for spending throughout the remainder of the year as economies continue to emerge from the 2020 pandemic-induced economic downturn and work toward arresting the spread of the virus,” said Dana Peterson, Chief Economist of The Conference Board.

“Nonetheless, the global economic recovery – and, consequently, consumer sentiment – is likely to continue to vary notably from region to region. Economies with greater access to vaccines are likely to achieve herd immunity, and thus will return to a state of normalcy sooner,” Peterson added.

The survey found that overall global consumer confidence shot up from 98 in the fourth quarter of 2020 to 108 points in the first quarter of 2021. That figure exceeded the reading of 106 registered in pre-pandemic 2020 Q1. Reminder, a figure above 100 is considered positive and the 108-point score is the highest recorded since the survey began in 2005.

Confidence rose in 49 of 65 markets surveyed, as economic activity resumed, COVID-19 cases peaked in many economies, and vaccine development and distribution expanded.

The vaccines contributed to that revival, so individual economies’ level of access to them will greatly affect the timing of their recoveries and boosts in consumer confidence. (For 2020 Q4 indexes, results exclude China due to data collection constraints.)

Confidence still varied across regions: Latin America (up 13 points, from 86 to 99) and Europe (up 11 points, from 76 to 87) enjoyed the biggest gains in consumer confidence. But both regions started from low bases, and Europe remains the least confident region. North America, by contrast, slipped six points, from 116 to 110, while Africa and the Middle East dropped from 101 to 97.

Growing confidence in personal finances, especially, propelled the stronger global sentiment: Consumers were significantly more optimistic about their finances in Q1 2021, with the gap between positive and negative responses standing at +29 percentage points, up substantially from +15 percentage points in Q4 2020.

Of the three key drivers of global confidence, personal finances made the largest impact, although the other two drivers also trended upward: Sentiment about job prospects were up overall around the globe and spending intentions flipped from negative (-7 ppts) in Q4 2020 to positive (+6 ppts) in Q1 2021.

Consumers are gearing up for a return to normalcy: Consumers spent more on entertainment outside of the home, clothing, and vacations. Taken together, these trends indicate that consumers are increasingly looking forward to returning to normal activities at some point this year.

Given that consumption levels significantly contribute to growth in many mature economies, such activity in anticipation of greater freedom later on supports The Conference Board’s upwardly revised projection of 5 percent real GDP growth globally this year.

However, around the world, consumers also ramped up their protective savings: 57 percent of global consumers indicated that they are putting money into savings, an increase of 9 ppts from the previous quarter. Their efforts to economize primarily reflected savings on hospitality and entertainment services.

Consumers planned to eliminate annual vacations, delay upgrading technology, and cut meals away from home. They also switched to cheaper grocery brands and drove their cars less.

The scars of the recession lingered, with health and economic concerns still looming large.

The world is not quite buzzing yet.

A strong majority of consumers (64 percent) said that their market was still in recession during the first quarter of 2021. While that figure dropped sharply from the end of 2020 (down 17 percentage points, from 81 percent) recession concerns remained elevated.

Globally, only 41 percent of consumers expected that their economy would be out of recession in 12 months, virtually unchanged from the previous quarter.

Consumers’ worries about their own health (22 percent) and economic performance (20 percent) dominated their top concerns. This trend will likely hold through mid-2021 given the continued crisis, and the time it will take to arrest the coronavirus and establish herd immunity.

“With uncertainty around jobs and health prompting consumers to continue economizing, it seems clear that GDP returning to pre-pandemic levels will not in itself mark a return to the old normal,” said board chief economist Peterson. “Healing in labor markets may take longer, with greater potential for scarring among industries that are vulnerable to automation and digital transformation.”

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Unbound by geography, CFOs look to capitalize on global talent pool

Inside Telecom Staff

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A large majority of CFOs around the world are planning to expand operations into new countries in 2021 to achieve their long-term growth strategies, according to a recent survey by CFO Research and Globalization Partners.

The survey also uncovered changing perceptions about hiring and remote work because of their pandemic experiences, with respondents saying they want to attract from the global talent pool that is unbound by the geographic restrictions of their company’s operating model.

The February 2021 survey of chief financial officers, chief executive officers and other senior finance executives also cites a common theme that they are prioritizing the need to build resiliency and although optimistic, disclose that their businesses are still stabilizing and in recovery.

Optimism towards organizational performance in 2021 varies across the regions. Asia-Pacific (APAC) CFOs are more optimistic about success in 2021 than their counterparts in the UK and North America. Since 65 percent of APAC respondents indicated that they expect to exceed goals and expectations in 2021, compared to 46 percent for UK and 47 percent for North America.

“The ongoing rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, investments flowing into the region, and momentum gained as companies accelerated their digital investments during the pandemic – all these are contributing to positive sentiments toward business in 2021,” said Charles Ferguson, General Manager, Asia Pacific, Globalization Partners. “With the ongoing shift in the global supply chain and a renewed focus of the US, UK and EU to grow alliances with APAC markets, there is an abundance of opportunity to expect from this region.”

CFOs’ global view within their hiring approaches

When asked to describe their hiring strategy over the next 12 to 18 months as, 48 percent of APAC respondents say they will attract new talent where they are based while 43 percent say they want to attract new talent that is unbounded by the geographic restrictions of their company’s operating model.

APAC CFOs have a high degree of interest in tapping into a more cost-effective, global talent pool—a concept favored by half of those surveyed –and capturing market share through global expansion, which is favored by 61 percent.

CFOs’ altered workforce management strategies

Seventy-four percent of the survey respondents in APAC anticipate operating remote and/or hybrid workforce models in the next 12 to 18 months.

Eighty-three percent of executives also say the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally altered the way they think about hiring and workforce management and 89 percent say it altered how they consider remote employees or the work-from-anywhere model.

In parallel, CFOs are deeming global expansion as a top priority in the next 12 to 18 months.

“Implementing a strategy for global expansion and presence” was deemed a top priority in the next 12 to 18 months for 52 percent of APAC executives, compared to 38 percent of the EMEA executives and 36 percent of the North American executives.

With that in mind, 55 percent of the APAC CFOs that are expecting to achieve their goals in 2021 are already engaging a global (Professional Employer Organization) PEO, while 25 percent plan to use a global PEO within one year to support their international business strategy and 17 percent plan to engage a global PEO within three years.

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Drivers wanted: Record demand at Uber as vaccinations rise

Associated Press

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Drivers wanted Record demand at Uber as vaccinations rise

Uber is offering sign-up bonuses and other incentives for drivers as it faces record demand for rides and meal delivery.

The San Francisco ride-hailing company said Monday that total monthly bookings, including food delivery and passenger service, reached an all-time high in March.

In a government filing, the company said demand for ride-hailing, which plunged during coronavirus lockdowns last year, has recovered more quickly than expected as daily COVID-19 vaccinations exceed 3 million per day in the U.S.

Some people are still avoiding public transportation out of infection fears, potentially boosting demand for services like Uber and Lyft further.

Passenger bookings last month reached the highest level since last March, when spiking infection rates began to shut the country down. Bookings last month hit an annual run rate of $30 billion. Last year, Uber’s passenger business recorded $26.4 billion in gross bookings.

Food delivery, of course, has surged over the past year and in March Uber Eats deliveries hit an all-time high. With more regions opening restaurants to at least partial capacity, that could be a positive sign for Uber as it could signal that some habits acquired during the pandemic may stick.

Food delivery jumped 150% from last March to an annualized run rate of $52 billion, the company said.

Last week, Uber announced $250 million in sign-up bonuses and other perks to lure more drivers. Many drivers gave up last year when demand dried up, the company said. But demand now exceeds the supply of Uber drivers on call, the company said.

In another perk, Uber has partnered with Walgreens to make it easier for drivers to get vaccinated.

Driving professionally, however, may still be considered too risky by some. Last month, a woman was arrested on suspicion of pepper-spraying an Uber driver in San Francisco who was coughed at and insulted after he demanded a passenger wear a mask.

Drivers may still be holding out to see if Uber will sweeten pay and benefits. Uber was forced to classify its drivers in the United Kingdom as workers last month — not self-employed — after a Supreme Court ruling there.

The company said Monday it has begun a historical claims settlement for its U.K. drivers.

Shares of Uber Technologies Inc. rose nearly 5% to $60.40 Monday.


By DEE-ANN DURBIN

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