How To Build (And Sustain) A Remote Workforce

Despite the 2013 uproar caused by Yahoo CEO Marisa Meyer’s decision to ban the company’s remote working policy, telecommuting is still thriving, and it’s easy to see why. According to Global Workplace Analytics and the Telework Research Network, telecommuting increased 80% from 2005 to 2012 and it’s estimated that regular telecommuters will total 3.9 million by 2016, which is a 21% increase from the current level.

In most cases, to stay truly competitive, hiring the best talent means looking beyond a company’s 50-mile radius. But not all organizations may be ready to expand beyond their existing four walls. So what does it take to foster a truly successful remote working culture?

via How To Build (And Sustain) A Remote Workforce | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.


What a city needs to foster innovation: cafes, bike lanes, and 3D printers

Once upon a time, innovation was an isolationist sport. In America’s innovative economy 20 years ago, a worker drove to a nondescript office campus along a suburban corridor, worked in isolation, and kept ideas secret.

Today, by contrast and partly a result of the Great Recession, proximity is everything. Talented people want to work and live in urban places that are walkable, bike-able, connected by transit, and hyper-caffeinated. Major companies across multiple sectors are practicing “open innovation” and want to be close to other firms, research labs, and universities. Entrepreneurs want to start their companies in collaborative spaces, where they can share ideas and have efficient access to everything from legal advice to sophisticated lab equipment.

These disruptive forces are coming to ground in small, primarily urban enclaves—what we and others are calling “innovation districts.” By our definition, innovation districts cluster and connect leading-edge institutions with startups and spin-off companies, business incubators, and accelerators in the relentless pursuit of cutting-edge discoveries for the market. Compact, transit-accessible, and highly networked, they grow talent, foster open collaboration, and offer mixed-used housing, office, retail, and 21st century urban amenities. In many respects, the rise of innovation districts embodies the very essence of cities: an aggregation of talented, driven people assembled in close quarters, who exchange ideas and knowledge. It’s in the vein of what urban historian Sir Peter Hall calls “a dynamic process of innovation, imitation and improvement.”

Globally, Montreal, Seoul, Singapore, Medellin, Barcelona, Cambridge, and Berlin offer just a few examples of evolving innovation districts. In the US, the most iconic innovation districts can be found in the downtowns and midtowns of cities like Atlanta, Cambridge, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, and St. Louis, where advanced research universities, medical complexes, research institutions, and clusters of tech and creative firms are sparking business expansion, as well as residential and commercial growth. Even a cursory visit to Kendall Square in Cambridge, University City in Philadelphia, or midtown Atlanta shows the explosion of growth and mixed development occurring around institutions like MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, and Georgia Tech.

Other innovation districts can be found in Boston, Brooklyn, San Francisco, and Seattle, where former industrial and warehouse areas are charting a new innovative path, powered by their enviable location along transit lines, their proximity to downtowns and waterfronts, and their recent addition of advanced research institutions (reflected by Carnegie Mellon University’s decision to place its Integrative Media Program at the Brooklyn Navy Yard).

Perhaps the greatest validation of this shift is found in the efforts of traditional exurban science parks (like Research Triangle Park in Raleigh-Durham) to urbanize, in order to keep pace with the preferences of their workers for walkable communities and the preference of their firms to be near other firms and collaborative opportunities.

Innovation districts are already attracting an eclectic mix of firms in a diverse group of sectors, including life sciences, clean energy, design, and tech. We even see a return of small-scale and customized manufacturing, made possible by 3D printing, robotics, and other advanced techniques.

Unlike efforts to grow the “consumer city” via sports stadia, luxury housing, and high-end retail, innovation districts are intent on growing the firms, networks, and sectors that drive real, broad-based prosperity.

At a time of increasing concerns over inequality and resilience, innovation districts can spur productive, inclusive, and sustainable growth. If properly structured and scaled, they can provide a strong foundation for the commercialization of ideas, the expansion of firms, and the creation of jobs. They also offer the tantalizing prospect of expanding employment and educational opportunities for disadvantaged populations—many innovation districts are close to low- and moderate-income neighborhoods—as well as sparking more sustainable development patterns, given their embrace of transit, historic buildings, traditional street grids, and existing infrastructure.

Innovation districts represent one of the most positive trends that have emerged in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Smart cities, innovative companies, advanced universities, and financial institutions would be wise to embrace them.

Via Quartz

The Doctor, Veterinarian, And Lactation Specialist Will See You Now – On Video Chat

When Google launched Helpouts in November, it opened amarketplace for experts–from scrappy entrepreneurs to big-name brands such as makeup retailer Sephora–to share their skills over video chat.

Now, while some clueless consumers are simply looking for mascara tips, the search giant sees a vastly different industry that can benefit from the service: health care.

That’s right, in addition to the many musicians, yogis, and IT pros chatting on the Helpouts platform, there are also doctors, counselors, veterinarians, and lactation specialists, among other medical professionals. By melding parts of its infrastructure–namely Google Wallet and Hangouts–the company gives consumers a single destination, either through a computer or Android phone, to book sessions with experts and to pay for them. Doctors can even prescribe medicine, as Helpouts is aligned with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“We believe telehealth, and Helpouts, can complement in-person office appointments and play an important part in the overall continuum of care,” Google’s director of business operations, Christina Wire, tells Fast Company. “We look forward to learning how users find Helpouts to be most helpful in their continuum of care.”

Telemedicine isn’t exactly a new concept. Defined very broadly, the term can be applied to, say, African villagers who used smoke signals to warn others of disease outbreaks. More contemporary forms of telemedicine include the use of Xbox to care for patientswith chronic illnesses and telepresence robots, such as the human-sized RP-VITA from iRobot that lets doctors interact with patients from afar. But with the advent of mobile technologies, telemedicine has the potential to go mainstream.
Using Helpouts, San Francisco resident Justine Lam, 34, consultedOne Medical Group about getting a flu shot while traveling in Austin early November. The first time she connected, the picture was fuzzy and the call dropped, but the second time, she got a hold of a nurse practitioner, who coincidentally happened to be the one she usually interacts with.
“I travel a lot for work, so it’s difficult for me to get to the doctor’s office,” says Lam, who formerly worked in marketing and recruiting for a tech company. “It was super easy. I just log in, find the time available, and within an hour I was seeing a medical professional.”

Via Fast Company