The art and practice of digital workplace governance

In the past, some viewed the digital workplace as a kind of inevitability—something that will emerge organically as business tools and processes improve with the advance of new technology. But the pandemic changed everything. It prompted a swift move to cloud-based tools and a sharp rise in remote work.

The overwhelming majority of companies around the world believe that in the future, remote working will increase (78%) and that the digital workplace and the physical workplace will coexist (86%), according to a 2020 report from Harvard Business Review. Rather than allowing gradual trends to shape the digital workplace, many organizations are keen on accelerating the process to get in front of the changes happening to business and the culture. Success in these efforts will require deliberate digital workplace governance.

By driving a digital workplace culture, organizations can improve communication, connection and collaboration—leveraging the power of unified action across the organization. This can remove the barriers of time and place, enabling teams to work in physically distant locations, while mobile and in all time zones while staying coordinated and connected. It also boosts business agility, which is increasingly necessary in today's fast-moving, fast-changing and unpredictable world.

But the digital workplace needs more than the right tools. The other vital part? A digital workplace framework and workplace governance.

The trouble with two-factor authentication (and what to do about it)

Getting a second opinion is a great idea in both medicine and end-user cybersecurity. Two-factor authentication (2FA) and multifactor authentication (MFA) are powerful tools in the fight against all kinds of cyberattacks that involve end-user devices and internet-based services.

There’s just one big problem: It’s far, far too common for people to use text messaging as the second factor. That turns phone numbers into digital identity devices — a role they are poorly designed to play. If someone loses a smartphone or has it stolen or taken from them, they also lose their access to authentication. Worse, the attacker can transfer the phone number to another person, who will now receive authentication requests. 

Here’s what to do about the 2FA and MFA phone problem

Why I love Starbucks

You know those annoying people who hang out in coffee joints for hours on end, either chatting, doing business deals or working on their laptops?

Yeah, I’m one of them.

Before you judge, hear me out.

Do you know where coffee houses come from? Most people don’t.

All modern Starbucks and other coffee places descend directly from an Oxford coffee house that opened in 1650. That shop descended from similar establishments in Vienna, which themselves were modeled on coffee houses in Mecca and Istanbul and elsewhere in the Muslim world. (Coincidentally this photo was taken at an Istanbul Starbucks.)

Coffee was a novel beverage to Europeans in 1650. The first Oxford house was a hit, and coffee houses rapidly proliferated across the country, especially in London.

These establishments fueled the industrial revolution and the enlightenment — societal transformations that never could have happened in ale houses.

Their purpose wasn’t to dispense coffee. Entire businesses were set up and run inside the coffee houses. The world’s first newspapers were run out of them, then pamphlets distributed in them. Insurance companies operated entirely out of coffee houses. (Lloyd’s of London was named after Edward Lloyd’s coffee house on Tower Street, which opened in 1688.) Isaac Newton did most of his argumentation and idea exchanging with other scientists in the Grecian coffee house on the Strand.

For more than three centuries, coffee houses have served primarily as offices and meeting spaces for business people, journalists and intellectuals and secondarily as places to buy coffee.

Coffee houses came into existence not as a place where people are supposed to line up like addicts at a methadone clinic, then slink out. They’re a social meeting space for the community.

There’s a reason why 50 cents worth of coffee costs $4 at Starbucks and other places. You’re paying mainly for the space. You're paying for the seat and the table and the WiFi and the outlet and the bathroom and the climate control and the lighting. 

In recent decades, we’ve been trained like lab rodents to drop our cash and leave. McDonald's even trained the public to bus their own tables. In fact, the idea of buying coffee at a coffee house and taking it to go is an extraordinarily new phenomenon. They’ve recently conned us into paying the premium for the real estate, then feeling bad about using what we paid for.

The transition from coffee houses as the public’s place of business to the coffee house as a fast-food joint is part of the disgusting consumerization of the human animal. 

We’re not supposed to be citizens, thinkers or makers. We’re supposed to be consumers. Give me your money, then fuck off.

Ironically, Starbucks gets it. Considered derisively as the McDonald’s of coffee houses, the characterization is totally unfounded. Starbucks is committed to allowing anyone to use their WiFi free for as long as they want, at least in the United States and many other countries. Their stores have tables and outlets and couches and barstools. They invite everyone to hang out and linger. And there are other coffee places that understand the purpose of a coffee house as well.

But far too many believe a coffee house is just a place to extract money from customers, then force them to leave by failing to provide a social space. And when customers can’t find a table because people are staying too long, they don’t blame the establishment for failing to provide enough tables. They blame the campers.

My view is that if today’s coffee houses don’t know what a coffee house is for, they should close up shop and get out of the business. Maybe they can open a McDonald’s franchise.

Just don’t blame the customers who are using coffee houses for their intended and vital purpose. 

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend

Remote work was forced on many employers last year by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a simple, mid-pandemic consensus that “remote work is here to stay.” But as the crisis fades, organizations will get to choose where employees do their work — now with a new set of tools, expectations, and experiences.

As Marc Andreessen said recently, we are undergoing "a permanent civilizational shift” where we can divorce "physical location from economic opportunity.” He’s probably right in the long term, but we still have many questions to answer before that utopian dream is realized.

Here are the seven inconvenient truths and unresolved issues around the new hybrid and remote work trend.