A block-headed gun fiasco, keys to hybrid workplace success, and more

Get takeaways from Google’s ongoing remote work angst, and grab your weekly dose of messaging inspiration.

7-15-21 week in comms

Greetings, communicators!

We hope you enjoy this batch of stories that offer takeaways for communicators of all stripes. Here’s what grabbed our attention for the week of July 12- July 16, 2021.

1. Gunmaker gets blocked by Lego.

Culper Precision, a Utah-based firearm company, had the brilliant idea to manufacture a gun that looks like it’s made of Lego. CBS News explains:

“Culper’s handgun, dubbed the Block19, is a customized semiautomatic Glock firearm covered with red, yellow and blue Lego-like pieces on the barrel and the grip, giving the fully functional weapon the appearance of a toy.”

Lego responded swiftly with a cease-and-desist, stating: “We have contacted the company, and they have agreed to remove the product from their website and not make or sell anything like this in the future.”

We could pull multitudes of lessons from this block-headed “toy” ploy, but let’s just say that communicators should be vigilant about not violating intellectual property laws. And maybe speak up if your company has an idea to sell a deadly product that looks like a child’s toy?

2. Remote work angst continues to roil corporate America.

As companies continue to suss out return-to-work plans, many are waffling harder than a Huddle House.

Google is incurring wrath over its “opaque” policies that have been “marked by indecision and backpedaling.” While the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Reddit have announced plans to let employees work from wherever they choose, tech giants such as Google and Apple can’t quite quit that office life.

CNET explains:

“In May, CEO Sundar Pichai unveiled plans for a ‘hybrid’ work environment that would require most employees to work from their offices at least three days a week beginning in September. Under the new structure, 20% of the company would work remotely. Another 20% could work from new locations. People who relocated would get salary adjustments based on the local market.”

Google is now reaping the whirlwind, as rank-and-file employees scramble to secure permission to work remotely and try to negotiate against salary “adjustments.” All this is swirling amid ongoing confusion as to what, exactly, will be required of workers.

CNET continues:

“Employees say one of the most difficult parts of Google’s return-to-office system is the inability to plan for a future with their loved ones. Google has been ‘vague and unhelpful’ about the process for most of the year, one employee said. The confusion has meant workers have to leave crucial decisions, like schooling for children and apartment leases, up in the air.”

The data seems to show that employers and employees both prefer “hybrid” work arrangements moving forward. This approach is not without risks, however. Google’s ex-HR leader warns of the dangers of pursuing a “hybrid” approach, though he offers this guidance to set employees up for success:

  • Set realistic performance goals.
  • Lead with compassion, not empathy. He explains: “Empathy is saying, ‘I know you’ve had a tough year.’ Compassion is saying, ‘I know you’ve had a tough year—and here’s how we’re going to help.’”
  • Close the emotional distance by sparking genuine connections.
  • Set a date to reassess your plans.
  • One size will not fit all.

If you do decide to bring employees back into an office environment, make sure the air they’ll be breathing is clean!

Here’s more insight into what post-pandemic hybrid workspaces might look like.

3. The rise of the video resumé.

The days of a one-page CV on thick-stock paper might be coming to an end.

There’s a rising trend of capturing your credentials via more creative means, as shown by the release of TikTok Resumes.

The Verge reports that Tik Tok enthusiasts can directly apply to companies such as Target, Chipotle and Shopify, noting that “users will have to create a video resume, post it to TikTok, and then send that video to recruiters through the app.”

Companies looking to hire social media-savvy users are using the pilot program to discover young talent. The Detroit Pistons, for example, posted a listing for a Producer/Editor, and WWE put out a call for a new “superstar.” Shopify, meanwhile, is using the app to find a senior data scientist.

What about your job application process? Is your company ready to receive and review video and visual CVs? It could be worth a shot.

Or we could just keep making candidates create a login, fill out their address three times and type out an exhaustive list of their work histories until the end of time, I guess.

4. Target’s push for substantive change on DE&I, sustainability.

As Ragan CEO Diane Schwartz says about corporate inclusion initiatives: “2021 is the year of the receipt.”

To document the progress of its DE&I journey, the retail giant has announced “Target Forward,” which “aims to co-create a more equitable and regenerative future with our guests, partners and communities.” Its goals include:

  • By 2030, we aim to be the market leader for creating and curating inclusive, sustainable brands and experiences.
  • By 2040, we plan for 100% of our owned brand products to be designed for a circular future. We will continue designing to eliminate waste, using materials that are regenerative, recycled or sourced sustainably, to create products that are more durable, easily repaired or recyclable.
  • By 2040, we commit to being a net zero enterprise—zero waste to landfill in our U.S. operations and net zero emissions across both our operations and supply chain.
  • By 2030, we aim to build a team that equitably reflects the communities we serve, beginning with our commitment to increase Black team member representation across the company by 20% by 2023.
  • Target and the Target Foundation will become even more deeply ingrained within our communities, lifting up the voices and unique perspectives of community members to maximize the positive impact we can create together.

How are your DE&I “receipts” looking so far? Don’t get frustrated if you see a lack of progress. Just keeping documenting those small wins, continue setting measurable/achievable goals, and continue pushing for accountability.

For more inspiration on how to present your company’s sustainability objectives, see how these big companies are showing their work:

5. Your weekly dose of comms inspiration.

Let’s close with some nice news! This week, let’s draw encouragement from:

Take good care of yourselves, comms champions. And keep up the good work.


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