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Best Chromebook for students 2021: Top expert picks

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Students from kindergarten to grad school can do well with a Chromebook. But I don’t need to tell you that. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, if you went to school at all, odds are you did it with a Chromebook.

While most of us will be going back to school in real life later this year, we’ll also still be using Chromebooks. If that’s the case for you, you might want to upgrade from the first Chromebook that came to hand when the shutdown began to a better model.

Here are the best new student Chromebooks available in 2021. I’ve listed them in order from most to least expensive.

Powerful Chromebook for all-nighters

google-pixelbook-go-review-best-chromebook.png

Tech specs:

  • 13.3 inch 1920x1080p touch display
  • Intel 1.3GHz Core i5-8200Y processor
  • 16GB RAM
  • 128GB SSD

While Google’s most recent Chromebooks, the Pixelbook Go series, are no longer the fastest Chromebooks books around — that title now goes to the Dell Latitude 5300 Chromebook — the Google Pixelbook Go is more than fast enough for most students. With its low-wattage 1.3GHz Core i5-8200Y processor, it came in with a decent score of 83 on Principled TechnologiesCrXPRT 2 Chromebook benchmark.

The body of the black Pixelbook Go has a magnesium-alloy lid with an underside base featuring a ribbed easy-to-grip design. This makes this Pixelbook hard to drop. Speaking as someone who busted a laptop or two due to falls, this is a good thing. At 2.3lbs and 12.2 x 8.1 x 0.5 inches, it’s also very light.

The model I tested came with 16GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a 13.3 inch 1920x1080p touch display. To power the display, it uses Intel UHD 615 graphics. 

The Corning Glass screen is very nice. With the 615 powering it, it’s bright and renders colors much better than its rivals. This is the one Chromebook I looked at that I’d enjoy watching a movie on. The Pixelbook Go’s 1080p webcam is also superior. I’d have no qualms about Zooming with teachers and classmates with this setup.  

The keyboard, on the other hand, doesn’t have a lot of travel. I could work on it, but I’d prefer pounding on the keys of one of the other models. The touchpad, though, worked just fine for me.

The ports, or rather the lack thereof, are annoying. All you get is a single USB Type-C port and headphone jack on the left and another USB-C port on the right — that’s it. To charge up your Pixelbook Go, you’ll need to use one of those USB-C ports, so anytime you’re charging, you’re down to just one available port.

Still, when it comes to battery life, the Go’s a champ. With a four-cell, 47 W/H battery, it delivered 11.5 hours of useful life. This beat the others easily. That’s not just a benchmark result — back when I was still flying to Europe on business before the pandemic, I could work from Atlanta to Barcelona without a charge.

So, for me, the Go is the ideal do-everything Chromebook. Fast enough to be useful, great screen, and it just keeps going and going and going. The Pixelbook Go model I looked at isn’t cheap at $999, but if you need a great Chromebook that can last through an all-night study binge, this is the one for you. 

Pros: 

  • High Speed
  • Great battery life

Cons:

  • High Price

Sturdy and powerful

acer-chromebook-714.jpg

Tech specs:

  • 14 inch HDTV 1920 x 1080 touchscreen.
  • 2.2-GHz Intel Core i3-8130U CPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • 64GB eMMC storage

The Acer Chromebook 714 doesn’t look that special, but there’s a lot of power hiding underneath its aluminium hide. It’s also remarkably tough. It’s MIL-SPEC Standard 810G tested, which means it can handle drops and other physical shocks. If your teenager often drops their laptop on the way to their Playstation 5 controller, consider buying this model. 

Powered by an eighth-generation 2.2-GHz Intel Core i3-8130U CPU, the 714 had an excellent CrXPRT score of 94. If you need even more power, you can get this Chromebook with a 1.7-GHz Intel Core i5-8350U processor. The Chromebook 714 version I tested also came with 8GB of RAM, 64GB of flash memory, and an Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU. 

The graphic chip powered a decent 14-inch HDTV 1920 x 1080 touchscreen. It’s on the dim side, but this is a Chromebook for school, not watching Loki. With a 720p webcam, you won’t be making any movies yourself, but it works just fine for video conferencing. 

The keyboard is solid and works well with my hammering typing style. The Corning Glass trackpad also worked well. 

For a Chromebook, this model has a lot of ports. There’s a USB 3.1 Type-C port, a USB 3.1 Type-A port, and a headphone jack on the left. The right side has a microSD card reader and another USB 3.1 Type-C port. You must, however, use one of those Type-C ports to power the machine. It also comes with an integrated fingerprint reader for added security. 

The 714’s 56 Watt/hour (W/H) 4-cell Li-ion battery lasted for a trifle over nine and a half hours. That’s on the low side for a Chromebook. At 3.3 pounds and 12.7 x 9.4 x 0.7 inches, the Acer Chromebook 714 is on the heavy side. 

But, weight and the screen aside, this is a sturdy, fast, and powerful Chromebook. And, for a price as reviewed of $649.99, it’s well worth the money. Thanks to its sturdiness, I’d consider getting this Chromebook for the junior-high or older student in your house.

Pros

  • Three USB Ports, a microSD card reader
  • Reasonably fast

Cons:

  • Dim screen
$600 at Amazon

Asus Chromebook Flip C434

Affordable 2-in-1 for advanced students

asus-chromebook-flip-c434.jpg

Tech specs:

  • 14 inch Touchscreen FHD 1920×1080 featuring ultra-narrow bezels (5mm thin)
  • 1.1GHz Intel Core M3-8100Y Processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB eMMC storage

If you want both a tablet and laptop, get a 2-in-1 like the Asus Chromebook Flip C434.

This Chromebook comes in several configurations, but I checked out the lower-end model. This came with a dual-core Intel Core m3-8100Y processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage. Despite its rather low-end hardware, it has a decent CrXPRT benchmark score of 75. 

With its matte-silver aluminium finish and chrome trim, it’s also a very handsome machine. When you turn it on to work with its 14 inch screen, you’ll be pleased by its sharp, vivid display — I certainly was.

I’m not a big fan of touchscreens on laptops, but this one wasn’t just a pretty face. It was easy to work with, and, for once, I found myself often using it. Normally, I stop bothering with touchscreens. I found both the keyboard play and touchpad feel to be decent, but nothing to write home about.

At 6 x 8 x 0.6 inches and 3.1 pounds, the Flip 434 is a bit heavier than most 2-in-1 designs, but I doubt most people will notice the difference.

For ports, it comes with a USB 3.1 Type-A port, a USB-C port, and a headphone jack on the left, and another second USB-C port and a microSD card on the right. You can use both the type Cs to power the machine. 

With its Li-ion 48W/H battery, this Asus model came in with an honest 10 hours of battery life. 

For what it is, I think the Asus Flip C434 is worth its high — but reasonable — $569 price. I’d give this one to my honor roll junior-high-or-older student.

Pros: 

  • Tablet and laptop mode.
  • Big screen for such a small device.
  • A good number of ports.

Cons:

  • It could use more RAM. 

Perfectly functional Chromebook for school or work

Lenovo Chromebook 3 AMD
Lenovo

Tech specs:

  • 11.6 inch HD (1366 x 768)
  • 1.80 GHz AMD A6-9220C
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB eMMC storage

One of the least expensive Chromebooks I reviewed, Lenovo Chromebook 3 AMD, retails for $249. But cheap doesn’t mean bad. It’s still a strong, perfectly functional Chromebook for school or work.

The Lenovo Chromebook 3 AMD is powered by a 7th Generation 1.8 GHz AMD A6-9220C APU. This is a two-core AMD CPU with 3 cores of GPU Radeon R5 Graphics power built-in. Its CrXPRT number is a decent 61, but that’s still fast enough for student and low-level business work. Just don’t try running anything too fancy on this machine, and you’ll be fine. 

It comes with 4GB of RAM. That’s a step up from the 2GB in older low-end Chromebooks. For storage, it has a 32GB eMMC, which you can expand with a microSD card. 

Unlike its predecessors, it has lots of ports: Two USB-C and a pair of USB-As.  

At 11.28 x 0.71 x  8.09 inches and 2.46lbs, it’s a lightweight laptop. But it’s also sturdy with a spill-proof keyboard and touchpad with rubberized edges to protect against drops. In short, this Chromebook can take a beating from your 3rd grader and not miss a beat. 

216W with a 3 Cell Li-Polymer 47W/H battery, this Lenovo model can last for a good 10 hours. And the 11.6 inch screen with its 1366 x 768 resolution looks quite sharp for such an inexpensive device. That’s in no small part because of its Radeon graphics. You still won’t want to use it for a gaming machine, but you could use it for one in print. 

Is this a great Chromebook? Nope! If you want a top-notch Lenovo Chromebook, check out the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 — at a starting price of $769.99, you’ll be in high-end Chromebook territory. But, the Chromebook 3 AMD is a good, solid performer that can make it through the school year and offers good value for the money. For your elementary school kid, it’s an excellent choice.

Pros: 

  • Great price
  • Good graphics
  • Numerous ports

Cons:

  • For the price point, there’s none to speak of. 
$249 at Amazon

Inexpensive Chromebook for kids

Dell-Dell-Chromebook-3100-for-Students.jpg

Tech specs:

  • 11.6 inch HD (1366 x 768)
  • Intel 1.1GHz Celeron N4020
  • 4GB RAM
  • 16GB eMMC storage

The Dell Chromebook 3100 Education model can take a licking and keep on ticking. Besides being tested to MIL-STD standards, it can survive 5,000 free-fall drops, and 30 inch micro drops on steel. Its rubberized edges also minimize damage from drops and bumps. I wish I could do as well from my falls and bumps! 

It also features a spill- and tamper-resistant keyboard that handles up to 12oz of liquid, aka a full glass of milk — don’t ask how I know! In other words, it’s perfect for a bumptious little boy or a clumsy journalist. 

All that protection comes at a price: The Dell 3100 weighs 2.85lbs. That’s not much, but it is heavier than most low-end Chromebooks. Still, even with dimensions of 0.82 x 12 x 8.2 inches, your kid won’t have any trouble hauling it around. 

The screen’s only 11.6-inches, but with its somewhat unusual 1366 x 768 pixel resolution, it does just fine. Above the screen is a decent 720p webcam.

It also comes with four USB ports. That’s a lot for a Chromebook. These include a pair of USB-C ports, and either of these can be used for power. It also has two USB Type-A ports. That’s handy for adding a USB storage drive because it only comes with 16GBs of eMMC flash storage, and it doesn’t have an SD or microSD card slot. For $20, you can push the onboard storage up to 32GBs. Unless you’re really squeezing your pennies, go for it. Your kid can use the room.

For a processor, it uses a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Celeron N4020 processor. That gets 4GBs of RAM for programs. On a Windows laptop, that would be asking for misery, but it’s more than enough for Chrome OS. Its CrXPRT score of 63 isn’t great, but it’s more than good enough for primary school students. 

Finally, with a battery life of just over 14 hours, it can get your kid through the longest of school days, even if they leave it unplugged. 

Put it all together, and for the price tag of $239, it’s hard to beat.

Pros: 

  • Cheap.
  • Sturdy

Cons:

  • It needs more storage by default
$277 at Walmart

How did we choose these Chromebooks?

Besides using Chromebooks for my own work, I benchmark them using Principled Technologies’ Chromebook-specific, CrXRPT 2.0 benchmarks. Principled Technologies, a descendant of Ziff-Davis Benchmark Operations, is one of the best private benchmarking and testing companies on the planet. 

This test tells you how fast a Chromebook handles things you do every day. This includes doing work as well as more fun activities such as playing video games, watching movies, and editing pictures. 

This benchmark consists of six scenario tests:

  • Photo Effects: Applies three effects (Sharpen, Emboss, and Glow) to two photos each, a set of six photos total.
  • Face Detection: Checks for human faces in a set of five photos (low resolution).
  • Offline Notes: Measures the time to encrypt, store, and display notes from local storage.
  • Stock Portfolio Dashboard: Calculates and displays different graphical views of a stock portfolio.
  • DNA Sequence Analysis: Measures the time it takes to process eight DNA sequences for open reading frames and amino acids.
  • 3D Shapes with WebGL: Generates equation-based 3D shapes and displays them with WebGL.

The performance test gives you an overall score. With this benchmark, the higher the score, the better. 

CrXPRT includes a battery test. In this test, all six workloads from the performance benchmarks are run, plus realistic periods of wait time and three additional scenarios: 

  • Video Player: Plays a two-minute 1080p H.264 video clip in a browser from the local system.
  • Music Player: Plays an audio clip for three minutes.
  • HTML5-based game: Runs an impact.js-based game for about two minutes.

All tests were run using ChromeOS 89. Wi-Fi was on, but Bluetooth was disabled during the benchmarking. The screens were set to 80% brightness.

Is there an advantage to using a Chromebook vs a Windows or Apple laptop?

Chromebook laptops are very flexible — they’re not just a web browser in a box. Sure, you need the internet to get the most from a Chromebook. But, tell me, when was the last time you did any serious work with a Mac or Windows PC without an internet connection? Back in the 2000s? Sure, if your student’s doing video editing, they’ll need a powerhouse Mac. But, for schoolwork, a Chromebook is often all they need.

Besides, modern high-end Chromebooks, as tech expert Mike Elgan points out, “run more apps without dual- or multi-booting than any other computing platform. Chromebooks can run apps from Android, Linux, and Windows concurrently in the same session.” For school purposes, most students will never need those alternatives.

I also like that Chromebooks update frequently and transparently. Unlike Windows 10 PCs, where lately it seems like every upgrade is an adventure, Chromebooks just take their patches and, when you want them to, reboot in a few seconds and just keep on working.  

While even the lowest-powered Chromebook is still useful — I got eight years of useful life from the first commercial Chromebook, Samsung’s 2011 Series 5 — like any system, the more resources you have, the better. 

But unlike Windows machines, where there are clear benefits to paying for the fastest possible processor and as much RAM as you can cram into the box, the same does not hold true with Chromebooks. Any Chromebook with at least 4GBs of RAM and an i3 or better processor will work well for most students from kindergarten to law school. Sure, if they’re doing serious work with Linux or constantly running multiple Software-as-a-Service apps then you should invest in a high-end Chromebook. Otherwise, get the least powerful machine they need. They, and you, will be fine. 

Chromebooks usually have 16GB and up of Solid-State Drive (SSD) for onboard storage. That’s better than it looks. First, Chrome OS is very light, and most of your applications are Software-as-a-Service programs such as Google Docs, so most of that space is available for your files. And remember, all new Chromebooks come with 100GB of free Google One cloud storage for a year.

Like with all laptops these days, there’s a huge demand for Chromebooks. If you know you’ll need a Chromebook for school, get one as soon as possible. They won’t be getting any more common anytime soon, and their prices won’t go down in a hurry either.

Why use a Chromebook?

Chromebooks are good for almost any job. But they’re great for students. If your pride and joy can use a web browser, they can use a Chromebook. 

My grandson William, for example, at age five, took to his Chromebook like a duck to water. For teachers and school administrators, Google also provides G Suite for Education and Google Classroom to help them make remote learning as easy as possible.

How affordable are Chromebooks?

While I looked mostly at higher-end machines, which are suitable for high-school and college students, there are plenty of low-end but still powerful enough to be useful, affordable Chromebooks. For example, you can get a decent Chromebook — such as the Flagship HP Chromebook, 11.6 inch HD (1366 x 768) Display for around $200.

Keep in mind that thanks to the pandemic and millions of students going to school from home, Chromebook prices are going up. However, they still tend to be less expensive than their Windows competitors.

If you’re really short on cash, don’t sweat it. Google’s Auto Update Policy used to offer Chrome OS and security updates for five years. More recently, Google changed it to 6.5 years, and today’s models come with eight years of support. The clock on these doesn’t start, however, when you buy a Chromebook, but from when the Chromebook you guy was introduced. Like milk at the grocery store, the support clock runs even if no one ever turned it on. You can find out how much support time is left on the Chromebook you’re thinking about buying before putting your money down.

Which Chromebook is right for you?

One of the good things about Chromebooks is that almost any Chromebook will work for you. Yes, there are real differences between them when it comes to speed, memory, which is another aspect of speed, screen size, brightness, and resolution for practical purposes. But, for sheer functionality, they all do pretty much the same job. 

Generally speaking, the older the student, the more power they can use. On the other side of the age gap, so long as a Chromebook can take a beating and keep on running, it’s fine for a younger kid. 

Personally, just like with any computer, I’ll take all the power and screen real estate I can get. But, for the students in your home, you don’t need to spend a lot of money for them to go to school virtually. 

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/best-chromebook-for-students/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

Cyber Security

10 posiciones laborales de alta demanda a partir de la pandemia

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10 posiciones laborales de alta demanda a partir de la pandemia

Randstad, líder global en servicios de Recursos Humanos, dio a conocer las 10 posiciones con mayor crecimiento a partir de la demanda laboral impulsada por la pandemia. Entre ellas se destacan: profesionales de marketing digital, perfiles de logística en eCommerce, expertos en usabilidad, desarrolladores, maquetadores web, especialistas en analítica de datos, project managers, expertos en ciberseguridad, representantes de atención al cliente y especialistas en higiene y seguridad laboral.

La crisis sanitaria ha revolucionado la manera en la que trabajamos y ha impactado en la dinámica del mercado laboral en todo el mundo. Muchos cambios y rutinas adquiridas durante los períodos más críticos de la cuarentena y el aislamiento han llegado para quedarse, tanto en lo que refiere a formatos y modelos de trabajo, como a nuevos patrones de consumo. Esta nueva realidad impulsa a su vez una mayor demanda de perfiles laborales asociados a los procesos de transformación digital y desarrollo de nuevos canales de comercialización y atención al cliente que las empresas han puesto en marcha a partir de una mayor incorporación de tecnología en sus procesos de negocio.

Sobre esta coyuntura, Andrea Ávila, CEO de Randstad para Argentina y Uruguay, afirmó: “Del mismo modo que la llegada de la pandemia ha identificado los trabajos considerados esenciales y los posibles de llevar a un formato de home office, la demanda laboral también ha cambiado en parte su configuración, con posiciones que desaparecieron y otras que tuvieron una demanda extraordinaria. Desde ya, todos los perfiles asociados a las diferentes ramas de la tecnología, que ya venían con un descalce creciente entre la oferta y la demanda mucho antes de la crisis sanitaria, pero también los vinculados al crecimiento del comercio electrónico y los canales de atención no presencial”.

Estas son las 10 posiciones identificadas por el equipo de especialistas en reclutamiento y gestión del talento de Randstad que más han crecido en el mercado local como producto de la demanda laboral asociada a la pandemia:

Marketing Digital: A partir de la llegada del coronavirus, la mayoría de las organizaciones ampliaron su pisada en el mundo online y muchas debieron hacer sus primeros pasos en el entorno digital. Los perfiles en marketing digital -en todos sus niveles de seniority- se convirtieron en el talento clave para la planificación, coordinación y ejecución de las estrategias digitales de emprendedores, comerciantes y compañías de todos los tamaños y sectores, demandando profesionales para cubrir puestos como responsables de marketing online, community managers, especialistas en posicionamiento de marca, analistas SEO y SEM y redactores de contenido, entre otros.

Logística en eCommerce: Con la imposibilidad de realizar compras presenciales que impuso el confinamiento, los comercios tradicionales se vieron obligados a adaptar su negocio a un formato virtual, con el enorme potencial de desarrollo que esto supuso. Así, desde PyMEs y emprendedores hasta grandes empresas, demandan día a día personal especializado en clasificación y armado de pedidos, así como profesionales de logística para la gestión de centros de almacenamiento y distribución de productos, con el objetivo de potenciar sus canales de comercio electrónico.

Experto en Experiencia/Interfase de Usuario (UX/UI): Con el traspaso de la experiencia de compra y consumo del mundo offline al entorno virtual, el mercado cada vez ofrece más opciones de productos y servicios que compiten por la atención de clientes y usuarios, motivo por el cual el experto en UX/UI se ha convertido en uno de los puestos más requeridos de los últimos meses. Se trata de una figura clave para conectar al usuario con un producto y lograr su satisfacción, tanto con el producto o servicio adquirido como con el proceso y experiencia de compra.

Desarrollador front-end y back-end: En un mundo que se ha volcado casi en su totalidad al formato digital, los desarrolladores de aplicaciones son altamente solicitados, tanto los especializados en “front-end” como en “back-end”. Los primeros tienen la responsabilidad de desarrollar la parte del software que interactúa directamente con los usuarios, mientras que los segundos con los sistemas que procesan la información.

Programador/maquetador web: Si bien es una disciplina que lleva muchos años en el mercado con alta demanda, se trata de una posición que ha tenido un nuevo pico dado que en la actualidad la presencia online ha dejado de ser opcional. Diseñadores, maquetadores web y especialistas en gestión de contenido (CMS) son algunas de las posiciones que sostienen la presencia online de las empresas y sus canales institucionales y comerciales en el mundo virtual.

Data Science/Ingeniero de datos: Mayor digitalización significa una mayor posibilidad de capturar datos transaccionales que pueden ser procesados para mejorar la toma decisiones de negocio. Con la analítica de datos las empresas buscan ser más competitivas y ágiles, encontrar tendencias en los conjuntos de datos y desarrollar algoritmos para ayudar a que la información sin procesar sea útil para impulsar el negocio. Se trata de perfiles con formación en matemáticas, estadística o programación que se han especializado en esta nueva disciplina que ha tenido un crecimiento exponencial en los últimos dos años.

Project Manager: La necesidad de adaptar los procesos y herramientas que sostienen la productividad de las empresas en el entorno extremadamente difícil que forzó la pandemia fue determinante para impulsar una mayor demanda de profesionales para la gestión de proyectos. Se trata de perfiles analíticos que tienen la responsabilidad de coordinar el trabajo de los equipos de proyecto para cumplir los objetivos y hoy, en un contexto cambiante y con liderazgos remotos, llevar adelante esta posición es todo un desafío.

Experto en ciberseguridad: La digitalización de los puestos de trabajo, el home office masivo y la migración a canales virtuales han expuesto a las organizaciones y a sus sistemas como nunca antes. Con la toma de estado público de resonantes casos de hackeos, secuestros y robos de información y otros incidentes de seguridad, la demanda laboral de perfiles especializados en seguridad de la información se ha multiplicado en todo el mundo. Se trata de profesionales con una altísima especialización técnica que tienen la responsabilidad de proteger tanto la infraestructura como los datos de las organizaciones, así como hacer frente y dar respuesta a los incidentes en un contexto de mayor exposición por la digitalización y el avance de la ciberdelincuencia.

Representante de atención al cliente: Un mucho menor peso de la presencialidad en los procesos de contacto de las empresas con sus públicos disparó la demanda de todos los roles asociados a la atención al cliente por la criticidad y complejidad que la virtualidad ha sumado a la tarea de satisfacción y fidelización de clientes y usuarios. Se trata de perfiles en los que se valoran particularmente las habilidades blandas como la capacidad de escucha, la empatía y la orientación hacia la resolución de problemas.

Especialista en higiene y seguridad laboral: El avance de la pandemia y la necesidad de mantener la productividad en los ámbitos de trabajo en las empresas esenciales en los primeros meses del confinamiento, y luego en la gran mayoría de los sectores e industrias, puso en prioridad la necesidad de velar por la salud de los trabajadores. Acompañando este proceso que incorpora la salud y el bienestar de los colaboradores entre las responsabilidades primarias de las organizaciones, la demanda de profesionales con formación y experiencia en la elaboración de protocolos de salud y seguridad ocupacional creció  de manera exponencial durante el último año y medio.

“Las restricciones que impuso la pandemia impulsaron la búsqueda de nuevas formas de organización del trabajo para el sostenimiento de la productividad de las empresas, y con esas nuevas formas surgen también nuevas demandas laborales, que tienen que ver tanto con conocimientos y saberes técnicos, como con habilidades socioemocionales sobre las que hay que tomar nota para formar a los jóvenes para los trabajos del futuro”, agregó Andrea Ávila.

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Source: https://www.fintechnews.org/10-posiciones-laborales-de-alta-demanda-a-partir-de-la-pandemia/

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HRTech

Managing a safe return to office life

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As UK organisations brace themselves for a return to office life, it’s in the interests of HR professionals to ensure that the physical return of people is safely and thoughtfully managed. But what needs to be considered? Here, John Nicklin, Managing Director of Juggl Desks, a desk management solution to support a safe return to the office, gives his insights.

What does Freedom Day mean for HR?

19 July 2021 has been coined ‘Freedom Day’, but employees are hardly throwing off their masks and rushing back into the office. The past 16 months has impacted everyone in different ways and with COVID cases on the increase, many employees are understandably cautious of a return to the office with some being particularly fearful of mixing with colleagues once again. This has a big impact on HR professionals who have to carefully navigate a path between Government guidelines and the health and wellbeing of their people.

First and foremost, HR needs to understand employees’ expectations and needs regarding a return to the workplace. It’s important for HR and line managers to speak to staff on a one-to-one basis and gauge how they feel about heading back into the office, what would make them feel safe and any reservations they might have about returning. Vulnerable employees and those with extra needs require special attention and consideration so they are confident that their wellbeing is being prioritised.

Flexibility is key

A move towards a permanent hybrid/flexible model of working must be carefully considered in support of staff health and wellbeing. With many employees having worked at home and/or flexibly for over a year, they won’t be understanding if employers resort back to a strict 9-5 office-based model, and it’s likely people will simply leave. Hybrid and flexible working is now becoming expected, far beyond a ‘perk’ of the job and employers must respond to this. With almost half (46 per-cent) of employees saying they don’t have flexible working arrangements in their current role (CIPD research), it appears that many employers are still playing ‘catch-up’.

Be office ready

It’s all too easy to overlook the practicalities of creating a COVID-safe workplace. You’ll likely find that employees will expect there to be social distancing measures on their return as well as hand sanitiser stations and masks when moving around the office, and you’ll need to work with the facilities/operations manager to reconfigure the desks and meeting rooms to allow for social distancing (with fewer desks likely). But how will fewer desks work if you have the same number of employees, and how will you ensure there aren’t too many people in the office at any one time? It’s important to carefully consider and coordinate the movement of people in and out of the office so people feel safe and once in the office, have somewhere to sit with the right facilities to hand.

Desk booking technology 

There’s never been a better time to start using desk management software. Once a ‘nice to have’ to help with the booking of desks and meeting rooms, it’s now key for managing office occupancy, ensuring everyone attending the office has a safe place to sit, and for reducing employee anxiety. After all, if anxious employees turn-up to the office on their first day back and the office is overcrowded with nowhere for them to sit, how likely is it that they will return? HR will then have to manage the inevitable fallout.

It’s not necessary to pay a fortune for an over-complicated desk management solution with all the ‘bells and whistles’, it just needs to be simple to administer and easy for employees to book desks, car parking spaces (if required) and the necessary facilities. Some solutions are even free right now and are very quick and simple to set-up.

By ensuring employees can easily book desks in advance of them attending the office, employee health and wellbeing is supported. From the employer’s point of view, they have an overview of exactly who is in each office at any one time, ensuring overcrowding doesn’t take place while supporting track and trace. Such insights also allow the employer to understand whether the office is configured correctly for the number of people in the office, informing future workplace layouts and ways of working.

A final word

As employees trickle back into the office, it’s vital that HR facilitates a safe and stress-free return. Considering employees’ concerns and anxieties combined with the practicalities of a physical return, will help to ensure a smooth transition and ensure staff feel cared for and considered at every stage.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
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Source: http://hrnews.co.uk/managing-a-safe-return-to-office-life/

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HRTech

CARS24 gets Mrinal Sinha as its new CHRO

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CARS24, an e-commerce platform for pre-owned vehicles, has appointed Mrinal Sinha as its chief human resources officer. He will be based out of Gurgaon. In this newly created role, Sinha will focus on human resources strategy, leadership and cultural development, diversity, equity and inclusion, underscoring the Company’s overarching commitment to being a leader and employer of choice in India.

Prior to this, Sinha was the SVP-HR at Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance, heading business partnering, talent management and employee relations. This XLRI pass out has spent most of his career in the banking and financial services sector, working with some big brands, including ICICI and Max Life Insurance.

Sinha brings with him close to two decades of experience in HR and organisational leadership. In the early stages of his career, Sinha started off as an assistant manager – HR, with Polaris Software Lab. In 2004, he moved to ICICI as zonal head – recruitment and he spent the longest stint of his career at ICICI working in various positions in the HR function at overseas locations as well. Following multiple promotions at ICICI, he ended up spending more than 11 years with the Company. He served his last position at ICICI as the zonal head for the North region and was responsible for handling over 18,000 employees across businesses.

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Source: https://www.hrkatha.com/people/movement/cars24-gets-mrinal-sinha-as-its-new-chro/

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HRTech

Work perks: How Covid changed benefit strategies

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Marcus Beaver, UKI Country Leader at Alight Solutions

The pandemic has changed everyday working lives for millions. We are no longer fixed to desks five days a week and have learned that we can work from almost any location.

As a response, the benefits that employers have been offering employees to keep them sweet have changed dramatically. There’s been a huge shift from office-centric benefits such as subsidised meals, complimentary drinks, company cars, discounted travel, and in-house creches to flexible hours, utility contributions, technologies such as apps for encouraging healthy lifestyles, and childcare. The ways that employers are looking to retain and attract talent has turned on its head as they pivot to what’s now more important for employees.

Flexibility benefits

The pandemic highlighted the need for employee wellbeing strategies. Our recent research shows that two-fifths of employees rank flexibility as one of the most important benefits and three-fifths (60%) would not consider a job that provided less flexibility than they have today.

For employers, their strategy to best support employees has to be to offer flexibility. Compressed hours or split days are becoming more common. Then there forms of benefit that can support working from home such as utility contributions, technology budgets (for laptops etc) and local business club memberships (where local businesses can share ideas and work together).

No more false promises!

Before the pandemic, wellbeing was often talked about a lot, but rarely delivered on. This did not go unnoticed by employees and has become a cause of irritation as they seek more transparency and flexibility from the organisations and businesses they work for.

As we come out of lockdowns, businesses are increasingly realising that they are nothing without their people: employee wellbeing must be taken seriously. Employers have had to be more empathetic and previously strict policies of how, where, and when people work should no longer apply. Employees have proved they can work efficiently, and they can be trusted to deliver. It will be a tough argument if any organisations want to revert back to the pre-pandemic ways. But first and foremost, if you are not an empathetic employer, heed this warning: many are, and your talent will undoubtedly seek them out.

Mental health is now an open discussion and organisations are also reviewing the health benefits they offer employees. Currently, many private health options do not offer more than surface level introductions to counselling services. These need to be expanded to cover the need for extensive support from PTSD support to psychodynamic counselling, a form of counselling that enables a better understanding of the way we relate to people, to the world, and to ourselves.

Technology is a benefit

Staff need access to technology, digital tools and the software typically used in the workplace. For example, giving employees access to a website or mobile app so they can make best of the benefits on offer, as well as access payslips or other HR matters themselves is better than them relying on others. However, these tools must be easy to access and to use. 

Earned Wage Access has become an increasingly popular conversation for companies, and it allows employees to access wages earned at the end of each shift, rather than in a formal weekly or monthly payday. Alongside this, Paycards, a prepaid card that an employer can use to pay their employees as an alternative to direct deposit or paper checks are becoming more and more popular. The latter is a good option for bosses who employ those earning a lower wage (who might not have a bank account and would otherwise find it hard to secure employment).

Wellbeing benefits for retention

Across all demographics, people are looking for an employer who recognises an employee as an individual, and not a cog in a money-making wheel. Companies that have adapted their businesses to remote and flexible working retained staff throughout the crisis and continued to motivate and inspire their workforce. The payoff we will begin to see from this is increased employee loyalty and for these companies to become a more desirable place to work for top talent entering the job market.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: http://hrnews.co.uk/work-perks-how-covid-changed-benefit-strategies/

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