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IGF 2020 – Day 11 – WS330 The Future of Work from Home: Internet Governance Post Covid

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the virtual Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), from 2 to 17 November 2020. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> BRIAN SCARPELLI:  Good afternoon.  This is IGF session 330, the Future of Work from Home - Internet Governance Post-COVID.  So I can provide a very brief description here -- Before I do that, maybe just a couple of logistical notes.  We are really excited to have all of the attendees here, and I see the number growing.  I want to make sure that we are responsive to your questions and everything.  Please use the Q&A function along the bottom.  If you look along the bottom bar there, you'll see the functions for your audio, your video, your Q&A.  One called, Q&A, and if you just use that, we will keep an eye out and make sure to incorporate your questions and answer them.

I don't believe ‑‑ this will be recorded. This sessions is hosted under the Internet Governance Forum Code of Conduct and United Nations Rules and Regulations.  I should mention that.  There is a chat feature here for social chat.  Please use the Q&A function for this Panel.  I don't think I'm forgetting anything else.

So, just back to the content here and a brief description.  Our session title is The Future of Work from Home, Internet Governance Post-COVID.  It's very clear that the concept of work is among many of the things that will likely never return to normal due to the coronavirus pandemic, likely even after it fully subsides.

So while many employers within the information economy have scrambled to formalize their work from home policies to adhere to social distancing measures at the outset, some sectors are less familiar with remote work, such as retail and things like that, and are increasingly experimenting with on‑line only operations.  As more organizations are becoming accustomed to these arrangements and seek to reduce costs over the long term, telework is very likely to enjoy increasingly across the economy.

As with all large‑scale societal shifts, this new arrangement will generate new classes of winners and losers while some white-collar workers as called, will enjoy greater flexibility and freedom in work arrangements and other may not be so lucky.  And the migration of retail and other service sector operations to on line could hurt workers already vulnerable to economic hardship, including those with ledge digital skills or educational opportunities.

So work from home arrangements also raise questions about how employers will measure employee productivity and whether those efforts may entail harmful extensions of workplace surveillance.  Lots of issues.  More work conducted over the Internet enhances the opportunity for cyberattack and can lead to new privacy risks.

Our goal here today with this Panel is to discuss the evolution of in the Digital Economy, how the COVID‑19 pandemic accelerated those trends and the ways in which Internet Governance will need to evolve to keep pace with these new norms.  And the Panel is also intended to assess solutions, of course, to the equity, privacy, security and other concerns mentioned.

I know we should state some of these expected outcomes.  You'll find these in the session overview that is posted publicly on the IGF site very briefly.  I'll make sure to mention those.  To understand the spectrum of advantages and disadvantages telework will bring to bear on communities during and after the COVID‑19 pandemic and how these advantages and disadvantages could be mediated by socioeconomic factors.  Two, learn about what the IGF community can do to further action and cross‑sector collaboration to realize the potential and work through challenges surfaced in this conversation.  And three, share diverse perspectives and spur action regarding the discrete priorities and challenges to address needed from the IGF community to combat the same challenges and to take advantage of the interesting opportunities.

So, that is our session overview.  I think very briefly, I just can introduce our session Panelists and then I can turn it over to them to give Opening Remarks.  But I'm very pleased to be joined by this diverse group of experts.  Karen Kocher, Global General Manager of Talent and Learning Experiences and Workforce of the Future with Microsoft.  Helani Galpaya, CEO of Learn Asia.  Becca Williams, Principal Consultant and Owner at Thought Distillery, and Carmel Somers with a Human Capital Strategist with Technology Ireland ICT SkillNet.

So, I believe the order we were going to go in would have you first, Karen, if that's okay, and I can turn it over to you for introductory remarks, opening thoughts and then we can do the same for the Panelists.

>> KAREN KOCHER: Welcome everyone.  It's my pleasure to be here today to join this distinguished group and have a conversation with you all about workforce of the future and the future of working from home and all that that entails in terms of opportunities and potentially challenges.

As Brian mentioned, I'm here representing Microsoft.  At Microsoft, I have the opportunity to do a whole variety of bodies of work in talent and learning, broadly, for our global employee group, most specifically for the conversation here today I have the accountability for Microsoft's future of work and the workplace of the future.  So our work recently of course with COVID on people being able to take more opportunity to work in a hybrid manner and in a much more flexible manner is something that my team and I have been paying very close attention to and having a very significant focus on.

So what I thought I would start with is just a few comments to give a sense, since March when Microsoft had all of its global employees begin to work in a much more hybrid and flexible way, similar to most companies, we have gone through quite an evolution of skills and mindsets and activities, as you can imagine.

At the center of that all along, has been our commitment to our culture, and I think many of you have probably read over the years of the cultural transformation that Microsoft has been working through.  And that culture has been front and center in every decision that we have made as we've moved more into this hybrid flexible way of working.  And that's not just for our employees.  It's also keeping the communities that we live in and we serve also atop of mind as we make decisions and we progress.

I think the other couple of points to make people aware of is as we worked our way through these changes, as a technology company of course, we are very committed to innovation but we really focused to the extent we can, as Kathleen Hogan, our Chief Human Resource Officer likes to say, we are working our way to goat yes with each of our employees. 

As Brian opened and said, everybody around the world is in a unique situation whether it is because you have children learning at home at the same time you're trying to work or it may be because you're taking care of a family member.  Everybody has unique situations.

We need to understand those unique situations and then as much as we possibly can, get as close to yes for what is best for that employee as we possibly can.  So using some of the principles as our anchors, that is how we have been organizing ourselves for this future of work and specifically our hybrid of flexible work with COVID.

I'm happy to discuss that in more detail.  Brian, back to you.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Helani?

>> HELANI GALPAYA: Thank you, Brian.  So, I run a think tank called Learn Nation.  We work in Southeast Asia and with our Partners in Latin America and Africa and we still worry about who are not connected, who might be marginalized and so on.  So in terms of working at home, there is not a whole lot of systematic evidence on what happened during the pandemic.  We ourselves are in the process of coming some nationwide surveys to understand what happened to livelihoods and what extent ICT was used and so on.

The most systematic studies, the latest one is the one put out by the World Bank, which follows up on some of the other studies done by several other researchers, which basically looks at OECD countries.  It does involve some Developing Countries but Mexico, for example, but it's the majority the big and the rich economies of the world.  And they do this interesting classification based on like manual work, intensity, face‑to‑face interactions, the ICT component of work already in all these jobs and then Internet availability at home.

And the clearest finding is that broadly speaking, this tracks GDP.  The workers in poorer countries with lower GDPs are less likely to have jobs that are amenable for working at home.

The best performer is Norway, for example, one of the richest countries.  So, here, we come to the fundamental challenge of Internet availability at home, even if you had a job with high face‑to‑face intensity on line and low manual component which means you don't need machinery and so on, you still need to have decent ICT connectivity at home.

And our research, which is quite systematic in this sense, and spans about 23 countries in the Global South and the development level countries, representative of everyone above the age of 15 in all of these countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia, paints quite a dire picture while Argentina, Columbia, the richer countries, have done well in getting connectivity to households.  The Asian and African countries are lagging far, far behind.

So we are talking availability of working Internet connect in the pre‑COVID being 21% of households.  So let's assume with the demand that clearly happened because of COVID, it went up to 30% or 35%, 40%.  Still that is a large number of households and therefore a large number of individuals who are without connectivity.

That's not the only barrier.  You need a device as well.  Many, what we find during the pandemic is many people connecting via a phone and you need at least a smartphone for a decent video connectivity.  And smartphones pretty much lag behind and trace the number of people.  So for example, in a country like Sri Lanka, we are talking about 30‑40% of everyone over the age of 15 being on line.  And that's roughly the number of percentage of smartphones.  So it really is determined by having access to a good device.

If you're looking at availability of laptops, the numbers are incredibly dire.  There is a whole lot of work that cannot be done on a phone and requires a laptop to work at home.  The numbers are down to 20%, 4% across all people in India, 3% in Bangladesh.  6% in Nepal.  The numbers are really ridiculously low.

So the opportunities, even when you have a job that potentially could do some of it productively at home, you don't have the devices or the connectivity.  And the problems with connectivity often not having reliable connectivity are quite serious.

Later we should get into a whole discussion about who actually has access to these devices and the non‑ICT barriers for working at home.  But I'll stop my comments there.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Thank you.  Becca?

>> BECCA WILLIAMS: Hi, everyone.  I'm honored and grateful to be here among such an incredible group of Panelists.  I am a small business owner in Colorado in the U.S.

I work with globally‑distributed software development and product teams as an Agile Coach Project Manager and Analyst.  So very hands on from an implementation perspective.  I have been fully remote for five years now under a few different scenarios.  First, as the only remote employee in my functional area and on my team.  I also worked for an organization that was half remote, half co‑located.  Another organization that was fully remote and now for the last 15 months I have been remote Independent Consultant.  So I experienced work, remote work pre‑COVID from a number of different angels and look forward to sharing more about that and also very passionate about cultivating empowered and authentic teams and mindful heart‑centered leadership.  So, all the structures that need to be in place in order for people to do their best work and show up fully.  Thank you.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Thank you.  And last but not least, Carmel.

>> CARMEL SOMERS: Thank you, Brian.  So I'm absolutely delighted to and have the opportunity to be here today and to be part of this discussion.  I'm an Organizational Psychologist.  I worked for IBM for almost 31 years and I took early retirement last year and I moved to work for a company called Technology Ireland ICT SkillNet.  So as an organization, we are chartered to continue upscaling within industry.  So it's very much about providing programs to allow industry to flourish and I'm based in Ireland and I work in Ireland as well.  But this topic is very core to what we are doing as an organization because we are very focused on the future of work.

I think to a great extent for a lot of organizations, COVID was a turning point for them because I mean I must say, I have been working from home in a hybrid model for probably over 10 years.  Loved it.  Not so much loving it at the minute.  And I think that is sort of the same way with a lot of people.

So I think it's also a really ‑‑ it's interesting because I think it's everything from technology right through to people to how we lead.  It's the culture in our organizations.  And then it is the barriers for a lot of people that maybe the playing field isn't quite so equal anymore.  So that's kind of my high‑level talk so I'm looking forward to the session.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Excellent.  Thanks.  I am ‑‑ and one more reminder to the attendees.  It's great to see this strong number by the way.  Thank you all for attending.

Please do use that Q&A function.  I don't see any questions just yet.  Don't worry.  We have got some to get rolling with here.

I guess here is one that I hope, please, anyone jump in and answer and even to build on or respond to what other people say.  It's great to get the conversation going.  Teeing it off through everyone's Opening Remarks, but as the Public Health crisis has evolved, and we have seen businesses formalize work from home policies more and more, what opportunities does this shift signal to you?  What are those harms that we have mentioned ‑‑ some of which have been mentioned already, to be mitigated?  And do you think this is a trend that will last beyond the Public Health crisis?  Or how much will things return to normal after COVID?  A lot of ‑‑ several questions.  But anyone, please go ahead.

>> CARMEL SOMERS: I'll start with that question.  I think in terms of opportunities, some of the initial studies and for organizations that have had working from home or remote working prior to them, would say the productivity tends to go up.  And I suppose there is a lot of reasons for that.  From an employee point of view -- and I'm just going to pick a couple so the other Panelists can also chip in.  From the employee's point of view, the big thing tends to be flexibility.  And do I think this will continue?  Absolutely.  I think for those organizations that didn't do it before that now have people who got into the swing of it, like it, I think they'll continue to do it.

There is also ‑‑ I suppose the whole fact that when we have kind of proven it works, there are models for us to continue to do it and I think it certainly will continue into next year and I think most organizations will probably continue to look at it.  That would be my cut on it.

>> KAREN KOCHER: To build off what Carmel said, I would add ‑‑ and these are both in my opinion, opportunities and potential harms.  So I think just keeping that in mind.  I don't know that they fall nicely into one category or the other.

I agree that this is going to be a trend that continues.  What we are seeing is it's this integration of work and personal life that there is no clear delineation once you start to work in a hybrid flexible model.  I think that that is an opportunity for many people.  It does give them the flexibility.  It is also a difficult situation for most people to manage.  So well‑being really starts to be negatively impacted T is something that we are already seeing as we do a lot on the Microsoft side with workplace analytics and that is absolutely a trend that we are seeing is that productivity goes up absolutely.  People feel good about what they are getting done but there is a cost to that and the cost seems to be that blurring of this personal and work line each more so than maybe it was in the past and the well‑being effects of all of that.

So that is one.  Number 2 is it's back to skills.  So again, an opportunity, but also a challenge.  Working in a highly‑digital way.  We were already on our way through a digital transformation in many places around the world and people were already being challenged by not having the skills they needed to take advantage of those work opportunities.  And stow now this is being exacerbated by this immediate thrust into working more digitally and in a flexible way.

So again, we have a lot that we are doing on the Microsoft side for our own employees and also for other parts of the world to help people realize the skills they need and then help them acquire the skills they need to be employable as they go into the future in a more digital future.

So I would say those are two things that really resonate for me and I'll turn it over to somebody else on the Panel.

>> HELANI GALPAYA: I agree with Carmel and Karen.  I think it is interesting that a lot of these trends that we are seeing are true for ‑‑ the opportunity to work from home, I think, is sometimes a privilege in the rather dangerous situation that is we have.  So if you look at a lot of low‑paid service sector jobs, be it in developed or under Developed Countries.  Those people are already out of work.

There is a Public Policy imperative at this point to think through who can work from home and therefore what are the resources in safeguarding those who cannot work from home?  I think that is an important conversation as much as talking about who can work from home, because we need less resources.  I'm in this house.  All these families are in this house, which is arguably a much safer environment.

Second, it also privileges certain types of jobs, not only does it negatively discriminate against low‑paid service sector jobs which cannot be done on line, most of the time, it highly privileges knowledge work, certain types of creative work.

So these are already the well‑paid people that the research finds that a lot of times, not always, can do a lot of that work on line.  They are also the ones more likely to have more ICT components and so on.  There is also a gender component here I think, and that works across class and economic privilege.

Women are working at home with all of the other responsibilities, a lot of times, while men are just working from home in many situations.  Right?  So there is a fund meant at difference in that.

And when we looked at in Developing Countries at a certain type of home‑based work, which is the purely digital work, sitting in your house and doing gigs designing web pages or ad clicking or social media marketing or stuff like that, what we find is interesting culture phenomena is that this kind of work sometimes pays really well, often many people are moonlighting while they have some other job that doesn't pay them well.  It's unacceptable culturally for men, a lot of times, to be sitting at home and doing this gig work on line.  While it is quite acceptable for women to be sitting at home on a computer and doing gig work, repeatedly you hear this in a number ever studies.

In part, because it is allowing women to play their traditional role of managing the house, cooking, shopping and all of these other things.  So the expectation of employers has to really fundamentally shift all of their workforce, men and women working from home, and somehow we expect exactly the same level of work and the same kind of productivity that will be high productivity, but what does that mean?  How do we set incentives?  I mean all of these things have to be really rethought.

>> BECCA WILLIAMS: I agree what has been said as well and I would add a couple of more opportunities and harms on the flip side.  To the flexibility point, I saw an article last month from national public radio that referenced a study from upward, a freelancing platform estimating that 14‑23 million Americans are considering relocating to less expensive areas.  So that brings with it some opportunities for the areas where they are relocating to if they are rural areas that are already served by broadband infrastructure, for example, interesting things can be happening there.

On the flip side, as people move out of cities, as some companies are closing their large offices, what is the negative impact on the people who support those efforts?  We are also seeing discussions around companies, large ones, that are considering location‑based salary adjustments so for the people who do choose to make those moves, how much of a pay cut will they have to take and will that make those companies less competitive in the market?  It used to be that remote opportunities were prized and so from an employee perspective, they might be willing to take less because there were fewer opportunities.  Now there are many more.  So I think companies are going to have to re‑evaluate.  And lastly, I think we are going to be looking at redefining what it means to deliver value.  It's not necessarily about sitting in your Chair for 30‑50 hours a week as it relates to the idea of productivity.  How do we think about that differently?  Thank you.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: All excellent answers.  So many interesting threads to pull on there.  Thank you all.  And it's great to see one, we have an interesting question, which might help us pull on one of the threads, particularly something you just said, Becca.  That was also a theme across what other folks were saying and to see such a lively chat.  Great to see the engagement, I must say.

So one of the audience members asked the following question, I'm curious about the Panelist's views on whether this period ‑‑ and I think he's talking about the COVID‑19 pandemic other ‑‑ will have lasting impact on regulatory support for improved and widespread residential Internet access and what strategies are likely to be the most impactful for individuals working from home?  Maybe that ‑‑ that is a very interesting question.  Thank you for asking that.  And maybe if I could just add a little bit on to it.  Fortunately for this conversation too, we have some good diversity among our Panelists even geographically.  I'm curious where you are.  Have you seen the government ‑‑ the government of the country you're in or the region multigovernmental organizations, anything like that?  Or other organizations, even non‑governmental, focusing on that issue and developments worth sharing?  That sort of a thing?  That's really fascinating to me.  Sorry to add that on to your question but it is a good question.  Does anyone want ‑‑ it wasn't directed at anyone in particular.  So I'd love to hear what anyone would like to say to that.

>> HELANI GALPAYA: Can I give a helpful answer?  That is, I think doing things once the pandemic hits to worry about who has access, oh, my goodness, how do we improve it?  It's a bit too late.  I mean I come from a part of the world where property regulation of markets and high levels of competition have gotten more people connected than anything else.  So allowing competition into the market is the key.

Now having said that, the fact that Internet access in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, often comes out at the most affordable end of all lead tables, almost every year.  And yet, under 30% of the population is connected.  So there is a lot more going on than just having connectivity, which we have done pretty well, having affordable connectivity, which we have done reasonably well.  I mean of course if you look at that in society, you will find it is still relatively unaffordable but overall if you look at aggregate numbers it's incredibly affordable, and yet people are not on line.

So the other environmental factors whether it is skill or whether it is high‑quality, whether it is the sales of having an Internet connectivity.  I mean the responses we get from people who never used the Internet in the countries, in Africa, Asia and Latin America, along the lines of, I never heard of the Internet.  That's a huge percentage of people who answered that question as the main reason you never used Internet or social media.  Second, I don't see the need for it.  And somewhere third in Asia comes, I can't afford it.  Somewhere slightly higher in Africa.  So the reasons are really quite magical.  This kickstart we got from the pandemic and the need to be on line, particularly for children's education more than anything else, at least to be on WhatsApp to get your assignments, would drive a lot of Internet deduction.  Thank you.

>> CARMEL SOMERS: I think I'd add to that in the context I do think that governments need to do more broadband and Internet access.  And I think it's not just to support the working from home but one of the things that this showed up certainly in Ireland was how many businesses weren't on line.  So just from ‑‑ the world is changing.  Everything is going digital.  And businesses need to have a presence on line and to have a presence on line, you need to be able to support it.  I think it also goes beyond just the working from home piece in that context.

>> KAREN KOCHER: This is not my area of expertise but I everyone in the United States, as an example ‑‑ in the United States ‑‑ many people assume we have terrific Internet connect activity and access because we are a very developed country and quite a wealthy one in comparison to many yet we have a lot of people in the rural areas that have previously been under served or unserved or underserved as it relates to Internet access.  And I know Microsoft, we have an initiative and we are not unique, there are other companies that have initiatives, but we have an initiative called, air band.  And so through the air band program over the past several years, we have been able to put about 1.2 million people on the Internet in these rural underserved areas throughout the country.  So I think governments absolutely need to do all they can and at the same time, I think corporations have some accountability as well to help and improve the situation for people.  So at least speaking for Microsoft, that is what we have been doing in order to try to help people that otherwise wouldn't have access and therefore wouldn't have opportunities.

>> BECCA WILLIAMS: I'm based in Colorado and I have been digging into broadband availability lately.  It's not my area of expertise either.  But I'm finding the number of agencies that play a role in that availability is fascinating.  Department of Regulatory affairs, Department of Local affairs, state Broadband Commission.  As I dig more, as a homeowner considering a relocation, I'm not sure where to start.  So I don't know if things are going to bubble up to the higher levels or if it's going to go top‑down.  But I agree it's absolutely important to get everyone connected and the fact that so many people are even considering relocating does come from a place of privilege.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Great.  Thank you all.  This is really excellent.  We have gotten a number of questions here.  I just wanted to make sure that I read it in the most helpful way.

So maybe this would be something Carmel, I wonder what you and others might think about this.  This question was just directed to the entire Panel.  So you may all have a perspective here.  But I was just thinking about your credentials and stuff with this and it's something that you mentioned in your Opening Remarks, I believe.

One question here is, essentially saying, when people work from home, don't we lose needed contact with others?  And this is important to achieve work success.  And I know several of you mentioned this.  So I would guess that your answer is probably, yes, but is that an understated aspect here with working from home trends?  I mean this is almost getting to a mental health and satisfaction and even satisfaction, which I know Karen you mentioned too at the beginning.  Does anyone want to expand on that?  I think it's an interesting thought that someone shared in the Q&A function.

>> KAREN KOCHER: So, I can ‑‑

>> CARMEL SOMERS: Karen do you want to go?

>> KAREN KOCHER: I'll follow you.

>> CARMEL SOMERS: It's fundamental.  As human beings, we are very much wired for social interaction.  And that social interaction tends to be ‑‑ we need more of the physical social interaction.  I mean, look what we are doing today is great and it is great we can build relationships and have a conversation.  But it doesn't get away from the fact that at the end of the day, part of why we go into a physical location for work is that we actually, it's those impromptu meetings in the corridors, the ability to grab somebody and go for a cup of coffee and there is that social piece that is about that physical closeness that actually sort of fulfills us in a lot of different ways.  Emotionally, intellectually.

And I have seen it because I have gone from the hybrid work environment where I went into the office three days a week and I worked from home full‑time, 2 days a week and I don't like this away from work.  I want to get back to the hybrid, is what I'm saying.

So I think who raised that question, it is huge that whole area is huge.  And it is very fundamental.  It's also very fundamental to the culture of our organization so whatever organization we work for, a big piece of our kind of come to work, feel good, like about the organization s how people interact and it's how the organization works and how we meet and how we collaborate.  And it's not saying you can't do that remotely.  But I'm not sure yet how we get this balance of that connectivity around the social piece.

I think it's a huge area for cultures and organizations and while we can kind of understand it and maybe even able to move forward if people all worked in an environment before COVID, but think about the person you're going to hire into your organization in six months or eight months at a time if you're going to be either all fully remote.  So how do they each get that first experience in an organization where maybe the manager walks them around to introduce them to some people and if that manager meets people on the way, some of those interactions that happen that are not planned, that we see that we kind of get a sense of, it's a friendly organization and gosh, the manager actually asked that person about how their kid got at soccer practice.

It's those nuances you pick up in that physical environment as you go around and culture grows over time and culture builds over time.  But I think this is a huge question and probably one that you could do a whole session on for hours.  I'll leave it at that because I know Karen wants to come in behind me.

>> KAREN KOCHER: I appreciate that.  And I think that what we are seeing, and just based on the thought leadership out there as well.  So a lot of studies that are underway at this point and some that have already been concluded and have some really interesting insights.  It seems to be that you have to think about this from a variety of perspectives.  Yes, social cohesion is a big deal.  Its how do you help people in a hybrid flexible environment still develop and maintain the necessary levels of social cohesion with all the right people and groups?  So you have to be very purposeful about that.

That may be the lesson in all of this is it has to be very purposeful.  The other thing is, how do you give people or encourage people to take unplugged reflection time?  What we are finding is people are getting on line at really early times of the day and they are working on line all the way through the evening.  They don't have any time at all.  Most of us are putting ourselves like take yourself off video just for five minutes to run to the kitchen to get lunch or to grab a water.  And so you truly have no downtime.

And so all of this just kind of happens.  So what we are beginning to see really clearly is, you really do have to be very purposeful about, there is a need to build in some sort of social cohesion.

There say need to build in unplugged reflection time.  And so there is a need to make clear to people why are they joining?  Is it a brainstorming activity?  Is it just a more passive activity?  And you need to make sure that people can prepare and the organizing framework for the opportunity supports what you're trying to achieve.  There are so many things.  But we were all thrift in this and people are doing quite well ‑‑ thrust ‑‑ but now as we think about this being a long term play, I think that is where we have to go about it in much more of a planned way taking all of those.

And at Microsoft, we have our managers working on what we call team agreements.  And so all managers at Microsoft have been given tools so they can sit down with their teams and come up with these team agreements.  And the team agreements will include as an example, when are we going to have our team meetings, making it clear that everybody needs to participate in the team meetings.  As we go forward, and we can be more hybrid where people will be in the workplace, which meetings do you need to come to face‑to‑face?  And again, being very mindful of those should be the difference maker meetings where you're trying to form a social cohesion.  We are asking mornings to be very thoughtful about this.  Do it quite far in advance of when they'll be expected to work in that way.

So it's not a last‑minute, things are just kind of done because they need to be done.  But it is a very purposeful to get the outcomes that we all want and need.

>> BECCA WILLIAMS: Can I jump in?  Carmel, I love your point about unplanned interactions and Karen your emphasis on being purposeful.  I absolutely agree.  I think something that can work really well for the organizations that choose to stay fully remote or close to it, is investing in bringing everyone together two or three times a year.  I think it's absolutely worth the investment to create those spaces for those face‑to‑face interactions.  For me personally, it's been a fluctuation over time.  Initially I was fearful about being remote.  I thought I was going to hate it.  After that, and like remote is the only way.

This is the future.  And then a couple ever years in, I felt that loneliness that people often experience.  And I found that I had to rebuild my sense of community outside of work as someone who always tied my identity very closely to the work that I did.  I just had to reinvent how I reconnected with community.  And it became local and getting out more within the surrounding area to find those kinds of connections that I was missing with remote work.

I have also found that there have been some cases where I felt closer to remote colleagues than in‑person colleagues.  So there are some interesting things that can happen when the structure is there.  Back to Karen's point about being purposeful.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Agreed.  Okay.  I have a question of my own here, a targeted one, and I do see at least four other question that is have come in.  So I can take a look at those here to see if one naturally follows up with something like that.  But, a question for you, Karen, would you be able to share just maybe some more about how Microsoft as an organization has dealt with the Public Health crisis, the posture the company with respect to telework and what is next after the ‑‑ I don't think it's controversy tool say that right now is an acute phase of the pandemic.  It seems globally, which I hate to have to say that, but it does seem that it is unfortunately.  And then it passes.  Ideally, soon.

What that might mean permanently for an organization like yours.

>> KAREN KOCHER: Sure.  I'm happy to talk about it.  As I mentioned earlier, Microsoft ‑‑ of course we went to this hybrid flexible workplace back in March.  So like many people around the world, in the March timeframe it was when much of this started and twee now will be on a path from hay corporate stand point to be in this hybrid flexible situation real tow Brian's point, forever.  We anticipate this will go on for the future.  So even after all of our countries are locations are back to COVID stage 6, which means they are able to be in the workplace and do so safely, we anticipate that many, many employees will be still taking advantage of a hybrid flexible work situation.

Right now through July 6, for the Microsoft Corporation, people will be working largely from home unless they are an essential worker in an essential working category.  So we do have the whole company having to get better at being hybrid flexible workers together.  So it goes back to the previous question on how do we do that and do it in a way that people are not only productive but they are satisfied and well doing it.  So our process so far, as I mentioned, we have employees at 120 countries.  And so we have tried to be as local about all of this as we possibly can.  And that means working with the country policies, the country norms, the country cultures et cetera.  At the same time wanting people and the communities to be safe and so that's first and foremost.  Trying to be local about it and then I mentioned the other mind estate we are operating within which is getting to across ‑ mindset.

Whether it's the country‑type situation or a individual's unique needs, there are so many unique circumstances to take into consideration that we can't make corporate policies that align to everybody.  What we tried to do is put in place a small number of corporate‑wide policies and instead lean in towards more local and individualized circumstances and approaches.

And that mindset of getting to yes has been one that we are really focused on.  From a corporate perspective, we have ‑‑ I think you probably have seen a really good blog on line if you haven't taken a look from Kathleen Hogan who is Microsoft's Chief Human Resource Officer.  In there she talks about this spirit and mindset that we are working with but also she talks about how every employee at Microsoft, unless you're in a rare category where you're role for some reason cannot be done virtually, but the large majority of Microsoft employees for the future, will be able to work less than 50% of their time from home.  And that is everybody.  That was a position we took about three or so weeks ago, I think on October 7 is when we made that announcement to our employees and then publicly.

As an example, that put us in a situation where yes, of course for COVID, that is essential for health and safety.  Beyond COVID, we believe it is essential to deliver people a better way of balancing their work and family and home needs and situations.  And people want the flexibility.  So less than 50% of the time employees can simply work from home.  They don't have to ask permission.  Again unless they are in a rare category that they can't work from home but that is a very small number.  That's just an example.  We are now adjusting ourselves, the technology that we use, the way we use it, the way we organize our teams, the team agreements that I mentioned to you, there are just so many as affects have to be thought about and worked through and it's a big change management effort as I'm sure you can imagine and the same for your own organizations.

So we have a lot of change management plans that we are starting to work through helping managers have the right mindset for working with their employees in this new and different way of working.  Making sure people have the skills they need and making sure that people have the technology and access they need.  Make sure they have the right home office setups f that is something they are going to take advantage of more than 50% of the time, which there is the possibility of people having more than 50%.  Manager approval has to be involved there.

So we have a whole organized way of thinking through this and working through it.  But what I find interesting and I think necessary that we should all collaborate on is that need to basically reimagine as Becca said.  Re‑invent and re‑imagine and through that re‑invention, then begin to identify what do we need to do?  How do we help people skill and get the right mindset?  So now we are trying to be very purposeful for that for the future.  So I'll lay that as the groundwork and let others jump in.

>> HELANI GALPAYA: Karen, I find this so fascinating.  I'd love to sigh the data in 2‑4 years on what this does to who stays in the workforce and two doesn't.  Because we know the primary reasons a lot of women drop off, for example, because of caring and responsibilities and so on.

I ran a much smaller organization that has always had flexible work as an option.  The only people who asked for it are women and usually women with children or caring responsibilities.  Once we all have gone remote, it's a regional organization, so we are quite used to working with people on line but I find in Colombo, the people who are clamoring to come back into office after curfew are the men with children.  I'd love to see systematic data given how big Microsoft is.

>> KAREN KOCHER: I agree with you.  We are ‑‑ it's so early.  We just announce today October 7.  So it is absolutely a work in progress and we are not promoting this as the answer because to your point, we don't have the data.  We are simply saying, this is the decision that we made that we think is best for Microsoft and our employees and the communities that we are part of.  And over time, we will see how this works and where we need to evolve from here.

And I do like in the chat box, somebody mentioned it all does bring us back to the Internet global forum and the reason we are here.  Is the ‑‑ it requires Internet connectivity for people to be able to go this.  And so I don't know if anybody on the Panel wants to add more about what they see as the evolution in that area that really does need to coincide with these opportunities that we are talking about.

>> CARMEL SOMERS: I would add to that.  What I really wanted to acknowledge is the fact that what you're doing as an organization, most organizations need to do.  In fact, all organizations need to do it.  I think we can't just assume that this working from home thing is almost just the new norm without putting focus on.  One of the big things by doing that is that it's driven from the top‑down.  And I think with working from home, I think it needs to see that leaders walk the talk with it.  So that you have that scenario where, if I decide after all this COVID thing is gone, and my organization gives me the ability to work from home and I decide to do that, that I won't have a manager somewhere that really is kind of on line 9:00 at night or 10:00 at night and I'm following that sort of culture because it kind of breaks the whole sentiment around doing this.  And I think you do kind of have to get into it.  You do have to plan it, which is just great to see that you're doing that, in terms of the importance of the Internet connectivity, absolutely. 

The other thing I think is when organizations look to do this, and organizations like Microsoft and many others across sectors, they have a voice that actually may get this Internet situation resolved or close to resolved because it's going to be important for countries to be competitive.  Not just for different businesses to be competitive but in everybody's interest for society and citizens as well as organizations to be able to ‑‑ so I think it may help to drive that connectivity especially when is there a voice coming from industry as well saying not that there hadn't been all along but there is a bigger push because of the scenario we ended up in with COVID.

>> HELANI GALPAYA: May I add one more pointed?  While we talked about people like us and knowledge workers who can work digitally, there is a lot of manual production work that can benefit from the kind of digital connectivity and integration into digitally‑connected value chains.  So this point that was being made with better connectivity being so fundamental, so that people who are even if you're doing a business from home which they do with garment manufacturing or handicrafts or production of food, we know how much they relied on digital platforms.  Digital payments is another thing, particularly for women and home‑based workers to be able to continue to work.  So the fact that Paypal is not allowed in some countries, it's such a fundamental challenge to getting paid on a platform instead of paying 14%, you're paying much bigger commissions to cash out your money.  So a lot of non‑digital ‑‑ so the analogue compliment have to work to make it stick for physical manufacturing and location specific workers who also can move part of their value chains on line.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Great.  Thank you all.  So I was looking at the questions we had come in, and Helani, this may be a question for you at least to start.  And I'm trying to take two different questions and kind of put them into one.  One question was observing about ‑‑ before, work travel was more or less nixed, widely, that businesses would provide subsidy support for expenses when someone was traveling.  How does that translate into the future that we are talking about?  And I'm trying to mix that with another question.  I thought of learn Asia and where you mentioned your doing work what this means for developing as well as Developed Countries.  I realize that is a little bit of an open‑ended question there but I thought they were two interesting themes that came in through the Q&A function here.

>> HELANI GALPAYA: I'll make a small contribution and I'm sure others can jump in.  It is absolutely true in many Developing Countries the allowances, for example, for travel, are a huge part of the compensation compared to your monthly salary.  So the moment you stop traveling for work daily, you lose the allowance and that actually is a really important part of your living wage.  So that say challenge and it's a reality.

Obviously the way we think about it is, why you may not need to buy your train ticket or what have you?  You still need to obviously have digital connectivity.  You will need software to secure yourself and work in a particular way.  Now going further, you may also, if you're spending 12 hours a day on video calls, need to same kind of office Chair that we provided but at home.  So there is a whole lot of shifting of those benefits that were simply targeted as travel and very easily paid off by employers because there are tax implications and so on, that really do now need shift.  And I'm not sure our accounting teams are ready to handle that the way these capital assets are depreciating as opposed to monthly payment for travel.  But I don't think this is rocket science.

You can still keep people possibly at a similar level of employment and productivity as long as you're willing to shift and rethink what it is that their space at home is subsidizing for example, what part of that you should pay for and so on and so forth.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Thank you.  I wondered, Becca, if I could ask you a question.  Just building on everything we talked about so far, it's been a great discussion.  In your experience in working with globally‑distributed, including teams that are likely working to build solutions to some of the challenges that we are discussing here today.  I wonder if you could maybe elaborate or dig into a little bit some of the Best Practices for successful remote working environments that you have seen.

>> BECCA WILLIAMS: I would love to.  I think a lot of them mirror what we would see in any healthy co‑located organizations.  A number of things are not specific to remote work.  And I think we have also covered a number of things and we have got philosophical.  And then we have the tactical implementations, from philosophical perspective in terms of getting to yes, just remembering that we are all whole people.  We are parents.  We are caregivers.  We are Partners.  We are animal lovers.  Activisits.  Gamers.  Keeping that whole person‑centered view in mind.  It's no longer a matter of the compartmentalized employee.  Work is here and home is here.  As others mentioned, those lines are very blurry now.  So I think starting with the philosophy is important.

From a tactical perspective, having the tools and processes in place, so making sure that there is solid structure for collaboration, whether that is communication asynchronously, chat tools like flack and Microsoft teams, I love that too.  I think they both work really well collaborating on documents and other digital assets.  Making sure ‑‑ I have seen a lot of hiccups around not having clearly defined roles and responsibilities.  So I think that is super important too.

A lot of time can be wasted when that is not in place and I think it is important to work with employees to craft those roles and responsibilities so it's not a matter of just handing them over and saying here you go.  It's how can we work through this together so that there is that sense of ownership and buy‑in making sure that people know where to go and who to go for answers.  So having a solid internal knowledge base is important.  Open and transparent communications, weekly one‑on‑ones between managers and directed reports.  I think things like that and team building activities can quickly go to the wayside when there isn't always an immediately tangible benefit.  But there are absolutely long‑term benefits.

I have other thoughts.  I'll stop myself there.  I could talk about this for a really long time.  I'd love to hear from other Panelists.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Great.  If anyone else wants to add on to that, please do.

>> CARMEL SOMERS: I think Becca pretty much covered all the things.  I think some of the biggest things are when you talk about communication, almost better to overcommunicate than undercommunicate in this environment.  Another thing I seen work is where you set up a space for people to be able to work themselves together so to kind of encourage those teams to come together and it's not always manager‑driven.  Becca covered things like weekly one‑to‑ones.  Employees don't feel it now.  They have forgotten about because they are outside of the office.  Encouraging the teams to self esteem to, come together in groups to schedule their own meetings or own sessions as needed.  And something we started doing as an organization, I literally joined ICT SkillNet at the start of March and my first day to meet the whole team was the day that we actually shut the office for lockdown for COVID back in March.  And there was a suggestion that came out about a week later that we would a coffee morning every Friday from 11‑11:30.  And I remember thinking to myself, for God's sake, how does this actually work?

So the skeptic who would be pro communication kind of went into this thinking, that's great if we are all sitting together.  But I just didn't really ‑‑ this on line thing of doing it ‑‑ it's still going.  I don't work Fridays and I still go on a Friday ‑‑ unless I literally have something else I can't go to it, but it is actually worked.  We don't talk about work.  And it's an amazing how we managed to get to know one another through that.  I think there is a lot of different ways we need to pull communication together and then that is just a couple of thoughts to follow on from Becca.

>> KAREN KOCHER: The only other thing I would sad I think that this whole notion of how to help people be unplugged, there is some themes here in the chat where I think right now it seems as if we are so on line oriented that everything is now being done on line.  And we don't seem to be good at deciding what activities really don't have to be done on line.  And so, this whole notion of unplugged reflection time or maybe the need to have more of a conversation like, pick up the phone and call someone.  Everything doesn't have to be a video.  And because I think it gets to be exhausting for people and for all kinds of ways and reasons.

Just being more thoughtful about what is to someone's point in the chat, what is productivity?  And how will I be most productive?  And does that really mean I have to be on line?  Or does it mean I should be doing it in some other way and to Carmel's point, it may be means I want and need to have more social interaction.  So it doesn't need to be a work activity at all.  It could be some sort of activity they helps me get a little more social with my teammates in a way that we all feel good about.  However that can be done depending on where you are in the world.

>> BECCA WILLIAMS: I think it's important to model things like going for a walk, or taking 10 minutes to meditate.  Making sure that that is okay.  Again, the things that are harder to tangibly measure, there are plenty of studies about the benefits of nature and meditation and what not.  I think we are starting to hear those conversations within organizations but there is still probably some aversion.  I can't measure that.

>> KAREN KOCHER: But I think it's a terrific point because we start ‑‑ we have an HR executive meeting on a weekly basis and we start those meetings ‑‑ or during the meeting at some point, we ask questions like that.  Like hey, telling us how you remove stress in your day.  Share us one activity you do each day that gives you energy.  So everybody will pipe up and start to talk about how they walk their dogs or whatever.  And you can see the energy level in people's faces as they talk about these activities and of course people are sharing and other people are thinking, wow, why didn't I think of doing that?  And it's just a great way to help everybody anchor back in what is really important, which is staying healthy and well.  But also just to energize the group a little bit more and to bring it all back to just real life is always important.

>> BECCA WILLIAMS: I love that, Karen.  Glad to hear that.

>> CARMEL SOMERS: It's great.  I was going to say too, sometimes you actually have to schedule literally 15 minutes into your morning somewhere and into your afternoon just tow you do walk away from whatever you're doing because I found I now have to do it whereas when I went into the office, somebody always turned up at our door at some point just to swing by and say hello or just to say, did you know such and such is happening?

And it kind of was the break.  But you also had the thing if you left your office to go to a physical meeting room, you got up and you moved and you kind of left some things behind.  I find I now have to stick 15 minutes in my calendar in the morning and in the afternoon.  Otherwise, it does become this iteration that you kind of do.

I have gone from having lunch with somebody to literally that 5 minute grab a coffee and manage to get a salad into a bowl in five minutes and I come back and eat it in front of my laptop.  So not such a good plan.  And I think we need to be more conscious of it because I think long‑term, the issue is that you end up with these pains in your shoulders and end up feeling tired.  The kind of buzz you would have gotten from working at home before where I might have gotten up and say I don't have to worry what I look like tomorrow morning because I'm working from home.  I'm only going to be on callings and you can only see me from here up.  It's kind of become, tomorrow is just, I'm working.  It's not a different feeling of a day that is constant working from home.

The other thing I have discovered is, I do need to get into clothes that I would have worn going to work.  For the first bit I was getting up and getting into T‑shirts and sweat pants and whatever.  And I find that also allows me to break that sense that when ‑‑ so when I step away, I get out of the blouse and the trousers and I get into something I go and walk the dog with.  And I didn't think I'd ever need to do that.  There is a whole conscious stream of how we are plugged in and how we need to unplug and how we need to take those time out and we are only learning because we are having ‑‑ because we are all in this scenario where we are working five days a week at home.

>> KAREN KOCHER: Just to add something in there.  So on the Microsoft side, for those who use teams, we have a product called teams and it's similar to Zoom.  And so we have actually based on all that we are talking about here, we have started to build in, for example, we launched about a month ago a virtual commute.  So if you're in teams it helps you basically unplug and reflect and get yourself ready for the workday just as if you were commuting like you used to do in the car.  And you have the same thing at the end of your workday.  So it puts your mindset back into going with your family now, having dinner, just like again if you were commuting.  So the virtual commute is interesting.  It will be great to see the data on what difference it makes.

We also forged a relationship with a company called headspace.  So within teams, there are now going to be mindfulness and well‑being resources and tools because I think we are all right.  We are all right here that it can't constantly be this nonstop on line meeting type of environment.  And so but how do you use some of the tools and resources that people will be using anyway to help facilitate and foster this way of thinking and being as like a change management effort?  And so we'll get the data at some point and be able to report back on how it goes.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: The thing I was thinking about as you all are talking about this, and this is very fascinating to me, you is hear about ‑‑ I monitor.  I read an article from time to time about employee wellness programs and sometimes they give out wearables even.  Some companies and things like that.  I was curious about whether you all heard about them or part of any such deployments that headspace‑Microsoft partnership ‑‑ if that is the right word, your all's integration of that tool.

There is an example.  That is really interesting.  It came up organically.  So I don't know if there is any other ones that people have heard about they want to mention.  But I'd love to round up this information and we can share it in the follow‑up report that we do for IGF on this session.  I think that would be really valuable.

>> KAREN KOCHER: I agree.  For people who are participating should also share because I'm sure that there is so many people that have ideas or they are trying things within their companies or their government, non‑profit organizations.  So it would be terrific to learn broadly what people are seeing and doing and what is working.  If we have evidence, that is terrific.  We are always up to for sharing for sure.

>> CARMEL SOMERS: I know there is one program currently running in Ireland and I can't remember off the top of my head, who organized it, but any company can join and it's about logging your steps.  So it's trying to encourage people to get away from the desk and so I see Karen and others nodding so obviously it is popular and it's out there across‑the‑board.  But it does, I suppose get a little exercise in and step out.

>> KAREN KOCHER: I think ‑‑ I don't know who made the point earlier but I think it's about modeling as well.

So if we are the leader in a meeting, to ask that question, or to talk about what we did that morning or how we are going to go and use our next 30 minutes to take a walk or ‑‑ I think it sends the signal that it's okay, that we don't expect to see people on line every minute of every day.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Well, I realize we have got about 15 minutes left and I had one question related ‑‑ I think this has briefly come up it's sort of a challenge but really interested in everybody's perspectives on it.  I do want to put a pin in something.  Before we break on a session, IGF wants the Panelists to talk about one or more commitments that they have underway that maybe you mentioned already and want to reiterate for the year 2021 that is related to our theme.

Before we get to that ‑‑ that's maybe a good way to close when we get there.  But one of the channels is with more work being conducted remotely, is that there is more ‑‑ as essentially a broader attack for breaches or for cybersecurity incidents and for breaches of privacy, separate but maybe related by the perceptions of the employee of surveillance.  I'm not calling that a privacy breach or something like that.  I want to make sure I'm not saying that.

How do you all think about that challenge, those challenges?  And how do you recommend addressing them from an organizational perspective and from a government.  Is there a role for governments, for example?

>> CARMEL SOMERS: Okay, I'll start.  It's a huge area we have such a mixture of people may be using their own devices.  They don't have that inherent security that exists once they are sitting in the organization.  So I think from an organizational point of view, it is really important that standards are set within the organization around devices, around security, around VPNs.  And when you look at most of the security breaches that happen, the majority of them are still because people click on links they shouldn't click on.  Some of those really bigger attacks that hit an organization are more rare than those small fundamental things.

So education is really important on an ongoing basis and then I think we need to certainly look at the implications of working from home and data that somebody prints off and leaves on their office desk at home.  Access to devices.  Maybe using devices ‑‑ in Ireland you can't go to a restaurant or a coffee shop.  But if you work from home, does that mean the people will go and use their laptop maybe at a cafe or a restaurant?

So I think there is a whole education process that needs to happen around now that you separated from the organization from a physical perspective, that we need to look at what the implications for security are and that is it a huge area.

And on the one, the workplace surveillance piece, I think there summery is sense that if you're connected all day that your organization can tell when you got on line and when you got off line.  So I think it's important again and back to a point that Karen and others on this discussion had earlier, is that people need breaks and if you start at 7:00 in the morning, maybe you finish at 12 and don't come back on line until 2:00.  Once the organization understands that that is okay, that once you're getting your work done, the quality is there, even though there isn't an issue, that people aren't going to be monitoring your on‑time and off‑time throughout the day.  And I don't think organizations necessarily have the time or overall, the interests to do that sort of ‑‑ I think they have bigger issues to be worrying about in the grand scheme of things.

That would be my quick comment.

>> HELANI GALPAYA: I don't know how we can rely on organization clocking in and clocking out.  We are very lucky we always thought about quality and peer review processes and so on and so forth.  But we face another particular challenge in addition to ‑‑ I agree with everything Carmel said.  Where you store your data, the security around it, these are all complicated by working from home.  And in many Developing Countries, it's the office laptop that is actually going to be used by children for their on line lessons as well at least a couple of times a day.  So not even working in a coffee shop.  It's other people in-house using your work laptop.  Why not?  Because it has downtime.  So it's a resource.  But that presents another set of challenges and then we work with user data sometimes incredibly personal user data.  We do a lot of studies and work with core detail records, trillions of phone calls made to identify mobility patterns for example.

So not only an essential service but now working remotely, do we give access even remotely to our servers or do we have policies like only a random sample can be examined at any particular time?  Not enough to really reveal anything particularly useful?  Then what's the point?

Then in talking to users, we can no longer go to people's houses to do household service across Asia, Africa.  So then the digital presents a opportunity but also a huge challenge because how do you interview households that are not connected to understand, hey are working?  You can't.  And this is the challenge.  On the opportunity side we decided in Sri Lanka in the district that went into the first curfew is sign up for two weeks respondents that get to select what photos they send at the end of every day to reflect what their life on the lockdown is like.  And that is a whole other different way of doing the research.  So it presents different opportunities.  It's a huge challenge that we can observe them working or child caring at home.  They are sending us photos voluntarily because they signed up for a study.  Now it's a different look but these are the kinds of sort of innovative ways we have to think about user research in these pandemics.

>> BECCA WILLIAMS: I think there are so many layers to this.  Just to add one more thing.  When we start peeling back the onion, when we talk about bring your own device to work, and bring your own software in many cases, Terms and Conditions, policies, how many people are even reading those?  They are so complicated and they are not in lodge that non‑lawyers can even ‑‑ language ‑‑ understand.  So what impact does that have on all the things that we are downloading that might not be for our work and how data is shared between those kinds of platforms?  It's big.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Great.  Thank you.  So, to that thing that I teed up about mentioning some commitments and stuff, maybe I could even make the question more broader.  It would be interesting to hear what you all think.  If you could wave a magic wand, what is a change from a government regulation perspective perhaps that you think would help better harness the opportunity of remote working and improve outcomes for all workers and businesses?  And then maybe as part of that, we could make or try and address that question that IGF wants all of us to answer here about any voluntary commitments or activities that you all have for the coming year.

>> Mel hell I would love to have the data that helps us understand ICTUs in different categories of jobs.  So we can have a real conversation about what jobs can be done for whom and whom that disadvantage is or advantages.  And work with employers and governments to create more equitable and sustainable jobs, some of which might be at home and some of which might not be.  But we need information.

>> BECCA WILLIAMS: My magic wand item is more from the Private Sector perspective.  I would love to see a paradigm shift in the employer‑employee relationship.  So thinking more about as an employer, as an entire ecosystem to provide everything that employee needs to be their best self out in the world and that includes things like designing equity, core to every single process from start to finish.  Not just performative justice statements but really going deep to do that work.

>> CARMEL SOMERS: For me, we talked about it a lot.  It would be Internet access and broadband.  And the reason I picked that is that it impacts so many people that it's not just the working person but it's the society.  It's impacting our education system.  And certainly in Ireland what we discovered when obviously when COVID hit and schools were closed, people's access, children's access to education was seriously hampered.  Now we managed to get from in terms but there is so much more that needs to be done and I think that broadband and Internet access is just a fundamental across‑the‑board for so many people.

>> KAREN KOCHER: I agree with Carmel.  I'll respond based on two of the initiatives that Microsoft has underway that I believe are particularly well aligned to all we are talking about today.  One was air band where we are helping bring Internet connectivity and broadband to rural populations that otherwise would be underserved.  So that has been underway and will continue into the future.  And so, that is one I'm particularly proud of and I think again alliance really well.  The other is skills because when somebody has access that is excellent but if they don't have the skills to be part of the Digital Economy, then that is barrier number 2.  So we are also very focused on skills and we announced a little bit earlier this year the commitment to skilling 25 million people in these future digital skills so everything ranging from artificial intelligence and data analytics, data science, those types of skills, to some that are each more technical.  And I think that that helps people with employability and helps people be better digital workers for those of us who will be working virtually, some or all of the time.

Those are to the Microsoft focus areas that should help in many ways people around the world.

>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Wonderful.  Thank you all.  Just to put a bow on our discussion here, I really can't imagine how this could have gone better.  The diversity here and perspectives is so key and everything that you all have shared.  It's so interesting to see the dotted and even solid lines between the different perspectives and viewpoints and experiences here.  That really spans the globe.  I am glad you mentioned ‑‑ just to mention something that has been of high interest to me, your Moderator's prerogative here.  Karen you mentioned earlier on is the television white space technology or air ban technology.  That has been, for my own organization, which is a advocate, non‑for‑profit advocate for small businesses that are basically software developers and some connected device manufacturers, I couldn't agree, from that perspective, I couldn't agree more with what you just said and Carmel just said.

 

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