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Office Space

Companies Are Looking For Pet-Friendly Office Spaces For After The Pandemic 

Throughout the past year of the pandemic, our pets have become a source of emotional support, as well as our co-workers, as we navigated what working from home actually looked like. Now, as more and more people are getting vaccinated, companies are looking for ways to welcome their employees back into an office environment, and choosing spaces where their furry friends can continue to work with them everyday has become a major priority. 

According to a study performed by OnePoll in collaboration with the Canfield Pet Hospital, 50% of executive-level employees claim that they are considering allowing their employees to bring their pets to work as often as they please in the future. 59% of executives claimed that they already had relatively loose policies when it came to allowing pets in the office, but would now be “much more flexible” when it came to pet policies. 

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These discussions have become especially important considering how many people became pet owners during the pandemic. Many new pet owners are worried about how their pets, and themselves individually, will react to a normal work schedule that would require one to leave their house every day. 

63% of pet owners claimed that they have anxiety over how their pets will react to a post-pandemic work routine. Luckily, 75% of the executives surveyed said that they themselves have learned about the importance of being a pet owner, and how it actually helped them become a better, more compassionate, business leader. 

The study also found that “among executives who are crafting a specific pet policy in the workplace, 59% say their plans were motivated by employee requests. 58% say they understand that staff members have gotten used to being around their pets all day, and 42% say a pet perk at work would entice employees to return to the office.”

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Brian Garish is the president of Banfield Pet Hospital, who claims that research has shown in the past that dogs in the workplace actually make employees more collaborative and less stressed. 

“We’ve seen the human-animal bond only get stronger during the pandemic, and it’s no surprise that owners are thinking about how they can best be there for their pets when they start to spend more time outside of home. We believe we can advance human health through pet health, elevating societal well-being.”

Employees surveyed who discussed how before the pandemic their workplace already allowed pets in the office, claimed that it often always prompted an increase in employee socialization, and often encouraged more employees to come to work. It also led to an increase in productivity and made employees more willing to work later if it was needed.

Streaming Channels

Shows To Binge-Watch While You’re Social Distancing

While we’re all stuck at home for an indefinite amount of time, our streaming services have become our best friends. It’s important to get up and move your body every day, and also just as important not to get caught up in 10 hour binge marathons of your favorite Netflix show. However, in times of extreme stress and anxiety, it’s just as important to make sure we’re doing things everyday  to enjoy ourselves and just disconnect from this scary world. Here are a few shows to start streaming now to get your mind off of this pandemic for a little while:

“The Office”: At this point, if you haven’t seen The Office and are too embarrassed to say anything, now would be the perfect time to binge all 9 seasons. The mockumentary style show follows the workers at a mundane paper selling company as they deal with the trials and tribulations of adulthood in Scranton. Currently the series is available on Netflix.

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“The Great British Bake Off” or “The Great British Baking Show”: This Netflix show is the perfect blend of reality competition, and food network entertainment provided by light-hearted British bakers with a desire to win. 

“Queer Eye”: In this Netflix resurgence of the early 2000’s show “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy,” five gay men travel around Georgia, Atlanta, and now Japan, to help individuals who are lacking confidence and need a bit of a “life makeover.” Each guy has a specific field of expertise – cooking, fashion, interior design, haircare/beauty, and culture – and they use their vast knowledge to teach their “heros” how to implement better lifestyle habits into their everyday routine to lead to a happier and healthier state of being. 

“Modern Family”: This critically acclaimed ABC comedy is officially ending this year, but before it does, go back and fall in love with all of the characters all over again by watching on Hulu or with your cable subscription. 

“Gentefield”: This dramedy is available on Netflix, and follows a multi-generational family working hard to rebrand their Boyle Heights Taco Shop. The show discusses themes of gentrification and cultural identity based on one’s environment. 

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“RuPaul’s Drag Race”: This extremely popular reality competition series follows a dozen drag queens as they race to compete for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar. Each week, the queens face new challenges that test their skills in acting, singing, dancing, and whatever else it takes to be a drag queen. Certain seasons of the series are available on Hulu and Amazon Prime, and you can catch up with the current season, currently streaming on VH1, using your cable subscription.

“Love Island (UK)”: Another widely popular reality television series, Love Island UK puts a bunch of young singles in a dream vacation home for eight weeks with the hope that they might just find love. The series, currently streaming on Hulu, sprinkles in elements of physical challenges, trivia, and of course, good old fashioned drama. 

“Dr.K’s Exotic Animal ER”: This National Geographic series, available on Disney Plus, is like a real life Grey’s Anatomy except the patients are exotic animals and the doctors actually get along with one another. Doctor Kelleher’s wide range of patients include rabbits, lizards, pigs, goats, birds, and even monkeys!

Regardless of what you decide to watch during your time in quarantine, make sure you are finding the time to do other things and disengage from any sort of screen time at least once a day. It’s important that we keep our minds occupied with positive thinking, so while Netflix can be a great distraction from all things Covid-19, take a minute to be with yourself, and relax.

Working from Home Office

How To Set Up Your New Home Office

Now that a majority of us are working remotely from home, it’s important to set up the right space for yourself at home so that you’re still able to separate yourself from the professional world and your personal one. This is much easier said than done, especially considering your professional world is now occurring literally inside of your personal space. However, there are still little things you can do for yourself in your new “home office” that will make coping with this pandemic a little bit easier.

First, the basics, you need to find a space that’s quiet and separated from your living room or bedroom. You also will need a flat surface to act as your new desk, this is why many people choose the dining room, as they have a huge table to spread out their things. Regardless, you want a space that also has some kind of window or natural lighting if your home allows it, this way you also don’t feel even more suffocated as you cope with this quarantine.

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It’s hypocritical for me to tell you not to work on the couch in order to avoid falling into habits of laying down and watching TV, as I’m currently writing this from my couch with my desktop computer propped up on a TV dinner table, however, at the same time I can tell you from this first-hand experience that if I had a real desk right now, getting my work done wouldn’t feel as tortuous.

Ideally, you want to be sitting in a proper chair with back support that forces your legs to run parallel to the floor while your feet touch the ground. This is the best position for your posture and will ensure that you aren’t constantly slouching over; by the way if you’re reading this, pause and make sure you’re not slouching, and maybe get up to stretch for a minute, it’s important to keep your blood flowing.

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If you’re working on a desktop computer, making sure your monitor is at eye-level is much easier than if you’re doing your work on a personal laptop. If you do have to use a laptop of any kind, try to prop it up on some hardcover books or maybe a box so that the screen is eye-level. To re-emphasize my point before about sitting properly, when your line of vision is directed downwards so that you can view your screen, your body is automatically going to begin leaning forward and towards the screen as an involuntary response to see it better. Keeping your eyes forward and head up will keep you back straight, and your eyes focused.

Finally, make sure you’re getting up and moving throughout the day. Take snack breaks and move around your house. It can become infuriating to stay in the same place all day every day, and even though you and your house have already become very accustomed to one another within these past few weeks, it’s important to move around your space.

Going to work everyday would normally give us a reason to get up at an earlier hour, get ourselves together and motivated to do what we need to do in order to come back home and unwind at the end of the day. Now that we not only are able to sleep in more, stay in sweats while sending our morning emails and not move from our couches for hours at a time everyday, it can become easy for us to get trapped in cycles of feeling depressed and like life has become mundane. This is why it’s important to stay moving, and active in our personal time, while creating a stress-free at-home-office environment during our professional time.

Technology

Satya Nadella: Reshaping Microsoft and the Future of Technology

Though his executive decisions have inspired criticism, time has shown that under Nadella’s leadership Microsoft is poised to once again dominate the industry with a suite of innovative, useful products and services.

McDonalds Sign

McDonald’s Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook Fired Over Relationship With Colleague

Fast food giant McDonald’s has fired its Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook following revelations of an affair with one of his colleagues, with the successful businessman admitting that he had made a ‘mistake’ regarding his conduct.

Despite both parties consenting to the relationship, the company deemed that Mr. Easterbrook had violated their company policy. It has been disclosed that he is likely to receive around 26 weeks pay against an estimated $16m annual salary and additional bonuses could see him pocketing somewhere in the region of $35m. As part of the exit arrangement, Mr. Easterbrook is not permitted to work for a competitor for a minimum of two years.

News of his departure was circulated to McDonald’s staff via an email in which the 52 year old admitted that he had made a mistake with regards to his conduct. The personally written email also said that he agreed with the board and that it was ‘time to move on’.

British-born Mr. Easterbrook first began working for the company back in 1993, taking up the position of manager in London. After working his way through the ranks, he left in 2011 to head up the popular restaurant chain Pizza Express, before moving on to Japanese restaurant chain Wagamama. However, in 2013, he returned to McDonalds to undertake the position of Head of UK and Northern Europe before becoming Chief Executive in 2015.

Mr. Easterbrook stepped down after the board voted on the matter, also relinquishing his roles as president and member of the board. Their view is that the company has long upheld rules regarding conflict of interest which were clearly ignored by Mr. Easterbrook when he decided to embark on a relationship with a fellow colleague. He was immediately replaced by McDonald’s USA president Chris Kempczinski.

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Many companies have such rules in place regarding relationships or at the very least require parties to disclose any romantic relationships that are occurring within the workplace. Experts say that the main driving factor is to avoid litigation caused by disgruntled partners if the relationship ends badly.

Observing the story unfolding, successful businesswoman and relationship expert Stephanie Tumba, author of ‘100 Dates and a Wedding’ commented:

“When you think how difficult it is to find love nowadays and that 1 in 5 couples meet at work, my view is that this decision was perhaps a little harsh and old-fashioned. Bear in mind that Bill Gates met his wife in the working environment, this stuff happens all the time. People shouldn’t lose their jobs and livelihoods over it.

Today, we live in a much freer world, a far cry from William Shakespeare’s forbidden love stories. Over the years, many taboos surrounding love and relationships have been lifted in most industrialised countries, and it would be naive to think that relationships are not blossoming between colleagues on a daily basis.

Embarking on a romantic relationship within the workplace means maintaining discretion and etiquette as a given. However, I think that sanctioning against such relationships can no longer be the default position. Employers should invite the employees to discuss this situation and then decide how to best deal with it. Whether it’s making them work in different departments and/or legally framing the situation.

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Of course, one can understand that an employer would be concerned that the behaviour of the couple could cause reputational damage to the organisation and create tensions between individuals, teams or departments. Even more so when one of the parties is in a prominent leadership position.

Whilst it is essential that a certain level of conduct is maintained in the working environment, I do not think that organisations can continue to contractually prevent people from nurturing romantic relationships with their colleagues.

Naturally, some inter-work relationships have ended badly. The relationship between President Bill Clinton and his intern Monica Lewinsky lasted for over 18 months and almost led to him losing his job. Several other politicians have found themselves in similar circumstances, all having potentially damaging implications for both the individual and the organisation, country or party they represent.

However, Stephanie’s comments appear to be mirrored in a growing number of people who appear to have no problem with an office romance. A recent survey revealed that 75% of those questioned believed that romantic relationships at work were not problematic. This view was also supported by research which reveals that over 30% of office romances lead to marriage.

In fact, Barack and Michelle Obama first met at a Chicago law firm, after Michelle was given the task of mentoring the firm’s new summer intern, Barack. Despite rejecting his advances at first, over fear that the only two African-Americans in the office dating would appear ‘tacky’, she eventually relented, getting married just four years later.

WeWork

How the Collapse of WeWork Could Impact NYC Real Estate

WeWork, a company responsible for leasing up to 1 million square feet of office space in cities around the world every day, has recently run into serious financial difficulties have raised concerns about the impact on New York City’s real estate market. In large part as a result of then-CEO Adam Neumann’s questionable and irresponsible antics, WeWork’s parent operation, the We Company, saw its valuation cut in half overnight right as the company was preparing to go public. As such, the We Company lost $1.3 billion in the first half of this year alone, which works out to a loss of $5,200 per customer. Several thousand layoffs at the company are planned, and the We Company’s more ambitious projects, such as the WeGrow academy, an entrepreneurial school, have been canceled

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WeWork happens to be the largest office tenant in New York City, as it owns over 100 locations in Manhattan, occupying 8.9 million square feet of office space. WeWork operates by maintaining office space and renting it out to professionals; however, in the aftermath of the company’s rapid decline, exactly what will happen to this tremendous amount of space WeWork is leasing is unclear. WeWork rose to prominence by offering flexible opportunities for urban professionals, and while the company is currently in decline with a low probability of recovery, the philosophy of flexibility in working environments is likely to stick around. 

That’s because, while the business itself is failing, the business model WeWork popularized has taken off both among rival companies that lease office space and landlords themselves. While it remains the most notable example, WeWork did not invent the industry it occupies, and there exist a plethora of companies that are primed to take WeWork’s place in providing so-called coworking spaces, many of which pre-date the founding of WeWork. And according to industry reports, demand for spaces of this sort remains strong, as consumers appreciate the sort of freedom that flexible office space provides. As such, when WeWork’s leases expire, there’s nothing stopping landlords from adopting their business model with the office space they own, increasing revenues for corporate landlords and potentially reducing costs for clients.

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As WeWork generally doesn’t run entire buildings, instead leasing a small percentage of them, the fallout from WeWork’s likely collapse is predicted to be relatively minor. In fact, landlords are already developing contingency plans for WeWork’s anticipated demise. That being said, not every company is abandoning WeWork, as they continue to generate new clients such as Rudin Management Company, which will soon open a six-story glass building in Brooklyn Navy Yard, with WeWork as its primary tenant. What’s more, large multinational corporations like Verizon and IBM have taken advantage of WeWork’s coworking spaces, as have Microsoft and Airbnb. That being said, these large companies would also likely be able to handle WeWork’s collapse, as they have the resources to maintain usage of office space currently leased to WeWork.

Though WeWork brands itself as a disruptive technology startup like Uber and Postmates, the reality is that WeWork is more like a glorified property-management company. Although the hype associated with WeWork’s tech-centered approach is responsible for much of its early success, technology turned out not to be a major factor in the company’s operation. While the future of WeWork as a whole remains uncertain but looks fairly dire, the future of coworking spaces is likely as bright as it’s ever been, as companies seek to take advantage of the flexibility such arrangements can provide. 

Office Meeting

Why Traditional Office Habits, Still Work

The world is constantly developing and advancing. Our phones listen to us and plan out our lives, our cars are learning to drive on their own, face identification technology lets us skip TSA lines, and so much more. The workplace especially has become a place in which technology works to make our 9-5 days go by smoother, and with less physical work on our end. Office spaces are constantly changing to keep up with the times, and competitors. However, a lot of old-school workplace methods and techniques have held up as the years have gone on. The use of physical planners, calendars, business cards, etc. all have maintained their use in office spaces. Whether it be because of a more traditional administration, personal choice, or simply maintaining the “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” mentality, conventional office tools are thriving in an otherwise digitized world. 

Sticking to more common workplace organization techniques has been said to keep individuals more organized and focused, according to Fast Company Business Magazine. While some methods may be more laborious than simply typing in an appointment to your e-calendar, taking the extra steps works with your brain to remember important details, times, clients, etc, through the physical work. 

Taking handwritten notes, and organizing your day on paper is a widely popular method to remain organized. Before your day is over, instead of quickly trying to get as much work as possible done so you have an easier load for tomorrow, reflect on what you’ve accomplished for the day. Write out what tasks took you how long, and then begin to think about what you’ll need to do for tomorrow. If you know you’ll have to make an important phone call, send an email, meet with an individual, work on a specific piece of a project, etc. block out a good chunk of time in a physical calendar. Then, make a list of the other things that you NEED to get done, and a list of things that aren’t as urgent, but would be beneficial to work on if time allows. Having your daily goals and work written out in front of you in a scheduled fashion can help ease any overwhelming anxieties. In addition, writing them down will trigger a muscle memory response, meaning it’s less likely you’ll forget any of your daily work requirements. 

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Another traditional tip that is beneficial is picking up the phone and calling an individual as opposed to emailing them back and forth. While emails are quick, and easier than talking on the phone, hearing your voice personally will tell the client, or whoever you’re on the phone with, that you care about the project you’re working on. With emailing there’s no guarantee as to when the recipient will respond, if they’ll answer all questions that warrant responses, and in general is way less personal. On the phone, you can guarantee you’ll get any answers you need; an additional tip would be to write down all the things you need clarified before getting on the phone to make sure you don’t miss anything. In the same way that you would want to call a job that you’re interested in acquiring to show the higher ups that you mean business, you should call office contacts for the same effect. 

Business cards may seem like an outdated form of exchanging contact information, especially with how easy it is to exchange digital information, however, there’s a certain level of professionalism that comes with a business card. Cards can be so much more personable and the interaction between you and the recipient of the card will be more memorable as opposed to just emailing someone all your contact information. 

Abigail Cook Stone, the CEO of Otherland, a very well known candle company, spoke to Fast Company Magazine about why having a business card is a necessity for her employees. “For creative, design-forward professionals, especially, it’s worth going the extra mile with a clever, memorable design that speaks to their company’s product or services and showcases their brand’s personality.” 

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Fast Company Magazine also emphasized how writing thank you cards to clients and holding technology free meetings can also lead to a more personal and engaging work environment for employees, administrators, and clients/third-parties that a company might be working for certain projects. Writing handwritten thank you notes is such a rarity in the world of emails, social media posts, and text messaging. So when working with third-party sources or clients or anyone else who’s providing you and your business a beneficial service that would require a response, writing a thank you card will show those people how appreciative you really are. It’s more likely that the positive impact of the personal gesture will help maintain those contacts for the future.

Technology free meetings have become much more popular over the years. While many individuals like using their laptops and phones to take notes, remember discussion points, etc. holding a meeting where only a pen and paper is allowed will, like the thank you cards, allow for a more personal experience for everyone. This way the meetings are all discussion based, and everyone involved can feel included in the conversation, and not be hidden behind a screen. 

Lindsay McCormick, CEO of Bite Toothpaste Bits, told Fast Company why she loves having technology free meetings. “If you’re in a meeting, it’s because your input is vital. The fastest way to get things done is for everyone in the room to give their complete focus and attention. Plus, it can have added benefits. It helps our team bond because moments of downtime don’t end up with everyone grabbing their phones and instead leads to people chatting and catching up.”

Tech at Home

How Technology will Shape Life in the Home

Already, rapid advancements in technology have fundamentally changed the way most of us spend time in our homes, adding convenience into our daily routines and expanding options for entertainment beyond what was once considered possible. This rapid pace of technological advancement is sure to continue, and while it’s difficult to predict exactly how technology will change our lives at home far into the future, looking at current trends and the research and development being conducted can give a general understanding of the direction technology is taking us.

It’s worth taking a look back several decades into the past to determine which previous predictions about the homes of the future came true and which didn’t. Some concepts, such as video calling and advanced thermostats, have manifested into technologies like Apple’s Facetime and Nest’s Learning Thermostat. Other predictions turned out to be off the mark, such as the idea that homes of the future would be made out of glass or Thomas Edison’s prediction that steel would become the primary material for building furniture. Most of the predictions that came true involved how technology would impact the way we engage with information and conduct our daily routines; as such, the best predictions are the ones that look to how technology can work in these domains. For instance, Phillip’s Hue system of smart light bulbs can be programmed to automatically adjust to our schedules, and Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home devices allow us to interact with our personal computers by using natural language. While the rate of technological progress has produced these impressive devices, there is plenty of room for improvement, and continued investment and innovation by these companies is sure to produce even more advanced generations of the same fundamental concepts.

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One of the most promising domains of technological development can be found in the field of artificial intelligence. Machine learning systems which take advantage of neural network technology have already produced incredible results, as speech synthesis systems can sound totally indistinguishable from a genuine human voice and can even mimic the speaking styles of real individuals with great verisimilitude. This technology would not only allow for natural-sounding communication between humans and AI, but assistants could even be programmed to mimic the tone of voice of different emotions, enabling a personal assistant which always sounds happy to speak with you to create a more pleasant experience. In the future, deep learning technology could be used to make these assistants smarter, as they would be able to better parse and interpret the complex information expressed in natural speech to accomplish specific and unique tasks. For instance, in the future you may be able to ask a computer assistant to take notes, send emails, and set reminders without having to worry about how you phrase your requests and with confidence that the computer will understand you correctly. We will continue to carry these assistants with us on our phones, but they will also be integrated in the home in the form of connected smart speakers placed in different rooms.

Another field worth paying attention to involves the rising interconnectivity of our devices. Though compatibility varies across manufacturers, already consumers are able to synchronize their activity between their tablets, laptops, smartphones, and desktop consumers, and it’s even possible to wirelessly stream content from a phone to a TV. As our devices get better, their capabilities begin to overlap, causing some specialized devices to become obsolete. Tablets such as the iPad have incorporated much of the functionality of laptops, making ownership of the latter device unnecessary, and improvements in smartphone cameras have all but killed the compact camera industry.

As virtual reality headsets and computer graphics become more realistic, the allure of vacationing in a distant location will become overshadowed by the difficulties of transportation and the cost of travel and accommodations

This trend is sure to continue, and as devices become more versatile, we’ll find that our smartphones, which will have folding screens and seamless wireless compatibility with a host of input and display options, will become our primary computing devices. We will still have displays around our houses, and in fact even more of them as we add smart mirrors and wallpapers to our televisions and desktop monitors, but these displays will function not as discrete computing entities but instead will connect to our personal smartphones. As such, all of our computing needs will be handled by a single portable computing device, which will be deeply integrated with the cloud and which we will interact with in different ways by using wirelessly connected devices, such as keyboards, monitors, large tablets with styluses, our voices, and our television sets with remote controls. In this way, our computers will seem to follow us wherever we go, as sitting down in front of a monitor in a public place will grant exactly the same experience as sitting in front of a monitor at home.

As our devices become more interconnected and artificial intelligence streamlines our relationship with technology, more opportunities to fundamentally transform our lives at home will continue to open up. A new generation of young professionals will increasingly view the commute to work in the office as unnecessary and burdensome, as computing and communications technology will replicate nearly all of the functionality of the office environment. Instead, young people will opt to work from their home offices, using high-quality video calls and augmented and virtual reality systems to replicate the experience of participating in conferences and meetings. Home offices will be customized to suit the individual’s professional needs to the same degree that office buildings can provide, and though professional attire will remain an expectation, the flexibility of the home environment will ensure a more efficient collaborative experience. As a result, the boundaries between the home environment and the work environment will be blurred, and while this is sure to enable a great degree of convenience for professionals, it may increase levels of stress among the professional population, as they will be expected to be available throughout the day whenever they’re in their houses.

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Technology is also likely to transform the way we think about leisure. As virtual reality headsets and computer graphics become more realistic, the allure of vacationing in a distant location will become overshadowed by the difficulties of transportation and the cost of travel and accommodations, and the alternative of staying at home during vacation time will become more appealing. As consumer devices will be able to replicate the look and feel of visiting exotic destinations, even fictional ones, the natural urge to travel and explore different places will be satisfied by simulations of these experiences. Developers will have the freedom to craft entire vacation experiences, which will be able to be enjoyed either for a few hours at the end of the day or for days at a time, and consumers will be able to download and share these experiences digitally without having to leave home at all.

Of course, no one can be totally accurate in predicting the future of technology in the home, but by looking at the general principles by which technology has already shaped our home lives it’s easy to imagine how it will continue to do so with time. Human nature, of course, will always stay the same fundamentally, and future generations will still have the same needs of experiencing novelty, finding purpose in life and work, and interacting socially, but the ways we go about fulfilling these needs are sure to radically change.

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