From Remote Work to Hybrid Work: The Tech You’ll Need To Link Home And Office
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From Remote Work to Hybrid Work: The Tech You’ll Need To Link Home And Office

Your tech life is about to get messy. Here are some solutions.

By JOANNA STERN
Mon, Mar 15, 2021 5:43amGrey Clock 5 min

Hope your magic Mary Poppins, go-back-to-the-office bag is ready. Let’s see, you’re going to need your laptop, your laptop’s power adapter, your headphones, your headphones’ power adapter, your ring light, your ring light’s power adapter…

Oh, and you thought this was just a one-time pack? That’s cute. Prepare to do this two to three times a week, as you split time between your home-office and your office-office for the next, well, forever.

Welcome to the exciting new world of hybrid work.

“Somewhere in the vicinity of 60% of the workforce are choosing the hybrid option,” said Gartner analyst Suzanne Adnams, “which means their ideal is working at home and coming into the office three days a week.”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard “two to three days at the office” while reporting this column, a socially distanced steak dinner would be on me.

What isn’t as clear? Where you’ll go once you get to the office. That depends on your employer. Here are three possible options:

• Same-old desking: Business as usual. You still get your own desk, but maybe now, your chair and your colleague’s chair are farther apart.

• Hot desking: The horribly named trend where employees don’t have a permanently assigned desk. Also referred to as hoteling, flexing or desk swapping, this is becoming the leading hybrid option for a key reason: It doesn’t make sense to have one desk per person if people only come in a few times a week.

• No desking: The office isn’t for solo work but collaboration. So instead of desks there are mostly group meeting areas, with a privacy phone booth here and there. Companies including Dropbox have committed to this route.

I certainly can’t tell you in detail what’s going to happen at your company, but I can say this hybrid life will make you even more dependent on your tech tools. The very tech that enables us to work from anywhere (laptops and smartphones, video calling, Slack) is also the technology that stands to make this so messy.

Your colleagues are at the office whiteboarding but you’re stuck at home in a little Zoom box? You survive the commute to the office, only to discover you left your USB-C dongle on the kitchen table. Hey, Bob From Accounting, stop screaming on your video call. This isn’t your basement!

But I have hope. Not only did we prove our tech resilience when we embarked on the Great Work-From-Home Experiment a year ago but the makers of our most depended-upon products are paying attention and adapting for this next phase. Here are a few of the biggest hybrid challenges and some potential solutions.

I’m back to the good old commute, but at my hot desk, I have nothing, not even a coffee-stained mug.

There are no two ways about it, you’re going to need a bigger bag. And for the record: Anyone who tells you a backpack is only for middle schoolers is just wrong.

When you head to your building (assuming you remember where it is), you might have to pull out your phone. Your employer might require Covid-era health check-ins and other precautions, but it also might give you the opportunity to book your workspace, through systems like Robin or Salesforce’s Work.com.

Congrats, you made it to “your” desk. I can’t guess the tech that will be available when you get there, but expect it to be pretty bare-bones, especially if you BYOL (you know, bring your own laptop).

In Salesforce’s redesigned spaces, for instance, employees get just a desk and two side-by-side monitors, Jo-ann Olsovsky, the company’s chief information officer, told me.

At least Salesforce employees will be able to keep other belongings in lockers and easily get other tech peripherals—mice, keyboards, headsets, chargers—from tech vending machines situated around the offices. You don’t pay. Just swipe your employee badge, hit the button for your item and grab it from the bottom tray.

If your office’s vending machines only dispense stale Doritos, you might request stuff through your IT department. Regardless, you’ll likely be dragging your favorite equipment to and fro. Certainly, more expensive gear that you don’t own two of—tablets, microphones, noise-canceling headphones—will be in your bag.

For the smaller stuff—battery packs, charging cords, a mouse and the miscellaneous adapters to connect drives, memory cards and cables to your laptop—you’ll need a dongle bag. Don’t have one yet? Oh, you must. The one I just got, the InCase nylon accessory organiser, has mesh pockets and straps for organizing different cords and adapters. It lists for $50.

I’m at the office with some colleagues. Other colleagues are at home.

If you think going back to the office means the end of video calls, I have bad news for you. Expect most meetings from now on to have a video component and there to be even more cameras in the office—and not just in the conference rooms.

“It’s hard to imagine going into an office now and all those little closed spaces that might have had a phone in them not being video enabled,” Logitech Chief Executive Bracken Darrell told me, adding that he expects some companies to put webcams at hot-desk stations as well.

Executives who work on collaboration platforms at Microsoft, Google, Slack and Zoom said a key need was for employees at home and at work to feel like they’re on a level playing field when on calls and working together. Here are initiatives they’ve launched:

Microsoft Teams: A system called Teams Rooms links conference rooms with remote users who want to join in. Voice recognition in new compatible speakers can identify who in a room is talking, and the person’s name will appear on screen. You won’t be embarrassed dialling in from home, either: A new presenter mode removes the background of your video and places you in front of the presentation, or positions the presentation in a box over your shoulder in “reporter mode.”

Google Workspace: Google also powers speakers and cameras for the office, but as people leave the house, they’ll be using their phones more for video calling too. An update to the Google Meet phone app will better display people on video. A coming update to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides will include the ability to overlay voice and video chat as people work together on documents.

Slack: An audio-room feature is coming, so users can quickly hop on a conference call. Think Clubhouse but for quick meetings. The company, which Salesforce agreed to buy, is also adding a feature for sharing prerecorded video messages. This could help a manager send an announcement to everyone, whether they’re in the office or at home.

Zoom: The pandemic’s breakout star has its own conference-room service called, say it with me, Zoom Rooms. The company’s Zoom Rooms Controller app for iOS and Android lets people in the conference room control meetings from their phones—no need to touch the grimy shared keyboard or room control panel.

A bigger challenge: What if the in-person meeting includes some physical stuff, like a whiteboard? How do the people at home keep up and contribute?

Google and Microsoft have tried to make that easier. Microsoft makes the Surface Hub—a giant Windows tablet for offices that runs the cloud-connected Microsoft Whiteboard app. Those on a Microsoft Teams call can view and add to the digital whiteboard. Same idea with Google’s Jamboard. People in the office can scribble on the giant screen and those in a Google Meet video call can view and add to it. Zoom works with third-party hardware makers to integrate whiteboarding.

I’m working from home today—how do I share that with the world?

The upside to all this is being stuck at home won’t be as bad as it once was. You’re already honing your setup, and some companies even plan to continue subsidizing employees home-office needs. And now that you’ve gotten used to overcommunicating your schedule and deadlines? You just keep doing that, wherever you are.

Google’s added some features to its calendar to help, including what it calls “segmentable working hours.” You can make it clear to colleagues what location you’re working from or if you’re doing something else, like exercising or commuting. Slack is also exploring adding more status options to indicate your whereabouts.

This return to the office may have a slick name—hybrid work—but make no mistake, it’s as hybrid as Frankenstein’s monster. Just remember, one year ago we got through a pretty cataclysmic work change, and we will do it again. Just don’t forget about the dog.



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Clocking out to Turn Back Time—Vacations That Will Help You Live Longer
By TRACY KALER
Thu, Feb 29, 2024 6 min

Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.

Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.

“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.

“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.

While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.

“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.

While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.

Anti Ageing and Beyond

“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.

On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.

Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.

Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.

Data-Driven Wellness

Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.

“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”

Human connection is a central draw for guests at Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.

Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.

Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.

Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Sanctuaries for Longevity

Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.

Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.

Banya Spa House at Aman New York.
Robert Rieger

The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.

“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.

Resetting the Mind and Body

Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.

Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.

“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.

Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.

While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”

“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”

Banya Spa House at Aman New York provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
Robert Rieger

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.

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