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LinkedIn announced plans to launch its LinkedIn Learning Hub, a skills-building platform currently in beta, in the second half of 2021 this week. James Raybould, senior director of product, LinkedIn Learning and Glint, described it as “an intelligent skill building platform” in the official blog announcement.

Three basic capacities, all included in Learning Hub, are crucial factors that elevate an LXP into an expertise building stage. What can customers expect from Learning Hub and how will it be different from traditional LXPs? Raybould provided the following insights in the blog:

  1. Personalized content makes it easier for learners to build the right skills.
  2. Community-based learning connects learners to people who they can learn from and build new skills with.
  3. Skill development insights inform L&D strategies with data and insights.

The blog quoted Laggi Diamandi, a beta LearningHub customer and head of learning and development at London-based architecture and design firm Foster + Partners: “The simplicity, user experience, and accessibility are amazing and those values are so important to me as a learning professional.” 

Business Leaders and Employees Clash on Ideal Hybrid Workplace Experience

U.S. business leaders are out of touch with what employees want from a hybrid workplace experience, according to a new Unisys-sponsored IDC white paper titled "Digital Workplace Insights: Seeking Digital and Experience Parity to Support the Hybrid Workforce." Seventy percent of U.S. employees ranked recognition as their most important priority as compared to only 50% of business leaders — one of many discrepancies the survey unearthed. Flexible schedules and work locations were cited by U.S. business leaders as most important (65%) to an ideal employee experience, as compared to only 55% of U.S. employee respondents. Further highlights from the survey include:

  • Nearly 40% of business leaders cited difficulty effectively communicating with team members as the greatest challenge impacting employee productivity, while only 19% of employees thought this was problematic. One-third of employees indicated "no or few noticeable challenges."
  • More than 35% of employees said fewer in-person meetings are important to the employee experience; only 25% of business leaders agree.
  • Employees value frequent and open communication from managers 30% more than business leaders realize.
  • Employees reported a three-way tie on the technology that would improve their overall working environment: collaboration tools, digital technology to work faster and technical support when needed.

"One of the outcomes of 2020 has been the rapid technology, process and policy adjustments that most organizations have made to support hybrid ways of working," said Holly Muscolino, research vice president, content strategies and the future of work at IDC in a statement.

FlexJobs Survey Finds Employees Want Remote Work Post-Pandemic

FlexJobs surveyed more than 2,100 people who worked remotely during the pandemic to better understand people’s work experiences over the last year. The survey dove into key areas of the work from home experience, including: video meetings, cost savings, management preferences and expectations for future work from home flexibility. While multiple surveys have found strong support for continued flexibility in when and where employees can work moving forward, a majority of respondents (58%) to this survey stated they would "absolutely" look for a new job if remote work was discontinued. 

Remote work wasn't without problems however. Respondents reported the inability to unplug from work (35%); technology problems (28%); dealing with distractions (28%); unreliable wi-fi (26%) and the inevitable video meeting fatigue (24%) as big challenges in the work from home setting.

Visit the FlexJobs blog for more insights and statistics from its remote work survey.

Figma Introduces FigJam, Its New Whiteboard Tool

Web-based collaboration design tool provider Figma introduced a new whiteboarding tool this week called FigJam.

FigJam's online tool aims to provide a place for brainstorming to happen, with a native integration with Figma for when the concept is ready to move to the next step. FigJam’s functionality includes sticky notes, emojis and drawing tools, as well as shapes, pre-built lines and connectors, stamps and cursor chats.

Figma also incorporated voice chat into all of its products. By toggling on the chat feature, users who are designing alongside one another in Figma or brainstorming in FigJam don’t need to hop into a separate Zoom call or Google Meet.

“Our point of view here was focusing on how to make FigJam work as the first step in the design process, before you go into actually doing design work,” Figma founder and CEO Dylan Field told TechCrunch. “We see people looking for a better, more fluid experience, but we also wanted to make it simple enough to bring other people into the tool.

IBM Launches New Watson Capabilities to Help Businesses Build Trustworthy AI

IBM has announced new capabilities for IBM Watson that are designed to help businesses build trustworthy AI. These capacities are intended to further expand Watson tools designed to help businesses govern and explain AI-led decisions, while increasing insight accuracy, reducing risks and meeting privacy and compliance requirements.

According to the announcement, the new capabilities include:

  • New data privacy management capabilities: IBM OpenPages with Watson now includes a new Data Privacy Management module designed to help businesses meet evolving data privacy challenges.
  • Enhanced explainability for planning forecasts: IBM Planning Analytics with Watson will include a new statistical details page designed to provide more transparent and easy-to-understand facts about how a forecasting prediction was generated.
  • New Federated Learning capabilities: IBM Watson Studio now includes new federated learning capabilities as a tech preview to help businesses apply machine learning techniques to situations where data cannot or should not be moved due to reasons such as data privacy, secrecy, regulatory compliance, or simply the size of data involved.
  • New Time Series capabilities: IBM Watson Studio now includes Time Series capabilities in beta, designed to tackle the challenges of automating, analyzing and forecasting time series data commonly found in many industries like finance, manufacturing and retail.

"AI is only as useful as your trust in it. Especially in business and when the stakes are high," stated Daniel Hernandez, general manager, Data and AI, IBM in the announcement. "IBM Watson continues to deliver critical new capabilities to help enterprises build trust into every step of the AI lifecycle so business leaders can confidently operationalize AI across the hybrid cloud."

Remote Hiring Startup Deel Raises $156M

The move to remote working last year placed increased demand for specific tools to better support all parts of the experience. Deel, a startup that provides payroll, compliance tools and other services, is one such company that reaped the rewards, with a reported twenty times growth in 2020.

Just 7 months after raising $30M in Series B financing, Deel has now raised another $156 million in Series C funding. YC Continuity Fund led the round with existing backers Andreessen Horowitz and Spark Capital. Dara Khosrowshahi (Uber), Lachy Groom (Stripe), Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jeff Wilke and Anthony Schiller, among others, also participated in the round. At just three years old, the funding pushes Deel into unicorn status, with a $1.25B valuation. 

Deel stated it plans to use its new cash-flow to proceed with a global extension and to set up 80 new entities across the world in 2021. Deel also plans to do some of its own employing, and develop more product offerings. The organization itself is entirely remote, and has grown from seven workers to more than 120 across 26 nations since January 2020.