This post was written in my home office and I swear I was wearing pants most of the time.

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Photo Credit: Alinghi Official [Flickr]

This past January we posted a piece on why telecommuting in 2015 is worth believing in, and cited number of incentives and statistics that favor both employers and employees alike. And though the article does not claim that offering such mobility to your employees will turn your workplace into some utopian community of widely dispersed, super productive individuals, it should urge people to at least consider the benefits (especially if you’re in a country with an abysmal work-life balance like the United States).

Well, the issue has come up yet again as just days ago Virgin Group founder, Richard Branson, alongside Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, sat down for an interview on Bloomberg TV to discuss their unwavering endorsement of a more flexible work environment.

When asked if Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer’s decision two years ago, to end their longstanding work-from-home policy, put her on the wrong side of history, Branson stated, “Yes… it was a mistake—and I’ve said so… If [people with children] can get the job done at home and they can be around their kids, then I think that’s good for the family and good for the business and good for the individual.”

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Website Calculates Cost Benefit of Telecommuting

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Telework CalculatorLike many people right now, you’re looking for a job. And of course the majority of those jobs are located in the city. But you don’t live in the city—the city is too expensive, so you live an hour away in the suburbs where housing is affordable.

So you have to ask yourself, “Do I really want to sit in soul-crushing traffic for an hour both ways for this job?” And more importantly, “How much is this commute going to cost me financially?”

Well perhaps you start looking for opportunities where telecommuting is an option—at least some of the time….

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Comcast Launches 2 GBPS Internet Service

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photo credit: Mike Mozart (Flickr)

 

Just days ago, AT&T announced that they are finally delivering on their promise to bring gigabit broadband to Silicon Valley, as U-Verse with GigaPower is now available in parts of Apple’s home town of Cupertino, CA. And while that sounds like great news for the hordes of tech savvy residents, the price point may prove to be a bit too much to swallow.

In Kansas City, where GigaPower launched in February, AT&T is charging $70 per month for gigabit internet— but unfortunately for Cupertino residents, that’s $40 less than the $110 they will have to shell out for the service. The likely explanation for the price hike is the fact that GigaPower is not currently competing with Google Fiber in Silicon Valley, while it is competing in regions like Kansas City. The reminder here is that, generally, competition keeps consumers’ wallets from crying out.

Luckily more competition is coming with the news that another company is bringing multi-gigabit internet to the table. Comcast announced today that they will be offering their new “Gigabit Pro” Internet service to more than 1.5 million customers in Atlanta next month. The service will offer 2 gigabit-per second speed over fiber-to-home connections. The service is also said to be “symmetrical”, meaning that upload speeds will be just as fast as download speeds.

In the press release for the new service, Doug Guthrie, Vice President of Comcast’s South Region stated:

“Our approach is to offer the most comprehensive roll-out of multi-gigabit service to the most homes as quickly as possible, not just to certain neighborhoods. We already provide the fastest speeds to the most homes and businesses in Atlanta, and access to Gigabit Pro will give our customers all the broadband capacity they need to stay ahead of future technologies and innovations.”

This is an interesting change for a company that not two years ago said most Americans don’t need gigabit-Internet service. Comcast has been delivering multi-gig internet since 2010, but only for businesses. This news marks the first time the company will make similar speeds available to homes.

Although Comcast is rolling out the service in Atlanta, it plans on offering the service to 18 million Americans by the end of the year. Customers will need to be “within close proximity of Comcast’s fiber network” and the service requires “installation of professional-grade equipment.”

As of right now there is no word on how much the service will cost, but it’s probably safe to assume that it won’t come cheap.

Google To Launch New Doorway Page Penalty Algorithm

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Heads-up! Google’s Webmaster Central Blog has sent out a warning regarding yet another ranking change.

Just a couple of weeks ago Google announced that beginning April 21st, sites that are not mobile-friendly would suffer a rankings drop—a long overdue change that aims to reflect the high volume of users performing searches on mobile devices.

This time however, Google’s Search Quality Team has announced that it is targeting doorway pages. Brian White of the Google Webspam Team writes:

“Over time, we’ve seen sites try to maximize their ‘search footprint’ without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.”

It’s clear that Google is simply targeting SEO spammers that are trying to funnel generic traffic, but for those companies that are interested in practicing ethical SEO and are unsure whether they’ve unintentionally gone astray, Google has updated their definition of doorway pages in their quality guidelines and provided some questions to ask of pages that may qualify.

Of those questions, one seems to jump out as a cause for concern for e-commerce sites: Do the pages duplicate useful aggregations of items (locations, products, etc.) that already exist on the site for the purpose of capturing more search traffic?

Given this qualification, one could certainly interpret a number Yelp, eBay, and other e-commerce pages as doorway pages – and thus they may end up bearing the brunt of this update.

The Gender Gap in Silicon Valley

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If you asked our female software engineers how old they were when they started coding, you might be surprised at just how early they gravitated toward programming. One would tell you around 6 or 7, another just 13 years old. When many of us were concerned with more “traditional” school subjects, their attention was captivated by the Logo programming language and making shapes with the Logo turtle. Their passion for creating would eventually lead them to pursue an education in computer science, where most of them report their first experience of being just one in a mere handful of women.

This path eventually landed them here at Bonzzu, where our technClaudia_Bonzzuical staff is approximately 20% women. And while that’s far from perfect, we do pride ourselves on the fact that about half of them are leaders on their respective teams. Because while we may not have a percentage that hovers more closely to 50, the fact that they occupy a substantial portion of the leadership positions is more indicative of a small pool of female applicants than an inability to hire based on talent.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case in the industry as whole—because Silicon Valley, where the future is continually being dreamed up and redefined with each passing second, has been under immense criticism of late, as damning statistics and urgent calls to action are shining a light on the socially-stunted foundation upon which the future is being built.

According to the researchers that conducted the 2014 Silicon Valley Index, men who hold a graduate or professional degree earn 73% more than women with the same educational qualifications, while men with bachelor’s degrees earn 40% more than women with the same credentials.

And as ridiculous as that is by itself, the issue stretches beyond wage inequality, as current surveys also depict the Valley as being staunchly old-fashioned when it comes to gender diversity. Only 11% of Silicon Valley executives and on average around 20% of software developers are women, despite being the lead adopters of technology.

And though gender inequality in the tech industry has been an issue from the outset, it has gained trending status in recent weeks as some prominent women have thrust the issue upon some prominent stages to great effect….

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Google Announces Mobile-Friendly Deadline

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Hurry up and get your sites mobile-friendly by April 21st or suffer a drop in Google search results!

Most would think that in 2015 any real content strategy would already include mobile, but Google has now set a deadline. According to Google’s Webmaster Central Blog,

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

So making sure your content is mobile-friendly is now more important than ever. And while the details of this change are still a bit murky, Webmaster trends analyst, Gary Illyes did share some notable information in a recent Q&A:

  • Responsive design does not have a ranking benefit
  • Googlebot must be allowed to crawl CSS and JavaScript to pass the “mobile-friendly” test
  • Mobile friendliness is determined at the page level – not sitewide
  • Tablets will not be affected by this update
  • Google is currently working on a dedicated mobile index

Responsive web design has been a priority for Bonzzu and many other digital agencies in recent years—however, for those scrambling to get their content in order before the April 21st changes, Google recommends checking out their Mobile Guide for tips on making a smooth transition.

Working Remotely Works

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As technology advances and shapes our world, seemingly with every passing second, we become more and more interconnected. And as we enter 2015, such connectivity is and will continue to have drastic changes on the working environment—perhaps most notably, in that a company’s working environment may no longer be confined to any defined space, such as a traditional brick and mortar office.

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While some companies still prefer to utilize the traditional “eight hours of ass-in-chair-in-office” as the basic measurement of employee productivity, others have committed to a different path, allowing a certain number of qualified employees to work remotely, and are ultimately embracing a more mobile workforce. In fact, this trend is steadily increasing and the data shows that there’s good reason for both employees and employers to start tearing down those figurative walls.

Why you should believe in working remotely

  • Employers have access to a wider range of talented employees:

Hiring outside of your given locale will often give you access to skill sets that may not be represented well in your area. For example, if you’re based in a more rural community, the talent pool in your given location may not offer many software developers or graphic designers, let alone anyone that can code in up and coming languages. But if you’re willing to hire employees that can manage working remotely, you can gain access to higher quality employees with the added benefit of a more diverse workplace.

  • Telecommuting minimizes location-based turnover:

Good employees can be hard to find. And when you lose them for seemingly trivial things such as their spouse going to law school, it can hurt. We’ve all seen amazing employees walk out the door because their family situation made it necessary to move, and they could no longer live in (insert city here). These employees were not only good at what they do, but they had been deeply invested in it financially. Hiring individuals who can handle working remotely makes this a non-issue. People are free to live wherever they want, and can continue to succeed in the work they’ve been doing all along….

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Software Engineers Hard-Coded For Music

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Carlos (above) and Roger (below): Software engineers at Bonzzu by day. Rock Star drummers by night.

These two titles, software engineer and rock star, IMG_5628often bring to mind two completely different images. For instance, our understanding of the typical software engineer likely follows that of the cliché nerd: bookish, visually impaired, and noted by many to have had an unhealthy attendance streak at their professor’s office hours. On the other hand, we think of the rock stars, or the musicians of the world, as exhibiting a “cool” sense of Jim Morrison-like indifference toward practical matters, and possessing a strong passion for all things creative or expressive.

But anyone who actually knows any real life engineers also knows that these two titles are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I would argue that the reason so many developers are also musicians (surprise!) is anchored in a common penchant for creativity and abstract thinking. The harmonious arrangement of notes that make up the chorus of that song you keep aggressively pushing on your friends while they’re captive in your car, is not unlike the code that allows everything worthwhile on that smartphone you can’t live without to function so well. And both camps (the engineers and the musicians) would tell you that what they arrived at is “art.” And so it should be no surprise that these two creative minds are often just one.

Re-enter Carlos and Roger: Bifocal-wearing, comic book-loving engineers and rock stars.

And for those of you brave enough to wave your nerd and musician flags at equal height, here’s Neil Peart of Rush performing Spirit of the Radio.

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