☕️ No way, Norway

What remote work does to companies...
September 13, 2021 View Online | Sign Up

Daily Brew


Good morning. They say you should live in the present, but at this time of the year there's so much to look forward to (unless you're a Bears fan). Let's run it down:

48 days until Halloween

73 days until Thanksgiving

72 days until the night before Thanksgiving

103 days until Christmas

Neal Freyman














*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 9:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Investors will be hoping to flip the script on September, with US stocks coming off their worst week since June.
  • Politics: Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat whose vote will be key for passing Biden's economic proposals, said yesterday he won't support the $3.5 trillion budget bill proposed by Democrats, citing the costs. A September 27 deadline for a House vote is looking increasingly rocky. 


Covid Tests Go DIY

Abbot's at-home Covid test

Abbot Labs

President Biden's vaccine requirement for large employers grabbed all the headlines last week. 

But another overlooked initiative could also play a pivotal role in reducing the spread of Covid-19: the dramatic expansion of affordable at-home testing.

The Biden administration will spend $2 billion on 280 million rapid Covid tests and distribute them to facilities across the country. The White House also inked an agreement with retailers Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger to sell tests at-cost (around a 35% discount) for the next three months.

What is an at-home Covid test? 

Rather than having a health professional get all up in your nostrils, you can swab yourself and get the results in less than an hour. At-home rapid tests (known as "antigen" tests) are less reliable than the lab-based PCR test, but experts say they can be an extremely useful tool for allowing life to proceed semi-normally. 

Problem is, in the US over-the-counter rapid tests are expensive and scarce. Abbott Laboratories sells a two-pack for $24, and Quidel's QuickVue sells a test for $15. But even if you are willing to shell out for one, good luck finding a rapid test on pharmacy store shelves or on e-commerce websites, where they're often sold out.

The US is behind the curve

  • In Israel, 8,000 students stayed at home after testing positive using rapid antigen swab tests. That allowed 180,000 of their classmates to stay in school and avoid quarantining, the country's Education Ministry said. 
  • Germany has distributed free tests since the winter, and UK pharmacies are also handing out free tests. 
  • Even India, which has fewer resources than the US, is selling rapid tests for $3.50.

Zoom out: Michael Mina, a Harvard epidemiologist who's been arguing for more at-home tests since last year, said Biden's plan was a "good start," but it still represents less than one test per American over the course of a year.



Can Norway Afjord a Break from Fossil Fuels?

Oslo, Norway

Photo by Oscar Daniel Rangel on Unsplash

Norway is holding an election today with big implications for the environment. 

When it comes to climate change, Norway's like a vegan with a beef farm. It's one of the most environmentally forward-thinking countries in the world; thanks to generous government subsidies, roughly 70% of all new cars sold are electric. 

But oil and gas is its most important industry. The sector employs more than 5% of Norway's workforce and accounts for more than 40% of its exports. Norway's also built up a $1.4 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest, thanks to its fossil fuel exploits. 

Polls show that the Labor party will unseat the Conservative-led government after eight years of control. Both of those parties support a slow transition away from oil and gas production. 

But unlike in the US, smaller political parties in Norway hold major sway. And how those groups, which advocate for a more immediate break from fossil fuels, fare in the election will ultimately decide how quickly Norway severs ties to an industry that made it so rich. 



What Remote Work Does to Companies

Millhouse from Simpsons


If it feels like you haven't caught up with anyone on your company's sales team in months, you're not alone. Remote work is causing companies to become islands of business units with few connections between them, according to a new study from Microsoft researchers.

The study, which explored the communication patterns of more than 61,000 Microsoft employees during the Covid-19 pandemic, found a significant decrease in collaboration between teams, causing networks to become "static and siloed, with fewer bridges between the disparate parts."

  • The researchers also found a decrease in "synchronous" communication (meetings, video calls) and an increase in "asynchronous" communication (emails, instant messages).

Why it matters: Less interaction across teams may lead to less new information shared, especially complex ideas.  

Zoom out: The research was published as most of the country's biggest tech companies push off a return to the office in light of the Delta variant. Microsoft itself just announced it will postpone its office return date indefinitely. 



It's the Season for Change

As you begin bundling up for the cool fall weather, it's also a pretty good time to start thinking about how you could bundle and save on home and auto insurance. Bundles on bundles, what a cozy feeling.

Keeping with our ingenious theme: Policygenius makes comparing home and auto insurance feel like a scenic drive through New England.

Whether you're looking for coverage similar to what you have now, or starting from scratch like warm apple pie, Policygenius can help you look for a lower rate. In fact, they've saved customers an average of $1,250 per year over what they were paying before.

And because you'd rather be covered in leaves and not buried in messy paperwork, Policygenius takes care of all that, too.

Fall in love with a new policy today.


Key Performance Indicators

Freedom Tower

Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

Stat: At a cost of $3.8 billion, One World Trade Center is the most expensive skyscraper ever built in the US, and it has never been profitable in its seven years of existence. It does have tenants for more than 90% of its 3.1 million square feet, though.

Quote: "There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit."

In a speech at the crash site of United Flight 93 on Saturday, former President George W. Bush explicitly linked the 9/11 terrorists with the Americans who attacked the Capitol building on Jan. 6.

Read: Eco-fashion's animal rights delusion. (Craftsmanship Quarterly)



The Week Ahead

Apple invite for its hardware event


New iPhones: Tomorrow, Apple will hold its fall hardware event, where it's expected to introduce the iPhone 13, new Apple Watches and AirPods, and more.

California recall: CA Governor Gavin Newsom faces a high-stakes recall election on Tuesday. Newsom, who has an edge in the polls, will try to avoid a repeat of 2003, when Gov. Gray Davis lost in a recall election to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Inflation data: The consumer price index (CPI) on Tuesday will reveal how much prices increased last month. It's the final major data point released before the Fed meets next week to discuss plans to reduce its economic stimulus.  

Everything else:

  • The Met Gala is tonight at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. 
  • Broadway returns in force tomorrow. You can watch the opening number to The Lion King on this TikTok account tomorrow at 7pm.
  • Yom Kippur begins Wednesday at sundown.


  • Daniil Medvedev thwarted Novak Djokovic's quest for a Grand Slam with a three-set victory in the US Open finals. 18-year-old Emma Raducanu won the women's title.
  • Epic Games appealed a judge's ruling from Friday that requires Apple to loosen some App Store rules...but allows it to keep many others in place.
  • Kansas City Southern, a railroad, chose Canadian Pacific to buy it for $31 billion, rebuffing a similar offer from Canadian National. 
  • Cryptocurrency use has surged in Afghanistan following the Taliban's takeover of the country, per the WSJ.
  • Salesforce said it would help relocate employees and their families from Texas if they want to leave the state, following the passage of a new restrictive abortion law. 


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Dive back into the week.

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Brew's Bookshelf


Francis Scialabba

Every other week, Brew's Bookshelf brings you a few of our favorite reads.  

  1. Journalists Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn chronicled what survivors and rescuers at the World Trade Center experienced during the 9/11 attacks in 102 Minutes.
  2. In her newest release, Machiavelli for Women, NPR host Stacey Vanek Smith tries to understand why there are still so many fewer women leading companies, why the gender pay gap is still so wide, and what we can do about it. 


The Puzzle Section

Kriss Kross: This puzzle may or may not have to do with a particular sport in the news. Play it here.

Speaking of Norway...

Can you identify it on this map? 

Blank map of Europe



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Norway is A


Written by Neal Freyman

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