From the downsides of remote work to virtual summer internships, and the impact of COVID-19 on our work/life balance. These are some of the stories dominating this week’s TOP 5 trends.

#1. Up to 100 million people can’t work remotely, IMF claims


The coronavirus pandemic has led to tens of millions of job losses, and millions of workers now face the prospect of being forced out of the labour market altogether because they can’t work remotely. The International Monetary Fund estimates that in the era of physical distancing, up to 100 million workers in 35 advanced and emerging countries could be at risk. This is equivalent to 15% of the workforce. Within this group, those most likely to be negatively impacted are young workers, women, and the poor.

Tele-working index by GDP per capita (PPP)

#2. Five tips for businesses taking on virtual summer interns


Summer is traditionally the time when companies run internship programmes. However, under the COVID-19 circumstances, many such internships will be done virtually this year. As this is uncharted territory for most businesses, it is essential they take the appropriate measures to prepare for the experience. To help them along the way, this Forbes article puts together a list of five recommendations. Among other things, companies should stay realistic and identify the core objectives of their internship programmes. They should motivate interns by offering a real learning experience. For instance, one advantage of this virtual format of work is that it makes it easier to have interns collaborate across offices. Furthermore, managers need to be patient and not expect things to work in the same way they have historically. Other recommendations highlight the importance of diversity and flexibility because not all interns will come from the same backgrounds.

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

#3. Barbados offering 12-month remote-work stay incentive to attract visitors


Summer is here, and on top of it being an ideal time for internships, it is also when workers take some time off. But as many of us will this year opt for ‘staycation’ instead of traveling abroad, countries that depend on tourism are left with bleak economic prospects. In light of this new COVID reality, however, some states have decided to innovate and attract visitors differently. One such country is the Caribbean nation of Barbados, which is set to introduce a “12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp”. This stamp would allow visitors from overseas to stay an entire year and work remotely there. With the ongoing coronavirus travel restrictions, short-term travels often prove difficult, but the country hopes the yearlong stay would be strong enough an incentive for people who work remotely to come and visit. Read more here.

Photo by Sean O. on Unsplash

#4. Why the future of AI needs more of diversity and the arts


What do the arts and AI have in common? For Monmayuri Ray, a former scholar of applied maths, engineering, and studio art, a lot! Or rather, as we move towards the more data-driven economy, AI will require not just data and engineering skills but also increasingly, and some argue, more importantly, a need to emphasise judgment, decision-making, and people skills. Analytics and soft skills should not be seen as separate but rather as part of the same genre of human problem-solving skills. For instance, a good data scientist will have all the necessary hard skills, including knowledge of python, stats, and presentation. To build a good AI model, however, they would also need to be good at storytelling and linguistics. Read more on the topic here.

Photo by Andrew Ruiz on Unsplash

#5. Coronavirus has led to more empathy, longer working hours and meeting fatigue


Microsoft has published its second Work Trend Index, which takes stock of remote working and explores both opportunities and challenges for the future of workplaces. While the past months have led to more empathy between teammates and have shifted our perceptions about remote work, many of us have also experienced long working hours and online meeting fatigue. We have also missed in-person connections with our colleagues, which has put a strain on our ability to collaborate with one another. It is interesting to note that younger workers have struggled more to find the balance between professional and personal lives and that this is replicated across different regions of the world.

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