Nicholas Bloom is America's best work-from-home expert. He says the remote work revolution is 'only halfway through.'

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Welcome to this weekly roundup of stories from Insider’s Business co-Editor in Chief Matt Turner. Subscribe here to get this newsletter in your inbox every Sunday.

What we’re going over today: 

  • America’s best work-from-home expert is bracing for turmoil.
  • We spoke with 21 of Matt Gaetz’s high-school classmates. Some say they could have predicted the congressman’s sex scandal.
  • Some Lululemon retail employees say there is an environment of “toxic positivity,” where workers feel pressure to share personal information with managers and constant feedback can feel like bullying
  • GlaxoSmithKline stumbled with COVID-19 shots. Now it’s facing an exodus of US talent and an uncertain future as the world’s vaccine leader.

Elizabeth Viggiano for Insider

What’s trending this morning:

  • How do Microsoft’s employees really feel? A leaked internal poll of 132,000 workers reveals their opinions on topics like pay and leadership.
  • Google Cloud org chart: We identified the 142 most powerful people at Google Cloud as it races to beat Amazon and Microsoft
  • Merrill Lynch trainee turmoil: Issues in Merrill Lynch’s massive pipeline for financial advisors are weighing on trainees’ morale.
  • A new force on Wall Street: Four minority-owned banks reveal how they’re overcoming Wall Street’s “woeful” lack of diversity to play a bigger role in investment banking.
  • America’s hottest real-estate market: Manchester, New Hampshire is attracting Boston commuters, who kick off bidding wars.

Brace for WFH turmoil

Nicholas Bloom, America’s leading work-from-home expert, is preparing for things to get messy. He warns of turmoil as the US scrambles to adjust to the new normal:

Bloom is urging corporate America to navigate the turbulence by resisting offering the unlimited freedom that many employees have come to expect. His prescription lies in creating a uniform schedule for employees — one designed to balance the benefits of working from home with the need for collaboration and equality. 

Unless employers established a clear and level playing field, he said, the years ahead could remain filled with uncertainty and upheaval, for companies as well as employees. 

“Revolutions are chaotic, and as we know from many revolutions in history, they’re often followed by further turmoil,” Bloom told me. “This has been a massive revolution — and we’re only halfway through.”  

Here’s what else he had to say about WFH’s future:

  • America’s best work-from-home expert is bracing for turmoil

Also read:

  • Media companies including Bloomberg, The Washington Post, and ViacomCBS detail their return-to-office plans as workers push for flexibility after the pandemic
  • Big Tech has turned to Nicholas Bloom for help navigating their return to the office. Here’s what the Stanford economist recommends.
  • Read the presentation IBM is giving its nearly 350,000 employees to prepare them to return to the office

Gaetz’s former classmates dish

AP

GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz is embroiled in scandal as he faces a federal sex-trafficking investigation. We spoke with his former high school classmates, some of whom said they weren’t surprised:

One classmate became furious when Gaetz ran for the Florida House of Representatives in 2010 and asserted marriage ought to be between one man and one woman.

“I was so disgusted by it,” she told Insider this month. “I knew him to not believe that.” 

She grew so angry that she blogged about Gaetz in March 2010, urging people to vote against him in the upcoming special election primary for a seat in the Sunshine State legislature.

“While the rest of us grew up, Gaetz stayed the same. He may have gotten his law degree and put on a suit and tie, but behind all that he’s still the same guy who takes out his cell phone to show friends naked pictures of the women he’s recently bedded,” she wrote in 2010.

See what else his classmates had to say:

  • We spoke with 21 of Matt Gaetz’s high-school classmates. Some say they could have predicted the congressman’s sex scandal.

Also read:

  • Donald Trump is ditching the spray tan, M&M’s, and even some extra pounds at home in Florida. Insiders say losing 20 pounds might convince him to run for president again.
  • Imagine a 20-car motorcade taking you to dinner. That’s the White House bubble Joe Biden now finds himself living in.

Lululemon accused of “toxic positivity”

Lululemon; Samantha Lee/Insider

More than a dozen current and former Lululemon employees told Insider there’s a culture of “toxic positivity” in its retail stores. Some feel the company’s emphasis on feedback can border on bullying — and almost all classified the environment as cultlike:

“Often, I just came home crying,” one worker told Insider. She called her mom, asking: “What’s wrong with me? What do I do?”

She actively tried to act happier at work, meeting with other workers in the store for advice. But the negative feedback continued. She started not wanting to show up to her shifts. “I felt like I couldn’t be happy enough to work,” she said.

And so, two months after her first day, her mental health already feeling on the decline, she quit. “I just had to get out,” she said.

Read other employees’ experiences with Lululemon:

  • Some Lululemon retail employees say there is an environment of ‘toxic positivity,’ where workers feel pressure to share personal information with managers and constant feedback can feel like bullying

Also read:

  • Katrina Lake just stepped down as CEO at Stitch Fix. But experts worry that even under new CEO Elizabeth Spaulding, the company is straying further away from its key innovations.
  • 11 founders of hot DTC retail startups reveal what’s next for their brands after the pandemic led to unprecedented sales growth

GSK exodus

GlaxoSmithKline; Samantha Lee/Insider

GlaxoSmithKline is the world’s largest vaccine business. But in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century, the company’s vaunted vaccine unit has yet to develop a coronavirus shot — and employees are leaving the company in hordes: 

Three years after the Rockville ribbon cutting, reports began to trickle in of mysterious cases of pneumonia in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Soon, scientists would identify the cause as a new coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2. Within weeks, the virus had spread globally. By early March, much of the world had shut down in an attempt to halt the spread.

It was the kind of event the Rockville center was built for. And GSK, a multinational pharma company based in the UK, was sitting on some of the most promising technology for rapidly responding to viruses.

But as the novel coronavirus emerged, GSK, the world’s largest vaccine business by revenue, was caught flatfooted.

Read the full story here:

  • GlaxoSmithKline stumbled with COVID-19 shots. Now it’s facing an exodus of US talent and an uncertain future as the world’s vaccine leader.

Also read:

  • A top research and development exec at GlaxoSmithKline is leaving the company, which is the world’s vaccine leader
  • Moderna’s CEO shares his strategy to develop a “world-changing” single vaccine that protects against COVID-19, the flu, and other respiratory illnesses

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Lastly, don’t forget to check out Morning Brew — the A.M. newsletter that makes reading the news actually enjoyable.

Here are some headlines you might have missed last week.

— Matt

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  • Symphony’s CEO is stepping down as the $1.4 billion Wall Street messaging startup gears up for an acquisition push

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