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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The HR startup Humu is using "nudges" from behavioral science to help companies to better manage the more permanent transition to remote or hybrid work.

Why it matters: Adopting remote or hybrid work after the emergency of the pandemic will require unlearning the psychological habits of the office and harnessing tools that guide us to making the human connections that used to be automatic.

How it works: Humu "sends personalized, customized nudges to different members of a team at different times and in different combinations that actually change behavior," says Laszlo Bock, the company's co-founder and CEO, and the former head of people at Google.

Background: The company crafts its approach from the work of behavioral economists like Richard Thaler, who pioneered the use of small nudges — such as putting healthy food front and center in a cafeteria while hiding the salty snacks — to direct behavior.

  • "If you're working on inclusion, you need to create an atmosphere of psychological safety," says Bock. "So an employee might get a nudge that says, 'You've got a meeting this afternoon — try speaking up in the first 10 minutes.'"

Between the lines: Bock is a believer in the value of remote and hybrid work, but he worries that corporate culture will erode, especially for the millions of people hired during the remote-only period of the pandemic who missed out on what he calls the "imprintable moment" of joining a company, when the feeling of connection is often the strongest.

There's a huge opportunity to be intentional and turbocharge an organization's performance, but people are missing it because they're thinking about work purely as a logistical issue.
— Laszlo Bock, Humu

Go deeper

Businesses grapple with vax mandates and COVID policies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A growing number of U.S. companies have mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for employees. But in the absence of a federal mandate there's a wide variance in what’s happening — mandates for all, some, or none — with employee demands being put front and center thanks to the Great Resignation.

Why it matters: How companies answer questions about vaccines and return-to-work policies has wide ranging impacts — on the health of their employees, on where people live, and on the strategic direction of their businesses.

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army Generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.