Axios What's Next

Picture of a futuristic looking skyline.

You know how menus sometimes post calorie counts? Job ads may soon include salary ranges — wouldn't that be cool?

  • See something interesting while you're out and about, like Jennifer did last night at a restaurant? (Scroll down for the photo.) Take a picture — we might put it in the newsletter. Email: [email protected].

Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,155 words ...4.5 minutes.

1 big thing: Momentum builds for transparency on people's salaries

Illustration of a hundred dollar bill being revealed behind a help wanted sign
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York City will soon require employers to supply a salary range when they're advertising a position — the biggest step yet in the growing but controversial movement for pay transparency, Jennifer A. Kingson writes.

Why it matters: Laws like New York's aim to give workers, particularly women and people of color, more power in job negotiations. But the rise in remote work is throwing a wrench into the effort.

Driving the news: Under the new law, which takes effect in May, any employer trying to fill a position based in New York City will have to advertise the minimum and maximum salary.

  • New York's role as the nation's financial capital and business bellwether puts the pay transparency movement front and center.
  • "I’d say it’s a game changer," Tauseef Rahman, a partner at the Mercer consulting firm who specializes in pay equity and transparency, tells Axios.

The big picture: While pay discrimination is illegal everywhere, and more states are banning the practice of asking candidates' salary histories, employers still have a big upper hand in compensation negotiations, and it's very hard for job candidates to find out salary information up front.

  • Among the goals: to ensure that women and people of color don't get offered substantially lower salaries, as has happened historically.

Where it stands At least eight states and several cities have laws on pay transparency, but most are weaker than New York City's.

  • A handful of private employers have taken matters into their own hands. Whole Foods lets employees look up how much their co-workers make, and a number of tech companies — like Buffer, GitLab and Whereby — post formulas about how salaries are derived.

Yes, but: Remote work can give employers an easy way to avoid localized pay-transparency laws, at least for some positions.

  • Colorado's strictest-in-the-nation law forces employers of all sizes to post pay information for all jobs advertised, even if they're for remote positions that could potentially be performed in Colorado.
  • But experts say that's actually had a chilling effect, prompting companies to pull their listings from the state.

The bottom line: With states like Massachusetts and South Carolina now considering pay transparency, the trend is likely to continue. But we're a long way from Norway, where everyone's salary is public information.

Read the full story

2. "Third workplaces" come to Main Street

Daybase's Hoboken digs. Photo: Daybase

It's not just WeWork anymore. A slew of new companies are joining the office-as-a-service business.

Driving the news: Daybase, a startup founded by WeWork alums, opened its first hybrid workspace in my hometown, Hoboken, N.J., this week, Erica Pandey writes.

The big picture: Startups are leaning into the pandemic-induced "third workplace" trend.

  • "Right now, you have this imperfect binary between going to the office and staying home," says Daybase co-founder and CEO Joel Steinhaus.
  • As work becomes more flexible, people won't want to go all to way to their offices, but will want to escape their homes. They'll look for third places to get work done, like cafes, libraries or bookable offices.

For $50 per month, members can drop by Daybase’s lounge — which sits on Hoboken's main strip in the ground floor of a residential building — and grab a table or spot on the couch to get some work done.

  • They can also book private office space by the hour via Daybase’s app.
  • Daybase doesn't offer month- or year-long leases to companies like other co-working spaces though. It's purely workspace-on-demand for individuals.

What separates a place like Daybase from a coffee shop is that it has the reliability of an office, Steinhaus says. When you walk into a cafe with your laptop, you're not guaranteed a place to sit or a nearby outlet.

But, but, but: "We don’t think the HQ is dead," Steinhaus says.

  • Companies are already redesigning their headquarters to add more gathering spaces and meeting rooms. Look for central offices to become hubs for onboarding and team retreats, while "third workplaces" pop up in residential areas for the day-to-day work.

3. Meet Optimus, Elon Musk's humanoid robot

Illustration of Tesla's Optimus humanoid robot concept
Tesla's Optimus robot concept. Photo: Tesla

The next big thing from Tesla: Optimus, a humanoid robot that CEO Elon Musk says is the company's newest priority.

Why it matters: Musk said he believes the robot "has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time" by performing tasks that now can only be carried out by humans, Axios' Jacob Knutson writes.

Driving the news: Musk told investors this week that Tesla would prioritize Optimus development, which some people took to mean that vehicles were taking a back seat.

What he's saying: "The most important product development we’re doing this year is actually the Optimus humanoid robot," he said.

  • "The foundation of the economy is labor. Capital equipment is distilled labor. So what happens if you don’t actually have a labor shortage? I’m not sure what an economy even means at that point. That’s what Optimus is about."

Joann Muller's thought bubble: Musk's brain moves fast, and he often leaps from one project to the next with breathtaking speed. It's why he's revered as an innovator.

  • Still, Musk is also a master of distraction. He often floats half-baked sci-fi ideas to dazzle people when other things aren’t going well.
  • Right now, Tesla is behind on plans to introduce a battery-powered semi truck, a pickup called Cybertruck and a next-generation roadster.
  • Missing deadlines is nothing new for Tesla — making automobiles is difficult, especially for newcomers — and the company usually gets there eventually.
  • But for Musk and Tesla, it’s also about keeping the magic going — and the stock propped up.

Read the full story

4. What we're reading

A "slow streets" sign indicating a closed street in San Francisco
"Slow Streets" in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Photo: Gado/Getty Images

Oakland winds down its pandemic-era street closure program (The Mercury-News)

  • The "slow streets" movement, which had cities blocking off car traffic for cooped-up oppidans, may be shorter-lived than some had hoped: It's coming to an end in Oakland, Berkeley and shrinking in San Francisco.

D.C. joins growing list of cities requiring new buildings to include EV parking (Smart Cities Dive)

Suburbs, warmer cities step up efforts to lure cops away from Chicago (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • "Police departments in sunshine-soaked states like Florida and Texas are stepping up efforts to aggressively recruit cops from Chicago, where morale has sunk, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot felt the need Thursday to publicly back Supt. David Brown amid a crisis of confidence among his command staff following the deadliest year in the city in a quarter century."

5. Photo of the day

A door with a "Stall Mate" holder for your cellphone on it.
The inside of the bathroom door at Bombay Chowk on the Upper East Side has a holder for your phone. Photo by Jennifer A. Kingson/Axios

Last night we went out for a delicious Indian meal at a mom-and-pop restaurant in New York City — OMG, the saag paneer! — and I spotted this cellphone holder for customers on the inside of the restroom door, Jennifer writes.

  • It seemed like a good idea, and I did put my phone there — but then I took it out right away, nervous I might forget it there.

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