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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The virtual office water cooler is the new Thanksgiving dinner table.

The big picture: There's a brewing debate over whether politics belongs at work — and while most Americans think it doesn't, per a new Harris Poll survey shared with Axios, they also think companies shouldn't back down from speaking out on social justice issues.

Driving the news: The cryptocurrency company Coinbase made headlines when CEO Brian Armstrong said the firm would bar political activism at work. "We don’t engage here when issues are unrelated to our core mission, because we believe impact only comes with focus," he wrote in a Medium post.

  • The move garnered mixed reviews, with some calling it a smart corporate move and others saying it crystallized the problems with Silicon Valley's culture.
  • Around 5% of Coinbase's workforce has already quit, accepting a severance package the company offered to workers who wanted to leave over the policy. And Armstrong expects more to follow.

But Coinbase might have picked up on a common sentiment.

  • According to the Harris Poll survey, 70% of Americans would support companywide policies that limit the discussion of politics in the workplace or with colleagues.
  • And even just among millennials — who are often cited as the most socially conscious employees — 67% would support such policies.
  • The problem may be one of feeling safe enough to talk politics at work: 32% of those surveyed say they don't feel comfortable expressing their political leanings in the office.

But, but, but: Even if Americans don't think political conversations should be had at work, they do believe their employers should speak up.

Go deeper with Wired's excellent dive into the turmoil at Coinbase.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Oct 14, 2020 - Technology

More tech companies plan to let workers stay remote post-pandemic

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A growing number of tech companies say workers need not ever come back to the office if they don't want to. The move comes as pandemic-related closures have already kept many tech workers out of the office for months.

Why it matters: Technology's spread into every corner of the broader economy keeps boosting demand for workers with tech skills. That pushes employers to accommodate tech talent wherever they find it.

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. Sports: MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
  5. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

The norms around science and politics are cracking

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Crafting successful public health measures depends on the ability of top scientists to gather data and report their findings unrestricted to policymakers.

State of play: But concern has spiked among health experts and physicians over what they see as an assault on key science protections, particularly during a raging pandemic. And a move last week by President Trump, via an executive order, is triggering even more worries.

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