A simple cure for 'Zoom fatigue'

And more of the week's best financial insight

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Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:

A simple cure for 'Zoom fatigue'

"The humble phone call" is making a comeback for workers in search of a "happy medium between Zoom and instant messages," said Krithika Varagur at The Wall Street Journal. Phone traffic has unexpectedly shot up during the pandemic as many workers have rediscovered its benefits for "one-on-one conversations." "Zoom fatigue" was probably inevitable, but many offices are growing increasingly frustrated with videoconferencing and "unexpected guests, exasperating muting, frozen screens, and the open invitation for strangers to judge your virtual backdrops." Workers have also grown tired of staying in place for hours as they stare straight ahead at a computer screen. Even the "infamously phone-phobic Millennial generation" has been gravitating away from the "Zoom zeitgeist."

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A better rent-to-own home model?

A rent-to-own platform is trying to stand out as "a good guy in a seedy corner of home sales," said Matthew Goldstein at The New York Times. Typical rent-to-own agreements allow renters the option to buy their home at a later date, with extra payments going toward the down payment for the home until that time. But often the homes are sold "as is," leaving tenants on the hook for hefty expenses. Some particularly predatory firms have been "quick to evict renters" even after they've paid for repairs. Now Divvy, a real-estate platform with Silicon Valley backers, is letting clients "select a property on the open market," then pay rent and an added sum that goes to an eventual down payment. Clients are guaranteed their extra payments back — minus a 2 percent "surrender fee" — if they choose not to buy.

Facing your company's mortality

Ask your employees to write your company's obituary, said Sean Braswell at Ozy. In 1888, Alfred Nobel was "mistakenly pronounced dead by a French newspaper," and the experience prompted him to "reevaluate his legacy." Companies that are "struggling with their sense of purpose" might also learn a lot about themselves "by enlisting their employees to write the company's obit." Employees want meaning in the workplace beyond the bottom line. At a for-profit company it can be difficult to figure out what that purpose is. That's where "a well-timed, if premature, company obituary comes in." A soul-searching exercise that defines a compelling purpose "not only helps attract and retain talented employees but also energizes a company's leaders."

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