For over a year, Scott has been working for Facebook from the comfort of his Hyde Park home. And he's enjoyed it.
While he says he is more efficient from home, not everyone in tech feels remote work is sustainable. The future of office work in tech is an ongoing discussion where employees want the flexibility of working from home but some employers want to return to the office.
The transition out of remote-only work started in early summer for some companies, but some tech giants such as Dell Technologies, Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon have pushed their reopen dates back to either January or another undetermined date due to Delta variant concerns seen over the summer.
Trying to find the happy medium between high productivity, social interaction, and offering flexibility is leading most companies to go in the route of—or at least consider—a hybrid model of work.
"Going in a couple of times a week but being virtual two to three times a week would be a good mix of seeing people in-person and doing meetings, but also having this nice work-from-home atmosphere as well," said Scott, who asked his last name not be used for potentially violating Facebook's media policy.
Employees want a balance
Scott says staying motivated was the main adjustment he had to make when going fully remote last March. He isn't alone—76% of employees typically enjoy working remotely, according to a survey conducted by Morning Consult published this month. An extra perk is getting to avoid a 20-30 minute commute to the office in Austin traffic.
Workers like Isaac Garza, a senior software engineer for a remote tech startup, operate more efficiently when working remotely. At the developing startup, he says he felt like he could easily work without being interrupted.
Issac Garza finds himself more productive working from home, but is also dealing with burnout. (Issac Garza)
In Central Texas, remote work and the flexibility it offers had a positive impact on employees' productivity, according to a study conducted by Movability and Texas State University, with 52% of the 732 respondents finding themselves to be more productive.
While it means great results for employers, the hybrid model would supply workers with what they miss from the office: talking with coworkers. It's that social interaction that makes company culture and was stripped from the work environment when businesses began working from home.
There's also the issue of work-life balance. Some employees like Garza have felt burnout from remote work. "I got into the habit of, at five o'clock, just closing the laptop," Garza said. "We don't have lives on our hands, so it's not necessary for things to be done right then and there all the time."
Companies weigh their options
Though hybrid models seem to be the perfect balance between the pros and cons of remote work versus in-person work, some companies are rejecting these hybrid setups. According to a survey conducted by Robert Half, only 18% of managers in the tech industry hope to implement hybrid models for their workplace, and 72% expect to be fully back in-office once COVID-19 restrictions lift.
In a Bloomberg article, Thomas Vick—a regional director at Robert Half—found that most companies in Austin have leaned toward either one end of the spectrum or the other: being fully remote or fully in-person. Some companies are pursuing long-term remote work as they aren't resigning leases on office spaces to help eliminate large costs. Others are pining for a return-to-office date because larger tech companies spent billions of dollars on these new office spaces and want a return on their investment.
As COVID cases decrease and more are vaccinated, it could mean the tech industry has its eyes on retuning to the office. But the conversation of weighing costs—both financially and morally—and productivity levels will be just as relevant to find a meet-in-the-middle solution that could be hybrid work.
Those three giant spuds that adorn the roof of Couch Potatoes, 10500 N Interstate 35 Frontage Road, are moving from their eye-catching highway spot to COTALAND, the Circuit of the America's new amusement park.
The move started Friday morning by Austin-based Matriarch Metalwork, who will handle the move of the 34-foot long, 22-foot tall statue. The potatoes will be on display at the park on Oct. 22.
Opening in summer 2022, COTALAND will have more than 18 rides—three of them rollercoasters—and officials say they'll have more announcements coming in early 2022.
"We are thrilled our 'Couch Potato' will stay in Austin and better yet, at COTA's new amusement park—where they will be viewed and enjoyed by thousands of guests throughout the year," co-owner of Couch Potatoes Brian Morgan said.
In addition to the new space, the couch potatoes are getting a makeover—a new sofa that will allow the statue to move more freely among the grounds. The gigantic old sofa officially needs a new home and interested parties should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
COTALAND is a fitting home for the "largest sofa in Texas," possibly the world but "it's hard to get the Guinness book people out to see it," as it was designed by a retired amusement park designer.
An Austin staple, the statue sat on southbound I-35 for eight years between Austin and Round Rock city limits. The sign includes three potatoes—one for each of the furniture store founders.
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Ten months into the year means you're probably in need of some serious vacation time but you may not be able to book a trip to Hawaii just yet. Luckily, we've compiled a list of the best tiki bars in Austin to be your own mini-vacation away from work—so bring out the grass skirts and Hawaiian shirts!
Tiki Tatsu-Ya, 1300 South Lamar Blvd.
Hours: 4 p.m.-midnight Wednesday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2-10 p.m. Sunday
Chef and owner Tatsu Aikawa, genius behind Ramen Tatsu-Ya, DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya and Kemuri Tatsu-Ya in Austin, recently launched this tiki bar in South Austin. Tiki Tatsu-Ya serves tropical-themed dishes such as poke and stuffed squid as well as cocktails like the classic Mai Tai and even specialty drinks like the Jungle Crane. They also offer shareable drink options such as the Rum Barrel or the Skeleton Cruise, which is served on a miniature ship.
Pool Burger, 2315 Lake Austin Blvd.
Hours: Noon-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-midnight Friday-Saturday, noon-9 p.m. Sunday
Across from Deep Eddy Municipal Pool sits this hip walk-up tiki bar. After enjoying a long day at the pool, sip on drinks inside Pool Burger's beach house-themed indoor seating or vibe to the music outside on the mini turf lawn. Aside from burgers and rum cakes, they also serve classic tropical drinks like Mai Tais and Zombies as well as specialty drinks like Arm Floaties. Happy hour is 3-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, offering $5 frozen Hurricanes and rosé and $2 Red Stripes.
HenHouse Basement (The Lost Lei), 117 West 4th St.
Hours: 4 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sunday
This dimly lit tiki bar offers chill island vibes with colorful lights and indoor seating. Customers have the option to get classic tiki cocktails such as the Zombie or Saturn as well as specialty drinks like their Polynesian Retreat. They also sell souvenir tiki mugs for $25 each or four for $75.
Shangri-La, 1016 East 6th St.
Hours: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday to Thursday, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday to Sunday
Shangri-La isn't so much a tiki bar but more so a tiki dive bar. Customers can enjoy the foliage on the back patio underneath string lights or sip on their drinks at the smaller second bar hut. A lot of their menu consists of frozen drinks with mini umbrellas, so don't miss out on their specialty drinks like the Shangri-Lada and D'Mango Unchained. They also have live music and free billiards.
The Cat’s Pajamas, 610 Nueces St.
Hours: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Thursday, 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, noon-2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
This boat-themed rooftop bar is the perfect place to have some drinks with your friends if you're wanting a night out on the town. Customers can sip on their piña coladas while they sit at the bar swings or take a photo in front of the posed jet skis. They also offer some specialty drinks including their Galveston Is The New Miami, which features Western Son Peach Vodka.
Zanzibar, 304 East Cesar Chavez St.
Hours: 4 p.m.-midnight Monday to Thursday, 2 p.m.-midnight Friday, noon-midnight Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sunday
Seven stories up sits a high-end rooftop tiki bar decked out with tropical foliage and a rooftop pool with cabanas. Not only does it offer modern tiki cocktails but also island-inspired fare such as sushi burritos, duck egg rolls and spicy tuna poke. Come enjoy this private paradise in the middle of the concrete jungle of downtown!
Hula Hut, 3825 Lake Austin Boulevard
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday
Though this is not so much a tiki bar but a tropical-themed Tex-Mex restaurant, they still offer many island-inspired drinks such as Mai Tais and their signature cocktail Hu-La-La. Since opening in the summer of 1993, it has provided beautiful lake views, tasty tropical fare and island vibe scenery with their outdoor colorful lights, bamboo walls and grass skirt roofs.
Didn't get a wristband? No worries—there's still fun to be had if you're not attending ACL. Here's a list of things to do in Austin so you don't get FOMO when you see Doja Cat videos on your friend's Instagram stories.
Try something different with MotoGP at COTA
Head to Circuit of the Americas, 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd., this weekend for MotoGP, the fastest two-wheeled race. A three-day event taking place at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 8:40 a.m. Sunday, you can get tickets here.
Grab a bite at Homeslice
Who said you had to be at the festival to eat good? During both ACL weekends, Homeslice, 1415 S Congress Ave., is extending its hours at all of its locations. Customers will be offered complete dine-in and take-out options beginning at 11 a.m. going until midnight from Thursday to Sunday both weekends.
Cheers a drink at Fierce Whiskers Distillery
In southeast Austin sits a distillery, tasting room and five-story rickhouse where guests can tour the space and taste some craft whiskey. Doors are open from 4-10 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays, 4 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and 12 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays.
Attend an Austin FC game
If you haven't been to an Austin FC game yet, it's time. You don't need to know soccer to have a good time and enjoy local eats. The team will take on Real Salt Lake at Q2 Stadium, 10414 Mc Kalla Place, at 2:30 p.m. Get tickets here.
Get your win at Cidercade
The perfect combination of alcoholic drinks and games for everybody—Cidercade, 600 E Riverside Dr., is a great place to hideout from the rain and ACL crowd. Admission is $10 and allows access to 150+ arcade games. Ciders and food are offered on-site, and don't forget to check out the seasonal ciders including Pecan Pie, Bomb Pop!, Main Squeeze and Strawberry Rhubarb!
Have your own Oktoberfest at Carpenter Hotel
Just a few blocks away from the festival, Carpenter Hotel, 400 Josephine St., will be transforming its property into a Biergarten for both ACL weekends. If you're not attending ACL (or if you want to stop by before or after), they will be offering food and beverages such as pretzels, brats, beer, wine and coffee throughout the afternoon and evening. Each morning from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., they will also host a brunch. This event is free to attend but all food and beverages must be purchased with Biergarten Bucks, which will be available for purchase upon entry.
Try a new taco at Torchy’s Tacos
This year, Torchy's is teaming up with Black Pumas as it is releasing its special-edition Black Pumas Tacos as well as its Black Pumas Stay Gold Hoppy Pale Ale. A portion of the taco proceeds will go toward the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. These tacos will be purchasable at Northshore, South Congress and South Lamar locations.
Happy ACL weekend!