Dell’s staff rejects return to office despite loss of promotions and transfers

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Half of Dell’s US Staff Rejects Office Mandate,  SoftBank Plans to Use AI to Calm Angry Customer Voices, Ferrari Ditches In-Car Nav as Phones Take Over and Apple might be admitting there’s a limit to what people will pay….

All this and more on the “Take this and shove it …” edition of Hashtag Trending.  I’m your host Jim Love, let’s get into it.

Dell’s push to get employees back to the office is facing major resistance. New internal data shows nearly half of the tech giant’s full-time U.S. workforce has opted to stay fully remote rather than return to offices under a new hybrid policy introduced in February.

Those choosing to keep working from home are ineligible for promotions or transfers under Dell’s controversial return-to-office rules. Yet for many, the benefits of remote work are too good to give up, despite the career limitations.

Employees cited saving money on commuting, gaining flexibility for personal lives, and lacking a nearby office to justify returning. Some noted their global teams are spread across multiple sites anyway.

While hybrid workers must log at least 3 office days weekly, tracked by a color-coded system, several Dell staffers described empty office scenes since the policy began. Some senior employees dismissed the no-promotion threat as meaningless if they’ve already risen as far as desired.  Some felt that there were few options for promotion anyway.

Not picking on Dell, but is anybody out there asking, “how’s this RTO thing working for you so far?”

Sources include: Business Insider

In the latest sign of smartphones winning out over aging in-vehicle technologies, Ferrari is dropping built-in navigation from its cars. The Italian automaker says it’s eliminating the native mapping feature going forward, as phone mirroring through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay has become the “most user-friendly possibility.”

According to Ferrari’s head of product marketing Emanuele Carando, integrated nav systems quickly become outdated compared to frequently updated smartphone mapping apps like Google Maps. Over-the-air updates exist for in-car nav, but don’t happen nearly as frequently.

Carando admits phones with real-time traffic data and frequently refreshed maps have made Ferrari’s integrated systems obsolete. Setting destinations and getting routing guidance is also often easier through familiar phone interfaces versus sometimes clunky automaker systems.

The decision makes Ferrari one of the first major automakers to fully ditch native navigation in favor of smartphone mirroring. While controversial, it underscores how our phones have overshadowed many integrated technologies baked into modern cars.

Other automakers are expected to follow the trend as drivers show a clear preference for the seamless phone integration offered by systems like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay over aging proprietary nav options.

Sources include: The Drive

Apple has suspended development on a second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on creating a more affordable mixed reality headset, according to a new report from The Information.

Initially, Apple was believed to be working on dividing its Vision lineup into high-end “Pro” and lower-cost standard models. However, over the past year, the company has “deprioritized” the next Vision Pro iteration, reassigning employees to a cheaper alternative codenamed “N109.”

The goal with N109 is to release a headset priced around a high-end iPhone – up to $1,600. But finding ways to reduce costs without sacrificing too many features has proven challenging, likely pushing the target launch beyond the revised late 2025 timeline.

Even so, Apple aims to retain premium display components from the Vision Pro in this lower-cost model, while potentially trimming other hardware like cameras, headbands and speakers to cut weight by a third.

One Vision Pro supplier has already cut production by 50% after Apple forecast weaker demand – suggesting no more than 500,000 units have shipped this year with modest plans ahead.

While development on Vision Pro 2 is paused for now, the report notes Apple could resume the project later. But the near-term priority is clear – delivering a more accessible mixed reality experience to expand beyond the Pro market’s high barrier to entry.

Sources include: Apple Insider

Japanese telecom giant SoftBank is developing AI technology that will modify the voices of angry customers to sound calmer during calls with service reps. The AI analyzes vocal characteristics like pitch and tone, and alters them in real-time to reduce hostility.

SoftBank trained the system on over 10,000 voice samples from actors expressing different emotions. When an irate customer calls in, the AI will process their speech and adjust it to sound less threatening, though still conveying some audible frustration.

The goal is to reduce harassment and psychological stress on call center staff dealing with verbally abusive customers – an issue plaguing service industries. One former operator recalled, “Customers would call me vile names…but we were trained not to hang up no matter how degrading it got.”

While SoftBank hopes the tech creates a safer work environment by March 2026, some question if masking legitimate anger is the right solution. As one Reddit commenter put it, “If you have so many angry customers affecting employees’ mental health, address the reasons for that anger instead of pretending it doesn’t exist.”

Sources include: ArsTechnica

And that’s our show for today.

Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a daily news show, with a weekend interview show we call the Weekend Edition.

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We love your comments.  Contact me at editorial@technewsday.ca

I’m your host Jim Love, have a Thrilling Thursday.

 

 

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