16 Jan 2019

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Matt: My TED Video on the Future of Work

I was thrilled to participate in TED's new video series, The Way We Work, and not surprisingly I made the case that distributed work is where everything is headed.

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Why Working from Home Is Better for Business

This company is so dedicated to remote working that they literally don't have an office. Here's why a "distributed" workforce is better for business - and employees:

Posted by The Way We Work on Monday, January 14, 2019

It has over 130,000 views already! What I really love about this video in particular is that we get into the specifics of how a company can start to embrace a culture of letting employees work from anywhere, even if it started out as a traditional office with everyone in the same place. Automattic never started that way, so even as we've scaled up to more than 840 people in 68 countries, there's never been a question - it's now built in to our entire culture.

For distributed work to scale up, it's going to require more CEOs, workers, and managers to test the waters. Any company can experiment with distributed work - just pick a day or two of the week in which everyone works from home, I suggest Tuesdays and Thursdays, then build the tools and systems to support it. Yes, that may require some shuffling of meetings, or more written documentation versus verbal real-time discussion. But I think companies will be surprised how quickly it will "just work."

If the companies don't experiment, workers may force them to do it anyway:

I don't think tech folks quite understand how pervasive remote work has become. It's not even a debate anymore, it's a full on revolution. Hard to do any recruiting these days and not constantly run into talented folks who will never go back to working in an office again.

- Max Lynch (@maxlynch) January 14, 2019

16 Jan 2019 8:32pm GMT

WPTavern: WooCommerce Blocks is Now a Feature Plugin, Version 1.3.0 Introduces 6 New Blocks

WooCommerce Blocks 1.3.0 was released yesterday with six new blocks. Previously, the plugin allowed users to display a grid of products by category. The new version introduces a Featured Product Block with design options for customizing nearly everything about the display, including color overlay, price and description, text alignment, call-to-action button, and the product photo.

Version 1.3.0 also introduces a Hand-Picked Products block that displays a grid of manual selections that can be ordered in different ways. Other new blocks include the following, which display as a grid and can be filtered by category:

WooCommerce Blocks is also now a feature plugin, which means that after it is more polished and tested, the plugin can be considered for merge into WooCommerce core. WooCommerce Blocks 1.4 is expected the last week in January with improvements to the Featured Product block and a new Products by Attribute block.

In December 2018, WooCommerce published usage data that indicates 40% of users who could be considered "established business owners" also have a brick-and-mortar location, and 27% host events in physical locations. This means that many WooCommerce store owners have multiple channels for selling their products. The data also showed that large stores don't always turn to big companies to handle their website development needs.

Based on that usage data, blocks have the potential to greatly improve the site management experience for many WooCommerce store owners who want to market to different audiences beyond their physical stores. Blocks enable them to easily swap out featured products and customize promotions on products that are selling well in their stores. All of these actions are quick to configure inside the new editor with a live preview. The sooner this feature plugin lands in WooCommerce core, the easier it will be to make these kinds of quick updates. Store owners with sites running on WordPress 5.0+ can take advantage of these blocks now by installing the plugin.

16 Jan 2019 8:11pm GMT

WPTavern: CoBlocks Adds Row and Columns Page Building Blocks for Gutenberg

CoBlocks, one of the earliest block collections for Gutenberg, has added new page building blocks and tools in the latest 1.6 release. ThemeBeans founder Rich Tabor and plugin developer Jeffrey Carandang partnered together on this iteration of CoBlocks to bring users new Row and Columns blocks and a Typography Control Panel.

The Row and Column blocks are resizable and can be dragged to new positions.

After selecting the Row block, users can choose the number of columns and then a layout for the row.

These row layouts can also be adjusted from inside the row toolbar or inspector sidebar panel, which includes responsive media query controls.

The Row and Column blocks also come with fine-grained controls for adjusting background and text color, width, margin, and padding.

Version 1.6 also includes a new Typography Control Panel with support for Google fonts. Users can customize the fonts with built-in controls for line-height, letter-spacing, font-weight, and text-transform properties. It also supports customizing fonts for the core heading, paragraph, and button blocks.

The video below shows a quick demo of column layouts and nested row blocks in action, as well as a few other blocks in the collection. Tabor said the team has more blocks in development that are geared towards full page layout and design. They are also working on a more advanced Google Maps block, feature blocks, and image cards.

The Gutenberg team has been discussing a "section" block since February 2018, where columns blocks could be placed inside the more generic section container. It's on the roadmap for Phase 2 but contributors are taking their time to carefully define how this block will work. In the meantime, plugin developers have created their own versions of sections.

CoBlocks is currently setting the bar for Gutenberg-powered layouts. When WordPress core gets deeper into site building, this plugin's user-friendly approach to rows and columns should provide some inspiration for creating an intuitive page building experience.

16 Jan 2019 1:49am GMT