categories of team interactions, which companies can consider when deciding how to structure work — regardless of where it happens.

Content interactions: communication about tasks, such as sharing feedback while sitting side by side. When work went virtual, more of these interactions took place asynchronously, through digital work tools such as Slack. One manager said communication had improved because individuals had more time to think.

Bounce interactions: new idea generation, as with an impromptu whiteboard brainstorming session. In the virtual version, individuals often generated ideas on their own, and then they and others emailed them back and forth. That made it harder to align with others; some teams adjusted by moving brainstorming sessions to videoconferences.

dealbook@nytimes.com.

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Coinbase’s Washington Debut

Players, observers, lobbyists and the lobbied alike consider this a critical moment for crypto and its influencers. Succeeding or failing to persuade officials now will determine whether regulation allows the digital gold rush to accelerate or slows it to a sputter.

Here are four of the big issues keeping crypto lobbyists busy:

Reputation. The impression that crypto facilitates crime is voiced with some frequency by lawmakers and regulators, and it remains a significant hurdle to legitimacy. The Crypto Council’s first commissioned publication is an analysis of Bitcoin’s illicit use, and it concludes that concerns are “significantly overstated” and that blockchain technology could be better used by law enforcement to stop crime and collect intelligence.

Reporting requirements. New anti-money-laundering rules passed this year will significantly expand disclosures for digital currencies. The Treasury has also proposed rules that would require detailed reporting for transactions over $3,000 involving “unhosted wallets,” or digital wallets that are not associated with a third-party financial institution, and require institutions handling cryptocurrencies to process more data. The Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental watchdog and standards body, recently provided draft guidance on virtual assets that would require service providers to hand over further information.

Securities insecurities. When is a digital asset a security and when is it a commodity? Not technically a riddle, this question has puzzled regulators and innovators for some time. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are released via a decentralized network generally qualify as commodities and are less heavily regulated than securities, which represent a stake in a venture. Tokens released by people and companies are more likely to be characterized as securities because they more often represent a stake in the issuer’s project.

Catching up with China. The Chinese government is already experimenting with a central bank digital currency, a digital yuan. China would be the first country to create a virtual currency, but many are considering it. Some crypto advocates worry that China’s alacrity in the space threatens the dollar, national security and American competitiveness.

For more, see our previous weekend edition about the future of crypto regulation.

“With any new industry, figuring out Washington isn’t easy,” said Ms. Peirce, the S.E.C. commissioner. Entering a heavily regulated industry like finance and talking about technology that few officials understand only compound the difficulty for the crypto crowd.

Since joining the S.E.C. in 2018, Ms. Peirce has been a vocal supporter of blockchain both in the halls of power and in crypto insider circles, sharing her thoughts on hot topics like when there will finally be a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund in the United States. (Not soon enough, in her view, but perhaps soonish.)

As the sector matures, some things will get easier even while the landscape of players gets more complex. Blockchain businesses will increasingly speak to regulators who understand their language, Ms. Peirce said, like the new S.E.C. chair, Gary Gensler, a former M.I.T. professor who taught crypto classes and was coincidentally confirmed on the day that Coinbase listed.

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What Working Too Much Does to Your Body

When these sorts of companies enact work-life policies, why don’t they seem to stick?

Look at the reward structure. You have an OK base salary, but then the bonus is allocated based on how you’re stacking up at the end of the year against your peers. It’s like a tournament. It’s like a race. And all you know is that the people next to you, against whom you will be measured, are just as smart as you. They work just as hard. And so the only lever you have is try to outwork them. These reward structures perpetuate this work ethic.

When an organization says “we value work-life balance, we want our people to not work on weekends, we want blah blah blah” — there is still this competitive structure where people have an incentive to work all they can because others are doing the same thing, and only winners get rewarded.

Churning through talent may work for a company. But you found that many employees choose these grueling schedules, even when they come at great personal cost. One associate told you: “I work hard because I want to.”

The people who get hired at banks have been through performance competitions all their lives. When I talk to students at the beginning of their undergraduate career and ask them, “what do you want to be?” very few want to go into banking.

So what happens? When these firms descend onto campus, people start competing because that’s what they have been conditioned to do throughout their lives. They chase after what everyone else chases after, regardless of whether they actually care about the work. Regardless of whether there are consequences or not, these people want to win.

This is maybe the final part that locks people into these intense work schedules. It is the idea that there is a cadre of individuals who are the best and brightest, and if you don’t keep up the pace you’ll end up at some kind of second-tier firm — part of an undefinable “rest.”

What’s so bad about that?

The people in the best and the brightest group, they have opportunities, they earn a lot, they work with other interesting people, they work on global deals. The rest push paper with uninteresting colleagues and over time, you’ll become like them. That’s what people sincerely believe. They believe that if you don’t work for an elite organization, you fall into an abyss of personal social status descent.

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How Wall Street Deals with Banker Burnout

A former Citigroup analyst in New York who left investment banking last summer said that in normal times managers would often be busy traveling, or would leave the office at night, which allowed analysts periods to focus on their existing work without being assigned new tasks. Those breaks disappeared during the pandemic.

“They were always available and working late,” he said of his managers during the pandemic. “They knew we were stuck working late. We couldn’t do anything else. So there was no separation from work and home.”

The analyst, who worked at Citi for three years, said virtual work was particularly hard on the first-year employees. “They weren’t able to learn how to be a banker in the office. They learned it virtually, and it’s so much harder,” he said. Working virtually, he believes, has also made it more difficult for new analysts to support each other. “They just get the downside to banking,” he said. “They don’t get the upside, the relationships.”

JPMorgan and Citigroup declined to comment.

As the work has become more isolating, the amount of it has exploded. At this point in the year, according to Dealogic, the value of debt issues are running a third higher than the previous 10-year average, acquisitions are more than double, and initial public offerings are some 15 times higher, propelled by the surge in blank-check shell companies known as SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies.

“We recognize that our people are very busy, because business is strong and volumes are at historic levels,” Goldman Sachs said in a statement in response to the first-year analysts’ presentation. “A year into Covid, people are understandably quite stretched, and that’s why we are listening to their concerns and taking multiple steps to address them.”

On Sunday, Goldman’s chief executive, David Solomon, sent a memo to employees in which he promised to enforce the firm’s policy against working on Saturdays, to shift bankers to the busiest desks and to hire more entry-level employees. A day later, Citi’s C.E.O., Jane Fraser, introduced “Zoom-free Fridays” and said that most employees could work from home for two days per week when the firm reopens its offices.

Other banks decided to work in the medium they know best: Money. Credit Suisse on Wednesday said that it would give lower-ranking employees a $20,000 bonus to acknowledge their work during a period of “unprecedented deal volume.”

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Kim Scott and Jake Rosenfeld Have Ideas About Making Pay More Equitable

The DealBook newsletter delves into a single topic or theme every weekend, providing reporting and analysis that offers a better understanding of an important issue in the news. If you don’t already receive the daily newsletter, sign up here.

Walmart announced last month that it was raising pay for some of its lowest-wage workers. Investors responded by pummeling its shares, sending them down by more than 6 percent on the day.

That wasn’t quite as bad as in 2015, when the retailer’s stock dropped 10 percent after it said a wage increase would cut into profits.

$13.5 billion in profit in its most recent fiscal year.

Chief executives have in recent years publicly pronounced their commitment to “stakeholder capitalism” and “doing well by doing good.” But when it comes to paying workers a wage that can support their families, investors send executives a clear message: increase pay at your peril.

This is a problem. Worker compensation as a percentage of our national output has declined for decades, and especially steeply since 2000. Low-wage workers at companies including Amazon, McDonald’s and Walmart rely on public assistance such as food stamps to make ends meet, according to an October report from the Government Accountability Office. A shocking 30 percent of Americans couldn’t easily come up with $400 on their own in an emergency, and women and people of color generally earn less than their peers.

But two new books highlight good ideas for how to more fairly allocate pay, some new and others fallen into disuse. They can maybe even help investors to accept that reallocation.

Just Work,” Ms. Scott, a former Apple and Google executive, calls on managers to identify the gaps in pay between gender, racial and ethnic groups. “Unless you believe that white men are superior to others and that’s why they’re paid more, it’s impossible to believe that bias is not a factor,” she writes. American women, for example, make only about 85 percent of what men earn.

at Buffer, a social-media tools company, for example, and also at many government agencies. “More companies are finding that the simplest way to address pay disparity is to take the mystery out of the process,” Ms. Scott writes.

Ms. Scott also calls on business leaders to look at the spread between executives’ compensation and that of their lowest-paid employees. Research shows that raising low-wage workers’ compensation is one of the most effective ways to narrow the persistent racial pay gap. “If you are in charge of compensation, you can pay people who get paid less more and people who get paid most less,” Ms. Scott writes. “I’m not talking communism; I’m talking common human decency.”

Some companies are thinking similarly. Costco recently raised its starting wage to $16 per hour, from $15. The retailer has long been a case study for how higher wages can be a good business strategy, reducing employee turnover and theft, and improving customer service. Best Buy and Target both raised minimum pay to $15 per hour last year. Amazon says it benefited from higher staff morale and retention, and a significant jump in job applications after it raised starting pay to $15 per hour for all U.S. employees in 2018.

PayPal in recent years began focusing on employee financial health, including a metric it calls net disposable income, or what staff have left after taxes and necessary living expenses. It raised salaries and the company’s health-insurance contributions for its lowest-paid workers, which resulted in higher employee satisfaction and retention.

You’re Paid What You’re Worth.” One of the biggest myths is that what we’re paid reflects our performance, argues Mr. Rosenfeld, a professor of sociology at Washington University in St. Louis.

In theory, workers should be paid based on how much money a business generates thanks to their work, and for some rainmakers that may be clear. But that’s often not the case. Mr. Rosenfeld blames several structural factors for undermining the tie between the value workers contribute to their employer’s revenue and their compensation, including noncompete agreements, opacity around salaries and company performance and market concentration.

Beyond that, Mr. Rosenfeld makes the provocative contention that measuring most individual workers’ performance is fruitless. “For many jobs today, the whole effort to measure marginal productivity is misguided — not because the right tools haven’t been developed, but because there is no way to disentangle the productivity of one worker from that of others in the organization,” he writes.

He argues that even when it’s possible to tie individual performance to revenue, as with salespeople and lawyers, performance-based pay has deep flaws, such as generating cutthroat competition between colleagues.

If performance-based compensation is so problematic, what’s the alternative? One possibility is to link pay to the performance of the whole company. Profit-sharing programs, where companies give a percentage of earnings to employees, were common in the United States before the 1980s, but have mostly disappeared since.

Mr. Rosenfeld also suggests an approach unlikely to have fans among younger workers: pay based on seniority. It strips managers of their ability to play favorites, diminishes the impact of bias and rewards experience. “Seniority-based pay ensures we’re paid for our improvement,” Mr. Rosenfeld argues.

has historically supported raising the minimum wage to $15. And even that level falls short of providing workers with income sufficient to cover basic expenses in many parts of the country.

As Walmart was reminded very clearly, investors aren’t necessarily on the same page as the general public when it comes to better wages. That’s shortsighted. Researchers including Zeynep Ton, a professor at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management, have shown that companies can be just as profitable when they pay higher wages, thanks to benefits such as better quality goods and services and lower staff turnover. Also, when workers struggle to make ends meet, it holds back the economy because they consume less.

On top of that, fair pay is a critical foundation for a fair society. Now is a good time for resetting assumptions about why we’re paid what we’re paid, and how compensation is determined. New approaches exist for those who are open to them.

dealbook@nytimes.com.

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Why Bringing Humor to Work has Serious Benefits

The DealBook newsletter delves into a single topic or theme every weekend, providing reporting and analysis that offers a better understanding of an important issue in business. If you don’t already receive the daily newsletter, sign up here.

Humor: Serious Business,” which shows aspiring executives and entrepreneurs how to leverage laughter for better relationships and business results. They’ve also distilled their findings into a new book, “Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is A Secret Weapon in Business and Life.”

But can people really be taught to be funny at work? Should people be taught to be funny at work?

If you explain a joke, its force disperses. The whole point of “The Office,” after all, is that it’s agony to work with a self-appointed comedian. And the framing of humor as a tool of self-advancement is somewhat unsettling, evoking the image of a sociopath calmly studying the human psyche’s soft spots to exploit them for professional gain.

Humor at work is much less about wisecracks than about levity: the shared moments of lightness that propel relationships forward and balance the seriousness of labor.

more motivating and admired. Their employees are more engaged. Their teams are more likely to solve a creativity challenge. There’s all this evidence around the R.O.I. of humor.

And then the failure myth: People think that failing at humor is going to have these huge repercussions. We teach our students that it’s so much less about telling jokes. It’s about cultivating joy.

rule of three” or contrast or exaggeration to get the outcome they want — which is, in this case, laughs. It’s just like how athletes know the exact form that they should use.

That’s a good analogy. You can have a healthy, happy life as someone who exercises regularly but never crosses over into athletic competition. It sounds like it’s also fine to be a person who appreciates humor but prefers not to be the one cracking jokes.

has said: “The easiest way to be funny is not to try — instead, just look for moments to laugh.” This isn’t about being funny. This is about being generous with laughter. You’re empowering others to use it, and showing up much more as a human — not a clown.

How can leaders ensure the humor they’re encouraging is appropriate?

Aaker: Many people who have used humor to good effect in the past often equate humor with their style of humor. Like, “I just threw out a joke, it didn’t land, I think it would have two years ago, therefore the world is not funny anymore.” The calculation is not that the world is humorless, per se. It’s that we need to better understand the diversity of humor styles that other people have, and better understand — through empathy more than anything else — how to better read a room and understand the dynamics of status.

What’s interesting is that while trust in leadership is plunging — which is a problem for leaders who have used the same old jokes for a while — those organizations that somehow manage to maintain a high-trust environment are thriving.

We know that when employees rate what characteristics inspire trust, their answers are things like, “My boss speaks like a regular person.” We’re living in a time when empathy, inclusivity and authenticity are important for all leaders. Humor is actually a secret weapon that can serve them well.

So how do we keep levity alive on remote teams, when you don’t have the in-person benefits of facial expression and tone — or feel like you have much to laugh about?

Bagdonas: This was such a pressing need that at the beginning of the pandemic that we created a course called “Remotely Humorous,” which is all about having humor in remote teams.

Part of this is creating space for it. We need to have a norm that at the beginning of every call, we just talk like humans rather than jump right into the agenda. We talk about what just happened with our kids, or whose dog is running around in the background or what genuine mishap has happened in people’s lives due to this pandemic.

meetings, email and other workplace absurdities. “Never look for what’s funny,” Ms. Cooper told Stanford students in a guest lecture. “Look for what’s true, and go from there.”

Demi Adejuyigbe

The comedian and writer for shows like “The Good Place” and “The Late Late Show With James Corden” finds the funny in everything, including technology’s tendency to overcomplicate our personal and professional lives.

Amber Ruffin

The host of “The Amber Ruffin Show” has been a writer on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” since 2014. She regularly appears with co-writer Jenny Hagel in the segment “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell,” where the two women deliver punch lines that would sound wrong coming from a straight white guy’s mouth, in any setting.

What do you think? Is work better when there’s humor or should it be strictly business? Let us know: dealbook@nytimes.com.

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