Connect with us

Business News

COVID-19: Are we sending our workers into a viral petri dish?

(BUSINESS) This remains an impossible situation for everyone involved, but COVID-19 has people nervous about going anywhere but home.



covid-19 hand cleaning

Because you have a pulse, you already know what’s on everyone’s minds – COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged all gatherings in America of more than 50 people to be called off through April.

While that currently exempts employers, it feels like an inevitability at this point given that most employers have more than 50 people in a building at any given time.

And it’s a logistical nightmare. Making sure employees can work from home means equipping them with hardware (laptops/desktops), stable VPNs, and authentication tokens to make sure the company and their clients’ information is all protected. Some companies have literally asked employees to go through hand washing training. Others are repeatedly sending out CDC guidelines on hygiene.

But what plagues minds is that there is no end date in sight. Some, like the CDC, have set their sights on May 01, but we all know that can change. So employers are stuck wondering when business can go back to normal, not just from a sales perspective, but from an operations perspective.

Regardless, thousands of employees are in offices right now as I write this, nervous and afraid to speak up (overnight, job security became iffy for so many). Make no mistake – even employers that are using their best judgment to keep the company afloat are afraid, not just from a business perspective, but from a personal health perspective.

The startup culture perks and creature comforts like beer taps, cereal bars, snack baskets, ping pong tables, bean bags, and bathroom toiletries are all now seen as items that hold on to COVID-19 germs until the next person touches any of the perks.

People are walking through their office lobbies wondering if the person that walked in seconds before them just sneezed into the air, leaving an infected cloud for the person behind them.

Everyone is trying to keep their hands sanitized, but with COVID-19 living on surfaces anywhere from 3 hours to 3 days, people are nervous in offices, bathrooms, lobbies, and common areas.

From the front door keycard which could be contaminated, to the front door handle, to the elevator buttons, handrails, walls, chair backs, desks, drawer pulls, files, keyboards, screens, smartphones, tablets, break room surfaces, refrigerator doors, sparkling water cans, snacks, bathroom doors (and locks, and faucet knobs, and weird floss picks in an open container), it’s all fair game for this nasty virus.

The ramifications of keeping hundreds of people in a building for an 8 hour day are obvious – it may not be a 250-person gathering in the main room, but with hundreds of people in and out of the building in a day, there is a problem, even when creatively problem solving (like spacing workers out more to observe “social distancing”). You can see how even the cleanest of places becomes a viral petri dish.

“Am I a carrier? Am I spreading it? Or did I just pick it up?” the constant thought cycle permeates so many minds. People look around in fear anytime someone coughs or even sniffles, no matter their job title.

There is no clear answer here, but with a workforce often self-isolating at home, there are uneasy feelings of people in offices right this very moment. Some companies simply aren’t ready to pull the trigger on sending people home, and others literally can’t due to the nature of the work. We’ll have to see where this all ultimately takes us as a national work culture.

We have all had to rethink how we live. Now, we have to reconsider how we work – surfaces need to be sterilized, hygiene needs to be practiced by all, and nationally, you’re watching everyone realize exactly how many surfaces we all encounter in a single day.

Continue Reading


  1. Ted Simmerman

    March 16, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    The comments I have read all beg the question, “What if the current administration and Congress continues to delay ANY workable solution?”

  2. Thomas Johnson

    March 17, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    According to the data from S Korea, where they have been testing everyone, twenty somethings are the largest percentage of positives And probably not symptomatic. More than anyone, Millenials should be locked down. These CEO’s should be locked in a room with them.

  3. Pingback: Instagram helps pass social isolation with co-watching

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business News

Too connected: FTC eyes Facebook antitrust lawsuit

(BUSINESS NEWS) Following other antitrust hearings, we’re expecting to hear more about the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, soon.



Facebook being crossed out by a stylus on a mobile device.

Facebook might be wishing it had kept the “dislike” button.

On September 15, the Wall Street Journal announced that the Federal Trade Commission was preparing a possible antitrust lawsuit against the social media titan. Although the FTC has not made an official decision on whether to pursue the case, sources familiar with the situation expect a determination will be made on the matter sometime before the end of 2020. Facebook and the FTC both declined to comment when asked about the story.

The news comes following a year-long investigation by the FTC that has looked into anti-competitive practices by the Menlo Park-based company. This past July, the United States House of Representatives held hearings in which they grilled the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook regarding their business practices. In August, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also testified in front of the FTC as part of the department’s antitrust probe into the organization.

The FTC seems to be especially interested in Facebook’s past acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, which they believe may have been done to stifle competition. In internal emails sent between Zuckerberg and Facebook’s former CFO David Ebersman back in 2012, the 36-year-old seemed worried that the apps could eventually pose a threat to the social media conglomerate.

“These businesses are nascent but the networks established, the brands are already meaningful, and if they grow to a large scale the could be very disruptive to us,” Zuckerberg wrote to Ebersman, “Given that we think our own valuation is fairly aggressive and that we’re vulnerable in mobile, I’m curious if we should consider going after one or two of them.”

When Ebersman asked him to clarify the benefits of the acquisitions, Zuckerberg stated the purchases would neutralize a competitor while improving Facebook.

“One way of looking at this is that what we’re really buying is time. Even if some new competitors springs up, buying Instagram, Path, Foursquare, etc. now will give us a year or more to integrate their dynamics before anyone can get close to their scale again.” Zuckerberg said.

This isn’t the first time the FTC has investigated Facebook either. Last year the agency fined the company $5 billion for the mishandling of user’s personal information, the biggest penalty imposed by the federal government against a technology company. As a part of the settlement with the FTC in that case, Facebook also promised more comprehensive oversight of user data.

If the FTC does pursue an antitrust suit against Facebook, it could end up forcing the social media giant to spin off some of the companies it has acquired or place restrictions on how it does business. Considering how long it will take to file the litigation and prove the case in a courtroom, however, it seems that Zuckerberg will once again be “buying time.”

Continue Reading

Business News

What you need to know about the historic TikTok deal (for now)

(BUSINESS NEWS) No one really knows what’s happening, but the TikTok deal’s impact on business, US-China relations, and the open internet could be huge.



Male black hands holding app opening TikTok app.

So, maybe you’ve heard that Oracle and Walmart are buying TikTok for national security!

Um, not exactly.

Also, Trump banned TikTok!

Sort of? Maybe?

But then he said he approved the Oracle-Walmart-TikTok deal!

We guess?

The terms of the proposal seem to shift daily, if not hourly. The sheer number of contradictory statements from every player suggests no one really knows what’s going on.

Just one example: Trump said the deal included a $5 billion donation to a fund for education for American youth. TikTok parent ByteDance, said, “Say what now?”

Here’s what we think we know (as of this writing):

Oracle and Walmart would get a combined 20 percent stake in a new U.S.-based company called TikTok Global. Combine that with current US investors in China’s ByteDance, TikTok’s parent, that would give American interests 53 percent. European and other investors would have 11 percent. China would retain 36 percent. (On Saturday Trump said China would have no interests at all. But that does not jibe with the reporting on the deal.)

Oracle would host all user data on its cloud, where it is promising “security will be 100 percent” to keep data safe from China’s prying eyes. But reporting has differed on whether Oracle will get full access to TikTok’s code and AI algorithms. Without full control, skeptics say, Oracle could be little more than a hosting service, and potential security issues would remain unaddressed.

Walmart says they’re excited about their “potential investment and commercial agreements,” suggesting they may be exploring e-commerce opportunities in the app.

The US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is overseen by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, still has to approve any deal.

As for the TikTok “ban” – which isn’t really a ban because current users can keep it – the Commerce Department postponed the deadline for kicking TikTok off U.S. app stores to September 27, to give time for the deal to be hammered out. Never mind that it’s still not clear whether the U.S. government has authority to do that. Unsurprisingly, ByteDance says it doesn’t in a lawsuit filed September 18.

Whatever happens with the whiplash of the deal’s particulars, there are bigger issues in play.

According to business news site Quartz, moving data storage to Oracle mirrors what companies like Apple have done in China: Appease the Chinese government by allowing all data hosting to be inside China. A similar move could “mark the US, too, shifting from a more laissez-faire approach to user data, to a more sovereign one,” says China tech reporter Jane Li.

More obvious: Corporate sales and mergers are now part of the parrying between the U.S. and China, which adds a whole new playing field for negotiations among businesses.

In the meantime, TikTokkers keep TikTokking. White suburban moms continue to lip sync to rap songs in their kitchens. Gen Z continues to make fun of the president – and pretty much everything else.

And downloads of the app have skyrocketed.

Continue Reading

Business News

Hobby Lobby increases minimum wage, but how much is just to save face?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Are their efforts to raise their minimum wage to $17/hour sincere, or more about saving face after bungling pandemic concerns?



Hobby Lobby storefront

The arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby announced this week that they will be raising their minimum full-time wage to $17/hour starting October 1st. This decision makes them the latest big retailer to raise wages during the pandemic (Target raised their minimum wage to $15/hour about three months ago, and Walmart and Amazon have temporarily raised wages). The current minimum wage for Hobby Lobby employees is $15/hour, which was implemented in 2014.

While a $17 minimum wage is a big statement for the company (even a $15 minimum wage cannot be agreed upon on the federal level) – and it is no doubt a coveted wage for the majority of the working class – it’s difficult to not see this move as an attempt to regain public support of the company.

When the pandemic first began, Hobby Lobby – with more than 900 stores and 43,000 employees nationwide – refused to close their stores despite being deemed a nonessential business (subsequently, a Dallas judge accused the company of endangering public health).

In April, Hobby Lobby furloughed almost all store employees and the majority of corporate and distribution employees without notice. They also ended emergency leave pay and suspended the use of company-provided paid time off benefits for employees during the furloughs – a decision that was widely criticized by the public, although the company claims the reason for this was so that employees would be able to take full advantage of government handouts during their furlough.

However, the furloughs are not Hobby Lobby’s first moment under fire. The Oklahoma-based Christian company won a 2014 Supreme Court case – the same year they initially raised their minimum wage – that granted them the right to deny their female employees insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Also, Hobby Lobby settled a federal complaint in 2017 that accused them of purchasing upwards of 5,000 looted ancient Iraqi artifacts, smuggled through the United Arab Emirates and Israel – which is simultaneously strange, exploitative, and highly controversial.

Why does this all matter? While raising their minimum wage to $17 should be regarded as a step in the right direction regarding the overall treatment of employees (and, hopefully, $17 becomes the new standard), Hobby Lobby is not without reason to seek favorable public opinion, especially during a pandemic. Yes, we should be quick to condone the action of increasing minimum wage, but perhaps be a little skeptical when deeming a company “good” or “bad”.

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!