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WeWork chaos over the weekend = employees in a new version of purgatory

(BUSINESS NEWS) Looks like WeWork is at it again with a new idiotic way of handling business, leaving employees between 2 rocks and 2 hard places.

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As WeWork continues to self-immolate, news about Adam Neumann’s golden parachute and Softbank’s plans to salvage the company dominate the headlines. There are hot takes. There are some pretty solid jokes. But caught in the crossfire are the workers, who keep getting potentially-lawbreaking missives in the middle of the night regarding their employment status.

Last week, nearly 1,000 WeWork employees across the U.S. and Canada received notice that they would be laid off on December 9th. They were offered jobs at another company, JLL, who is slated to contract them to WeWork “for the time being.” Employees were told that they had to sign the offer letter by Nov. 18th. (The letters went out five days prior). If they didn’t take on the new job (which represented a pay decrease for many people), WeWork would consider that a “voluntary resignation.”

Now, you don’t have to be a labor law expert to know that you can’t fire someone and then tell them that they left voluntarily. Whether a person left their job voluntarily or not can affect their ability to collect unemployment. In WeWork’s case, it also meant that they wouldn’t be eligible for severance. (Note that since the options were “go to a different job” or “we decide you left voluntarily,” there was no option that gave the workers the same severance that their previously laid-off coworkers received.)

In addition, WeWork’s 401k plan uses “last day rules” for 2019, meaning that the employee needs to work there the last day of the year to get their retirement plan’s employer match contributions. It’s a common employee retention plan. If you have to finish the year to get your 401k match, then the deeper into the year you are, the more money you give up by leaving. The problem is that WeWork is letting people go in early December. That means that nobody would get their 401k match for the entire year of 2019.

And those weren’t the only problems. The letters stated that there would a wage freeze at the new jobs through all of 2020. New employer JLL said that was a “typo.” But after being pinballed around so much, it’s easy to understand why the workers might not take that at face value. Moreover, the employees staring their termination in the face were also bound by non-compete clauses keeping them from looking for similar work elsewhere.

On the 22nd, WeWork backpedaled, at least to a few of its employees . They sent out a letter after business hours on Friday, which you may recognize as “the part of the week when corporations drop press releases they hope nobody actually picks up.” But this wasn’t a press release, it was a notice to their own workers. The new letter extends the terms of their employment. If they reject or rescind the JLL job offer, they won’t be laid off until February 20, 2020. They’ll have pay and benefits, but they do not have to report to work.

While that sounds like a pretty generous deal—get paid not to show up!— it’s basically the same as the three-months severance that their group of collective employees was demanding. It also brings them into compliance with New York state laws regarding notice of mass layoffs, which they were previously violating.

That said, the notice itself might not have been fully compliant with NY state law either. It showed up after hours on a Friday and gave them until Monday to respond. It wasn’t marked “urgent,” which the law requires. And many employees who aren’t in New York still seem to be stuck between the same rock and hard place they already were.

All in all, WeWork is planning on laying off 2,400 employees. Meanwhile, WeWork CEO Adam Neumann is currently slated to make $1.7 billion to walk away from his failure. Actually, let’s write that whole number out. Adam Neumann will be given $1,700,000,000 for running his company into the ground.

Let’s say you were there when the Declaration of Independence was signed. And on that day, someone said they were going to give you $19,123.25 every single day of your life. If you never spent any money, and you somehow lived 243 years, you would have 1.7 billion dollars today.

If anyone wants to pay me to run a business, university, or football team into the ground, please contact me with offers.

I’ve seen it happen up close a few times, so I’m pretty sure I know what’s involved. I don’t know if I need some special degree, or if I just point out that I’m a white dude when I apply, but I feel like I’d be pretty good at it.

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UPDATE: Our story originally called the collective group a “union,” but per the group’s counsel, “WeWork employees are not part of a union… There is a coalition of cross-departmental employees of WeWork employees acting collectively to secure better employment conditions and demand fair severance packages for all laid off workers. They have been prioritizing and aggressively advocating on behalf of the building and maintenance staff.”

Staff Writer, Garrett Steele is your friend. He writes lyrics, critique, and copy for ads, schools, health organizations, and more. He’s also a composer for film and video games, when he’s lucky. (One of his songs is an Xbox achievement!)

Business News

Are Gen Z more fickle in their shopping, or do brands just need to keep up?

(BUSINESS NEWS) As the world keep changing, brands and businesses have to change along with it. Some say Gen Z is fickle, but others say it is the nature of change.

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Gen Z woman shopping outside on a laptop.

We all know that if you stop adapting to the world around you, you’re going to be left behind. A recently published article decided to point out that the “fickle” Gen Z generation are liable to leave a poor digitally run site and never return. Now of course we’ve got some statistics here… They did do some kind of due diligence.

This generation, whose life has been online from almost day one, puts high stakes on their experiences online. It is how they interact with the world. It’s keyed into their self-worth and their livelihoods, for some. You want to sell online, get your shit together.

They have little to no tolerance for anything untoward. 80% of Gen Zers reported that they are willing to try new brands since the pandemic. Brand loyalty, based on in-person interaction, is almost a thing of the past. When brands are moved from around the world at the touch of your fingertips there’s nothing to stop you. If a company screws up an order, or doesn’t get back to you? Why should you stick with them? When it comes to these issues, 38% of Gen Zers say they only give a brand 1 second chance to fix things. Three-quarters of the surveyed responded saying that they’ll gladly find another retailer if the store is just out of stock.

This study goes even further though and discusses not just those interactions but also the platforms themselves. If a website isn’t easy to navigate, why should I use it? Why should I spend my time when I can flit to another and get exactly what I need instead of getting frustrated? There isn’t a single company in the world that shouldn’t take their webpage development seriously. It’s the new face of their company and brand. How they show that face is what will determine if they are a Rembrandt or a toddlers noodle art.

The new age of online shopping has been blasted into the atmosphere by the pandemic. Online shopping has boosted far and above expected numbers for obvious reasons. When the majority of your populace is told to stay home. What else are they going to do? Brands that have been around for decades have gone out of business because they didn’t change to an online format either. Keep moving forward.

Now as a side note here, as someone who falls only just outside the Gen Z zone the articles description of fickle is pompous. The stories I’ve heard of baby boomers getting waiters fired, or boycotting stores because of a certain shopkeeper are just as fickle and pointed. Nothing has changed in the people, just how they interact with the world. Trying to single out a single generation based on how the world has changed is a shallow view of the world.

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Business News

Chasing Clubhouse success? How the audio chat room trend affects products

(BUSINESS NEWS) It is inevitable that when a new successful trend comes along, other companies will try to make lightning strike twice. Will the audio chat room catch on?

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Smiling woman seated in dark room illuminated by lamp and phone light, participating in audio chat room.

Businesses are always about the hot new thing. People are the always looking for the easiest dollar with the least amount of effort these days. It tends to lead to products that are shoddy and horribly maintained with the least amount of flexibility in pleasing their customers. However, you also have to look at the customer base for this as well. You follow where the money is because that’s where its being spent. It’s like a merry-go-round, constantly chasing the next thing. And the latest of these is the audio chat room.

During the pandemic the entire world saw an eruption of social audio investments. Silicon Valley has gone crazy with this new endeavor. On the 18th of April this year, Clubhouse said it closed on some new funding, which was valued at $4 billion for a live audio app. This thing is still in beta without a single penny of revenue!

The list of other companies who have pursued new audio suites (either through purchase or creation) include:

  • Facebook
  • Spotify
  • Twitter
  • Discord
  • Apple

This whole new audio fad is still in its infancy. These social media and tech giants are all jumping headlong into it with who knows how much forethought. A number of them have their own issues to deal with, but they’ve put things aside to try and grab these audio chat room coattails that are running by. It’s a mix of feelings about the situation honestly. They are trying to survive and keep their customers.

If a competitor creates this new capability and they stay stagnant then they lose customers. If they do this however without dealing with their current issues then they could also lose people. It’s an interesting catch 22 for people out there. Which group do you fall in? Are you antsy for a new toy or are you waiting for one of these lovely sites to fix a problem? It’s another day in capitalism.

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Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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