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Opinion Editorials

Amazon’s new offline book store: Awesome or ridiculous?

Even though Google decided not to open a retail store location, Amazon is giving it a go with books and the result is pretty awesome.

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amazon book store retail

amazon book store retail

Why go offline, Amazon?

Okay, I know, you’re skeptical. I was too. Amazon is known for two-day shipping, free music and movie streaming (with Prime membership), and near instant gratification for millions of items; so how on Earth could a physical store location work? The answer: the same way every other store does.

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Amazon’s store is just like any other store, in that it provides a nice collection of things people want. In this case, books. All the books. Okay, maybe not all the books, but an extensive collection of top-rated titles along with other accessories, like headphones, charging cords, and other bookstore-type things.

Combining e-commerce experience with offline retail

Vice President of Amazon Books, Jennifer Cast, stated, “We’ve applied 20 years of online book-selling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping. The books in our stores are selected based on Amazon.com customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on Goodreads, and our curators’ assessments.”

This may come as a bit of a surprise, considering Amazon, and stores like it are some of the major contributing factors behind many other bookstores’ closing; they were run out of business by Amazon’s prices and perks. So why open a store now?

An attempt to boost falling book sales

They opened the store, in part, to boost falling book sales. One precarious part of the store is that the books do not have prices. Instead, they have a sign with a short plot summary.

If you want to know the price, you either have to use the in-store scanner, or open the Amazon app (again, boosting sales). They could easily control pricing with digital tags, but they choose not to. Why? It facilitates a conversation for “you can buy this title and others like it on Amazon.com.”

So is it awesome or ridiculous?

While only time will tell how long the Amazon retail store will survive, I like the idea of it. I like the idea of anything that encourages people to read a book, engage the imagination, and do something other than stare at those little screens we all carry around in our daily lives. While I love a bookstore, I also love libraries.

Nothing beats the smell of the old books on the shelves, crying out with their history, and aching to be read. Maybe this is just a bibliophile’s perspective, but anything that involves books has to be a good thing. What do you think of the Amazon retail store?

#AmazonRetail

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Opinion Editorials

The opportunities and obstacles of overemployment in American culture

(EDITORIAL) Hustle culture is the highlight of the American workplace culture, but there are both pros and cons to overemployment.

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Coffee cup with side hustle written on it representing overemployment.

Simple truth. It costs a lot to get by today. And the extras? Whew.

Vacation? Side hustle.

Those cute shoes? Sell something.

New car? Wait a year until there are more cars on the lots, but while you’re waiting, make some more money.

Overemployment enters the discussion, and it’s something business owners and employees need to understand.

Side hustles aren’t new. Working multiple jobs to pay down debt or just get by? Also not new.

Overemployment, according to those who engage in the practice, isn’t a side hustle at all. It’s a completely different mindset. A second (or third, fourth, and fifth) job.

And the explosive growth in remote work has helped lead to more overemployment.

Back in the olden days, aka a decade ago, overemployment meant you were working more hours than you wanted in the one job you worked.

Today, not so much. Today overemployment can mean the side jobs you work for the extras you want or the debt you’re paying down or just to make ends meet because living expenses are high right now.

Or as overemployed.com says,

“a community of professionals looking to work two remote jobs, earn extra income, and achieve financial freedom.”

This new somewhat norm of creating multiple streams of income has both pros and cons. Regardless, experts say it’s here to stay.

The pros of overemployment for companies are self-evident.

In a world where jobs are plentiful but the workforce isn’t necessarily, knowing you can hire someone who already has another job is helpful. If the job you offer is more of a side hustle scale, even better.

There’s also the added benefit of employees learning skill sets in their second jobs that they can bring back to their first employer.

Then there’s the specialty skill job force like tech where demand is high, but available skilled employees are not. That’s changed, though, with remote. Suddenly skilled tech workers can work for multiple companies, sharing their expertise and earning more.

Which brings us to the pros for workers. Suddenly you have options when it comes to work. You have multiple streams of income and can look for others if some aren’t working out.

Getting that email that your department is closing and there won’t be a place for you isn’t as rough when you have another source of income.

Liquidity is nice and with overemployment you have an opportunity to live that life.

Paying down debt, investing, increasing savings, all of that is easier when you have a second job.

But it’s not all roses in the overemployment world.

A lot of people are taking second and third jobs because they have to pay the bills. Child care expenses are thousands a month. Food, fuel, housing, everything is more expensive. The one paycheck that covered your lifestyle before suddenly doesn’t and you’ve cut corners until there are no more corners to cut, so a second job isn’t an option. It’s a must.

And when that happens, the positives of overemployment suddenly turn negative. Stress and mental health issues increase, and with that, physical health is at risk as well.

And employers bear the brunt of those over-worked employees with absences and less than stellar work.

Overemployed people who love the OE lifestyle say the key to making it work is working multiple jobs at once. For those earning the paycheck, that’s nice. For the employer paying, as long as the work is solid and done, also nice. But multitasking has its pitfalls.

A 2021 Cleveland Clinic article showed,

“When our brain is constantly switching gears to bounce back and forth between tasks – especially when those tasks are complex and require our active attention – we become less efficient and more likely to make a mistake.”

Something both employees and employers must keep in mind.

Overemployment isn’t going away. Employers need to know where they stand. Are they okay with employees working other jobs at the same time they’re working for them? Employees need to know if their employer has a problem with that.

The workforce is changing. Overemployment is one more way.

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Opinion Editorials

Remote work or no work? Concerns about WFH vs. returning to office

(EDITORIAL) There is an ever-growing divide and concern between employers and employees regarding policies over work in office or from home.

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Work in office with headphones on, making use of flexible four-day workweek.

When the pandemic started and work from home become the uncomfortable-at-first norm, no one knew exactly where the idea of remote work for office jobs was headed.

We know now, and the office just isn’t all it was cracked up to be.

From better views and healthier lifestyles to huge decreases in childcare costs, transportation, and wardrobe expenses, many workers say they’re not interested in going back, and some bosses aren’t happy. Other managers and owners aren’t giving their employees a choice. The remote exception is gone.

In March, Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees to be prepared for a return to their campus in a hybrid model this week.

“We will begin the hybrid pilot in full on May 23, with people coming to the office three days a week — on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday — and working flexibly on Wednesday and Friday if you wish,” he said in a memo sent to staff in April.

Cook is not alone. Across corporate America, management is insisting employees return to the office.

Even President Biden chimed in during the State of the Union speech saying,

“It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again,” Biden said. “People working from home can feel safe to begin to return to the office. We’re doing that here in the federal government. The vast majority of federal workers will once again work in person.”

A Good Hire survey of 3500 American managers shows 75% of managers want a return to the office even though they said productivity did not decline during work from home. 51% believe their employees want the same thing. However, a Future Forum survey by slack found just 17% of employees want to return to the office daily and only 34% of employees want a hybrid model.

The reasons for the disconnect are plenty.

Mother.ly contributor Beau Brink shared in a column last July about the impact Work From Home has had on her employee resource group for people with disabilities, neurodiversity, and invisible illnesses.

“Even though 2020 had been hard, the upside was that we were managing our conditions better.”

Women bore much of the weight of moving work out of the office when the pandemic started.

Overall, women lost a net of 5.4 million jobs during the recession caused by the pandemic—nearly 1 million more job losses than men.

When some who had lost their jobs found new work from home employment, they also found a new perk. A raise because they no longer had to pay high childcare costs.

Employees cite better health as a reason they want to continue working from home as well. COVID numbers ebb and flow, but it’s more than that, they say. They’re able to work out, eat a more nutritious diet, and set a more casual, less stressed schedule.

In her mother.ly column, Brink brings up the fact that the company she worked for actually did better in the transition to working from home. As the Good Hire survey showed, most companies saw the same success.

“Why any CEO would push for a move backward in the name of collaboration makes my head spin.”

The why’s are many. And indicative of a possible shift in how we view work.

If most work moves to remote permanently, are employees entitled to the same benefits they’ve seen in the past? Are they actually employees or contractors?

Those questions will have to be answered. We were on the path to having to answer them before the pandemic.

Remote work isn’t new. The pandemic just pushed it to the norm, but even before COVID, technology changes were opening remote opportunities for employees.

In the Good Hire survey managers who said productivity actually increased also showed a distrust of remote work in general.

Right now though, the survey says,

“As long as there is a talent and labor shortage, employers will still have to be flexible, and even in 100% back-to-the-office situations, workers will still be able to negotiate some remote working scenarios.”

For over two years forced remote meant comfy clothes and fresh air. Will that change? We’ll see.

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Opinion Editorials

Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for

(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.

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Man holding money in the dark representing false salary transparency.

It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.

Don’t be this employer

User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.

Don’t obfuscate wage information

Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.

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