President Trump hast met with the “reopen America” committee comprised of over 200 high profile business leaders in America, and while we await results, we are anxious about what we suspect could be missing – a well crafted social contract to guide businesses and consumers to slowly let their guard down.
While they worry about the nuts and bolts of moving forward, our worry remains that the social contract, the unregulated behaviors, the culture of America moving forward could be lost in the fray.
For the committee to be successful, every press conference and every media interview with White House officials must include information on how culturally we move forward. It must include leadership on scripting the social contract for getting back into the world.
And get back into the world we must.
People are anxious, not just because of cabin fever and isolation, but because we’re hearing drips of hopeful information from other nations that are reopening. For example, Hermès in China racked up $2.7 million in sales the first day they reopened. Two. Point. Seven. MILLION. In one day.
We sit at home in America, either desperately trying to run a small business in a dry economy, or worried that our job might get cut before we can get back to our desk. But hearing tidbits like Hermès’ sales fills us with a tiny ounce of hope, a far off ray at the end of a long tunnel we know we must still venture into.
So how do we behave when we can begin free-roaming again? On day one, we’ll want to go eat at a restaurant and leave dishes on the table for once, but what will make us feel comfortable supporting businesses outside of our home again?
There must be a social contract regarding what we all agree is “safe.” Would we feel comfortable if a waitstaff is wearing full personal protective equipment (and would staff be comfortable wearing it at all times)? Does that mean everyone wears face masks and protective goggles at all times? No, that’s not “normal,” and that’s not feasible.
But adhering to the new normal of what proper health standards are may be more feasible. How and when was the last time the building was sterilized professionally? Is that communicated on the front door? Are there signs expressing what has been done inside to keep consumers safe?
Culturally, do we go to a mall and just pass by a store that looks too full, vowing to return later? Do we continue with some social distancing regardless of the location? Do sporting events fill stadiums with spectators wearing masks or bandanas?
How can large employers be more understanding of sick time so less people spread disease because they’re scared of losing their job due to time missed? How can that trickle down to small businesses? We’re not talking about empathy, we’re talking about practicality. It must be addressed in our nation’s next delicate steps.
This social contract must contain cultural rules between consumers and businesses in order to get people in the door to risk their life to buy a taco, shirt, or fancy pen. “Risk their life” sounds dramatic, but that is how most people feel right now by leaving their homes, so not ignoring or minimizing that emotion when the economy gears back up is the only option for the business world.
The President’s task force must address this social contract to inspire people to venture back into the world, otherwise the committee has failed. Crafting a meaningful social contract and promoting this culture without regulating it will remarry consumers to businesses, and it is a core component to kickstarting the economy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)
(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.
It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.
The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.
Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.
Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).
Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.
Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.
Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.
So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.
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