Brand reputation is always on the line. Each and every day anything can (and does) happen to ding the brand. Sometimes the ding is more than a ding, it’s a gong. Today, the gongs are banging from coast-to-coast as the retail sector is annihilated by the spread of COVID-19.
There Is No Safety Net for Majority of America’s Workers
Over the weekend, The New York Times’ editorial board published a tough piece of commentary about the lack of paid sick leave.
The vast majority of workers at large restaurant chains report they do not get paid sick leave, except in the minority of states and cities where it is required by law. The list of malefactors includes the giants of fast food, like McDonald’s, Subway and Chick-fil-A, as well as sit-down restaurants like Cracker Barrel, Outback Steakhouse and the Cheesecake Factory.
And it’s not just restaurants. The data also shows most workers at the supermarket chains Wegmans, Kroger, Meijer and Giant Eagle reported that they did not get paid sick leave. So did workers at retailers including American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret and the Gap.
Corporate executives need not await a change in the law. Plenty of profitable companies already offer paid sick days, making a mockery of arguments about the untenable expense.
And Americans looking for a place to eat or shop can protect their health, and encourage executives to do the right thing, by shunning businesses that refuse to provide paid leave.
Names are being named and fingers pointed in all directions. I understand the impulse. I also understand that we’re in the middle of a global health crisis that is likely to cripple economies around the world.
Is this a good time or a bad time to fix what’s broken in our political and economic systems? I do believe we’re about to find out. This is the stress test for our nation. It’s not coming, it’s here.
We already know that the federal gov’t is not up to the challenge. The question is how do we work around this and keep things from falling apart?
One in four families making $150,000 a year or more are living paycheck-to-paycheck, while one in three earning between $50,000 and $100,000 also depends on their next check to keep their heads above water.
We are going to need to reach deep and do whatever we can to help one another keep it together—physically, mentally, and financially—in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Meanwhile, Information Workers (Who Can) Are Working from Home
Video conferencing fails 50 percent of the time. The online tools I’m using — Slack, Microsoft Office, Dropbox — treat work as paramount, so it never really goes away. I’m paying double for food delivered by apps. My Apple Watch, which tracks physical activity, beeped with a message: Geoff, you can do better.
…There is no technology to replace the intel you get in an office: that someone is on a call, having a bad day or at home taking care of a sick kid. I can only imagine how these frustrations multiply if you also have kids on coronavirus leave from school bouncing around the house.
I’ve seen several Tweets from ad pros who have never worked from home for an extended period proclaim how it’s all good. But it’s not all good. Just like working in an office is not all good. Both approaches come with significant challenges. I recommend a blended approach for information workers.
Many Info Workers In Austin Required To Show Up
The American Genius, an Austin-based media company, reports that many firms in Austin continue to require their staff to show up at the office.
Here are a few examples:
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) – AMD has over 2,000 employees in Austin and all will be required to work on-site, with no talk of any remote work in the future. Several employees expressed discomfort not only due to the size of the campus but for no restrictions on travel with staff traveling from Europe as recently as last week prior to the travel ban.
Whole Foods – this Amazon-owned company requires all staff to come in unless feeling sick, and they’re discouraging travel. Several expressed frustration at having to report in, given that Amazon corporate told everyone to work from home if they can.
YETI – corporate is requiring all team members to report in. One employee said several people are frustrated because they all have company-issued laptops and could easily work from home.