Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most disruptive situations that many of us have faced. What was a “luxury” for executives, and a “reward” for top performers, telework has become a necessity for many organizations in the present situation. For a few years, working from home was becoming a popular option for many Americans. In fact, by 2019, about 43% of workers were teleworking at least part of the time. An additional 25 – 30% of employees have had to work from home full-time since the “lock down” began. Many companies are anticipating that telework arrangements will continue after the pandemic. Some, like REI and Nationwide Insurance, have begun to close facilities based on that expectation.
Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned a painful lesson about outsourcing. The fact that there few or no domestic manufacturers of ventilators, face masks, and other critical medical equipment and supplies added to the severity and spread of the virus. In addition to the medical supply industry, 60% of manufacturers experienced significant disruptions in their supply chain. It is time to take a hard look at insourcing/reshoring as part of America’s strategic preparedness plan, and that is exactly what astute manufacturers are doing.
After two decades of focusing on risk management in a continually disruptive business environment, the epic failure of preparedness for the COVID-19 pandemic is teaching American companies a hard lesson. It’s time to rethink how organizations approach risk management. If we didn’t understand that many risk management plans are the result of known implications and proven mitigation efforts in a static environment, we surely do now. There is nothing static about this virus. Nor can we expect the next crisis to be more predictable in what has become a globally volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment (“VUCA”). This pandemic is an opportunity for risk managers to reimagine their approach for a highly uncertain future.
Traditionally, school curricula focused on the ability to read, write, and communicate. As science and technology have advanced, “literacy” has taken on a much broader definition. The contemporary belief is that students must be proficient and fluent in technology tools, be able to manage, synthesize, analyze and critique multiple information streams of simultaneous information, all while maintaining ethical standards. These tasks are even more daunting in a world where globalization has encouraged (or even required in many roles) cross-cultural relationships for ideation, information-sharing, and problem-solving. Soft skills like collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking have become must-have “new literacy” for job applicants. In fact, an Oxford University study found that as many as 47 percent of jobs in the United States will become wholly automated within the next 20 years. This will lead to a transformation of labor, and will generate new job opportunities.
Creativity is a skill most people have instinctually. We “practice” it” daily, whether consciously or purposefully. As we reflect on our accomplishments at work, for example, we find that to be a source of motivation. In fact, Kaizen, or “continuous improvement,” has as its central tenant an innate and unlimited ability to innovate and create. Here we will look at some catalysts for creativity and some hindrances as well.
People don’t quit their jobs, they leave their toxic/incompetent leaders. Successful companies need a laser focus on developing effective leadership skills. The style of micro- management and command and control that prevailed years ago is irrelevant. The cornerstone of success in today’s employment environment depends on relationship-building that begins with a leader’s ability to facilitate authentic, nurturing relationships with colleagues and clients – especially in these difficult times of the COVID pandemic.
Working from home has become a popular option for many Americans. About 43% of workers regularly telework at least part of the time. An additional 25 – 30% of employees have had to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are obvious benefits to working from home. One of those is increased productivity. A recent study found that remote employees work 1.4 more days per month than their office-based peers, resulting in more than three additional work weeks annually. Telework also reduces or eliminates commuting time and associated expenses. It also can allow workers more flexibility throughout the day, possibly fewer distractions, and a healthier lifestyle. In this article, we take a closer look at how employees who are new to teleworking can adapt to this working model, as well as how managers can make sure that their employees’ work stays on track.
Working from home has become a popular option for many Americans. About 43% of workers regularly telework at least part of the time. An additional 25 – 30% of employees have had to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are obvious benefits to working from home. One of those is increased productivity. A recent study found that remote employees work 1.4 more days per month than their office-based peers, resulting in more than three additional work weeks annually. Telework also cuts or eliminates commuting time and associated expenses. It also can allow workers more flexibility throughout the day, possibly fewer distractions, and a healthier lifestyle. However, there are some potentially serious side effects on employees’ mental health.
The continuing emergency in the western U.S. are a reminder to everyone just how unpredictable and devastating wildfires can be. Large fires can cause $1B or more in property damage in addition to the cost of firefighters and equipment. This year, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy reports that as of October 6, 2020, there are about 22,000 firefighters and support personnel assigned to 69 wildfires (39 of which are large and uncontained) in the west that have burned over 4.6 million acres. Added to previous fires this year that were put out, there have been 45,196 wildfires that have burned 7,928,100 acres in 11 states, including fires in 4 parks under the control of the National Park Service and others under the control of the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The current fires in California have burned over 4M acres, destroyed 9,200 structures and claimed 31 lives. More acreage burned as a result of the current California fires than in the last 3 years combined, and more than any other year on record according to CalFire.
Among others lessons the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is that there are weaknesses in the U.S, supply chain. As a nation, we have become sorely dependent on foreign sources for medical device components and other vital medical supplies. A significant problem with this is that foreign powers can leverage our dependence during an emergency. This frightening possibility signals that some manufacturing be brought back to the U.S.