Business Update – 19 January 2022

Once again, some people are seeing bare shelves in grocery stores. Our just-in-time supply chain depends on synchrony in all links to keep shelves stocked, but a combination of factors is disrupting the timing. The fast-spreading omicron variant means grocery store workers are calling in sick, as are workers at food producers. Besides workers who are temporarily out sick, grocery stores are dealing with a labor shortage, as people quit…  Read more

Business Update – 12 January 2022

With the more contagious Omicron variant rapidly becoming the dominant strain, many experts are recommending upgrading from cloth to N95 masks. This article in Popular Science explains what to look for in a mask, how long they can be worn, how to safely reuse them, and when they should be discarded. Masks designated as KF94, N95, or in the FPP family are all subject to strict government oversight and quality…  Read more

Weekly Digest – January 5 2022

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant is impacting businesses large and small by keeping more workers home or quarantined. Record levels of new infections in the US are forcing airlines to cancel flights, stores to close, and available workers to work longer hours or in different areas than normal. While new CDC guidance decreases the number of quarantine days from ten to five, the infectious nature of the new…  Read more

Business Update – December 22 2021

Even if you’re fully vaccinated and have your COVID-19 boosters up to date, there is a possibility you’ll still get a breakthrough case of COVID-19. Vox has a list of things you can do now to prepare. First, get a booster and a flu shot. Next, figure out how you can most easily get tested, including possibly purchasing an at-home test kit. Keep wearing your mask, and consider upgrading to…  Read more

Weekly Digest – December 15 2021

In our early days of understanding the possible impacts of the new Omicron variant, it can be difficult to parse fact from opinion. In The Atlantic, Derek Thompson looks at the studies and anecdotal evidence so far available to develop an early if imperfect evaluation of the risks. Omicron is more transmissible and will spread faster than Delta. Omicron will cause more breakthrough infections. On the positive side, Omicron will…  Read more

Weekly Digest – December 8 2021

What happens to the people who don’t quit during the “Great Resignation?” Those left behind are picking up additional responsibilities and putting in extra hours. Over time, managers begin to see the extra hours and work that everyone puts in as the norm, but this can also lead to burnout and the loss of knowledge from the workplace as people with specific skill sets are not replaced. While some people…  Read more

Business Update – December 1 2021

Over the weekend, several countries reported their first cases of the new Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. While little is known about the new variant, genetic sequencing indicates it has at least 30 mutations on the spike protein, which it uses to bind to human cells, so it could be even more easily spread than the Delta variant. In response to the uncertainty, Israel has banned all foreigners from…  Read more

Business Update – November 24 2021

Just a few weeks ago, it appeared that the Delta variant was on the wane in the US. However, in pockets of the Midwest, Southwest, and Northeast, cases are climbing, just ahead of the holiday travel season. Minnesota is experiencing its highest average daily case counts since April, at 3,500 per day, overwhelming some hospitals. In response, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has enlisted the National Guard to staff temporary sites…  Read more

Business Update – November 17 2021

Just a few weeks ago, it appeared that the Delta variant was on the wane in the US. However, in pockets of the Midwest, Southwest, and Northeast, cases are climbing, just ahead of the holiday travel season. Minnesota is experiencing its highest average daily case counts since April, at 3,500 per day, overwhelming some hospitals. In response, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has enlisted the National Guard to staff temporary sites…  Read more

Business Update – November 10 2021

In a tight market for available workers, some companies are responding by loosening hiring requirements such as the need for a bachelor’s degree. The Body Shop, which piloted an open hiring program in 2019, no longer requires drug tests, background checks, or other education or work experience for jobs in its warehouses and retail locations. Likewise, UPS, in a quest to hire 100,000 seasonal workers for the holidays, eliminated any…  Read more

Business Update – November 3 2021

As the pandemic continues, many people are having a harder time making small daily decisions such as what to wear or what to have for lunch. According to a recent survey by the Harris Poll, nearly a third of adults were still so stressed by the pandemic that small decisions were difficult. Millennials and parents with children under 18 are having the hardest time with decisions. The combination of safety…  Read more

Business Update – October 27 2021

On November 8, the U.S. will open borders to foreign travelers, marking a new stage in the pandemic. The Delta variant surge is easing, vaccinations and boosters are available to more people, and mask mandates are being dropped. Case counts appear to be decreasing, and hospitalizations are declining in most parts of the country. However, worker shortages – particularly in restaurants – persist as a reminder that the pandemic is…  Read more

Business Update – October 20 2021

The pandemic may change business travel as we know it forever. The Global Business Travel Association reported a nearly 90% drop in business travel last spring, as businesses were forced to conduct business via Zoom. While travel is increasing compared to a year ago, it is still sharply down from pre-pandemic levels. Post-pandemic, virtual business meetings may continue to be the norm. Travelers who are willing to venture out may…  Read more

Business Update – October 13 2021

Global supply chain delays have become so bad that the biggest U.S. retailers are chartering their own cargo ships to stock shelves this holiday season. Walmart, Home Depot, Costco, and Target are among companies that are paying the additional expense to mitigate holiday disruptions. While the smaller ships these companies will use are far more expensive than the larger ones, they have the advantage of the ability to dock at…  Read more

Business Update – October 6 2021

What does it cost to be hospitalized for COVID-19? A study by The Wall Street Journal found the cost can vary by tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the hospital and the insurance policy. While most insurers waived out-of-pocket costs for patients for most of the pandemic, many patients are now receiving bills for hospital stays, which can depend on rates negotiated between hospitals and insurers. For example, at…  Read more

Business Update – September 29 2021

The legal cannabis industry has been absorbing furloughed, laid-off, and disenchanted retail and restaurant workers at a rapid pace throughout the pandemic. An estimated 321,000 people in the U.S. work in the industry, more than work as dentists, paramedics, or electrical engineers. Burnout, overwork, and challenges with unhappy customers in retail during the pandemic are driving many to seek out work in an industry with a growing reputation for treating…  Read more

Business Update – September 22 2021

Even before the pandemic, some restaurant owners were challenging the model of paying servers only $2.13 an hour and depending on tips from customers to make them whole. Today, as restaurants and bars struggle to find enough workers to stay open, a few are making further changes to their business model. Some are raising wages and offering signing bonuses. Others are adding service charges to every bill, and others are…  Read more

Business Update – September 15 2021

The business community is sharply split by the announcement by the Biden administration of a plan that mandates COVID vaccinations or weekly testing. Some business leaders applaud the plan to keep the surge in COVID cases from hurting the economy, although smaller employers may find the mandate difficult to mandate. However, expanding testing may not be possible unless capacity is also significantly increased. Some business leaders disagree with the mandate…  Read more

Business Update – September 9 2021

Thanks to tight supply chains and logistics in the developed world, many people have grown accustomed to receiving whatever they ordered promptly and predictably. That era may be over, as shortages are likely to continue. Toyota will be slashing production of cars by 40% in the face of a continuing chip shortage. It may be another year – or two – before shortages in sectors from construction to medical testing…  Read more

Business Update – September 1 2021

While businesses have been mandating vaccines for employees for some time now, they are now beginning to take a harder line. Some, like Delta, are charging unvaccinated employees an extra $200 per month for health insurance, and some are firing unvaccinated employees. Companies that require employees to be vaccinated face several risks. First, the divisive nature of the covid vaccine may lead to workplace bullying or retaliation of unvaccinated employees…  Read more

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