Chamber News

October 09, 2020 Likes Comments

Work from home? Your boss may have a different idea.

Back in August, a survey of Greater Boston employers showed that nearly half of their employees would continue to work remotely even after the pandemic was over.

So it was interesting to read the comments from some top business leaders this week, noting that -- while their employees are managing remotely – some bosses are starting to long for a return to the office.

“I want to be with the people I work with,” Aron Ain, of Ultimate Kronos Group, told the Globe’s Andy Rosen. “I want to have that human interaction. I want to do it the way we used to do it.
 
"We’re being productive," Ain said. "We’re getting our work done, but it’s not as joyful.”
 
Added Niraj Shah of Wayfair: “While I have been impressed and proud of how our team has successfully transitioned to working from home, I have always believed that our most innovative work comes from in-person and, at times, spontaneous interactions with colleagues.”
 
And this from Akamai Technologies’ Anthony Williams: “We didn’t recognize how much got done at the water cooler."
 
Clearly these folks recognize that creativity and human interaction are connected.
 
But this may be just as important: As the pandemic stretches on, remote work burnout is becoming an increasing reality, reports Tomoko Yokoi in Forbes.
 
Yokoi cites a survey by Monster.com showing that over two-thirds of US respondents were experiencing burnout symptoms while working from home.
 
She also points to a National Bureau of Economic Research study that found that our pandemic workdays are 48.5 minutes longer. The number of meetings we attend have increased by 13 percent. And the number of attendees per meeting has also grown 14 percent.
 
The silver lining? The length of our Zoom meetings, vs. in person meetings, has declined by 11 percent. (The report doesn't go there, but my research shows the number of times daily we say "You're on mute" is up 100 percent.)
 
Of course, returning to the office in any substantial numbers won’t be possible until after a vaccine or therapeutics, or at least until schools reopen. And child care is a growing crisis, particularly for women workers.
 
Nearly eight times more woman than men dropped out of the workforce last month, according to government data released last week. Half of the women who dropped out were in the prime working age of 35-44.
 
Boys & Girls Club faces deficit
 
The John M. Barry Boys & Girls Club of Newton is back doing what it does best: serving kids, but has lost $300,000 already this year, executive director David Sellers tells the Newton TAB.
 
“I don’t think we’re yet in danger of closing,” he said, but warned that by January, “our Boys & Girls Club here in Newton may hit the wall.”
 
The club is currently providing remote learning for 20 elementary aged students, with a capacity for 65 kids. Pre-COVID the club served 150 children per day. (Photos of the facility here)
 
The Boys & Girls Club will hold its annual meeting, virtually, Oct. 15 at 8 a.m. Watch here.
 
Rosengren warns of ‘grinding recovery’
 
From Chris Lisinski at State House News:
 
The federal government's failure to approve another stimulus bill endangers economic recovery, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston cautioned on Thursday.
 
Boston Fed President and CEO Eric Rosengren said another round of emergency COVID-19 aid is "sorely needed" and its absence could contribute to a "grinding recovery."
 
"The longer this goes on, the more likely [job loss] becomes more permanent," Rosengren said. "The reason to do a lot of stimulus now is to avoid the outcome of more of these jobs becoming permanent job losses and for more people to fully pull out of the job market."
 
The number of U.S. workers permanently laid off is approaching four million after starting the year above one million, he said.
 
Rosengren's analysis of the economic landscape came two days after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell also said the country's recovery will require additional federal fiscal support from the federal government.
 
Massachusetts employers also remain generally pessimistic. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index rose only three-tenths of a point in September to 46.6, lingering below the 50-point threshold that signals optimism. That’s an improvement from a low of 38.4 in April, but more than 15 points below pre-pandemic levels.
 
Need to know
  • The Mass Department of Public Health is conducting a COVID-19 Community Impact Survey Data from the survey will be used to inform current programs and service offerings, as well as future grant opportunities. The information collected will be shared with other state agencies and DPH plans to report survey results to municipalities as well.
  • The Massachusetts Conference for Women in partnership with the Massachusetts Restaurant Association has created a $250,000 fund to assist women-owned restaurants across Massachusetts. Fifty $5,000 grants will be presented to women-owned Massachusetts restaurants, which will be selected via an application process by the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. Restaurants. Apply here by Oct. 22.
  • Employers in need of Mass Department of Unemployment information, resources or assistance reporting fraud should go here.
Good to know
  • Dine Around Needham is back! Make plans to dine local next Weds. Oct. 14 for the third round of this mix and match local restaurant sampling. New this time, Hearth Pizzeria and French Press will be offering lunch specials too. Menus here.
  • The staff at Needham’s Center at the Heights, along with partners like Trader Joe’s continue to support seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 1,000 bags of groceries have been delivered, providing staples to seniors at home. To learn more about what services are being provided read the Compass newsletter.
Finally, meet the Newton entrepreneur behind this face shield business
 
The Globe has an interesting story about a Newton entrepreneur who has launched a company that makes clear vinyl face shields that can easily be attached to a bike helmet with Velcro.
 
“It not only [protects] against the virus, but also bugs, so you don’t eat mosquitos when you’re biking,” says bikefaceshield.com founder Carlos Delgado. “The shield also protects your eyes and your face and helps you avoid touching your face.”
 
Delgado provides non-contact delivery to Newton, Brookline, Waltham, Belmont, Needham and Wellesley.
 
Interesting business idea? Sure.
 
Even more interesting? Carlos Delgado is 10-years-old.
 
Enjoy the long weekend. Dine out. Take out. Shop locally. And tip generously.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.
 
P.S. Thanks to the folks at Moldova for this!

 

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