Weekly Wrap: This Isn’t Normal

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Apr 3, 2020
This article is part of a series called COVID-19 Coverage.

For work from home veterans, it feels like it should’ve been a cinch to deal with the changes the last few weeks have brought. Even after more than ten years of working from home, these last few weeks have been difficult and tiring personally.

During the school year, our daughter Elida is at school. During breaks and summer, we have a lot of activities planned that take her out of the house — including camps, visits to friends and family, and more.

Yesterday, she did a dance class via Zoom. She met with friends earlier this week via conference software I use all the time. She also may have video called me to help her get a snack. During a normal day, even during a break, I would typically have 3-6 hours of uninterrupted time. Now? We’ll be lucky to get 30 minutes until after bedtime.

It’s not just limited to people with kids, either. I distinctly remember being snowed in with my wife in 2011 for nearly two weeks and we made a pact at that point to never work together in close quarters again. People working in close contact with roommates, partners, and extended families are experiencing something we haven’t seen before.

I wanted to take a moment and say thank you for sticking with us through all of this. Delivering relevant HR news and insights can be tough and there are a lot of changes to make sense of. We promise to keep guiding you here with the understanding that things are really weird right now — although the mid-day ballet practice is not terrible.

While everyone is talking about how this grand remote work experiment will change the face of work, I am still skeptical, though. This isn’t normal, even by the truly weird standards we have these days. When we’re able to go back to work — and we will — I expect a large percentage of people will be happy to head back. There are also some people that are going to be passionate about working from home, too.

As with all things in life, change comes both quickly and slowly. We were already in the midst of a transformation of work and this could speed things up. That’s great — but first, let’s get everybody healthy, back to work or school, before we call this a new normal. Because this is not anything close to normal.

Quick Hits

  • Another week, another record for jobless claims. First-time filers increased to 6.6 million last week. We’ll see even more once the CARES act gets fully implemented. [CNN]
  • Hiring is also slowing, as it becomes the most popular cost-mitigation strategy as employers reassess how they will be operating for the rest of the year. [Willis Towers Watson]
  • WorldatWork has a running list of polls they are running about COVID-19. Some interesting ones: 67% of organizations have already or still plan on paying out bonuses and 29% of orgs are communicating daily about COVID-19. [WorldatWork]
  • Even for white-collar employees, 62% of them are unable to juggle working from home and childcare. Makes you wonder how the rest are managing. [Fishbowl]
  • Employees are lonely and lack appreciation in new work from home arrangements. 65% have also worked in their pajamas. [ZenBusiness]
  • Employees are also looking at how they can better communicate with their bosses, with 42% of people saying they want to receive training on this. [Vyond]
  • HR technology companies like Ceridian [BusinessWire] and Springbuk [PRNewswire] are tuning their platforms to track and manage the COVID-19 pandemic for their client companies.
  • How about a bonus for staying home during shelter in place? Another company called Hytch Rewards helps employers reward employees for staying where they are supposed to be. [PRWeb]
  • April Fools’? Nope. Kronos and Ultimate Software announced they completed their merger on Wednesday. [Kronos]

Serving Communities

For companies less directly disrupted by the pandemic, it’s been great to see stories about how they are keeping contractors and outsourcers employed. It’s also cool to see how they are doing good in their communities during this time.

The first example of this is from USAA and Sodexo:

Beginning this week, USAA employees will have access to curbside pick-up of meals and essential grocery food items across its corporate campuses.

USAA employees can place daily weekday orders for same-day curbside pick-up of prepared meals and grocery food items, such as produce, milk and eggs. Following a successful pilot program at the company’s San Antonio headquarters campus, this service has expanded to USAA’s regional campuses in Plano, TX; Tampa, FL; Phoenix, AZ; and Colorado Springs, CO.

The pre-made meals are offered at half-price, while the grocery items are sold at cost.

The second example comes from Microsoft in one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19:

In a few weeks, John [Trujillo]’s team distributed over 240,000 medical masks, 100,000 nitrile gloves, 74,400 goggles, and 850 protective suits. Additionally, instead of putting campus food usually reserved for employees to waste, Microsoft also assembled and delivered 6,000 lunch boxes a day to families in need, for a total of 30,000 lunches per week.

The folks behind the operation had to work with local philanthropies to source, assemble and distribute the meals and also source the necessary equipment. There was also a tremendous learning curve, and Microsoft coordination with its suppliers to make this possible.

As someone who has to consume a lot of news as part of his job, it’s easy to get bogged down in the negativity of the situation we’re in. It’s great to see organizations step up, though. Let’s have more of this because we’ll need it.

The weekly wrap is where TLNT shares the stories that didn’t quite make it into a full post this week. We’ll also share links to some of our favorite things we read this week about HR, people development, the future of work, and more.

This article is part of a series called COVID-19 Coverage.
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