When Google announced this spring that it would bring its employees back to the office, many wondered whether other businesses would follow suit.
What does the post-pandemic office space look like, what lessons did we learn about remote work, and how quickly should these rollouts happen?
All of that is still unfolding, with many businesses opting for a hybrid approach, including one model that brings employees on-site in shifts and allows for a combination work-from-home and work-at-the-office schedule.
And as with most things Google, its office will look and feel much different from your typical workspace. Google had been experimenting with different office designs prior to the pandemic and will try them out over the coming year.
As for other companies? A lot depends on the business model itself, but for many, a number of scenarios seem common:
* Remote work is still an option for many. Whether it was a long commute or hesitancy to return to a crowded interior space, employees can still fire up their Zoom connections.
* Co-working space (Remember WeWork?). Some businesses are taking another look at co-working space, which provides employees with a place to work outside the home AND outside the office. This could be attractive to people with the aforementioned long commute and those who simply want to get out of the house.
* In-office rotations. In this scenario, employees take turns working on site.
* Outdoor space. At Google, outdoor work tents and fenced-in areas with grass and wood flooring evoke a camping theme. Of course, the weather is cooperative at its Silicon Valley headquarters and Google has the cash to try out new ideas. Still, other businesses can take note of how to better use outdoor space when they can, much like restaurants that found innovative ways to create outdoor dining.
Whispers of SBA COVID-19 fraud abound
In a dark bar, one guy whispers to another that outside a certain apartment building, there is a man with Small Business Administration (SBA) loan papers. All you have to do is make up a business and get $10,000.
Meanwhile, in an office, a man with a drug problem has a failing business and significantly misrepresents his business on SBA loan papers. Two years later, he is arrested and serves 14 months at a federal prison for wire fraud and money laundering.
The latter is the real case of Jeff Grant, a former lawyer, who told Entrepreneur magazine of his spiral into the kind of desperation that led to his arrest.
His first point is obvious: Don’t lie to the SBA and don’t think that the rules are suspended in times of emergency. Not true. Grant says that even state unemployment websites are giving written instructions on how to mislead the government loan apps. Don’t lie about your location. Don’t misuse the money.
In Grant’s case, his application was after the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. Thousands of people misrepresented their businesses on emergency loan applications, and they were prosecuted.
But in the case of current SBA loans, lots of restrictions apply, including such a thing as not moving your business. Beware that loans over $25,000 require a pledge of collateral. Don’t spend SBA money on personal debts such as credit cards. The funds are designed for business.
Lumber prices rise as production ramps up
Anyone looking to build or renovate a home has quickly encountered the latest sticker shock item: lumber.
Lumber prices have tripled in the past year, adding nearly $36,000 to the cost of a new home. In late April, the National Association of Home Builders said the price of framing lumber was approximately $1,200 per thousand board feet — compared to $350 per thousand board feet in April 2020.
What happened? A number of things. Consumer demand went up last year as people who were stuck at home undertook DIY projects in droves. Lumber mills shut down early in the pandemic.
As they reopened, they ramped up production and are running at full capacity, according to the Wall Street Journal.
And there were other factors already at play, including increased demand from millennial buyers in their home-buying peak, record low-interest rates, and international trade policies. All of these elements and more combined to create the jump in prices.
Consumers are handling the price increase in a number of ways, including delaying projects or reducing square footage, as well as looking for savings in finish materials or appliances. Now that wood production has increased, experts expect prices to come down, though perhaps not back to pre-pandemic levels.
How to spot a job candidate who’s truly motivated
If you want to hire a job candidate who’s driven to succeed, simply asking questions isn’t enough to gauge their level of enthusiasm. Here are a few tips to help you spot someone who’s truly self-motivated.
Recognize the signs of interest
An applicant who’s interested in the position you want to fill won’t just be dressed appropriately and show up to their interview on time. They’ll also take the opportunity to learn about your company and practice active listening.
You want to seek out someone who’s interested in what you have to say, asks questions, and provides well-thought-out answers to your inquiries. In addition, if they follow up after the interview, it’s usually a good sign that they’re motivated.
Ask the right questions
It’s important to ask candidates behavioral questions to gain a better understanding of their experience, skills, and personality. You should inquire about their expectations and ambitions, why they want to work for your company, how they want to be managed and what drives them.
By asking open-ended questions, you’ll give candidates the opportunity to spontaneously express themselves. You may find that they present themselves differently in person than they do in their cover letter. This will give you a feel for what they’re really like and help you determine if they’re a good fit for the position and your company.
If the candidate checks all the boxes, it’s likely that they’re truly self-motivated and will put in the extra effort on the job.
Supply chain woes still stall production
The microcomputer shortage is still stalling the production and delivery of new cars, phones, and even dishwashers, causing prices to rise, experts say.
It’s just one of the latest issues affecting the global supply chain, which experienced a variety of challenges over the past year and a half.
The microchips at first affected new car prices, but the pinch has now spread to consumer electronics, whose popularity surged during the pandemic. Although tech companies were initially able to purchase semiconductors that the closed-down car factories couldn’t use, both industries are now in line for the chips and supply can’t keep up with demand.
Other supply chain issues include transport — the shipping industry hasn’t had enough containers, which drove transport prices up. Food prices climbed 3.5 percent from March 2020 to March 2021. Gas prices are also on the rise.
Some challenges, like those with the chips and in the lumber industry, can be attributed to more than just the pandemic — tariffs and extreme weather among them — though most experts agree that the pandemic has amplified or accelerated those issues.
The good news? Although lumber and microchips may be in short supply until 2022, many supply chain problems are beginning to ease up, in part due to factories reopening and employees returning to work.
Dress for success: 3 tips for your next interview
Do you have a job interview coming up? If so, here are three things to keep in mind as you plan your outfit.
1. Don’t disregard your shoes
Sneakers and flip-flops are certainly out of the question. For men, it’s also best to avoid shoes that expose your toes. For women, you may want to forgo excessively high heels, especially if you can’t easily walk in them.
2. Don’t go too eccentric
Your outfit can be a good way to show off your personality, particularly if you’re applying for a creative role. However, appearing professional should always be the top priority. Keep flashy colors, extravagant patterns, and bulky accessories to a minimum.
3. Don’t sacrifice style for comfort
You want to feel at ease and be able to comfortably walk, sit and stand in your outfit. However, this doesn’t mean you should show up in yoga pants or your favorite pair of ripped jeans, no matter how trendy they seem. For a polished look, avoid fabrics that wrinkle easily or show off sweat stains.
Finally, remember to think about your appearance as a whole before you walk out the door. Overpowering perfume or cologne, greasy hair, excessive makeup, coffee breath and chipped nail polish can all give a bad impression.
Job hunting: Should you take a break during the summer?
Many companies slow down or pause their recruitment efforts over the summer. If you’re looking for a job at this time of year, you may be wondering if your efforts will be wasted. Here are some things to keep in mind.
• If the industry you want to work in is relatively calm in the summer, the employees who work there may have some free time and be willing to meet with you. Therefore, summer can be a great time to network.
• If a recruiter goes into the trouble of posting a job while their staff is reduced, it’s likely because the position needs to be filled as soon as possible. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a priority until most of the team has returned from vacation.
• If some job seekers vying for the same positions as you have decided to put their search on hold for the summer, your résumé will be more likely to make it to the top of the pile.
Lastly, remember that various sectors that rely on seasonal workers are in full swing during the summer months.
Good luck with your search!