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The pros and cons of contract work

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In today’s job market, it’s common for employers to hire people for a fixed amount of time or to complete a particular project. Are you wondering whether contract work is right for you? Here’s a look at the benefits and drawbacks.

Pros
Temporary employment opportunities tend to be more widely available, and it’s fairly common for contract work to turn into a permanent position. In the meantime, you’ll be able to broaden your skill set. You can also sample various roles and employers before you make a long-term commitment. Plus, you’re free to take time off between contracts to travel or pursue a passion project.

Cons
There’s no guarantee that your contract will be extended or that you’ll immediately find a new position. This lack of job security can lead to financial instability. Additionally, your income won’t be taxed upfront, and you won’t be eligible for entitlements like vacation time, sick leave, severance pay, and health and retirement benefits. Plus, it can be hard to get to know your colleagues if you’re only around for a few months.

To find out about the positions available in your area, reach out to local job recruitment and temporary staffing agencies.


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5 ways to thank administrative staff from a distance

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With so many employees working from home, you may be wondering how to ensure your colleagues get the recognition they deserve during Administrative Professionals Week. Here are five ways to express your gratitude this year, from April 18 to 24.

1. Create a compilation video
Ask each of your colleagues to record a personalized message and assemble the clips in a heart-warming video. This will show members of your administrative team that their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.

2. Deliver a gift basket
Contact local shops and producers to find out if they can put together an assortment of goodies to send to your colleague’s home. Think artisanal cheeses and chutneys, organic skincare products, craft beer, and spirits or handmade candles and knitwear.

3. Treat them to a night in
Many local restaurants, including some fairly upscale establishments, now offer delivery services. Send your colleague a gift card so they can enjoy a delicious at-home dinner. Consider dropping off a bottle of locally made wine to complete the meal.


4. Find a fun online class
Give your colleague an opportunity to learn a new skill or pursue a hobby from the comfort of their home. Increasingly, local groups are offering virtual courses for activities that range from yoga and fitness to creative writing, cooking, and professional development.

5. Upgrade their home office
Show your colleague how much you value their work by helping to make their home office a more comfortable, functional, and welcoming space. Send them a gift card for a home office supply store in their area, so they can get exactly what they need.

Remember, even if you don’t see them in person every day, administrative professionals work tirelessly to keep your business running smoothly, and they deserve to be recognized for their dedication this week and throughout the year.

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How to get a job without work experience or a degree

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Are you looking to land your first job or make a career change? Even if you lack experience in a prospective field, it still may be possible to find a position in it. Here are some tips to help you get the job you want.

• Diversify your training. Whether you sign up for online courses, participate in professional workshops or complete a certification program, any attempt to broaden your education will show employers that you’re dedicated and eager to learn.

• Rely on your network. Your friends and family members may have connections that prove invaluable to your job search. Let them know the type of position you’re looking for, and ask if they’d be willing to make a referral or arrange an introduction.

• Expand your knowledge. Spend some time researching the field that interests you. This will allow you to determine what roles you’d be best suited for and familiarize yourself with the industry terms and key players.



• Refine your résumé. Organize your CV to highlight the skills that would make you a good candidate for a particular position. Include relevant volunteer work, passion projects, and hobbies to demonstrate your interest in the field.

If you succeed in getting an interview, don’t let your lack of experience be seen as a flaw. Focus on discussing your strengths, and emphasize your willingness to learn on the job.

 

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Business

Are PPP loans taxable?

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Last year’s Payment Protection loans were a big help to many businesses around the country, helping them stay afloat during the pandemic. But the loans came with a number of catches, including ever-changing and confusing rules about how they could be used, whether they would be forgiven in full, and any tax implications.

A PPP loan can be forgiven if at least 60 percent of it is used for employee payroll costs. The loan forgiveness application is submitted to the lender that granted the loan, which can be a confusing process all by itself.

However, if you made it through the forgiveness process, what next? Is the forgiven PPP loan considered taxable income?

No. When Congress passed the CRRSAA law in December 2020, it classified a forgiven PPP loan as tax-exempt.


Additionally, expenses paid with PPP loans can be claimed as deductions. In other words, the portion of the loan that was used for other, approved expenses under the terms of the loan — things like rent, utilities, mortgage interest, personal protective equipment, and the like — can be written off.

This is a reversal of the original instruction from the IRS and the Treasury Department, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The decision came after some businesses anticipated higher taxable revenue in 2020, due to not being able to write off as many expenses.

As with any other significant financial business matter, consult a tax professional when filing your taxes. Last year was a doozy with more moving parts than usual, and you will want a pro to decipher it.

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No surprise: Pizza shops do well

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Heavy regulations on dining have decimated the restaurant industry in the past year, but one player is growing.

Pizza, the cheesy comfort food, is not only budget-friendly, but its delivery systems were in place before the forced shutdown.

Pizza is the bright light in the restaurant sector, with revenues up at major pizza chains Domino’s and Papa John’s, according to the New York Times. Even frozen pizza is up more than a fifth, according to NielsenIQ.

According to the New York Times, Domino’s attributes much of its success to its investments in delivery service and its digital platform.


The news isn’t so good for the rest of the sector, especially for local restaurants. At least 110,000 restaurants have closed permanently, according to Forbes.

In California, the state prohibited indoor and outdoor dining until Jan. 25 of this year. New York City has restricted restaurant capacity to 25 percent, with dine-in service restricted to outdoor tables — even during winter.

According to Forbes, 90 percent of restaurant owners say state restrictions are the biggest threat to their business since they opened, and more than half say that permanent closure is a possibility.

The restaurant industry is a major American employer, with more than 13.5 million employees in 2019. According to Restaurant Dive, the restaurant industry ended in 2020 with 2.5 million fewer jobs than pre-pandemic levels.

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How to hire someone for a remote position

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If you need to hire someone for a remote position, you should look for a candidate who can work effectively from home. Here’s how to find the right person for the job.

Seek out candidates with the right qualities
Telecommuting isn’t for everyone, and some people aren’t as productive when they work from home. To help narrow down your search for a remote employee, look for key qualities such as:

• Proactive communication skills. Since most exchanges with a remote employee happen over the phone and through email or instant messaging, you need someone who can clearly express their ideas. Consider having candidates take a writing test.

• Strong initiative. Remote employees must be able to complete their work without direct and constant supervision. You can reach out to former employers to learn more about a candidate’s ability to work autonomously.


• Focus and organization skills. Someone who works from home needs to be adept at managing their time, establishing priorities, and maintaining concentration despite distractions (especially if they have children at home).

Ask questions to assess an applicant’s suitability
Use the interview process to further evaluate whether a candidate is well-suited for a remote position. For example, you should ask:

• Do you have any experience working remotely?
• Are you comfortable using platforms such as Zoom and Skype?
• How do you remain focused when working from home?
• What strategies do you use to stay productive at home?

Finally, be sure to discuss your expectations about flexible work hours and confirm which time zone a prospective employee is based in.

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Remote work has dramatic implications

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Apple spent $5 billion on its spaceship campus in Cupertino, but it sat mostly empty in 2020 while work continued from employee homes.

Business forecasters say remote work is here to stay, and the consequences of this realignment will shake up cities, real estate prices, and life choices.

Although considered a slow-moving trend of the future, remote work accelerated during the 2020 pandemic. According to McKinsey Global Institute, about 20 percent of the global workforce could work remotely and still remain effective in their jobs.

According to a survey of 1,000 CEOs by FirstbaseHQ, companies are planning a 40 percent to 60 percent cut in office space, with about 30 percent going entirely remote.


The impact of this realignment from commercial office space to home-based work has wide-ranging consequences — not just for employees, but for the makeup of cities, companies, and neighborhoods across the country.

For companies, economics is easy. It costs companies about $20,000 per employee per year to have them work in office space, while remote work costs about $2,000 per employee.

Companies have yet to assess the impact of remote work on company culture, performance, and effectiveness, according to FirstbaseHQ. In addition, some employees may prefer to work in an office, especially after the isolated months in lockdown.

For cities, the trend is clear, for now at least. Commercial leases are down, empty office space is abundant and sales of city housing like condominiums are way down, while sales of suburban housing are up. What happens to the cities may depend on tax structures changing and amenities reopening, experts say. Meanwhile, remote workers are taking their families out of oppressively expensive city apartments to buy homes in middle American communities with lower taxes and simpler lifestyles.

For Apple, Microsoft, and Uber, who spent big on workspace with elaborate benefits from food to child care and game spaces, offices may remain a big draw, according to CNET.

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Apr
20
Tue
all-day Mad Science Kit @ Warren County Community Center
Mad Science Kit @ Warren County Community Center
Apr 20 – Apr 23 all-day
Mad Science Kit @ Warren County Community Center
The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department Mad Science Kit contains experiments that focus on fun, interactivity, and entertainment. Participants ages 6-12 will be able to perform four (4) experiments, including Dyed Carnations, Lava Lamps,[...]
10:00 am Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Apr 20 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Players will enjoy several hands of Mah Jongg against skilled opponents. This club meets on Tuesdays from April 6, 2021 through April 27, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Warren County Community[...]
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Apr 20 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Apr
24
Sat
10:00 am Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 24 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
On this Earth Day, celebrate safely by doing your part to restore our earth and joining the Great Global Cleanup. Stop by one of our tables at the Explorer Outpost, Picnic Area, or Lost Mountain[...]
12:00 pm Empty Bowl Supper “To Go” @ Downtown Market
Empty Bowl Supper “To Go” @ Downtown Market
Apr 24 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Empty Bowl Supper “To Go” @ Downtown Market
Come out to enjoy our favorite fundraiser to benefit the House of Hope, the Empty Bowl Supper “TO GO”! DATE: Saturday, April 24 from 12noon-3pm Ticket Link: eventbrite.com/empty-bowl-supper LOCATION: Main Street & Downtown Market Check in near the[...]
12:00 pm SHS Band Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
SHS Band Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Apr 24 @ 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
SHS Band Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Join us for an afternoon of golf at Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club in Front Royal! 1 pm Shotgun, Registration from 12pm – 12:45pm. $85/Player $340/Team Help us celebrate Skyline High School Band’s success while[...]
12:30 pm Color Run Fundraiser @ Warren County Department of Social Services
Color Run Fundraiser @ Warren County Department of Social Services
Apr 24 @ 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Color Run Fundraiser @ Warren County Department of Social Services
Save Our Children Front Royal is hosting a Color Run/Walk to raise money for The Child Safe Center, located in Winchester, Virginia. The Child Safe Center is a local non-profit who supports sexually abused victims[...]
Apr
25
Sun
4:00 pm Paint with a Superhero @ Downtown Market
Paint with a Superhero @ Downtown Market
Apr 25 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Paint with a Superhero @ Downtown Market
$30 per painter or 4 painters for $100. Bring the whole family and save! Join us for a special Paint with a Superhero event! Be sure to dress up as your favorite hero or villain[...]
Apr
27
Tue
10:00 am Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Apr 27 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Players will enjoy several hands of Mah Jongg against skilled opponents. This club meets on Tuesdays from April 6, 2021 through April 27, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Warren County Community[...]
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Apr 27 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]