#RemoteWork #WorkingRemotely #coronavirus #COVID-19 #FlattenTheCurve
If you thought working from home, or, at least, away from the crowded office was a temporary solution to combat a contagion, think again.
Now, 40.7 million Americans expect to be working remotely by 2026.
Meanwhile, 86.5 million freelance workers are expected by 2027.
Those statistics come from Upwork Inc. Statista data, and were part of a Bloomberg News article also published Sept. 30, 2021 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The article says that businesses, in a survey of 1,000 hiring managers, have increased their willingness to use freelancers.
The coronavirus pandemic was a catalyst for this trend. But it probably has been building for a long time.
If you are in business, it’s better to pay for tasks than hours. When employers hire people as employees, there is a tacit, if not written, agreement that the employee will work, and be paid, for however many hours they are hired for.
Sure, employers can cut, or add to, an employee’s hours at will, in most cases.
But the employers are essentially paying for time. It means more security for the employee, and more obligation for the employer.
Sometimes, that security and obligation also comes in the form of non-salary benefits, adding to the employers’ costs.
When employers hire freelancers, there is no such obligation. The freelancer performs a task(s) and gets paid for that task. That’s much less secure for the worker, but, at the same time, provides more flexibility for the worker to do other things.
The ultimate flexibility for the worker is the ability to work from home. He or she may not get as much from the employer in this arrangement, but the tradeoff (no commuting to a work site, for example) may be worth it.
For some, the fear of loss of secure employment may not be desirable. Some depend on an employer’s benevolence. But, for others, being one’s own boss, essentially, provides coveted freedom.
Given issues with child care, inflation and the increasing costs of commuting, being one’s own boss, in the long run, may be a great tradeoff to the old time-for-dollars, strict schedule model.
To work successfully from home, however, you have to be sure that distractions, like children, won’t hurt your productivity. You still have to give the boss what he or she wants, when he or she needs it.
In short, the trends toward more freedom, flexibility and freelance work are coming. That may not suit everyone, but there may be little anyone can do about it.
It’s best for everyone to prepare for those trends now. That may mean staying with your on-location job and work a gig on the side. Perhaps that gig could be your answer to following the coming trends.


#TruckDrivers #SupplyChainProblems #trucks #drivers #TruckDriverShortage
The shortage of truck drivers is certainly hurting the supply chain.
A New York Times article by Madeleine Ngo and Ana Swanson published Nov. 9, 2021, calls the shortage the biggest kink in the supply chain.
The article was also published Nov. 14, 2021 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The article attributes the shortage to long hours and uncomfortable working conditions.
The article tells the story of Michael Gary, 58, who took a truck driving job in 2012 to help pay off more than $50,000 in student debt. He finally quit Oct. 6, 2021.
“I had no personal life outside of driving a truck,” the article quotes Gary.
The American Trucking Associations reports that the industry is short 80,000 drivers, according to the article.
Trucking is one of those industries undergoing a transition. Decades ago, with most truckers represented by the Teamsters Union, trucking was still a tough job, but it paid relatively well.
Now, the job is still tough but is not paying well enough for some to endure the long hours, time away from home, sleeping in trucks etc. Some companies are beginning to increase drivers’ pay.
Most young workers looking for a career also can see the writing on the wall. Self-driving trucks, though not here in large numbers yet, are coming. So, why start a career that may become obsolete in a few short years?
But, as with most transition periods , this one is messy.
Though we need truckers, and lots of them, now, we may not need nearly as many in the future.
Truckers, by law, can only drive so many hours at a time. Then, they must rest a certain number of hours.
Often, those rest periods are unpaid, as is the time spent waiting to load or unload.
It’s one of those professions, as brought to the fore by the pandemic, that workers have to ask themselves whether the job, compensation etc., is worth the sacrifices to home and other personal life.
There are many songs you could hear on the radio that glamorize life on the open road. They portray it as an adventure.
But, in reality, it is grueling. To help ease the pain of being away from home, and to legally log more hours on the road, many married couples share truck driving duties.
Still, it’s a real hardship to spend that much time away from home, missing your children, social relationships etc.
In short, trucking is not for everyone. Though drivers are badly needed now, the future is likely to tell a very different story.


#OnlineLearning #NormalSchool, #education #teachers #studemts
Parents and students of all ages have had to deal with a lot of school online.
But two Georgia Tech computer scientists are arguing that online learning can be as effective as in-person classes.
Their book, “The Distributed Classroom,” by David A. Joyner and Charles Isbell, was the subject of a column by Maureen Downey, who writes education commentary for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her column was published Sept. 28, 2021.
“No matter the age of their children, most parents favor a return to ‘normal school,’ which they define as how they learned – a teacher in front of a room and students in desks,” Downey writes.
But Joyner and Isbell call for classes spread across many locations and times, totally contradicting the belief that parents and teachers must meet together in a room at fixed times, Downey writes. (As an aside, the fixed time and classes were designed to teach kids promptness and how to follow a schedule, skills they would need in a “normal” workplace.)
“There are several features we developed of the past year that students want to continue, such as recorded classes. Going forward, I think we have to disentangle several developments that went together during COVID-19, but don’t have to go together going forward,” Downey quotes Joyner.
She writes that the professors don’t envision a student sitting at his or her kitchen table staring at a screen all day. Students can take online classes while going to school. The professors also believe online learners can form bonds with each other, as do graduate students in Georgia Tech’s Online Master of Science in Computer Science(OMSCS) program, the column says. (Another aside: if students form bonds on social media, why can’t they do so through online classes?)
Previously, a question had been posed: if Student X wanted to take a class with Professor X, who may be miles away, why can’t that happen? Professor X is teaching his or her class anyway, why not let him or her teach it to thousands, even millions, at a time?
If Professor X’s lecture time isn’t convenient for Student X, couldn’t Student X view and listen to the class on a recording?
If COVID-19 helped advance those concepts, what will education look like in the future? Instead of School X having, say, three third-grade classes, how about one third-grade teacher and several teacher aides to offer one-on-one assistance, help grade papers and other work etc. ? Yes, the students can be in a school building if that’s preferable.
It may mean that students may get to know the teacher aides better than they know the teacher, but it could save school districts lots of money and help alleviate teacher shortages etc.
Taking the concept further, how about one teacher for multiple schools, again with aides helping individual students?
The teacher would do the same work preparing for classes. Online allows for interaction among students, though, in this scenario, a teacher teaching hundreds or thousands of students would make lots of interaction between teachers and students in real time difficult.
Educators, in general, have vivid imaginations. School systems and politicians, in general, can constrain such imaginations.
We will all have a front-row seat to watch how education evolves, how student life changes at all levels and how those who study can flex their time to accomplish whatever activities in which they need and wish to engage.
“Normal school” may look a lot different in years to come.


#LaborShortage #workers #employers #GreatResignation #BetterJobs #entrepreneurs
Evidence suggests that jobs are easy to find, and workers are hard to find.
So writes Paul Krugman, a New York Times columnist and economist in a column also published April 10, 2022 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Krugman points out that experts, including himself, have been telling the “Great Resignation” tale, saying the pandemic has forced lots of Americans to rethink work, their jobs, child care, going back to unpleasant environments etc.
But he now points out that he has changed his mind, as new data evolve.
He says Americans are switching jobs, but going to better ones. They are not leaving the labor force in large numbers (and collecting government checks to stay home). Instead, they are going to different work.
One reason Krugman cites, attributing to economist Dean Baker, is many workers are becoming self-employed. They are gig workers, to use current parlance.
Employment figures, naturally, do not include the self-employed. “Reshuffling has involved Americans concluding that they could improve their lives by starting their own businesses,” Krugman writes.
The second reason is immigration, or lack thereof, according to Krugman. An immigration crackdown over the last several years, enhanced by the pandemic, resulted in fewer available workers. To boost the economy, Krugman says, “we should really try to reestablish our nation’s historic role as a destination for ambitious immigrants,” he writes.
In decades past, it has been argued that too much immigration takes jobs from Americans and lowers wages for U.S. workers. Today’s immigration argument, though often not voiced aloud, is that it’s less about jobs and wages and more about demographics and potential new voting patterns.
Because the employment numbers are so hidden, they blur the status of the economy. If employers can’t find workers, or have lost the ones they had prior to the pandemic, those employers should spend more time evaluating how to better attract or retain workers, rather than complain about labor shortages allegedly caused by current government policy.
Workers are out there, albeit fewer than there were prior to the pandemic. There are not a lot of eligible workers sitting home collecting checks. They are working on THEIR terms, performing services that they know how to do, for those willing to pay for them.
If employers believe that different government policy can force workers back to old ways, they will be very disappointed when it doesn’t happen.
If you (desperate employer) know someone who used to work for you, but is now in his or her own business, ask that person why he or she made such a move.
Very likely, they will tell you chapter and verse why. You may not like the answer. But, if you are wise, you will learn something from it.
Starting a business when you’ve always been an employee is a big step. Not everyone who does so will succeed. But, even if they don’t, they may never return to what they used to do, or where they used to do it.
Remember, too, that workers have more choices than they’ve had in years. Most will take advantage of better opportunities that are presented to them. Some will succeed as their own bosses. Wishing it were different, if you are an employer, will not make it so.


#EarlyRetirement #retirement #jobs #work #time
Are you planning, or would you like to, retire early?
Most, probably, would say, “of course.”
Others don’t plan to retire, unless forced to.
Still others would insist on a definition of “early.”
Wes Moss, who writes a Money Matters column for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and has a same-titled radio show on WSB radio in Atlanta, gives five reasons to retire as soon as possible. He discussed them in his Oct. 10, 2021, column.
Moss’ five reasons: drive time, no love lost for your job, a roller-coaster schedule, a lack of recognition for what you do and being capped out in terms of financial advancement.
Let’s talk about each of these. First, commuting can be a bear. It takes time from your life as a whole, it adds stress to your body and it’s costly, in terms of fuel and wear-and-tear on your vehicle.
Moss also says that grueling commutes can cause stress in a marriage. According to one study, people who drive at least 45 minutes each way to work are 40 percent more likely to get a divorce, Moss writes.
Work-from-home, or remote-working trends inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic may change commuting patterns for the long term. If your employer is flexible in this area, you might decide to work longer. Think of having a beach house, or mountain cabin, from which you could work. Would that interest you?
Perhaps you don’t really love your job, or even like it, as Moss points out. Would working from home change that perception? If you are just grinding out a living at a job that, to be kind, doesn’t inspire you, Moss suggests perhaps finding a new way to parlay your skills by consulting, or starting your own business.
Remote-working options may alleviate another of Moss’ concerns – the roller-coaster schedule. Many people have jobs in which they have to be on site at specific times. Those times could vary from week to week, turning one’s body clock upside down. If you have one of those jobs, chances are you don’t like it. If you can get out sooner, you should.
Being recognized for your good work is also important. Your boss saying nice things about you and your work are fine, but you probably need more tangible rewards. If those are not forthcoming, maybe it’s time to go.
You may also be at the very end of the pay scale for your job category. If so, then ask yourself: am I just marking time for my pension? Or, especially if there is no pension, could I go somewhere else and advance financially? If you are at the top of your pay scale, you may be near retirement age anyway. If you can afford to retire, do it.
There are many things to learn ahead of “early” retirement regarding health insurance expenses and, more importantly, what you will do with your time.
You also have to study the likelihood, even though it’s tough to predict, whether one day you will come to work and be forcibly retired, or otherwise unemployed. Know that if this happens to you, you are not likely to be forewarned.
So, think about your situation, and do what is best for you. At the same time, realize that there are ways to escape bad work situations, if you need to.
In short, if you like your job, stay as long as they will have you. If you don’t like your job, stay open to other options. They are out there.


#HardtoRetire #retirement #jobs #LeavingAJob #OtherInterests
It’s one thing to like a job.
It’s also one thing not to want to give up a business that you had founded.
But, eventually, there will be a time to go – particularly if you are 70-something.
In an article for the Washington Post, reporter Sindya N. Bhanoo discusses a couple of Baby Boomers who, even after they had “retired” officially, could not stop going to the office. The article was also published March 6, 2022, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
What eventually got them to stay away? COVID-19 and remote working.
Of course, these gentlemen were important to their companies. They were highly respected, One had even sold his share of the company, but did not stop hanging around. Staff did not know what to do, how to approach him, whether he should participate etc.
This wasn’t just transitional. The guys just didn’t know how to retire.
There have been numerous stories about people, particularly those 55 and older, who were essentially forced to retire because of the effects of COVID-19, or other reasons beyond their control.
The problem was they were not ready, financially, to retire. In the people profiled in the article, money was not the problem. They were just so comfortable at their offices they didn’t want to leave.
We all long to have jobs we love. Many people do. Most will want to leave them eventually. They hope that when they do, they won’t have to worry about money.
Most people who love their jobs also have other interests they put on the back burner while they are working, intent on pursuing them when they have the time – and money.
That’s certainly a healthy way to look at work. Today’s work environment changes so often – and often radically – that a job a person loves suddenly turns sour. The work life they so embraced becomes difficult, even toxic.
The best thing a working person can hope for is that when it’s time to go, the worker can go on his or her terms, with a smile.
Not everyone – in fact, relatively few – can say that’s what happened to them.
You’ll notice the caveat “when it’s time to go.” The worker may not know when that time is. But he or she can seldom dictate when that time will come.
The lesson here is, if you like your job, stay as long as your employer or company will have you. When the company doesn’t want you anymore – it may not be a decision against you personally – you usually know it. Things will start to happen to make your life difficult.
Preparing throughout your career for that day, since you almost never know when it will be, is the most prudent action you can take.
If you dedicate your life to your job, try to find some time to develop other interests. That will make departure a bit easier.
If you have no interests other than your job, be confident enough in yourself to believe you will find other interests as time permits.
Jobs and careers don’t often end with a handshake and a party. But if you get the handshake and party – or even if you don’t — go quietly thereafter.


#SupplyChain #inflation #IncreasingCosts #businesses
A burger chain is taking on increased costs caused by supply-chain problems.
But it realizes that people will only pay so much, so increasing prices too much will hurt more.
In an interview with Alexandra Canal for Yahoo Finance. Smashburger President Carl Bachmann said he is trying to manage his costs with great precision. The article was published Feb. 21, 2022.
“You have to take some small price increases, but we were very strategic about that,” Bachmann told Canal. “The key thing here is … managing your freight costs,” he said. “… all those little pieces of the puzzle behind the scenes to counteract the commodities as they continue to rise.”
Bachmann has utilized redundant vendors and global partners to ease supply-chain issues, which has helped curb price pressure, the article says.
Bachmann’s efforts may be easier said than done for some businesses. Because of a worker shortage, labor costs, as well as material costs, have risen. In fact, many of the increases in material costs can be attributed to labor shortages.
If there are not enough folks to load and unload ships at ports, and drive the containers to wherever they need to go, that will increase costs.
In a Feb. 25, 2022, article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, business reporter Michael E. Kanell reports that the backlog at the Port of Savannah appears to be easing. There are no more ships queued up in the harbor waiting to be unloaded, he writes. That port, the second-largest on the East Coast, is continuing to expand, which is also helping it move more goods, the article says.
All of these problems were largely activated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers who were shut out of jobs for a good while are giving second thoughts to going back to them.
If there are fewer people producing or moving goods, prices will rise.
The news from the Georgia ports gives one a degree of hope that the end may be near.
But, the Russian invasion of Ukraine could put a damper on that hopefulness.
The pandemic may not have brought the world entirely to its knees, but it came very close.
Now, as the disease eases, record numbers of people are going back to work – many under better conditions than they had before.
That has to be considered great news, even though we are all paying more for that to happen.
But, as Bachmann points out in the Yahoo article, you have to manage EVERYTHING. You have to decide whether buying this or that is worth the cost. You have to decide whether taking this job, or that job, will leave you better off than you were.
A lesson here is to learn to make good decisions as early in life as you can. That means that no matter how much you earn at any given time, some of it should be saved for later in life. As your savings grow, they should be invested wisely, with the help of an adviser you trust.
As discussed previously here, you can bring your own coffee to work, as opposed to buying it by the cup. You can bring your own lunch to work, instead of buying it etc.
The little things, as Bachmann says, can make all the difference. To add to that, you can save on little things without always depriving yourself of life’s pleasures. Those pleasures can make life worth living.


#CollegeEducation #colleges #education #investments
“If you are sending (your child) here (prestigious college) to get a job, you are sending them to the wrong place.”
That’s the likely response you would get from the admissions director of a prestigious college if you questioned him or her about a return on your investment, according to Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Downey discussed the return on investment for a college degree in a column published Nov. 16, 2021.
Meanwhile, that same day, published an analysis by Ronald Brownstein, a CNN political analyst, that concludes that the infrastructure bill approved in Washington that same week is heavily weighted to create jobs for blue-collar, non-college-educated workers.
What should we make of all this? First, college is not for everyone. Most advisers tell young people that college is the key to getting a good job.
But as Downey’s column points out, it largely depends what a student majors in that will determine his or her post-graduation job prospects, and likely salary.
So, especially if you are planning to go into debt to go to college, think long and hard. Some college majors, mostly in the science, technology, engineering and math fields, may be worth it.
Others, particularly in the liberal arts, may not – presuming you are expecting a dollar return on that investment.
But, if you just want an education, and money is not going to be a concern, then college could be a great learning experience and, perhaps, a fun four years.
If you are not suited to college, and are more suited to a trade, there will be a need for plumbers, electricians, carpenters etc., for the foreseeable future.
If neither of these paths suits you, there are a number of programs out there that could give you a potentially lucrative income, without having specific education, experience or background.
These programs, too, may not be for everyone. But if you have ambition, an open mind and are willing to be coached, they may be a very good alternative.
To learn about one of the best such programs, message me.
Education of any sort is never a bad thing. The more one learns, the more one can grow.
But college is expensive and time-consuming. Four years in college is four years of earning little, if anything. You have to see the payoff – not necessarily financial – at the end.
Remember, too, as Downey points out, in general, the more education you have, the more you are likely to earn, vs. the person with less education.
But getting back a lifetime of great earnings in exchange for going through college may not necessarily happen.
Therefore, careful choice is required. You have to know who you are, and who you want to be, to make such a choice.
The same path does not lead everyone to the same destination. Learn where you not only want to go, but also what best would suit you.
There is a path for everyone. Your path may not be the same as your friend’s. You have to find your own way.


#LaborShortages #LowpayingJobs #jobs #employment #EssentialWorkers
There is a shortage of school bus drivers.
Massachusetts had to get the National Guard to help.
Many nurses are ditching their full-time gigs to become traveling nurses, which pays them twice or three times as much.
There’s also a shortage in other front-line and hospitality professions. Finding substitute teachers is such a problem that some districts have lowered standards to qualify.
Giulia Heyward covered this subject in an article for The New York Times. It was also published Sept. 18, 2021, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
What to do? And, what does it mean?
Jobs that pay relatively poorly, but have a lot of stress and responsibility, didn’t attract many candidates, even before the pandemic.
Employers say they can’t afford to pay more. Well, the labor market is telling employers that if they don’t pay more, they won’t get the people they need.
We haven’t seen a labor market like this in quite a while.
People in some job categories are asking for what they have deserved for a long time. If they don’t get it, they walk to greener pastures.
COVID-19 has spurred this new labor market. Jobs like driving a school bus, or nursing, have even more stress now than they did before because of the real dangers of getting sick.
It’s tough enough to drive a school bus, or take care of sick patients, without the COVID-19 threat.
But the pandemic has added yet another layer of stress.
Plus, if a person gets sick, he or she is no good to anyone – family, employer etc.
That adds to the decision whether to take, or quit, a job. It makes the question , “is it worth it,” even more stark.
For workers, there are answers, other than just staying home. There are programs that enable a person to work from home, even part time, and earn an income that potentially could easily beat that of one of those stressful, highly responsible, but relatively low-paying jobs.
To learn about one of the best such programs, message me.
Meanwhile, it’s OK to analyze your work situation. It’s OK to ask yourself, why am I doing this? Am I getting enough back from all this stress?
The answer to that last question can take the form of money or intangibles. If you love driving a school bus – or you love the kids you transport – or, if you really love taking care of sick patients despite the stress, you may not want to give up those jobs.
But if your financial situation is not what you think it should be, you may want to enhance it with a little part-time effort that anyone, regardless of education, experience or background, can do.
Such an effort could take the financial sting out of that stressful job you may love – yes, you can do both things if you’d like to.
The fact remains that the labor market is changing. You can look for opportunities in those changes – remember the traveling nurses? – or, if your situation is too much to bear, or risk, look for something a little less risky and stressful, and perhaps even more lucrative.


#LaborDay #jobs #employers #employees #coronavirus #COVID19 #FlattenTheCurve
On this “unusual” Labor Day, “workers are in demand, but relatively scarce. (They are) enticed by incentives but scared of infection, constrained by child-care needs, while attracted by a more elastic workplace.”
So writes Michael E. Kanell, business and economics reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in his Labor Day, 2021, article.
In that same edition of the Atlanta paper, Matt O’Brien and Paul Wiseman write about artificial intelligence (robots) handling a lot of service tasks once performed by humans. In their Associated Press article, they cite the example of a robot voice assistant at a Los Angeles Arby’s restaurant taking orders and relaying them to the line cooks.
The coronavirus pandemic is forcing changes in the labor market, giving employees more leverage, as we discussed previously, while replacing some with machines, not just in manufacturing, but the service industries.
Kanell writes that wage disparities between upper- and lower-echelon employees are still wide, with many lower-echelon workers still unable to afford the median rent in Atlanta of $1,488 per month.
But with all the talk of raising the minimum wage, it’s being done in the marketplace rather than in government.
Big companies like Target, Walgreens Walmart at CVS, as well as smaller employers like the Frazer Center in Atlanta, have declared $15 per hour as their base, or minimum, wage, Kanell writes.
Why? The pandemic is making people hesitant to go back to work, unless they have higher wages, more flexibility and more protection from getting sick.
TheHub recently opened a distribution center outside of Atlanta, with 22 employees. It starts workers at $16.65 an hour, plus a $1,000 sign-on bonus for new employees. It also includes medical benefits and matching contributions to workers’ 401(k) accounts, Kanell writes.
Meanwhile, other employers, per the Associated Press article, are figuring out ways to handle lower-wage tasks without people. A machine doesn’t take sick time, vacations or other interruptions humans require, the article says.
It boils down to this: the changing workplace the pandemic has induced is resulting in higher pay, more benefits, more flexibility and, often, better jobs for many workers.
These changes could last forever, since diseases have no time limits or expiration dates. When one disease is mitigated, another could follow. The overall economy could see a huge benefit as people get paid more.
If you are not seeing the kind of progress in your job (career) that you want to see, there are programs out there that can allow you to earn an income, even from home, without requiring any specific education, experience or background. Potentially, these programs can eventually allow you to say goodbye to your awful job, if that’s what you have. Or, if you’ve been out of work for a time, they could robustly get you back on your feet – even, perhaps, make you dance for joy.
To learn about one of the best such programs, message me.
Meanwhile, we will keep reading (and writing) about workplace changes caused by the pandemic.
These changes could revamp lives in ways never imagined even two years ago. Many lives will change for the better. Some may not, so those folks will need alternatives.
Here’s a big chance for you to initiate the change(s) in your life that you want. You’ve always had the power to do it, but it may be more urgent, and obvious, now.
Take advantage of it. Use your new leverage to your advantage.