Do You Take Attendance?
Lots of employers want their employees back in the office at least part of the time. Does that mean tracking who’s actually showing up?
Here are today’s highlights:
Are you getting along with your partner?
Amazon is finding that bricks and mortar can be tricky.
An upstart dating site loses its trademark case against an industry giant.
Businesses going hybrid are discovering a new dilemma: “When millions of Americans began working from home two years ago because of the pandemic — one-third of the workforce, by May 2020 — they benefited from a new degree of autonomy. Their managers, in many cases, saw that tasks were completed, so the assumption was they were putting in full workdays. Now, as businesses call employees back, pushing office occupancy across the country above 42 percent, they’re deciding whether to let workers maintain those freedoms, or to take measures to ensure that people are reporting to their desks. Questions on attendance can be especially fraught for the large subset of businesses combining in-person and remote work.”
“At SmartRecruiters, a software company, managers can use data from their desk reservation system to follow up with employees who don’t show up.”
“‘A piece of our human resources philosophy is that we’d like to be monitoring if people are showing up to work,’ said Jenae Kaska, head of employee experience at SmartRecruiters, whose London employees are expected to come into the office on Thursdays.”
“But some workers, having experienced the flexibility of remote work and empowered by a tight labor market, have bristled at being monitored as they make the transition back to the office.”
“Many managers are just as put off by the prospect of having to take attendance. ‘I’m a busy person, too, and the thought of being a monitor like we’re in junior high again is horrible,’ said Sara Baer-Sinnott, president of Oldways, a nutrition organization in Boston with a staff of 10.” READ MORE
Amazon will let other retailers piggyback on Prime: “The company on Thursday launched a new service, Buy with Prime, that lets third-party merchants use Amazon’s vast shipping and logistics network to fulfill orders on their own sites, while also appealing to Amazon’s 200 million-plus Prime customers. These websites will be able to put the Prime badge on their websites next to items that are eligible for free two-day or next-day delivery. Prime members will use the payment and shipping information stored on their Amazon accounts to place an order. Buy with Prime won’t be free for sellers, and pricing will vary depending on payment processing, fulfillment, storage and other fees.”
“To start, the service will only be available by invitation to sellers who use Fulfillment by Amazon, or FBA.”
“With that service, merchants pay to have their inventory stored in Amazon’s warehouses and to make use of the company’s supply chain and shipping operations.”
“Eventually, it will be extended to other merchants, including those not selling on Amazon.” READ MORE
Meanwhile, Amazon is finding that running physical stores can be harder than it looks: “Amazon has just 27 Fresh stores open in the U.S., or less than 10 percent of the projections it made in 2020 for this year. Amazon's struggles to reach its Fresh store-expansion goals is emblematic of the challenges it's faced in the physical-retail arena. While Amazon has perfected the art of e-commerce efficiency, the company is facing a much tougher reality in the brick-and-mortar space, driven by the high cost of the stores, a dysfunctional internal culture, and tension with Whole Foods, according to current and former employees and internal documents.”
“And as Amazon nears the fifth anniversary of its Whole Foods acquisition, some employees are questioning whether the company will ever excel in the offline shopping space.”
“For years, Amazon pursued a scattershot approach in physical stores, having opened an array of store formats, from groceries to bookstores, and, recently, an apparel store.”
“But last month, Amazon abruptly shut down dozens of bookstores, pop-up stores, and four-star stores, signaling a change in direction.” READ MORE
Are you getting along with your partner? “Co-founder relationships can make or break a business right from the outset. Lean startup and entrepreneurship expert — and co-founder of four startups — Steve Blank noted in an interview with First Round Review that one third to one half of startups melt down over team dynamics before they ever get funded. And, in his research into 10,000 founders for The Founder’s Dilemma, Noam Wasserman, Dean of the Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University, found that 65 percent of high-potential startups fail as a result of conflict among co-founders. It might be obvious that if you don’t click with your co-founder, building a company together is a non-starter. But digging in and doing the work to maintain a healthy relationship — or even figure out if you’re paired with the right person before you launch — is a fairly new trend with a serious upside for founders who choose to do so.”
“‘I think that there was — and still is — a lot of shame for founders around even talking through their struggles navigating co-founder relationships,’ Myra [Castañeda-Selva] said. ‘Especially in the tech space and startup ecosystem, you have a lot of pressure to present a really united, brave face because you're looking for investments.’”
“In 2016, Myra founded Amity Chicago to offer founder and co-founder counseling. Since then, she and her team have provided coaching and workshops to individuals, companies, accelerators, and investors.”
“In Esther Perel’s How to Set Up a Healthy Co-Founder Relationship, the psychotherapist, author, and host of the ‘How’s Work?’ podcast urges co-founders to move beyond the coffee date and do something together that offers insight into how the other person reacts in different settings and with a variety of people.” READ MORE
An upstart dating site loses its trademark case against an industry giant: “Match Group — a dating site conglomerate that owns Match.com, OKCupid and Hinge as well as Tinder — sued Muzmatch for infringing on its trademarked logo, using ‘match’ in its name and ‘unfairly benefiting’ from the company’s reputation and investment in its brand. The ruling, from the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court in London, could mean that Muzmatch, which says it has six million users around the world, must change its name and pay damages. Its founder and chief executive, Shahzad Younas, said Muzmatch would file an appeal.”
“The dispute goes back to 2016 when Match objected to the start-up’s trademark registration for ‘Muzmatch’ in Europe and the United States.”
“Muzmatch said ‘match’ was simply an English word associated with matchmaking.”
“‘They’ll court you, they’ll get your data, they’ll try and buy you, and when that doesn’t work, they’ll either go after a competitor or they’ll just kill you,” Mr. Younas said. “A million dollars for them in legal fees is small change. For us, it’s everything.” READ MORE
There’s a food fight in California, where a new state law aims to protect the state’s extra virgin olive oil brand: “With its verdant hills full of fruit trees, calming ponds and tastings of an olive oil so precious it is typically drizzled rather than poured, McEvoy Ranch could be mistaken for the Italian countryside. That’s only fitting. Every tree planted in this three-decade-old family operation, which helped put California olive oil on the culinary map, can be traced back to Tuscany or Puglia. The McEvoy family, along with other Northern California olive oil artisans, have imported something else from Europe: the idea that their regional brand is sacred — much like Italians with their Parmigiano-Reggiano or the French with their Champagne. But in this case, the brand is California extra virgin olive oil, a product connoisseurs seek out for its pungency and pepperiness.”
“‘It is extremely important we protect the California brand,’ said Samantha Dorsey, president of McEvoy Ranch, where its signature extra virgin oil, milled in-house, sells for around $90 a liter.”
“The movement that led to the new law triggered one of the biggest food fights in California since Napa vintners got the state to ban charlatans from marketing their wines with the region’s name.”
“It has implications extending far beyond the scenic olive groves of Northern California, drawing into the debate food safety advocates, global marketing consultants, even hedge fund players who see potential for big profits in products labeled as Californian.” READ MORE
An oil trade group has drafted a proposal for a carbon tax that “would put a surcharge on gasoline and other fossil fuels to discourage greenhouse-gas emissions. The draft proposal was approved by the American Petroleum Institute’s climate committee last month, according to a document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The measure must still be approved by the group’s executive committee. A carbon tax would raise gasoline prices and other energy costs for consumers. Some API members want to delay action on the proposal amid near-record prices at the pump, contending it could alienate not only voters but Republican lawmakers friendly to the oil industry ahead of midterm elections, according to people involved in the discussions or who were briefed on them.”
“‘The worst case is not get the policy and lose the friends,’ one of the people said. ‘Today, that’s probably the most likely possibility.’”
“The draft proposal says a carbon tax is ‘the most impactful and transparent way to achieve meaningful progress on the dual goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously ensuring continued economic growth.’” READ MORE
When police ask a black couple in California to prove they own their own business: “On a late summer night two years ago, Tiburon police asked Yema Khalif to prove he owned YEMA, the local clothing store that bears his name. At the time, Khalif and his wife, Hawi Awash, were the town’s only Black business owners. The fallout from that August 2020 encounter shoved the quiet coastal enclave to the center of a racial justice moment that began just months earlier with George Floyd’s murder. But after initially threatening a $2 million lawsuit in federal court, the couple says they were able to achieve meaningful reforms by staying out of the courtroom and directly engaging with town officials.”
“On Tuesday, the couple stood in front of their store in Tiburon’s casual but tony downtown to announce those reforms.”
“Changes include police policy and training updates as well as the formation of a Citizen’s Advisory Panel to provide a forum between residents and police; one of the store owners is expected to serve as a member.”
“The couple also received a $150,000 payment, a portion of which they say will go to a scholarship fund they run through the store.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
Just Answer the Question: This week, in a special bonus episode, Marcus Sheridan talks about the revolutionary strategy that he used to save his pool-building business during the Great Recession and that he’s been preaching ever since. That strategy is to volunteer answers to the questions your customers always ask—especially the ones you’ve been taught not to answer, at least not until you absolutely have to, such as those about pricing and potential problems with your product or service. In this conversation, Sheridan also explains how to implement a content marketing strategy, why he isn’t a big proponent of social media, and what most business owners get wrong about marketing.
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