It’s Nap Time Somewhere

Today’s Highlights: With case counts rising, concern about another wave grows. The advantages of ‘zero trust.’ And a business owner who can’t stop starting businesses.

THE 21 HATS PODCAST

Episode 55: My Name Is Jay Goltz, and I’m an Entrepreneuraholic: In recent years, Jay has considered buying other picture frame shops, he’s bought a firehouse that he thought he might turn into an event space (or a dog kennel), and he’s fantasized about opening an ice cream shop. “I have a whole list of businesses I'm not starting,” says Jay, who has been down this road so many times he’s developed a five-point test for whether he should proceed. And now he’s got a new idea—an online art gallery—that he believes passes the test. “I think I’m going to do it,” he says. Plus: Dana White has a new business, too. And Laura Zander assesses the damage done to the yarn industry by two venture-backed rivals.

REOPENING

President Biden says states should reinstate mask mandates and wait to reopen businesses: “The president said he supports the warnings from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said earlier Monday that the U.S. is facing ‘impending doom’ as daily Covid-19 cases begin to rebound once again. Biden also said he believes some states should pause their reopening plans amid the recent spike in cases. Walensky said during a news briefing earlier in the day that many states are reopening their economies even though the level of viral transmission remains too high. Walensky said she will ask governors on Tuesday to ‘refrain from opening up too fast.’”

  • “The U.S. recorded an average of 63,239 new Covid-19 cases per day over the last week, a 16-percent increase compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.”

  • “Daily cases are now growing by at least 5 percent in 30 states and the District of Columbia.” READ MORE

With remote work here to stay, Manhattan may never be the same: “No city in the United States, and perhaps the world, must reckon with this transformation more than New York, and in particular Manhattan, an island whose economy has been sustained, from the corner hot dog vendor to Broadway theaters, by more than 1.6 million commuters every day. Commercial landlords in Manhattan entered 2020 with optimism, riding a steady demand for office space, record asking prices in some neighborhoods and the largest construction boom since the 1980s. But that collapsed overnight.”

  • “About 90 percent of Manhattan office workers are working remotely, a rate that has remained unchanged for months.”

  • “Across Midtown and Lower Manhattan, the country’s two largest central business districts, there has never been more office space — 16.4 percent — for lease, much higher than in past crises, including after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001 and the Great Recession in 2008.”

  • “The loss of workers has caused the market value of commercial properties that include office buildings to plunge nearly 16 percent during the pandemic ...” READ MORE

STARTUPS

Thousands of financial technology start-ups are riding a wave of investor frenzy: “When the pandemic forced businesses to speed up their usage of digital tools, including e-commerce and online banking, the demand for what is known as fintech exploded. Now start-ups with names like Blend, Brex and Dave that provide decidedly unglamorous banking, lending and payment processing offerings are hot tickets. That was punctuated this month when Stripe, a payments company, raised $600 million in a financing that valued it at $95 billion, the highest ever for a private start-up in the United States.”

  • “Even tiny financial start-ups that have not formally introduced their products — such as Zeller, which will offer banking services to businesses; and Sivo, which is building lending software — have raised millions of dollars and been valued at nine-digit sums.”

  • “Many investors are now making bold predictions that these start-ups will upend big banks, established credit card providers — and in some cases, the entire financial system.”

  • “‘It’s what Amazon did to offline retail,’ [saidMark Goldberg, an investor at the venture capital firm Index Ventures]. ‘It’s just playing out 10 years later in fintech right now.’” READ MORE

A Chicago company, Off Map, is bringing “glamping” to Michigan: “The startup purchased 75 acres of land near South Haven, where it will begin housing guests this July. Off Map offers an elevated camping experience with fully furnished tents equipped with mattresses, linens and decor. Each tent also features a wood-burning stove and guests can access a shared bathroom facility on the campgrounds. Off Map offers two tent types: a single king bed option or a tent with three twin beds. In total, the startup plans to have around 15 tents available by launch day, with plans to expand.”

  • “While the popularity of camping has risen sharply since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Doyle and Shanley were planning Off Map before the U.S. effectively shut down last March.”

  • “‘It's camping for people who maybe don't have the desire, equipment or know-how for rustic camping,’ Doyle said. ‘It's a super turn-key experience.’”

  • “Reservations for this summer began this week, with tents starting at $200 a night.” READ MORE

TECHNOLOGY

“Zero trust” offers more security and easier use than passwords: “The perception of high cost and tricky implementations has stalled some smaller businesses from ditching passwords. But alternatives to passwords are affordable, easy to implement and safer, show industry insights gathered by Extra Crunch. The move to zero trust systems is acting as a catalyst. First, a primer. Zero trust focuses on who you are, not where you are. Zero trust models require companies to never trust any attempt to access its network, and must verify every single time — even from logins from inside the network. Passwordless tech is a key part of zero trust models.”

  • “There are several alternatives for passwords, including: Biometric authentication: widely used as fingerprint readers in smartphones and physical verification points at buildings; social media authentication: where you use your Google or Facebook IDs to authenticate you with a third-party service; multi-factor authentication: where more layers of authentication are added using devices or services, such as token authentication using a trusted device.”

  • “From a zero trust perspective, there is an idea that there is a continuous authentication or revalidation of trust occurring. Therefore, passwordless in a zero trust model is potentially easier for the user and more secure as the combination of the ‘something you have’ and ‘something you are’ factors are more difficult to attack,’ said Datto’s Weeks.” READ MORE

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HUMAN RESOURCES

If your employees relocate now that they’re working remotely, should you adjust their pay? “Remote workers who relocate are taking advantage of salaries intended to be competitive based on regional housing costs around headquarters. Their salaries now have greater value because of their relocation. Meanwhile, workers required to work at headquarters must continue to pay higher housing costs with the same salaries. Many companies are responding by renegotiating the salaries of their relocated remote workers. A new term has emerged: localized compensation.”

  • “Localized compensation attempts to address this intrusion by setting salaries based on regional housing prices rather than the actual housing costs paid by workers.”

  • “The National Association of Realtors’ Housing Affordability Index breaks down housing costs to the levels of county and metropolitan statistical area.”

  • “There are other similar tools offered by private firms and public agencies, such as the United States Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey.” READ MORE

Spain is planning to pay businesses to test a four-day work week: “While the exact details of the pilot will be hashed out with the government, the current proposal is a €50m project that would allow companies to trial reduced hours with minimal risk. ‘The costs of a company's foray into the four-day work week, for example, could be covered at 100 percent the first year, 50 percent the second year and 33 percent the third year,’ reports the Guardian.  ‘We calculate that we could have around 200 companies participate, with a total of anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 workers,’ commented Héctor Tejero of left-wing party Más País, the driving force behind the pilot. ‘The only red lines are that we want to see a true reduction of working hours and no loss of salary or jobs.’ The government hopes to roll out the scheme in the fall.”

  • When Microsoft piloted a reduced workweek among 2,300 workers in Japan, for instance, it saw a 39.9 percent bump in productivity and cost savings related to reduced use of office space. A whopping 92 percent of employees said they liked the new schedule.”

  • “The pandemic has only supercharged the case for shortened workweeks.” READ MORE

For many, the hardest part of returning to the office will be giving up the afternoon nap: “People who say they rarely napped before the pandemic have picked up the habit over the past year, worn out by dramatic work-life balance challenges that have extended the work day, Zoom fatigue, insomnia and the simple fact that remote work makes short snoozes possible. In a survey of 2,000 employees working from home conducted by career and jobs website Zippia in late April last year, 33 percent said they took naps while working from home. Yet while dozens of studies have shown the benefits of taking naps, such as increased alertness, stigma about napping at the office endures.”

  • “‘Every day feels like two days to me,’ he said about working from home. ‘The beginning of the day, I work from 5 in the morning to noon. And then I take a quick nap. and I wake up and it’s like my other day.’”

  • “The naps give him a second wind—and he’s not looking forward to dropping the routine when he goes back to an office. ‘I will totally miss the naps,’ he said.” READ MORE

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