New Covid Rules for the Workplace

Tiny homes are getting big. Boomers discover e-commerce. And it’s probably time to figure out Clubhouse.

MARKETING

Baby Boomers are now the fastest growing category of e-shoppers: “The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped habits and behaviors of even the most resolute shoppers as social distancing became a key line of defense against infection. But one of the most significant and unexpected shifts, experts say, was the almost immediate embrace of online shopping by people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. As Baby Boomers move online, retailers and consumer goods brands are scrambling to meet them there with round-the-clock customer service, detailed nutrition information and interactive videos aimed at simplifying e-commerce for the uninitiated.”

  • “Instacart, the nation’s largest online grocery provider, has created a service that helps older consumers set up accounts, fill their carts and place their first orders.”

  • “The program has been popular — helping onboard hundreds of thousands of new shoppers.” READ MORE

Millennials, meanwhile, are embracing prenups: “In the past, prenups were most common among young adults from wealthy families or couples entering second or third marriages. Today, younger adults of all income levels are drafting them, not only to protect assets accumulated before and during marriage but to address societal realities that weren’t necessarily present or common years ago, such as a desire to keep finances separate, student debt, social-media use, embryo ownership and even pet care. Experts point to the fact that many millennials are children of divorced parents and have had an intimate look at what can happen financially when a marriage dissolves.”

  • “‘You’re effectively negotiating your divorce agreement in advance in a way that’s more egalitarian than before.’”

  • “A recent Fidelity Investments report, for example, found that millennials in 2020 had an average loan balance of $52,000.” READ MORE

HUMAN RESOURCES

President Biden has ordered stronger workplace safety guidance, possibly including mandatory masks: “It directs OSHA to update covid safety recommendations for businesses within the next two weeks, review its enforcement efforts, which have been sharply criticized during the pandemic, and study whether an emergency temporary standard, which businesses would have to comply with under the threat of penalties, is necessary. The agency must issue the emergency standard by mid-March, if so.”

  • “Such a standard could mandate mask-wearing and other requirements, including social distancing, hand-washing breaks and communication with workers during outbreaks.” READ MORE

President Biden has reversed President Trump’s diversity-training ban: “Last September, Trump banned agencies and companies receiving federal funding from participating in trainings that discussed issues like ‘white privilege’ and ‘unconscious bias,’ saying they were ‘offensive and anti-American.’ On Wednesday, Biden not only removed the ban, but also mandated the government agencies promote diversity.”

  • “More than 160 business and nonprofit groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, had called on Trump in October to withdraw his executive order, saying it had ‘a chilling effect on legitimate and valuable D&I training companies use to foster inclusive workplaces.’” READ MORE

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Here’s an interesting thread on why a plumbing business decided to ditch time slots and what it’s doing instead. It’s worth reading the whole thing:

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OPPORTUNITIES

More homeowners are building tiny homes in their backyards: “These dwellings often measure no more than 350 square feet, or barely bigger than a standard hotel room. They are built mostly in suburban backyards or converted garages on the West Coast, where new laws designed to ease the region’s housing shortage have encouraged their construction. But they are also for sale or rent in rural Maine and Vermont. They have been popping up in Wyoming, Alaska, Georgia and Texas. Florida city officials have proposed zoning changes to allow them.”

  • “New laws relaxing regulations on tiny home construction in West Coast states such as California and Oregon have helped ignite a construction frenzy of these homes.”

  • “Tiny homes can be rented for about the price of a traditional apartment unit of the same size.”

  • “Some people are constructing them as a backyard office while working from home.” READ MORE

Old EV batteries are being dismantled to recover cobalt, lithium, and nickel: “Today, 13 years after the 2008 Tesla Roadster made its debut, a first generation of EVs is nearing retirement. The cars, and their 1,000-pound battery packs, are creating a mountain of electronic scrap. Several entrepreneurs have begun pulling those batteries out of the pile, cracking them open, and cooking them down to recover cobalt, lithium, nickel, and other raw ingredients that can be recycled almost endlessly. It’s an expensive and laborious endeavor—like building an EV was 20 years ago. It’s also on the cusp of massive growth. J.B. Straubel, a co-founder of Tesla who now runs Redwood Materials, a battery recycling enterprise in Nevada, calls this ‘unmanufacturing.’”

  • “‘This is a decidedly not very sexy business,’ he says. ‘But it’s about to become incredibly relevant.’” READ MORE

SOCIAL MEDIA

Now that you understand TikTok, it’s probably time to figure out Clubhouse: “Clubhouse is an application featuring real-time audio conversations (audio-chat, they call it) structured into virtual rooms on topics like technology, science, health, sports, art, entertainment, etc. The rooms are easy to find, either through the agenda’s interface, scrolling and exploring it, or directly using the app’s Search feature. You can also create your own room, and choose from three different access alternatives: open to all Clubhouse users, exclusively accessible by people you follow, or restricted to only people you choose. The organizers of a discussion are advised to provide a description of the event and the participants in the form of an invitation, long enough in advance so that they can promote it and attract an audience.”

  • “Sessions are short, and recording is prohibited. There is no repository of the discussions on the application that makes it possible to follow them later, as a podcast, for example ...”

  • “I haven’t seen any profiles of brands on Clubhouse yet, though I have seen them for technology congresses, like the CES 2021 (this year totally remote) they turn to genuine influencers, leaders and opinion shapers, like Jeremiah Owyang, to lead sessions containing presentations, product presentations, etc. in said congress.”

  • “The New York Times recently mentioned Clubhouse’s initiative to draw on content creators through a Creator Pilot Program with more than 40 influencers.” READ MORE

THE 21 HATS PODCAST

Episode 45: I Will Be Here: This week, Paul Downs and Jay Goltz talk about their New Year’s resolutions. Here’s Paul’s: “My New Year's resolution is that we will be open on December 31st, 2021. And I don't know whether I'll have the same number of employees, but we will be open. I will be here.” And here’s Jay’s: “My New Year's resolution is, I'm not gonna do anything stupid this year. So far, so good.” Paul and Jay also talk about Paul’s disappearing backlog, each of their plans for PPP Round II, Jay’s efforts to lure one of his sons into his business, and—responding to a listener question—how they handle business and personal expenses. “I think we have to stop recording right here,” says Paul.

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