Smart working is not a cure: it is a vaccine

Smart working is not a cure: it is a vaccine

Smart working is not a cure

In these hours the hypotheses on the plate say it clearly: we are moving towards further restrictions to calm a curve of infections that risks becoming extremely dangerous. The hypothesis is not only supported by the data, but also by the fact that the political parties previously hostile to any type of closure now no longer launch arrows against these hypotheses. But for companies, a parallel and different discourse must apply, because work is the basis on which we can build both a further dose of resilience, as well as the necessary basis for restarting.

The key word is “business continuity “, That is, the ability to design operating methods such as to allow the company to operate regardless of the difficulties that may arise to disturb traditional methods. The pandemic is - clearly - one of these disturbing conditions and it can be to the point of completely interrupting the operation of specific offices / functions.

Smart working for business continuity

They say it the data: with the advent of the "English variant" (in particular), the chances of contagion have increased considerably, especially in closed places where distances and ventilation cannot be 100% guaranteed. As a result, the risk increases considerably for offices, as has happened in schools. If closing schools was a heavy but necessary sacrifice, closing companies would have social and economic costs that are no longer sustainable in many sectors. Where possible, the choice must necessarily be that of smart working.

Companies that have interpreted smart working as a palliative care, a temporary and necessary shock, are probably not yet ready to switch. But believing in smart working in a more structural way, in this phase can give immediate results precisely because of the greater flexibility in responding to needs.

Smart working should therefore not be something to be used after the emergence of possible infections, but as a way to avoid that your own company can become the center of new outbreaks. The risk, in fact, is that an entire office could find itself involved in a situation of isolation, putting the operational continuity of the company at risk and thus making the work, the achievement of the objectives, the necessary production capacity complex.

In this phase, the maturity of each company in the face of this risk will be assessed: on the one hand there will be those who take precautions by alternating presences and reducing the chances of contagion; on the other hand, there will be companies that challenge their fate in the faint hope of not having to deal with a pandemic that is leading the country towards the hypothesis of lockdown.

It is not a question of technology, if not downstream of a problem that is above all cultural and organizational. Tools, cloud resources, security: fundamental problems, but only within contexts that have developed the right awareness of how smart working at this stage is the best disaster recovery insurance in the face of an exogenous danger such as that of pandemic.

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The Conversation

Economists: Biden's $1,400 COVID-19 checks may be great politics, but it's questionable economics

Most people used the first coronavirus check to pad their savings or pay down debt. AP Photo/Eric GayThe US$1,400 direct checks to people are the most expensive and perhaps most popular part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package racing its way through Congress right now. The House is set to vote on a final version of the package narrowly passed by the Senate on March 6 before it moves on to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature. Moderate Senate Democrats, who had voiced concerns about how many people would receive direct payments in the original proposal endorsed by the House, managed to make them more targeted at lower-income households, which means an estimated 17 million fewer people will get a check. The coronavirus package contains a lot of provisions that will help struggling Americans, and we understand why the checks are so popular – with 78% support among adults in a recent survey. No one turns down extra money, after all. But as economists, we also believe that these direct payments make little economic sense – even with the lower income threshold. And this is true whether you think the purpose of the checks is relief or stimulus. Relief needs to be targeted First let’s consider the checks as relief. The purpose of a measure primarily designed as relief during an economic crisis is to help those most affected. The latest jobs report shows about 10 million people are unemployed, including 4.1 million who have been without a job for at least 27 weeks. That’s not to mention the millions more who have left the labor force altogether because of the pandemic. These people – mostly workers in the hospitality and leisure industries, disproportionately low-income and people of color – are in desperate need of aid and support, without which destitution and homelessness are real possibilities. But for the vast majority of Americans, it’s like the pandemic never happened, financially speaking. These are mostly office workers and other professionals who have had to work from home for all or part of the pandemic but saw no change in their income. A recent Pew survey found that 79% of Americans reported their family’s financial situation is about the same as or better than a year ago. The most pain was unsurprisingly among lower-income households, 31% of whom said they were worse off than a year ago – but even among this group over two-thirds said their situation was the same or better. The House’s measure would have phased out completely at incomes of $100,000 for single people and $200,000 for couples. The Senate version phases out at $80,000 and $160,000, which would still benefit about 280 million people, including children, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonpartisan think tank. This is a pretty marginal change and still means that checks will go to a lot of people who don’t really need them. Stimulus needs to stimulate OK, then how about the checks as a stimulus? So even if a lot of people who aren’t in desperate need get a payment, at least they’ll spend it and help the economy recover from the COVID-19 shock, right? There are two problems with that. The first is that it’s not clear the economy needs much stimulus right now. While the jobs report showed millions of people remained unemployed, the February numbers came in a lot better than expected, adding to signs the U.S. economy is in fairly good shape. And there are also growing concerns about inflation, given the sharp rise in some market interest rates, which too much stimulus could accelerate. The other issue is that past coronavirus checks haven’t been all that stimulative. The government began cutting $1,200 “economic impact” checks for most Americans back in March and sent out another round of checks about half that size in December. Research conducted on the first round of checks found that the vast majority of Americans saved most of the money or used it to pay down debt. About 40% of the money went toward purchases supporting industries such as food, beauty and other nondurable consumer products that had already seen spikes in spending before the checks went out. In other words, the checks weren’t very stimulative. Moreover, a third of likely recipients of the next round of checks said they would save the money. A better use of the money So you might be wondering, what’s a better way to spend the several hundred billion dollars earmarked for checks? At a minimum, relief payments should be targeted, such as to people who lost jobs or are working fewer hours due to illness. But in our view, a better way would be to increase those supplemental unemployment checks from the $300 lawmakers agreed to to $600, as the first coronavirus relief measure included last March. Or take the U.K. approach and provide targeted but generous income replacement for workers affected by COVID-19. Another very helpful and focused measure would be to help people pay for their mortgages and rent – otherwise a massive housing crisis is looming on the post-pandemic horizon. We believe President Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill gets a lot right, such as significant aid to state and local governments, increased food stamp benefits and additional support for small businesses. Sending one-off $1,400 checks to people experiencing no economic hardship during the pandemic is not among them. [Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Robert H. Scott III, Monmouth University and Kenneth Mitchell, Monmouth University. Read more:Support for Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package may not be as broad as it seems – it’s all a matter of perspectiveRelief or stimulus: What’s the difference, and what it means for Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus package The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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