The Daily Rundown

SMB News Daily Rundown: Update for May 26

Welcome to the Small Business Rundown. Each day, we bring you stories that impact small business owners and their workforce.

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Small Business News Highlights for May 26: 

Highlights:

  • Workers weigh giving up $600 unemployment checks while Trump administration considers “Back to Work” bonus payments
  • Women SBOs disproportionately impacted by stress and worry
  • A longform analysis of the difficulties of remote work

To go back to work, or not?

“They always have snotty faces. It’s just one cold after another. It feels just like an epicenter for spreading disease. And it feels really scary to go back to that.”

For many Americans facing the prospect of giving up weekly unemployment checks to go back to work in the midst of the still-not-controlled COVID-19 public health crisis, a preschool teacher in Portland, Oregon, perfectly sums up the conflicting mix of thoughts and feelings: It’s terrible to say, but we’re all doing better now. It’s hard to think about going back to work in this pandemic and getting paid less than we are right now when we’re safe and at home in quarantine.”

While Democrats have passed legislation to extend the unemployment benefit through January of next year, Republicans have balked at that idea and there is some indication that President Trump supports a $450 back to work bonus as a way to incentivize returning to work. 

Restaurant owners in particular are struggling to get employees to return to jobs that paid less than their unemployment benefits do, a problem that has magnified the problems of the Paycheck Protection Program.

Women SBOs disproportionally impacted by stress

“People are always saying, ‘We’re all in it together,’ and we are. But we’re not all struggling the same way.”

A new survey by Gallup finds that small business owners in general are experiencing increasing amounts of stress and worry, and that female SBOs are disproportionately impacted. While women only make up about 27% of all SBOs in the country, the survey found that 29% of female SBOs reported that they are very worried as opposed to only 23% of their male counterparts. 

The survey noted that female SBOs typically have more difficulty securing financing and therefore have less cash on hand during lean times. 

Meanwhile, a survey by Verizon is reporting that 68% of small businesses believe they can recoup their pandemic-related losses. 

The difficulties of remote work

“A gallery of thumbnail-size co-workers on a laptop screen is a diminished simulacrum of the conference-table gatherings that drive so much of corporate life.”

If you’re struggling with working from home but are unable to put your finger on why it’s so much harder, take a look at this piece from the New Yorker. I found this paragraph particularly helpful in thinking though my own struggles:

“Face-to-face interactions help people communicate and bond, but that’s only part of their value. The knowledge work pursued in many modern offices — thinking, investigating, synthesizing, writing, planning, organizing, and so on — tends to be fuzzy and disorganized compared to the structured processes of, say, industrial manufacturing. In many offices, tasks are assigned haphazardly, and there are few systematic ways to track who is working on what or find out how the work is going. In such a chaotic work environment, there are profound advantages to gathering people together in one place. In person, for instance, the social cost of asking someone to take on a task is amplified; this friction gives colleagues reason to be thoughtful about the number of tasks they pass off to others. In a remote workplace, in which co-workers are reduced to abstract e-mail addresses or Slack handles, it’s easier for them to overload each other in an effort to declare victory over their own rapidly filling in-boxes.”

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