For Starters -- September 2020

Watching for Waves

Even as they have begun to reopen in recent months, small business owners know they’re not out of the woods yet, particularly if there is a second wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly two-thirds of small businesses (65%) are worried about having to close again or having to remain closed should there be another COVID-19 wave, according to the MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll released July 29.

In addition, some 70% of small businesses said they are concerned about financial hardship due to prolonged closures, and 58% are worried that they may have to close permanently.

“Over the long term, small businesses show signs of guarded optimism but feel it will be some time before things return to normal,” the survey results said. “More than half (56%) of small businesses believe it will take six months to a year before the small business climate returns to normal. … Another 7% think that it will never return to normal.”

The numbers are drawn from an online survey of approximately 500 U.S. small business owners conducted between July 9 and July 16.

An Infectious Idea

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t yielded many positives for the business world, but, if nothing else, it has given advocates of a shortened workweek incentive to experiment with the four-day workweek.

“Not only might reduced hours allow employers to share around the pain of the economic contraction, reducing the need for layoffs, but a less full office also makes social distancing easier if and when employees physically return to work,” wrote Inc. contributor Jessica Stillman in a July 21 article. “Plus, everyone has a lot on their plate now (especially parents). Giving your people a little space to rest and regroup can result in greater productivity when they are on the clock, the thinking goes.”

Employers appear to be experimenting with the four-day workweek this year, according to data from ZipRecruiter, an online jobs marketplace headquartered in Santa Monica, California. The number of companies offering four-day workweeks is 69 for every 10,000 job postings, up from 40 in 2019. Between 2015 and 2018, the share was fewer than 18 per 10,000 postings each year.

“Companies may be realizing that they can get five days’ worth of work done in four,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist for ZipRecruiter.

Only time will tell whether the trend will amount to a significant new type of workweek for U.S. businesses.

Relocation, Relocation, Relocation

The devastating COVID-19 pandemic has been a moving experience in America — in more ways than one.

About one in five U.S. adults (22%) said they either moved to a new residence because of the viral outbreak, or knew someone who did, according to a new survey released July 6 by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center. College students moved because their school closed, the suddenly unemployed left houses they could no longer afford and entire families fled communities they felt were unsafe because of the pandemic.

Where did they all go?

More than 60% of those who relocated said they moved into a family member’s home. Another 13% moved to a second home or vacation home, and 7% moved in with a friend. Another 7% relocated to temporary homes such as apartments or hotel rooms.

Why We Procrastinate

Remember back when this pandemic began and we all retreated to our homes, vowing to make valuable use of this free time that had suddenly been dumped in our laps? We were going to read more and tackle home improvement projects and stop putting off all those things we’d been putting off for so long.

Yeah, how’s that working out for you? If you’re like a lot of folks, you’re actually procrastinating more now than you were before you’d ever heard the phrase “novel coronavirus.” It’s almost as if procrastination is as infectious as the virus itself.

“Even small tasks, which seemed easily completed before, are feeling harder and harder to check off,” according to a July 15 Fast Company article. “Suddenly, minor clerical tasks can feel like climbing a mountain.”

Fast Company lists five reasons for this newfound procrastination:


Additional stress. Anxiety related to job insecurity, health and other factors creates a distraction that prevents us from completing — or even beginning — our tasks.


Absence of buffer behaviors. When working from home, we don’t have our traditional commute, which often helps us prepare mentally for the day’s work.


Shifting priorities. Issues such as the pandemic, racism and police brutality have made work seem less important.


Fewer social interactions. Social relationships, especially in the office, can be motivating, but working from home means far less social interaction.


Burnout. The exhaustion, cynicism and detachment associated with burnout can cause workers to “switch to doing the bare minimum instead of doing their very best,” according to the American Psychological Association.

Are your work associates struggling with procrastination? If you don’t know, touch base with them to find out. Oh, and no pun intended, but don’t put it off.

Why Labor Day?

Ever wonder what Labor Day is all about, other than an extra day off work and maybe one last long weekend to signal the end of summer — not to mention one of the biggest sales periods for mattresses?

Here are a few fast facts about the annual American observance:

• Labor Day is traditionally observed on the first Monday in September. This year’s observance will be Sept. 7. 

• Labor Day was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century to pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It became a federal holiday in 1894, signed into law by President Grover Cleveland.

• The first Labor Day parade in the United States took place on Sept. 5, 1882, when some 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York. Parades in other parts of the country soon followed.

• The tradition of not wearing white after Labor Day goes back to the Victorian era, when it was considered a major fashion faux pas to wear white after the official end of summer. Although the tradition still is well-known today, it’s not considered the social gaffe it once was.

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