Hello, time for Al’s Corner August 2020. I must admit that 2020 is without question one of my least favorite years ever. It’s hard to be positive with so much of the future being unsettled and uncertain. But I will stay positive, and we will get through this and be our happy selves again soon. I promise.
Sept. 11th is Cardinal Night (hopefully)- $150, seat at Ballpark Village, All Inclusive event. Contact Brad Reinhardt to get your tickets.
As you know, if you read this note regularly, I have discussed many topics and remain current on as many as possible. I also never run out of topics to write about, but also eliminate many I WOULD like to use but do not as it could cause controversy. Thus, rarely do I give a glimpse of how I feel, and I will continue to do so. I am surprised by how many people share their one-sided views on everything, OPENLY. It seems like people are so crazed that they feel that they are 100% right. For me, the problem with this thought process is “what if the people who read your views are just as passionate the other way?” On Facebook, I use the mute or unfriend tab for those who express their views either way, mainly politically. I write about this because it is really a big deal now in our country, especially because it is an election year. So, I will stay out of it, but try to provide views on what is happening in business and transportation stuff.
This month I will discuss the changing company office vs. home working dynamic.
In my lifetime, I have had regrets that I did not invest in Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and more when they were just starting out. The wealth would have been unimaginable. I think I may have become like Jimmy Buffet wasting away in Margaritaville! So many things like the internet, cell phones, high def smart TVs, laptops, smart watches, fitness trackers and such were not around 30 years ago. However, because many of the new age things are here now the world has been able to survive better in the pandemic than we would have 30 years ago.
When Walmart rolled out huge self-checkout lanes, I thought I would hate it. But when this virus thing hit, it made it easier to stay socially distant. It also improved my over-all experience there, as I did not worry so much about how long I would wait in the checkout lines. 10-20 minutes was the normal wait time and sometimes I did not have that much time so I would go to another store.
Food pickup at stores, where you place your order and then go to a designated parking spot and they load it into your trunk, has been extremely helpful during this time especially for those at high-risk for the virus. This is just getting started. Home delivery of food is getting better and more popular.
Of course, Amazon and many others that promote home delivery have been gaining in popularity for years, and again their timing have been helpful too. When I look at the many services that have been growing and becoming popular, it has been a god send in many ways during the pandemic. So, after a slow start personally, I have come to the strong belief that the “new ways of doing things” have saved us in general. They have allowed us to safely navigate the pandemic and have even saved lives. I could go and on. But I will STILL not purchase that much online because I like to pick out my food, feel and sit on the sofa before I buy it, and try my clothes on.
Now, on to the fast-changing new age of working at home and not in an actual office building setting. Luckily, our company, Rockfarm St. Louis, was ahead of the curve years before the virus. You see we would have lost our Vice President of Operations and incredible employee, Debbie Becherer, if not for some very new age technology. Brad Reinhardt is great with computers, although neither he nor I would have ever expected that he would be! When Debbie approached us about opening an office in Jacksonville several years ago, Brad said it would be ok. As it turned out, Google Hangouts was an exceptionally good and inexpensive product that acted as our long-distance solution. So, Debbie could run our office, be seen by everyone on a TV screen and the phones rang at the home office and in Jacksonville. In the beginning, I was not in favor of her going there, mostly because I enjoyed seeing her in person every day. But there were positives of her being there too. Since she was on the East Coast, our office was open an hour earlier. If we had internet or power issues in one location, we were still moving freight in the other. The biggest thing that Debbie had, and has, is an incredible work ethic. This is especially important when working basically unsupervised. That to me will be the big issue when thinking about so many working from home. But the tracking of computer use and such will somewhat stem the tide of this potential issue. Some people fear that not being able to get away from your work, since it is at home, could cause burnout. But huge positives are not spending a lot of time commuting or wasting time sitting in traffic which should make it easier to work a full 8 hour or more shift. Not needing dependable transportation and its costs is big as well. Also, not spreading the virus by being near lots of other people is what is most important. Our company has all our employees working from home now, and it will continue to be that way for the next few months for sure. After that, who knows it may become permanent.
I guess a big economic question is what will happen to all those large and small office buildings and even downtown cities too? I could see big economic issues with this. Also, will job seekers lean towards or seek companies that offer the option of working at home, creating issues for the rest of the employers out there with hiring needs that cannot offer it? Not all companies can have their employees work at home, it is just not possible. But this is starting to appear everywhere.
In closing, I have seen a lot over the years, and I have tried to stay positive. Even more importantly, I have stayed open minded to what improvements the future holds. So, even though we have been enduring a difficult time economically and coping with the sadness in loss of life, we do have a great future to look forward too. I have learned patience over the years. Even though these new ways of living and conducting business at first glance seemed weird and perhaps not going in the right direction, they may have saved us a worse outcome.
Have a great month, stay positive, and have a very bright future!
Al Hursey—Rockfarm STL