Corona Crisis: Separating The Good From The Bad

Pim
Written by
- 4 min read

Nothing reveals character like a crisis. As corona spreads, companies reveal their true colors. Some seem rotten to the core. Others show tenderness, love, and care.

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Recently I wrote about different approaches to remote work during the pandemic (see  remote work tips). One (Basecamp) was based on trust, and the other (The Wall Street Journal) on a complete lack of affection.

True colors

As the crisis spreads, more companies show their true colors. Some do everything they can to support employees, customers, suppliers, and communities. Others double down on micromanagement, control, and distrust.

The bad

Axos Financial Inc.

This online banking company pushes micromanagement to a new level. Bloomberg called this out after an internal message from the company's CEO, Gregory Garrabrants:

"'We have seen individuals taking unfair advantage of flexible work arrangements' by essentially taking vacations [...]. If daily tasks aren’t completed, workers 'will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.'"

An Axos spokesman explained: “the enhanced monitoring of at-home employees we implemented will ensure that those members of our workforce who work from home will continue to meet quality and productivity standards that are expected from all workers".

"Welcome to 1984!", George Orwell would say.

Here's another lovely touch from Axos Financial Inc. When the spokesman was asked if Garrabrants - one of America's highest-paid bank CEOs - is subject to the same Big Brother surveillance scheme, he declined to comment.

What a great place to work!

Surveillance swell

Painfully, companies supplying surveillance software have seen demand explode recently. Companies like Time Doctor, Teramind, VeriClock, innerActiv, ActivTrak, Hubstaff and InterGuard benefit from the huge lack of trust that characterizes today's workplaces.

Proudly, their websites boast the many possibilities when it comes to employee monitoring (a.k.a. micro-management gone wild).

Take a deep breath - this stuff will make you sick.

  • Track login / logoff times
  • Track number of emails sent
  • Track active and idle time
  • Continuous screenshots
  • Screenshots when specific words are typed (like 'job search')
  • Identify frequently used unproductive apps or websites
  • GPS location tracker
  • Social media activity reports
  • 'Anomaly detection' (i.e. when a person sends more/less emails than usually)
  • Keystroke logging

For fuck's sake, people.

The good

On the other side of the spectrum there are organizations that really care about employees and, especially in tough times, put them first.

Gravity Payments

One is Seattle based Bucket List pioneer Gravity Payments. CEO Dan Price is known for once taking a million-dollar pay cut so his staff could make at least $70,000. It is one reason for his nomination as "best boss in America".

This time, Gravity Payment's existence was threatened by COVID-19. The credit card processing company saw revenues drop by 50%. The options for Price were clear: lay off 20 percent of employees or go bankrupt.

He chose neither. Dan: "As CEO, I told all employees our full financial situation. I asked all 200 of them what they would do." This time, the staff were the ones making the bold move. After 40 hours of conversations, 98% volunteered to take temporary pay cuts.

Some offered to take a 50% cut, or to work for free. Price would not allow that. But pay was cut by ~20%. And Price cut his to $0!

Lay-offs

The result? No lay-offs. Price: "This was the most humbling experience of my life. [...] Just like the corona virus we all have to work together to defeat it."

Dan Price criticizes the approach of companies like Boeing, who are about to cut jobs after:

  • Giving the CEO it fired over the recent 737 MAX scandal $80.7M on the way out, enough to pay 939 workers' salary
  • Getting up to $17B in COVID aid
  • Spending 74% of free cash flow on buybacks in the last 10 years
  • Receiving a $8.7B subsidy from Washington state.

Judgment day

The current crisis will continue to push companies toward losses, both human and financial. There is no denying that. But it is how you deal with such shitty situations that define you. Now is the time to show your true colors.

And even if you fucked-up with first actions and shitty reflexes, now is the time to fix things. To paraphrase Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator: What you do now echoes for eternity.

I'm curious to hear more about the 'good' and the 'bad' responses. Drop a note on the ones you know about in the comments below.

Pim
Written by Pim
1 month ago

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Replies (20)

Lotte Geertsen

Lotte Geertsen

The current situation is just crazy worldwide, no need to say more. There are plenty of initiatives to contribute to this crisis. Some of them are running awesomely, and some other lack resources. Overall, the main lack is no common point of organization. TMC Employeneur Antonio Garcia Rubio believes that we as technology ecosystem TMC can contribute by joining forces to improve and speed up the current technology driven projects and/or create new ones where needed. So that is what he did. With help of TMC's Entrepreneurial Lab we now have an entire program running of at least six innovative 'COVID_19' projects. Of course, all voluntary and non-profit. During the first Digital Pizza Session in which Antonio kicked off his initiative more than 100 TMC Employeneurs worldwide joined. We do not know yet how and where we can boost and speed up technology based solutions, but we are working our asses off to at least contribute to this crisis.

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Ina

Ina

Interesting that you mentioned Gravity and Dan Price. There was a time I too was very impressed with Dan Price and was following him and Gravity Inc. closely till I read an article by Bloomberg that questioned his noble intentions. Needless to say, I would love to know how he has managed to keep up the good boss reputation despite these reports and why Gravity has featured in your bucket list. A lot of employees are taking voluntary pay cuts, with leadership teams taking the biggest possible cuts and are going a step further by partnering with local authorities in "Feed the disadvantaged" drives. Attaching the article on Dan Price below.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-16/the-video-accusing-gravity-ceo-dan-price-of-domestic-abuse-won-t-be-published

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Marek

Marek

Corona crisis is one big planet-wide workshop on humanity. What's it all about? The beauty of the situation is that it simplifies things for mankind. Deep down there are only two basic choices you can make: to fear or to trust. True colours is just an example of that. Those who fear and don't want to reach beyond their fear and risk a bit of trust, must gather more fear. More fear generates more fearful behavior. Those who fear but treat it as springboard for more trust, find that trust spreads from inside out and there's no end to it. The more you trust, the more people trust around you, and those fearful may join to trust as well, and they do.
I strongly believe that Man will walk out into a different world after that experience and the chances are that we will realize more and more that fear is in fact our choice, it can be evoked from outside but needs to be accepted inside, and also that trust replaces fear. They cannot coexist for long, the more you trust, the less you fear. And once you risk experiencing trust there's no need to argue about it. Fear loves arguing and reasoning and explaining away and...oh what a bore... and while fear is indulging in all its "sheer logic" gibberish, trust has already made five steps ahead experiencing more trust and joy as a result, and what's more, trust does not attack fear, because it knows that fear doesn't know what it is doing and sooner or later will reach out to trust and will be welcomed :-) So yeah, go ahead companies show your true colours, because you cannot but have to do it. And then learn, and learn fast. Ain't it simple, dudes?

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chris ward

chris ward

Are we actually seeing the behaviors of a new society?
The Coronavirus is causing huge devastation and upheaval in the world. It is a shared experience but also one with massive differences in how it is being experienced by different people:
Huge numbers have lost someone they love or something they need (job/business)
Key workers are sacrificing themselves for the good of the many
For many people this crisis has been one of insecurity and fear, anger and loss.
But around the edges, a lot of good is coming to the fore – much of it due to an extension of the empathy we now feel with our fellow Britain’s who are experiencing loss or making sacrifices for the benefit of all of us.
Our feelings for fellow members of our community whom we previously took for granted are behind an increasing amount of positive changes of priority and behaviour in many
We are starting to see….
In people
Increased neighbourly and community spirit and action
Increased empathy (across generations and class and for those who need care or support)
Reduced pollution and pressure on climate(Reduced flying)
Recognition for (lowly paid) key workers
Empathy with owners of small businesses (that had to close)
Free and innovative new creative content
Health being a priority
Home exercise
Food thrift and home cooking creativity
(Random) acts of kindness
Collective shared experiences (was lost through on-demand internet) - watching the Queen, exercising with joe wicks, clapping key workers etc
Less wasted hours commuting (but reduced work/social interaction).
All ages coming together around sharing the same mobile humour
Getting to know your local area better, shopping local.
National businesses
Offering their services free (or below cost) for key workers and those effected.
Playing positive roles in community where they can
Stopping to refer to people as consumers but as people
Needing to be honest and not opportunistic
More collaboration and less competition
A changing of priorities…
The people we’ve spent the last 40 years being taught symbolise the successful life we should all be striving for – well paid footballers, multi-millionaire businessmen, influencers, and celebrities are the first facing a backlash. (especially if requesting Government (tax payer) support)
They say ‘You don’t realise what you’ve got until its gone’. A lot of people realising they are not missing as much as they thought they would of normal life.
A feeling of only needing to work if it actually matters. Not prepared to waste time.
Not having to fill own time being busy just for the sake of it. Realising more rewarding ways to spend your time are possible.
Can still feel good enough without having to buy latest stuff.
People that walk dogs, cycle in Lyrca, drive the same obscure car, take a moment to acknowledge likeminded strangers. We are starting to see people with none of these in common doing the same - because we are acknowledging we are all likeminded?
Learning to be content with what we have. (Stopping the constant pursuit of ‘better’).
Learning to find value and happiness in the every day.
Obviously, there is a substantial percentage of people who are unable to yet experience many of these positives due to their situation and can suffer negative mental health issues. Very hopefully, societies increase in positive behaviours amongst community, should in the long-term help reduce both negative situations and mental health issues

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Pedro Faspar Fernand

Pedro Faspar Fernand

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Jenny

Jenny

McGregor X and Y Theory, alive and kicking.

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Jennie G
Pim
Pim

Pim

Wow, this is nice! Love the rating system. Bold and way too black&white, but powerful nevertheless :)

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Pim

Pim

Hi Ina,

Never heard this before. Will dive into it and see what I can find!

Cheers.

Interesting that you mentioned Gravity and Dan Price. There was a time I too was very impressed with Dan Price and was following him and Gravity Inc. closely till I read an article by Bloomberg that questioned his noble intentions. Needless to say, I would love to know how he has managed to keep up the good boss reputation despite these reports and why Gravity has featured in your bucket list. A lot of employees are taking voluntary pay cuts, with leadership teams taking the biggest possible cuts and are going a step further by partnering with local authorities in "Feed the disadvantaged" drives. Attaching the article on Dan Price below.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-16/the-video-accusing-gravity-ceo-dan-price-of-domestic-abuse-won-t-be-published

Ina

| | 0 | Flag
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