Off topic: contract changes in the time of corona

I was just talking to a friend in the education field. He said teachers in my old district were sent an addendum to their contracts on 28 March that basically said "you will teach from home, you will use technology as assigned, you will contact kids at home, etc. " There was apparently at least one teacher formally complaining about the new reality of public schools.

Airbnb is definitely not the only one arbitrarily changing contract terms without consulting their “partners” and pissing people off.

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My former company, a large Technology Company, is requiring people to take at least a week of vacation this month. While I think this is a lesser of two evils, since all those being asked actually have jobs and paychecks coming in, there are many complaining.

This has been an emotional time for all of us. As a company, we have been operating well in our new work-at-home situations, thanks to your tremendous adaptability and agility. Nonetheless, we are in a pandemic and this takes its psychological toll over a prolonged period. Rest and recovery is an important element of resilience, and now more than ever we all need to take time to recharge.

We also need to to be ready for when our clients and economies begin to recover and need us at our best. As a company, we will need to avoid a disruptive loss of productivity later in the year where we could end up with employees taking all their vacation time just when our clients and our business will need us most.
For this reason, will be introducing a Q2 Vacation Program which will be managed through our management systems to ensure we can balance client continuity and vacation burn specific to our client needs.

We would aim to do this by applying the following principles across and within markets

1 ALL Indirect and Non-Billable resources will be expected to take 5 days’ vacation preferably in April. Where this is not possible the vacation should be taken by no later than the end of Q2.
2 Partners/Assoc partners will be asked to take 5 days vacation over the quarter, but only when authorized by the Geo Managing Partner.
3 Billable Practitioners: any practitioners on the bench, defined as less than 30% chargeable ute (rolling average over the last 13 weeks), will be expected to consume at least one week of their vacation when they have been on the bench for 1 week or where we see no confirmed billable role within the next 2 weeks. ALL other billable resources who are deployed in serving our clients who request vacation, should follow the existing approval and protocols.

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One of the upsides to this crisis could be a lot of people realizing that WFH works for them. (of course the reverse is true as well) They could realize that they could live on less, with less and have lives that are actually better than the consumer capitalism that has been shoved down our throats. Maybe when these companies want everyone to put their nose to the grindstone later (avoid a disruptive loss of productivity LOL) some critical number of employees will say “shove it.” I also love seeing the corporate bullsh!t jargon of “we act like we care about you” but really all we care about is profits, shareholder value and rewarding mediocre executives with obscene amounts of wealth. So y’all take a forced vacation now while you can’t really do anything except stay home and we will expect you to put in 16 hour days in a few months.

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This is true in my case, although I don’t like it all that much. The real problem might just be staying at home all the time instead of just working from home.

Yep, as I stated. And many companies might realize that “work from anywhere not our building” is more profitable. Let starbucks pay the Air conditioning bill. There is the potential for tremendous change. I’d like to see workers get a lot more clout and benefits like they did after the last great depression.

I consider myself a work from home pioneer (& somewhat of an expert). I worked with some of my clients to assess work home strategies when ‘bird flu’ pandemic was being forecast (2005). Many had no plans or capabilities for employee remote access. Even today, it’s surprising how many large corporations were not prepared for a large number of employees to have remote access to internal data bases.

Since I worked for a tech company I had a laptop and remote access as early as 1993. I remember actually being able to work from home following the ‘Northridge Earthquake’ after Los Angeles had closed many of its freeways and were asking people to stay home. What seemed like a novelty became the norm.

With more and more people working from home (or client locations, or Starbucks) the company seized on downsizing its office space and even changed its model to “hoteling” (shared) office space and cubicles.

Flash forward circa 2013 when Tech companies started to realize that the pendulum might have swung too far. Interaction, mentoring, a sense of belonging, retention were all failing.

It was then when they started requiring employees to transition from working remotely to now being in the office

My company followed suite (briefly) until they realized:

  1. They no longer had enough office space to accommodate everyone

  2. Some employees were no longer in commuteable distances to offices

  3. Some employees didn’t even have a vehicle to drive to an office.

It took another year to work through details and now combine it with major consolidations and relocations. While a lot of this was subterfuge to reduce headcount (force people out without laying them off) some of it was trying to get back some organization where you had some sense of loyalty or belonging, and oversight, something that still has not been achieved.

I do predict that Post 2020 pandemic there will be more changes

  • Remote Access / Working from home (at least part time) will become much more common.

  • Open Landscape and shared Desks will be be fewer

  • Video Conferencing will become even more the norm

  • Business Travel will be reduced.

The financial impacts of even just that will affect commercial real estate, travel, technology industries, as well as others.

Silver Lining? it has the potential of actually have a positive impact on our environment, as has been recently reported around the world because of the significant reduction in emissions from cars and planes.


In Alaska, we have a lot of off-grid folks who do just that… or rather, they depend less on the corporate world.

As long as they have enough cash income to buy ammo, gas for their outboard motors and snowmobiles to hunt and fish, and to buy some staples that can’t be produced here (only a few parts of Alaska can grow any grains, and then it’s oats, rye, or barley, no maize or wheat), and purchase clothing once in a while, they don’t really depend on the rest of the world.

It’s getting harder and harder to do that, though, as urban folks encroach on areas where villagers hunt and fish and things get more regulated.

I have a day job at a US-headquartered multinational financial institution, and I’ve been working from home since March 11. I’m fully capable of working from home indefinitely, and must admit I’m getting used to rolling out of bed, having breakfast, and spending the day working at my computer that sits beside the sliding door to my sunny backyard. I actually get to see my family during the day, eat a home cooked lunch, and avoid all the distracting chitchat at the office. But I do miss the face to face contact, and the hustle and bustle of downtown life. I think I would be happy working from home two days a week forever, it seems like a good compromise.