It’s Not Too Late to Plan for the Next Crisis

Crisis

An employee is impacted by COVID-19, an executive is embroiled in a controversy that becomes public, or a product is deemed dangerous. While the list of potential crises organizations face is far too long to list, the need for crisis planning can be summed up in one word: urgent. In the current COVID-era when a crisis can literally mean life or death, it is imperative organizations consider the triggering events that may set off a crisis and how to respond. Here are four steps organizations can take in order to weather a crisis and emerge successfully.

Communicate the company’s priorities and philosophy to clients and customers now. Too many organizations are reactive; they only share information about changes they are making when they have to. The fallout from a crisis can be significantly mitigated if a company has a strong track record of proactively communicating about worker protections, giving back to the local community and its commitment to social causes.

Building affinity to an organization before a crisis strikes will help ensure that organizations

have a loyal base of customers, clients and allies that are at the ready to help out when needed.

Craft a multi-tiered crisis communications plan. Decision makers need to develop a crisis communication plan for different levels of calamity that identifies the authorized spokesperson(s) for each level and the corresponding level of communication (from a tweet to a fully deployed crisis response plan) both within and outside the organization. This is an essential component as either under or over responding to a crisis can fuel additional ramifications, such as being perceived as an apathetic organization which doesn’t care about its employees or others at risk. The crisis plan should involve operational response plans, internal and external communication protocols and a list of stakeholders (with updated contact information!).

Ensure there is a deep leadership bench that knows the crisis response plan and their roles. There needs to be a team in place that spans the breadth of the organization – operations, technology, public relations/marketing, human resources, legal and other departments as needed that are part of a crisis management team. It is also important to have an heir apparent that can quickly step in – especially an employee who is cross trained to perform multiple functions. My colleague at the Pepperdine Graziado Business School Dr. Kevin Groves‘ approach to succession planning encompasses not just the CEO, but the entire leadership pipeline. He says the idea is to “maintain stability in key leadership roles and to avoid the massive disruptions associated with unexpected retirements or exits.”

Conduct batting practice including mock media interviews. Don’t assume that having a plan and a designated crisis team is enough. The crisis communications team needs to have drills – actually go through the motions of what would happen during a crisis. The best laid crisis plan is one that is never needed. But as the COVID pandemic has demonstrated, organizations need to be able to pivot and communicate immediately; those that have allies, prepared leaders and an actionable multi-tiered plan will be very glad they put the time and resources into being prepared.

Stephen Rapier, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School specializing in crisis preparedness.

Survey Says: Majority of Americans Motivated to Save Post-COVID

Savings

The COVID-19 pandemic has left people reeling world-wide. Many have lost jobs; others are furloughed indefinitely and still others are working from home while homeschooling children and/or caring for sick relatives.

But in the midst of this global pandemic, a majority of Americans became more motivated to save for their future according to a new survey of hourly workers conducted by DailyPay, Funding our Future and Edelman Financial Engines who collaborated on this survey. In fact, 51% of those polled said they are more likely to save for the future as opposed to 15% who stated they were less likely to save.

The pandemic illustrated how ill-prepared many Americans were in terms of their financial security and their ability to weather the crisis. Not only did the pandemic wreak havoc on people’s physical and mental health, job security and day-to-day living conditions, but it also had a significant impact on their financial health as well. In fact, 40% of respondents said they are worse off since the pandemic shut down most of the American economy in March. In addition, 50% of those polled say they are either “finding it difficult to get by” or are “just getting by.” Another 40% report they are having difficulty paying bills each month.

For those who had some savings, 57% had to dip into those savings to address the economic strains brought on by COVID-19. The commitment to save more, which was reflected in the survey, might help to soften the financial blow when, and if, the next crisis comes our way.

We all know that saving money is hard, especially during a global crisis. But this survey also found that 62% would save if there was an easier way to put money from their paycheck aside.

DailyPay has a SAVE experience that is part of the DailyPay PayEXTM platform that allows employees to do just that. Employees can save for free, in their own interest-bearing accounts, in three different ways, before payday. This makes it easy for them to get on board with saving for all sorts of things, other than the next crisis.

While the pandemic itself has wreaked havoc with so many people’s lives, the silver lining is the fact that it has also made so many people realize that they need to begin a savings program. Having money in savings to lean on when a crisis, or any emergency hits provides employees with a greater degree of financial stability that has previously been lacking. And financial stability and wellness has proven to ease anxiety as we all look forward to a brighter future.

Tompkins International Releases Free Digital Resources to Help Companies Combat COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact companies and consumers alike. Not only are companies struggling to fulfill higher order volumes, they are also scrambling to accommodate customers in new ways such as additional delivery and pickup options, all while protecting the health and safety of their employees and customers.

To help companies overcome operational challenges and meet customer needs during the pandemic, Tompkins International has launched a digital hub of COVID-19 Resources featuring educational and thought leadership content from its executives. The content focuses on the impacts of COVID-19, successful supply chain reinvention strategies and other related topics to help companies flourish in an increasingly digital world. Users can access the online hub via the company’s website.

In addition to the digital resources, Tompkins International is also helping companies optimize operations while protecting their people with its new virtual warehouse assessments. When on-site visits are not an option, Tompkins International’s consultants can utilize video cameras, software and other tools and tactics to remotely collect the data needed to help companies increase capacity and efficiency without sacrificing safety.

Founded in 1975, Tompkins International is a global supply chain consulting and solutions firm dedicated to helping clients achieve supply chain excellence and profitable growth. By combining its decades of experience with best-in-breed services and technologies, Tompkins International delivers a true end-to-end supply chain solution, enabling clients to improve the customer experience and ensure long-term success. To learn more about Tompkins International, please visit www.tompkinsinc.com.

COVID 19 Exposes US Microelectronics Vulnerability

By John Costello, Microsemi

With the COVID -19 Pandemic wreaking havoc on the US, a major issues to emerge outside the actual pandemic is dependence on foreign sources in US supply chain, not only for pharmaceutical raw materials, but also critical microelectronics for DOD and DHS infrastructure applications. Bureaucrats were asleep, virtually every trade study and industrial based report conducted over the last decade concluded we were too dependent on Asia.

Microchip/Microsemi is the largest US supplier of mil & space qualified components in existence with roughly a 30% market share of DOD applications, we understand this issue more than anyone, including the pentagon. Over the last five years I have briefed congressman, senators, senior members of House & Senate Armed Services and senior pentagon officials about these vulnerabilities. What I have observed is elected lawmakers have a reasonable understanding of the issue, bureaucrats at DOD do not. They have yet to implement an executable plan after being consistently prompted by congress for years.

Unfortunately, bureaucrats are unable to understand the difference between state- of- the -art microelectronics (SOTA) and state of the practice/legacy microelectronics and why these two can never align. Product lifecycles and economic realities of commercially driven markets clash with the tedious and cumbersome aerospace & defense process.

The vast majority of devices on mil/space programs use Mission Critical Devices (mostly state of the practice, proven, reliable and vigorously tested) not SOTA. In the commercial world, hand- held electronic devices are upgraded in a 12-18- month period to accommodate new product releases. In the mil/space world, By the time a part is designed on a board, qualified on a subsystem, makes its way into a system, a prototype is built, congressional funding is achieved for a first article, proceeded by low volume production, whatever SOTA parts designed -in on the system are a minimum of two generations behind and many already obsolete.

Back in the 1980’s, when electronic gadgets did not exist, the DOD drove demand for microelectronic content, so semiconductor manufacturers catered to defense contractors. These applications were, and continue to be, low volume propositions compared to the tens of millions on the commercial side. Semiconductor manufactures by the dozens abandoned the low volume mil/space market to pursue high volume commercially driven consumer applications. Result, it was more cost effective to sub- contract the manufacturing overseas, mainly in Taiwan and China. In light of the trade war with China, along with Chinese aggression in the South China Sea and Hong Kong, critical microelectronics utilized in weapons and space programs are now seen as vulnerable due to the actions and statements made by the Chinese Communist Party in the early stages of the pandemic.

This is a major reason why US policy must create an environment incentivizing private investment for manufacturing of SOTA, as well as state of the practice semiconductors onshore. The 2021 Defense Bill included the bipartisan American Foundries Act which is the first step in this effort.

Tompkins International Launches New Mobile App to Help Businesses Ensure Facility Safety & Compliance During COVID-19

SentryCheck

COVID-19 has sent distribution and fulfillment operations into overdrive, as businesses strive to deliver on customer needs during the pandemic. With warehouses operating around the clock to meet growing demands, businesses need validation that all processes and procedures are being followed to ensure the health and safety of their employees and customers.

To help businesses operate safely and effectively throughout COVID-19 and beyond, Tompkins International has launched SentryCheck. The easily configurable mobile application utilizes automated tools to ensure all facilities comply with their company’s COVID-19 procedures and can prompt users to perform time-sensitive tasks, record critical inputs, automatically send corrective action alerts and more. SentryCheck also offers complete data transparency with cloud reporting and dashboards, allowing compliance teams to monitor all facilities from a single view. Other features include:

  • Hourly, daily, weekly and monthly required tasks accessible from any iOS or Android device
  • Customizable task management checklists for any operational needs
  • Secure cloud-based storage of all task observations, activities and audit commentary
  • Corrective action alerts sent immediately via text or email
  • Photo, video and audio capture with notes for accurate recordkeeping

In addition to the new mobile app, Tompkins International also offers free digital resources to help businesses overcome operational challenges and deliver on customer demands during COVID-19. The company’s COVID-19 Resources hub includes educational and thought leadership content that focuses on the impacts of COVID-19, successful supply chain reinvention strategies and other related topics to help businesses flourish in these uncertain times.

Founded in 1975, Tompkins International is a global supply chain consulting and solutions firm dedicated to helping clients achieve supply chain excellence and profitable growth. By combining its decades of experience with best-in-breed services and technologies, Tompkins International delivers a true end-to-end supply chain solution, enabling clients to improve the customer experience and ensure long-term success. To learn more about Tompkins International, please visit www.tompkinsinc.com.

10K Mask Giveaway

Face Mask

The CDC has recently distributed information on implementing new coronavirus related restrictions while recognizing the need to reopen schools.

We, at NewRain, recognize that in-person classrooms have benefits far beyond just hands-on learning. Access to in-person classrooms provide a safe environment for school-aged children while facilitating their health and wellness. To support the efforts of our hardworking teachers, school administrators, and their students, we are GIVING AWAY 10K HIGH-QUALITY DISPOSABLE MASKS!

Our disposable daily wear face masks filter over 90% of particulates in the air, and also help protect against smog, dust, and virus, while being comfortable enough to wear all day.

Please nominate a school for our giveaway by:

1. Following NewRain Instagram Account

2. Comment your school name and city

3. Share this post to your story or feed

Giveaway ends July 31 and the winning school will be announced later that afternoon. This giveaway is open to any U.S. K-12 school.

Virtually Enabling the Workforce

Enabling The Workforce

Group Editor Marty Kauchak completed a wide-ranging interview with Marlo Brooke, CEO and Founder of Avatar Partners.

Marty Kauchak (MK): Marlo, thanks for taking time to speak with Halldale. Let’s start at the strategic, overarching level. Share with us your perspectives about the state of this community, in particular, at this point of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marlo Brooke (MB): Companies and employees are thinking differently about the workplace in a post-COVID economy. As a company that specializes in immersive reality and augmented reality (AR), we have seen increased interest for virtual collaborative products that remotely connect dispersed workers. We’re also seeing that companies are considering how to optimize productivity and employee satisfaction in a virtual work environment, which also has positive implications for reducing fixed overhead costs, such as facilities. With a purely office-based workforce, whether sales increase or get worse, companies are stuck with the same overhead.

Technology continues to mature to enable a socially and emotionally connected virtual workforce – and other important human factors aspects that would sustain long-term virtualization. As human beings we are social creatures, with an ingrained emotional need to connect meaningfully with others. In other words, extended reality (XR) technology should give employees realistic experiences of feeling as though they are realistically with others, in life size, with eye contact. XR can support a true energy exchange between people that promotes creativity, organization, respect, and passion for the job. Whereas Zoom and other similar video-people-in-a-box type of solutions are a short term quick-fix, they don’t address the significance of human-to-human connection. For example, Zoom doesn’t enable actual eye contact, and looking at oneself in a brady-bunch style grid naturally makes us self-conscious. We have solutions today that bridge the gap between distance and connection – providing an entire or partially remote workforce to experience the human connection that we all need, while also being accountable and present.

MK: What about developing these solutions?

MB: Great question. With the significantly increased need for human-factors based virtual technology, we have an overall resource shortage, even in major metropolitan areas like Southern California where we are headquartered. While this area is a mecca of gaming and virtual reality skillsets, we need a wide variety of skillsets, including effective design and storyboarding, business and performance analysis, mechanical skills, and the ability to translate procedures into high-impact virtualized solutions that support the social and emotional needs of employees. We turn to the partners in our own ecosystem to fill the gap; it does take a village. People don’t want to spend their day wearing heavy glasses to communicate with others.

MK: And one solution to this emerging vision?

MB: We are working with and extending our college involvement, including University of California, Irvine and Auburn University, who have highly reputable computer science curricula. We are providing students free trial licenses of SimplifyXR, our enterprise XR software development tool, so students can extend their skills beyond the basic XR languages such as Unity or Unreal, and develop true enterprise solutions that businesses need from day one – these are high-paying skillsets.

Full article here

The Future of Retail, Reimagined

Retail Shopping

By Anthony Simon, Ware Malcomb

Even before COVID-19, the retail industry was already going through significant challenges, disruption and transformation. That has all been turned on its head. Get ready for the “new abnormal.”

Going forward there will be a fundamental shift in consumers’ reengagement and behavior towards physical environments, including the size and program of space. Ultimately, what is truly important in commerce has changed.

Based on our internal discussions, industry thought leadership and the data we have collected throughout the marketplace, we have pulled our sketchbooks out for ideation. Here is a glimpse into the future of retail, reimagined.

The Increase Of Drive-Through, Online Order Stations And Pedestrian Pickups

Social distancing and quarantining have driven the necessity to connect even more virtually. Consumers will continue to utilize e-Commerce platforms, including the use of delivery services and apps, takeout and curbside pickup. Brands will make modifications to storefronts, parking lots and base building envelopes to strengthen the “pick up” points. This is not new but will become more of a stronger necessity and a regular part of programming.

Curbside Appeal

Retailers will need to evaluate how to bring the storefronts and exteriors alive even more. This will include a range of strategies, from pedestrian pickup windows to digital motion-activated window shopping to shopping from the outside with the assistance of a staff member navigating the store from the inside.

The New Role Of The Welcoming Concierge

Before entering a space, consumers need to have the assurance that it is safe, that the brand has made all the necessary preparations and taken the required precautions. The customer service representatives or “welcoming concierge” will need to have a higher sense of empathy, of awareness to health and safety, and be able to shepherd consumers through “the new experience.”

The Autonomous Shopping Journey

The pandemic has raised acute awareness of the spread of germs and viruses. As a result, the need for designing environments to accommodate contactless experiences and transactions is under way. Components of space will cater to “Ambient Intelligence,” creating smart spaces — voice activated, motion sensor, and tied into your smartphone — all while not having to engage with physical customer service. This technology will also serve to collect data on consumer needs, habits and behavior.

Allow For Elbow Room And ‘Personal Space’

There needs to be a rethink on square footage allocation and crowd capacity within space. In places of assembly, from restaurants to retail to entertainment venues, crowds and side-stepping to move about will be second guessed and seriously reconsidered. Design considerations might include physical (yet transparent) barriers, screens, less merchandise and more generous spacing between displays, floor fixtures, seating and tables.

High Design Hygiene

Brands must step up with modifications and enhancements to their store design program. They need to reestablish confidence and comfort for both their staff and consumers. Careful thought must be given to what truly makes the environment safe, in cleanliness, health and hygiene.

Design must consider materials that have antimicrobial surfaces while still being aesthetically pleasing. Dedicated areas will be required to accommodate sanitizing and the distribution of personal protective equipment.

With public knowledge and approval, entry points into stores can act as sterilizing “chambers” and thermo-scanners for purposes of decontamination or scanning for fever.

Crowd Control

To manage crowd control, stores could implement data tracking, beacons and heat mapping technologies to monitor the number and capacity of consumers and employees entering and navigating a store. Another option is to set storefronts back and provide outdoor amenities while customers wait, or partner with like-minded adjacent cobrands to bridge an experience.

Digital And Analog Brand Storytelling And Community Connections

After this period of intense retrospection, brands should emerge with a clear understanding of their core values and communicate them with absolute transparency and authenticity.

Consumers will hold to a discerning spending behavior and only focus on what is truly important to them. Relevant community connection points will be essential, and the reference to this in every store environment will be key. The need for space is multi-functional and now includes the importance of holding many small businesses together within a small community. It is no longer just about transactions or capturing “Instagrammable” moments.

The Store On The Move – ‘Go Where the Need Is’ Retail

Will permanent “anchored down” space with behemoth square footprints be necessary?

Since the pop-up store concept entered the industry vocabulary as early as 1990, it has taken on a whole new life. As we now have migrated more to e-Commerce beyond choice and for necessity, digitally native brands will want to revisit “testing the waters” with more mobile, flexible and temporary space.

The majority of small and startup brands will have limited capital to sustain long term leases. Brands can be ever-changing. Multiple small businesses and retailers can live under one roof, creating new opportunities for stores to be compact and mobile to travel to other neighborhoods. This will give them the ability to share their story locally, with mobility. Think the Airbnb of retail shops.

Retail’s Tectonic Shift

Retail “as we know it,” will not rebound. Rather, as one industry friend put it, retail will undergo a “tectonic shift.” Sadly, we are already seeing bankruptcies and debt closures, and there will be more. Some brands will not survive the impact of COVID-19.

But the world of retail is also incredibly resilient and adaptive. What rises from this crisis is up to all of us as designers, innovators, strategic thinkers and new brand enthusiasts. To thrive in the “new abnormal,” we must shed our traditional sense of retail, restaurant and hospitality design and reimagine the future.

Anthony Simon is Director, Retail Architecture & Design for Ware Malcomb, responsible for the growth and management of the Retail Architecture & Design services for clients regionally. He brings over 25 years of experience in customer-focused design to his role. Utilizing a holistic design approach for environments, his project expertise spans the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries. Simon has worked for boutique brand strategy agencies, retail architecture/design firms, and on the client side on for multi-format retail, store design and planning. Simon is also a proven leader in the areas of business development, client services, oversight of national and regional teams and staff mentorship.

The UCI School of Biological Sciences 2020 Dean’s Report is now Online!

UCI BioSci Dean's Report

By Frank LaFerla, PhD, Dean and Chancellor’s Professor

The UCI School of Biological Sciences 2020 Dean’s Report is available online by clicking here.

The first half of 2020 has been a difficult period of time in our country. We have faced the COVID-19 pandemic and the horrific murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Rayshard Brooks, which has further exposed the extreme systemic injustice against the Black community. This year’s report mainly highlights a selection of the BioSci researchers who are working on various aspects of the battle against coronavirus. However, my message also acknowledges the School’s ongoing efforts to launch a Plan of Action to eradicate racism in our community. While Inclusive Excellence has always been one of our core values and an integral component of the School’s strategic plan, the events that transpired over the last few weeks have led to a reconsideration of how Inclusive Excellence should be implemented, and in particular, how we can address anti-Black racism within our School. This effort will take additional time to ensure that multiple stakeholders are engaged and that the plan is carefully crafted. I recognize actions only translate into support when trust is built, and establishing ongoing and active engagement with the Black community and other groups, both internally and externally, will be essential. More information about the School’s response will be forthcoming.

The BioSci students have been particularly shaken by the events of this year and have endured many stresses. It is difficult to be a biology major under the best of circumstances, but it is particularly challenging with all the events that have occurred. Numerous students have voiced their disappointment at not being able to walk down the aisle for their commencement. It is in this spirit that I hope the virtual graduation activities for our students featuring a surprise speaker, Dr. Anthony Fauci, made the event as memorable as possible. The School will be forever grateful to Dr. Fauci for taking his valuable time to record a special, very personal message for our graduating class of 2020. A transcript of his message is included in the Dean’s Report.

Tactical Applications on Returning to the Office After the Covid-19 Crisis

Return to Work

Insight from Applied Psychology and the pulse of Employees

By Cynthia Milota, Director of Workplace Strategy, Ware Malcomb; and Dr. Sally Augustin, Principal, Design With Science

As unprecedented disruption and change ripple across the business landscape due to the global Covid- 19 pandemic, what are the impacts on the future state of workplace? Corporate America sending their workforces home during the shelter in place orders has tested the limits of technology and social networks. Now that employees are improvising at home, settled in for an unknown time period, employers are contemplating whats next. There is much speculation on what the post Covid workplaces will look like, when and how employees will be asked to return, how workplaces will be operated, cleaned, managed and what new protocols will be instituted.

Covid-19 Tactical Applications on Returning to the Workplace

Employees will be returning to the office in phases, with increased safety protocols, for building entry to housekeeping. Transparent communications will continue. Social distancing may require modifying the capacity of workstation areas and conference rooms. Food service spaces will go pre-packaged cash-less, as health and safety underpin every decision.

Employee Behavior and Organizational Outcomes

It is the investigation of the human side of employees working from home during this Covid-19 crisis that particularly intrigued the Ware Malcomb Workplace Strategy team. Since people are a business most important asset, how are people adapting and coping in this massive forced social experiment?

Rather than speculate, we invited a dozen clients to explore how their employees are maintaining social connections, how employee engagement is fairing and implications for the return to the office. The Ware Malcomb Workplace Strategy team worked with environmental psychologist, Dr. Sally Augustin to conduct structured interviews with select clients. The goal was to examine human behaviors while working from home and to speculate on the implications of the data collected for the return to the workplace.

Grounded in applied psychology, this study explored the implications of the Work from Home period on employee behavior and organizational outcomes. The three fundamental human needs identified by self-determination theory include competence, autonomy, and relatedness. These needs were considered during the development of the research methodology and the analysis of data collected. Competence is being skilled at what one does, autonomy is being in control of ones actions, and relatedness is the feeling of social connectedness. Self-determination theory has been a linchpin of applied psychology for several decades, and successfully utilized in a variety of settings and contexts.

Prior to the Covid-19 event, working from home was ostensibly not allowed in 9 of the 11 organizations that were interviewed. Yet, during the shelter in place period approximately 89% of the employees from the organizations in our data set were working from home. While just nine were considered essential businesses, their corporate office staff was not working on the front lines or on the production lines and were therefore instructed to work from home.

Read the full article here.