Your money or your life

“Your money or your life?”

We have usually associated these words with an act of robbery, however, now they seem to be more related to employment.  At many levels of society people are making the choice to work and expose themselves to the Covid-19 virus or to minimize their exposure—with sometimes dire economic consequences.

But could health be overrated?  Recently I was shocked to read these words…

“…it turns out, the benefits to health are not especially great.”  [“The cure and the disease,” The Economist, May 23rd, 2020.]

The context is a discussion of the impacts of closing schools on both the children and on their parents, who may not be able to work because of the need for home schooling and childcare.   I presume that The Economist has actually done the math and calculated the long-term negative impact of missed schooling for the children and underemployment for parents, comparing them to the cost to society of their illness or mortality.  

The conclusion is that it is better to reopen the economy as safely as possible.

So how does society value a human life?  During an interesting discussion recently on NPR, [“Lives Vs. The Economy”] we hear experts explain how the federal government values lives and deaths with numbers ranging from $800,000 to $3 million.  On the other hand, “Putting a Dollar Value on Life? Governments Already Do”, a New York Times article, concludes that there is no right way to value a human life.

Still, why put yourself at risk if you don’t have to?

As the US starts to reopen, consumers are behaving very differently in different settings.  Some restaurants are packed.  Others are empty.  Some stores require masks.  Others do not.  Some shoppers routinely go without facial covers and ignore social distancing.  Others are careful of their own health and the health of those around them.

As far as businesses are concerned, increasingly we hear they are finding it difficult to entice employees who have become used to working from home back into the office.  This may well be due to health concerns, but also due to the perceived benefits of working from home, including efficiency (no commute) and comfort.  Some employees report that they actually work more at home and/or more efficiently because there are fewer distractions.

Technology has been amazingly helpful in facilitating this trend.  Whether you use Zoom, WebEx, Google Hang-Outs, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams or any of the other options, you probably have discovered that it is entirely possible to hold a discussion with a group of people at a distance efficiently and easily.

So why should you go back to the office?

Well, clearly, some services require a physical interaction, so some industries will have to retain a footprint no matter what.  But there are big changes in flux at the moment with major retailers (e.g., Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, etc.) going under because of a lack of consumers while others (e.g., Target, Walmart, etc.) boom and, of course, on-line businesses profit from our very isolation.  Leisure and restaurant businesses will be slow to recover, and the professional sports industry is still an open question.  Residential real estate has seen a dipping demand due to lock downs and the commercial real estate sector is likely to come under tremendous pressure as retail space and offices remain underutilizes or even empty.

Working from home has arrived.

If fact, these days you can design your own career—despite Covid-19.  We have seen thirty-four Barrett Group clients land executive positions in the past nine weeks, so there is no reason you cannot also set yourself clear professional targets (for example, including working from home) and then discover the job of your choice with our help.

Our unique career change program helps clients negotiate the job market in five steps with a six-member team at your elbow.  It simply works and we have been at it for thirty years.  See the proof on our Hiring Line website or review our recent Customer Reviews and Success Stories.

Isn’t it time you regained control over your professional life?   We can help.   Give us a call.

Peter Irish
The Barrett Group

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