ISE COVID-19 Impact Updates #10

Recent updates include notices from Refinitiv, WalletHub, Parks Associates, Microban International, Slumber Yard, and more. Visit here to find these and more COVID-19 Impact Updates.


Air Purification System Eradicates 99.5% Or Greater Of Airborne COVID-19 Virus On The First Pass

With indoor air quality more essential than ever with the infectious COVID-19 still active worldwide, eradicating the virus while it’s airborne is crucial to mitigating its transmission. 

Energy Cloud, a clean-tech company specializing in healthy buildings and energy efficient environments has a solution with its Hummingbird EQ, an air purification system that captures and deactivates airborne COVID-19 virus.

Hummingbird EQ with Air Vaccine technology was independently tested by a distinguished team of epidemiologists and professional engineers assembled by Black & Veatch, a global infrastructure leader vastly experienced in pathogen-tracking methods and construction of biological safety-related sites.

The technology’s deactivation of the virus was independently tested and proven with all Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) work performed within The Hastings Foundation and Wright Foundation laboratories at the University of Southern California (USC). 

Hummingbird EQ was proven to capture and deactivate the airborne COVID-19 virus on the first airflow pass through the system by 99.5% or greater, reducing it to undetectable levels. 

In the most comprehensive bio-aerosol study of its kind, Hummingbird EQ was tested by simulating a real-life airflow scenario, complete with ducting, coil and an air handler / forced air unit. 

Testing included infectious aerosolized virus samples with simulated saliva that were more than 3,000 times the average infectious dose to prove hummingbird can thoroughly neutralize and remove any active COVID-19 virus from the air that passes through the system. The goal set out by the Energy Cloud COVID-19 response team was to test a scenario far greater than a normal real-life situation.

Testing also was performed with all Hummingbird models, confirming that they all deactivate COVID- 19 with no harmful ozone being produced. 

Unlike other air purification systems, Hummingbird does not release or produce any airborne chemicals as part of its inactivation of viruses. 

It can be installed and scaled to any size heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system or used as a stand-alone unit in all types of commercial and residential settings including hospitals, schools, supermarkets, hotels, airports, offices, homes and more, for superior air quality in any sized indoor environment.

Hummingbird EQ is unique beyond its virus efficacy as it includes:

  • Air purification technology that decomposes VOCs and reduces bacteria, microbes, pollen, dust, dander, allergens, spores, fungi, mold, odors, smoke and toxic fumes without producing any harmful ozone or biproducts.
  • HVAC remote management with Hummingbird EQ AI technology allows cloud-enabled remote monitoring and management of HVAC systems, saving energy by providing real-time insight to equipment operation and efficiency.
  • Indoor air quality monitoring with real-time air quality information for customers, employees and property owners, for all stakeholders to see the building air quality through Energy Cloud’s air certification. 

The information can be seen through a QR Code displayed on the buildings outside doors and windows as well as web URL links that can be viewed on any computer or smart device. 

Building owners who invest in having the best air quality for their buildings and business can show proof of their air quality with the QR code and unique URL provided for each building.

Funding for the development of the product was provided in partnership with Black & Veatch’s IgniteX COVID-19 Response Accelerator.

SARS-CoV-2 BSL-3 resources were supported by a grant from the W.K. Keck Foundation’s COVID-19 research fund.

For more information, please visit https://www.energycloudinc.com/hummingbird/hummingbird.main.taf


Cyber Security and Hybrid Working Are Now Top Two Priorities For Enterprise IT Post-Pandemic

The pandemic has changed technology priorities for organizations worldwide finds a report from research group Omdia on the future of work. The top two enterprise priorities are now cyber security (58%) and hybrid working (55%), with customer experience, business processes and better empowering frontline workers tied in third place at 49%.

Working away from the traditional office will be the new norm finds the report as 58% of employees confirmed they will either be primarily home-based or will adopt a hybrid work style. Omdia’s research also found that working remotely is improving employee productivity, with 68% of enterprises believing employee productivity has improved since the mass move to remote working and 35% of respondents reporting they have the metrics to prove it.

“The world of work has undergone significant change due to the disruptions brought about by the pandemic,” said Adam Holtby, Principal Analyst, Digital Workplace, Omdia and author of The Future of Work report. “Our research shows that people, process, place, and technology transformation are the foundation upon which successful digital workplace ecosystems are created. However, an anywhere workforce is reliant on a diverse set of capabilities and this new normal is presenting new challenges. Businesses must now reinvent themselves to create productive, safe and empowering environments for their employees. It’s time to focus less on work location and more on employee experience.”

Further key takeaways from the report:

  • A focus on people, process and technology has never been more important. Organizations must strategize and make investments that focus on optimizing the value from people, processes and technologies, as well as reinventing their business models. 
  • The right technology partner is vital. Seventy percent of respondents say that the pandemic has influenced their organization’s decision about which information and communications technology (ICT) partners and service providers it will use in the future. Fifty percent of respondents say that technology vendors have been very helpful in supporting the transition to remote working. 
  • Cellular connectivity is an important digital workplace capability. Personal connectivity solutions, such as personal cellular and broadband, are vital and organizations are planning to increase investment in employee mobile cellular connectivity. Forty-eight percent of respondents are prioritizing an increase in budget around mobile cellular over cloud services (43%) and security platforms and services (40%).
  • Enterprises want much more than just best-of-breed technologies. When it comes to the digital workplace, businesses are looking to work with partners that can help select the most appropriate IT architecture and technologies, understand the impact of digitalization on their industry and help align business and digital strategies. Partners must focus on delivering faster deployment of new technologies (38%), providing better support (28%) and having access to a dedicated service manager (26%), as these are the attributes businesses will most value from partner’s post-pandemic, according to the survey.

The Future of Work report gathers data and insights on how organizations initially responded to the pandemic, and builds understanding of how long-term digital workplace strategies and business priorities have changed. To conduct the research, Omdia collected over 400 responses from a broad mix of different organizations across all major geographies. Respondents included CIOs, CFOs, IT directors, chief digital officers, HR directors, and CHROs.

The Future of Work: The Business Imperatives Shaping the New Normal is available for purchase/subscription here.

About the Author: Omdia is a leading research and advisory group focused on the global technology industry. With clients operating in over 120 countries, Omdia provides market-critical data, analysis, advice and custom consulting.

Omdia was formed in 2020 following the merger of IHS Markit, Tractica, Ovum and Heavy Reading. Sitting at the heart of the Informa Tech portfolio, Omdia reaches over four million technology decision makers, influencers and practitioners that form part of the wider Informa Tech community and has specialist research practices focusing on Enterprise IT, AI, Internet of Things, Communications Service Providers, Cybersecurity, Components & Devices, Media & Entertainment and Government & Manufacturing.

Stay connected with Omdia on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube


New Report Shows Construction Jobs With The Fastest-Growing Wages

As the economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most pronounced effects is on the job market for lower-wage professions. A new report from Construction Coverage looks at construction occupations in the United States.

Low-wage workers were among the hardest hit when large portions of the economy shut down at the outset of the pandemic, as employers in industries like retail and hospitality laid off workers en masse. More recently, many of these same businesses have been struggling to find labor, with workers declining to take the sorts of low-wage jobs they held pre-pandemic. Observers have offered many potential reasons why this is the case, from the continuation of expanded federal unemployment benefits to challenges finding reliable child and elder care to continued concerns about health and safety during the pandemic.

Regardless of the reason for the labor shortage, many employers are responding with one of the best tools at their disposal: increasing pay. Wages in the U.S. have been largely stagnant for decades but have spiked in recent months.

One industry that has benefited from this situation is construction. Demand for construction has been high due to a boom in the residential real estate market dating back to last summer. Many builders and contractors are eager to fill positions and keep projects moving, which means a high number of jobs are open—and more employers are raising wages in an attempt to lure workers in.

This trend has emerged even despite the fact that construction already pays well compared to other occupations with similar educational requirements and the fact that wage growth in the industry has matched inflation over the last two decades. While wages in the industry have shown some fluctuation—due at least in part to seasonality—the overall trend in construction wages since 2000 has been positive. At that time, median weekly wages in the industry were $571; by January 2020, that figure had surpassed $900.

Some locations are even more prosperous than others for construction workers. States with a strong union presence or prevailing wage laws tend to have the highest wages. Most of these locations are found in Northern and Western states. Hawaii leads the nation with mean annual wages of $72,960, followed by Illinois ($70,430), Massachusetts ($67,920), and New York ($67,580). In contrast, many of the lowest-paying states are found in the Southeast, including Arkansas ($40,560), Mississippi ($42,050), and Florida ($42,930).

The prospects for wages in construction also vary substantially by occupation within the industry, and some roles have shown more recent wage growth than others. To find the construction jobs with the fastest-growing wages, researchers at Construction Coverage used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate the five-year percentage change in wage (adjusted for inflation) for 54 occupations. The researchers included only those professions which had statistically significant changes in wages from 2015 to 2020 after adjusting for inflation.

For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Construction Coverage’s website: https://constructioncoverage.com/research/construction-jobs-with-the-fastest-growing-wages-2021


New Survey Reveals The Impact Of The Pandemic, Compliance Gaps And How Technology Is Reshaping Risk

  • 2920 Respondents surveyed globally
  • 30 countries in which research was conducted
  • US$24.3BN is the average annual turnover

Refinitiv’s survey reflects companies’ difficulties, with 65% of respondents agreeing that the pandemic has forced them to take shortcuts with know your customer (KYC) and due diligence checks. Although Covid-19 has been extremely disruptive, compliance gaps had been a persistent problem long before the pandemic. Our 2019 risk survey found that 49% of third-party relationships had been subject to due diligence checks, compared to 44% in 2021. On a more positive note, our current survey shows a growing awareness of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and green crime, suggesting that the pandemic may have created a turning point.

Our survey reveals how the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly raised customer and third-party risks, but also highlights the potential of technology to reshape them.

Although Covid-19 has been extremely disruptive, compliance gaps had been a persistent problem long before the pandemic. And, as business activities continue to move online across industries, the opportunities for cybercriminals to conduct illicit deeds flourishes — raising already high levels of organizational risk.

  • 71% of respondents said cybercrime became more difficult to contain during Covid-19
  • Only 44% of third-party relationships have been through due diligence checks, down 5% from previous year
  • 86% of respondents agreed that innovative digital technologies have helped them identify financial crime

By heightening and exposing risks, the pandemic is also helping organisations to address them. The way to do this is explained clearly in this report.

Access the full report to find out:

  • How the pandemic has reshaped risk.
  • How technology adoption is raising awareness and detection around compliance gaps.
  • Why data, technology and collaboration are so important to #FightFinancialCrime and #FightGreenCrime together.

Download the complete report, The Pandemic Impact, Compliance Gaps and How Technology Is Reshaping Risk, at https://www.refinitiv.com/en/resources/special-report/global-risk-and-compliance-report?utm_campaign=436593_2021GlobalRisk&elqCampaignId=13714&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=&utm_term=

About the Author: Each year Refinitiv conducts independent surveys looking at different aspects of customer and third-party risk. We have revealed the true cost of financial crime through its impact on companies, society and the environment. More recently we examined how innovation in data and technology can help to identify and disrupt criminal activity. Last year we focused on the hidden risks in supplier, distributor and partner relationships and this year, inevitably, we look at the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Refinitiv is now part of LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group), a leading global financial markets infrastructure and data provider. Read more >


New Survey Shows 24% Of Americans Plan On Spending More On The Cell Phone Due To COVID-19

Only 24% of Americans plan to spend more on their cell phone this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the personal-finance website WalletHub’s 2021 iPhone Survey, released today. To help people save money on their cell phone bills, WalletHub has also produced a handy Cell Phone Savings Calculator, which crunches the numbers on whether it’s better to buy a phone upfront or pay in installments and much more.

Please find additional highlights below, along with a Q&A with a WalletHub analyst (audio available).

Key Stats

  • iPhone demand is still high: Despite high unemployment, 1 in 3 people plan on getting the new iPhone this year.
     
  • MVP – most valuable possession: Almost 2 in 5 Americans say that their phone is their most important belonging during the pandemic.
     
  • iPhones and debt: Nearly 1 in 5 people think that the new iPhone is worth going into debt for. 
     
  • Few people judge not upgrading: 15% of people think that not having the new iPhone is a sign someone is struggling financially.
     
  • Discontent with credit checks: 45% of consumers don’t think it’s fair that cell phone carriers check your credit score.

Q&A With Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub Analyst

Do you have any advice for saving on a smart phone, considering the fact that only 24% of Americans plan to spend more on their cell phone this year?

“People who want to save money on their cell phone should consider forgoing the latest model and buying a phone that’s at least one generation old. In the present, the differences between each model are small and relatively insignificant, whereas upgrading used to be far more important in older generations when the improvements were dramatic,” said WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez.

“Getting a phone that’s a generation behind can give you almost as good of a user experience for around half the price. Consumers might also want to consider buying phones that are used but in good condition, or seek out carrier discounts.”

What advice do you have for reducing the cost of wireless coverage, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic?

“There are lots of different ways you can reduce the cost of wireless coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic, the most important of which are comparing a lot of different offers and waiting to buy a phone until you can get a good promotional deal. One big way to save money is to purchase coverage from a ‘budget’ phone provider that operates on the same network as one of the larger, name-brand providers. You can get virtually the same level of coverage while saving a lot of money,” said WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez.

“Bundling your coverage with other people can also help you get discounts, as can setting up autopay on your monthly bills. Some providers may offer you temporary relief on your bills if you’re in a difficult financial position, too, though you’ll have to call and ask.”

Why do around 2 in 5 consumers think that their phone is their most important possession?

“The reason that around 2 in 5 consumers think their phone is their most valuable possession is that few other devices can perform as many different functions. Cell phones are key for both their social use, like keeping people connected to their loved ones during the pandemic, and for business use, especially as many people have switched to remote work permanently,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst.

“One of the most valuable features that a cell phone can provide is access to the internet even when Wi-Fi is unavailable – and in some cases, they’re the only way families can get online. Cell phones have helped fight the COVID-19 pandemic, too, by letting people use contact-tracing programs and schedule appointments for vaccinations.”

For the complete survey results, visit https://wallethub.com/blog/iphone-survey/39379


Sales of Networked Cameras, Video Doorbells, and Smart Speakers/Smart Displays to Exceed 250 Million Units in 2022-2024

Parks Associates’ new industry report, Context is King: Video & Audio Analytics,  addresses advanced video and audio analytics solutions for the smart home. Parks Associates data estimates that between 2022 and 2024, more than 250 million networked cameras, video doorbells, and smart speakers/smart displays will be sold in the US. The industry report “Context is King: Video & Audio Analytics” examines how video and audio analytics are evolving and impacting the smart home user experience, including driving adoption of new devices and attached services.

“Consumers want the often difficult combination of peace of mind, privacy, and convenience with monitoring and independent living solutions,” said Chris White, Sr. Analyst, Parks Associates. “With video and audio analytics, standard devices such as video doorbells and networked cameras have expanded capabilities, providing more value and context to consumers.”

Video and audio gathered near access points are the most prominent and traditional monitoring activity, but increasingly consumers desire more monitoring beyond the entrance/exits of homes. Parks Associates’ latest consumer data also reveals 68% of network camera owners have cameras installed outside the home.

“Consumers are increasingly turning to networked cameras and video doorbells to provide the sense of security and peace of mind traditionally provided by full-fledged security systems,” White said. “Approximately a third of network camera owners report relying on their devices more heavily due to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Parks Associates notes the recent announcement that ASSA ABLOY, a leader in access controls, will purchase Spectrum Brands’ hardware and home improvement business for $4.3 billion underscores the drive to add new use cases and user experiences within a product portfolio. Video and audio analytics reach the consumer through a complex set of verticals that includes chipset makers, AI software companies, and pro-monitoring or storage companies, with opportunities for revenue growth across the value chain, especially in monitoring, maintenance, and upgrades.

For more information on Context is King: Video & Audio Analytics, visit http://parksassociates.com/report/context-king-analytics, or contact sales@parksassociates.com. To schedule an interview with an analyst or to request specific data, please contact Rosey Ulpino at rosey.ulpino@parksassociates.com or 972-490-1113.

About the Author: Parks Associates, a woman-founded and certified business, is an internationally recognized market research and consulting company specializing in emerging consumer technology products and services. Founded in 1986, Parks Associates creates research capital through market reports, primary studies, consumer research, custom research, workshops, executive conferences, and annual service subscriptions.

The company’s expertise includes IoT, digital media and platforms, entertainment and gaming, home networks, Internet and television services, digital health, mobile applications and services, support services, consumer apps, advanced advertising, consumer electronics, energy management, and home control systems and security.

Each year, Parks Associates hosts industry webinars, the CONNECTIONS™ Conference Series, Connected Health Summit, Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer, and Future of Video: OTT, Pay TV, and Digital Media. http://www.parksassociates.com


Redefining Clean For Hybrid Workspaces With Protected Desk Phones

Microban® International, a pioneer of antimicrobial technologies, and Poly, a video and audio company, are pleased to announce the launch of the VVX range of desk phones, which joins the growing list of Poly products that feature fully integrated antimicrobial product protection to reduce the growth of bacteria, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The VVX range is designed to solve the challenge of maintaining cleanliness for hybrid working across many disciplines, especially in shared spaces or high-touch work settings. These Poly desk phones go a step further, with built-in antimicrobial solutions that are integrated during manufacture, enabling users to communicate with total confidence and giving them added peace of mind. This proprietary technology works at a cellular level to help prevent the growth and reproduction of microorganisms, offering intrinsic protection that does not wash off or wear away, even after extensive use. This “always on”, 24/7 protection keeps each phone cleaner for longer in between washes, as well as making it more durable and extending its lifetime.

Michael Ruby, Global Vice President at Microban, commented: “We are proud to be working with Poly as the very first manufacturer to incorporate powerful antimicrobial technology in a complete range of desk phones. The proven efficacy of Microban technology against a spectrum of microbes keeps these desk phones cleaner for longer, without losing their existing functions or altering aesthetics.”

Richard Kenny, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Poly, commented: “In today’s modern workplace, we feel the very real need to include antimicrobial technology in our products. It was the perfect time for us to partner with Microban to develop the VVX desk phones integrated with Microban’s antimicrobial technology, which can be used in high-touch shared workspaces without having to worry about cleanliness. We are very pleased with our ongoing partnership with Microban, and we look to translate the patented antimicrobial protection to our other product lines.”

The VVX 150, 250, 350 and 450 feature Microban antimicrobial protection.

To learn more about the VVX range, visit www.microban.com/poly

About Microban International: Part of Barr Brands International (BBI), Microban International is home to the most trusted and well-known global brands in the antimicrobial, odor control, and sanitization / disinfection markets – Microban® and Ultra-Fresh®. Our organization has experienced over 100 collective years of growth and has revolutionized the industry. Our proactive systems keep products cleaner, and control odors better by preventing problems before they start. Microban International drives innovation by combining science and creative solutions that enhance high-quality consumer, textile, industrial and medical products around the world. Today, the Microban and Ultra-Fresh brands and our technologies are featured on thousands of products worldwide. The company is headquartered in North Carolina with operations in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. For more information, please visit www.microban.com.

About Poly: Poly (NYSE: PLT) creates premium audio and video products so you can have your best meeting — anywhere, anytime, every time. Our headsets, video and audio-conferencing products, desk phones, analytics software and services are beautifully designed and engineered to connect people with incredible clarity. They’re pro-grade, easy to use and work seamlessly with all the best video and audio conferencing services. For more information visit www.Poly.com.

Poly, the propeller design, and the Poly logo are trademarks of Plantronics, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


Guide To Improving Sleep As A Remote Worker

Coronavirus has had a devastating effect on the American labor force, cutting jobs without prejudice and leaving entire families jobless overnight. In its January 2021 report, the Congressional Research Service wrote, “The unemployment rate peaked at an unprecedented level, not seen since data collection started in 1948, in April 2020 (14.8%) before declining to a still-elevated level in December (6.7%).”

Suddenly, remote work emerged as an unexpected hero, a last-minute Hail Mary that provided a feasible cost-cutting solution to companies desperate to keep business running.

Fast-forward to the present, many workers are now considering whether a permanent work-from-home status may be best for their work-life balance. Remote employees often find themselves with extra time to invest given their lack of commute. That said, others have seen their work cross into their personal time, given the lack of strict boundaries that are characteristic of commuter work. As a result, work-from-home employees are sleeping less, a dangerous habit to adopt if you aren’t careful.

 

Pros And Cons Of Working Remotely

For employees all over the country, remote work has been a welcome luxury in many ways.

 

PROS

 

1. Custom Environment

One of the most noticeable advantages of working from home is the ability to customize your environment. At work, you may have no choice over the fluorescent light bulbs or the constant hum of noise and conversation. However, when you work from home, you have the ability to customize your work area to your preferences and needs. It not only improves your mental health but can lead to greater productivity and improved operations for your employer.

Bryan Philips, owner and Head of Marketing for InMotion Marketing, sees the effects first-hand. He tells us, “As someone who works remotely and a business owner, I can say remote work allows for better focus, the ability to manage time better (because there is no commute), and an increased revenue per project.”

2. Flexibility

Not all of us are early birds, and remote work can offer employees the option to enjoy a more flexible schedule that better suits their sleep habits.

“I think the real difference between these workers and the traditional 9-to-5 jobbers is that remote workers have the option to be flexible with their work hours when they want to,” muses Philips. “In my experience, most people slide into a scheduled workday and only get out of that schedule in unavoidable circumstances.”

“However,” he warns, “the faster remote workers figure how to manage their time daily, the better.”

3. Independence

One of the best parts about remote work for many employees is the independence that comes with it. Gone are the forced awkward conversations over the water cooler. Instead, individuals have a chance to shine through the independent work they produce at home. Virtual meetings keep collaboration possible, but there is a much greater focus on solo work and solo accomplishments in the workplace.

4. Comfort

“Who doesn’t love their PJs?” says Mark Coster, an online entrepreneur and the driving force behind STEM Toy Expert. These days, he’s working from home, where he puts his 3 willing children to work as guinea pigs.

“The past year has given nearly all of us the privilege to wear them all day, every day, except in our Zoom meetings. Getting to work in flexible and comfortable clothes is definitely the most coveted pro of working from home.”

There is no doubt that remote workers save a ton in dry cleaning and work clothes now that working from home is an option.

5. No Commute

Global Workplace Analytics estimates about 56% of American jobs are compatible with remote work, and the savings are nothing to dismiss lightly. While employees can save up to $4,000 a month by working remotely, the average employer can save about $11,000 per year for each employee.

“Work-at-home will save U.S. employers over $30 billion a day in what would have otherwise been lost productivity during office closures due to COVID-19,” says Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics.

The extra time you save without a commute can also translate to much greater flexibility in your daily life.

CONS

Of course, remote work is not perfect, especially for particular professions. There are challenges that can accompany this style of work. 

1. Work-Life Balance

When you are a remote employee, your work-life balance can be the first challenge you face.

Says Dr. Bailey, “There are far fewer boundaries between work and personal life in a work-from-home environment. This has resulted in diminished sleep quality for many folks.

It also means that work never leaves, since you always bring your work home. “Working from home has slowly taken over their home life,” Dr. Bailey explains. “I often hear complaints of people ‘dreaming’ about work because it is the first thing they see when they get up in the morning and the last thing they look at before they go to bed.”

2. Isolation

For many employees, remote work has been a serious adjustment without the constant companionship of workplace colleagues. This loss of social interaction can be deeply unsettling and lead you to feel sad, anxious, depressed, and disconnected from the world.

These feelings can become only amplified at night when insomnia takes over, or worse, you are racing the clock to meet deadlines.

3. Productivity

The independence of working from home can be a double-edged sword for some employees, making it difficult for them to remain focused and on-task.

“When the night comes, you realize it’s not all sunshine and rainbows,” says Coster. “It’s 9 pm, and you’ve barely done a third of your daily work. You tuck the kids in and go back to your laptop. Is it any wonder that insomnia creeps in once you close your laptop deep into the night?”

4. Communication

Virtual and online communication can drastically differ from face-to-face, in-person communication. It may take some getting used to for employees who are new to the digital space.

“The only con I can think of is there could be communication issues with your team,” says Philips. However, he acknowledges, “Due to all the project management tools online like Basecamp and Slack, I can’t imagine that for most this is a definite issue.”

5. Accountability

The change to remote work also often leads to greater accountability among employees. While before, staff may have been able to hide within the masses, now online and virtual communications shine a spotlight on individual contributions and accomplishments. For employees accustomed to sharing tasks or doing the bare minimum, remote work can be an unwelcome surprise.

PROSCONS
Custom EnvironmentWork-Life Balance
FlexibilityIsolation
IndependenceProductivity
ComfortCommunication
Zero CommuteAccountability

 

Common Sleep Struggles For Remote Workers

A November 2020 survey from Upwork showed that almost half of the American workforce is working from home, with about 43% of employees now remote-based. As we move into 2021, one in four Americans are expected to work remotely this year, and Upwork predicts only continued growth, with an 87% increase in remote work expected by 2025.

“I think there is an indication that remote work is here to stay with or without the pandemic,” says Bryan Philips. “Business owners are now seeing the cost advantage and also that the whole process is manageable and preferable in many ways.”

However, working from home is not ideal for everyone, and there are many remote workers who are experiencing persistent issues with their sleep. 

“I have seen a major uptick in patients suffering some sleep issues since the onset of the pandemic,” says Peter Bailey, MD, a family practice physician and an expert contributor for Test Prep Insight, a test prep company that helps students prepare for exams like the MCAT and USMLE.

“The biggest issue I have generally perceived,” he continues, “is that where work used to be compartmentalized between the office and home for most people, work has now morphed into an all-encompassing way of life.”

That, added with the everyday pressures of life and growing concerns over COVID, can keep you up at night and lead to sleep deprivation if you aren’t careful. About 35% of Americans already do not receive the suggested amount of sleep each night, and as the pandemic grows, so does the prevalence of insomnia, anxiety, depression and acute stress.

Sleep deprivation doesn’t just make you sleepy. It can impact your work in other ways, stamping out your energy and stifling your creativity. It can be much harder to focus, and your stress levels can skyrocket in response.

 

Considerations For Self-Employed Workers

Remote work is a bit of a different experience for self-employed workers or independent contractors, who differ from the traditional employee. When you work for yourself, you are better able to dictate your own schedule, setting up your days and nights how you like, with time serving as a far more flexible commodity than that of the average employee.

This doesn’t necessarily mean working less. Used to filling many roles, they often rely upon themselves to get things done and therefore know long hours well past the standard 9-to-5 timeframe. This lack of sleep, whether regular or irregular, can lead to significant effects on your health while also diminishing productivity and hastening burnout.

 

Professions Most Affected By Insomnia

There are some industries in particular that suffer from higher levels of insomnia and lack of sleep.

RankIndustry/ProfessionEmployees With Sleep Problems
1.Transportation and Warehousing50%
2.Medical and Healthcare47.3%
3.Education44.2%
4.Wholesale and Retail44.1%
5.Hotel, Food Services, and Hospitality43.8%

No matter where you work, it’s important to establish and maintain healthy sleep habits. Regardless of whether you are a freelancer or an employee awaiting the reopening of a physical office, it’s critical to prioritize your sleep health and take the proper time for rest each night.

As with most other things in life, balance is key.

Improving Sleep As A Remote Worker

Experts expect to see a 300% increase in permanent work-from-home employees, signaling a key shift in the American workforce. That means it’s more important than ever to ensure that you have healthy sleep habits to give you the fuel you need to face the busy days ahead.

There are some things you can do to better prepare your body for rest each night.

1. Develop A Routine

“Routine is crucial for keeping up with a healthy sleep schedule while working remotely. You should wake up at a regular time like 7 am or 7:30 am, and act like you’re preparing to go to work,” advises Dr. Pietro Luca Ratti, MD, Ph.D., a sleep expert and Neurologist for WhatAsleep. “Shower, get dressed, brush your teeth — whatever you’d do if you were going to work in an office.”

Dr. Bailey recommends reorganizing how you structure your life. “My best advice to patients to improve their sleep is to set boundaries and compartmentalize work and personal life,” says Dr. Bailey. “I know this can be difficult, particularly when you live in a small house or apartment, but you need to make an effort to create this divide, both physically and mentally.”

2. Set Boundaries

Working from home can be tempting when there’s no one looking over your shoulder throughout the workday. However, this can be a dangerous trap to fall into if you are not careful.“

You need a routine more than ever if you are working from home. “Do not sleep in until 10 or 11 and expect to get a good sleep the next night,” says Dr. Ratti. He adds an extra note of caution. “No napping during the workday! This could really ruin your night’s sleep.”

“Try your best to stick to a regular work routine of 9-5, or whatever it may be. It will help you get into a rhythm that eventually leads to you going to bed at a normal time,” Dr. Ratti advises.

3. Have A Hobby

If you aren’t careful, work can quickly take over your home and fill your personal life with tons of little reminders about work. It makes it harder to separate yourself from your job, but finding a hobby is one way to establish boundaries and improve your personal time.

“Set hard shut-off times for your work computer and email on your phone at night, and concentrate on family and personal time,” says Dr. Bailey.

Coster of STEM Toy Expert agrees. “Honor the alarm clock. You’ll be wrapping up your work before dinner, and then you’ll have enough time for relaxation, a walk in the park, or maybe (even!) a book.”

Dr. Bailey adds, “I strongly encourage patients to read before they go to bed and reduce screen time starting 30 minutes before sleep.”

4. Establish A Work-From-Home Environment

Not all employees were prepared for remote work when it came, so it can be especially trying to create a proper work-from-home environment conducive to sleep.

“To prevent this dreaded scenario, set up a home office if possible, or at least a workstation in the farthest corner from your bed,” suggests Coster of STEM Toy Expert.

Dr. Ratti also encourages you to remove all digital devices from your rest areas. “Eliminate work in the lead-up to bed and get rid of any technology in the bedroom, like phones, tablets, and laptops,” says Dr. Ratti. “Try not to do any work within an hour of going to sleep because your mind will struggle to calm down, and you’ll find it difficult to relax.”

5. Fitness And Home Workouts

As a family physician, Dr. Bailey also is a huge proponent of exercise when it comes to improving sleep quality. “With gyms closed, it is hard to squeeze in workout time, but physical activity releases a number of hormones which calm your mind and provide your body a chance to rejuvenate, making it easier to naturally transition to sleep.”

“Studies show that engaging in just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day can increase the amount of deep sleep you get by up to 31%,” he says, recommending daily moderate exercise. “This can be as simple as a walk around the neighborhood or playing with your kids. Almost any sort of physical exercise will help your sleep to some degree. “

At InMotion Marketing, Philips is living proof. “I exercise daily and have no trouble settling down to bed when the evening comes,” he shares.

Sum Up / Bottom Line

Even before COVID-19, we already tend to work too much as a society, but there’s no denying the impact that unemployment and working from home have had on the average U.S. household. For many, coronavirus has sent normal routines into disarray and interrupted the carefully-planned weekly sleep schedules of pre-pandemic commutes. It has taken some adjustment, notably impacting our ability to fall and remain asleep, but working from home has its benefits when you are able to achieve the right work-life balance.

“A remote worker has a better chance of improving their sleep than a traditional 9-5 worker,” Philips explains. “Why? Because there is no morning commute and no evening commute. The hours are many times theirs to set, to manage, to control. For me, I get up in the morning to watch the sunrise and go out to watch the sunset.”

However, you choose to enjoy your days, remote work can give you the freedom and space to do it – as long as you maintain those healthy sleep habits to keep both your job and your body going.

To read this article on Slumber Yard’s website, visit https://myslumberyard.com/sleep/guide-to-improving-sleep-as-a-remote-worker/.

Please visit Slumber Yard Team


Study Reveals Cities That Fell Behind On Their Mortgages During COVID-19

After a year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the policies put in place to protect homeowners and renters are coming to an end, and this fall could see a wave of foreclosures and evictions as a result.

From early on in the pandemic, policymakers enacted measures to protect renters and homeowners from being put out of their homes. The federal government created funds for rent and mortgage assistance, enacted an eviction moratorium to protect renters, and established a foreclosure moratorium and forbearance program for homeowners with federally-backed mortgages. Numerous states and localities followed suit with moratoriums and housing assistance programs of their own, while many private lenders offered mortgage forbearance options in line with the federal policy.

There were strong economic and public health rationales to put all of these measures in place. The loss of a home through eviction or foreclosure can be tremendously disruptive for individual families’ finances, and at scale, widespread turnover can create catastrophic conditions in the larger real estate market, as the last recession proved. And with the pandemic raging through much of 2020 and 2021, it was also important to help people remain in place to minimize the potential spread of the coronavirus.

These interventions have accomplished their desired effects so far, and mortgage delinquency rates provide one illustration. The percentage of mortgages that are at least 90 days delinquent — essentially meaning that the mortgage holder has missed 3 consecutive payments, usually taken as a sign of severe economic distress—has remained below 1% throughout the pandemic thanks in large part to forbearance. This stands in stark contrast to the Great Recession, when homeowners did not have the same options available and mortgage delinquencies peaked at nearly 9% in 2010.

Now, as these programs wind down, the economic consequences that policymakers hoped to stave off may come to fruition. The foreclosure moratorium expired on July 31, with forbearance options remaining available until September 30. The eviction moratorium was also slated to end on July 31 but was later extended. With many homeowners and renters behind on payments, the end of these programs could present major fallout for housing in the U.S. this year.

And according to U.S. Census data, homeowners in some locations may be more vulnerable than others to foreclosure in the coming months. The Household Pulse Survey includes a measure of how many adults report being behind on their mortgages. At the state level, New York may be most at risk, with an average of 8.9% of homeowners reporting being behind on their mortgage payments throughout the pandemic. Other states with high housing costs, like Hawaii (8.3%), Maryland (8.0%), and New Jersey (7.9%), rank highly, as do many Southern states where household incomes are lower and the economic effects of the pandemic may have been felt more strongly.

At the metro level, similar trends hold, with both high-cost locations, such as New York, and economically distressed locations, like Detroit, being most likely to have homeowners behind on their mortgage payments.

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. To determine the locations that fell behind on their mortgages during COVID-19, researchers at Porch calculated the percentage of adults who reported not being current on their mortgage payment, averaged over all available weeks of the Household Pulse Survey. As such, the data represents the typical number of people who were behind on their mortgages at any given time during the pandemic, rather than the cumulative values. In the event of a tie, the location with the greater average number of adults who were behind on their mortgages was ranked higher.

Here are the metropolitan areas with the most residents who fell behind on their mortgages during COVID-19.

MetroRankPercentage of adults who were behind on their mortgagesTotal adults who were behind on their mortgagesMedian monthly owner costs for mortgage holdersPeak unemployment rate in 2020
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA19.9%1,381,177$2,80717.0%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL29.1%438,150$1,87413.8%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX38.6%470,720$1,81514.0%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA48.3%860,103$2,65917.9%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA58.2%379,004$1,58612.6%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV67.3%335,436$2,4179.4%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA77.3%297,130$1,96915.2%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI87.0%496,134$1,88216.5%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX96.9%415,481$1,87012.5%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD106.8%337,458$1,87015.0%
San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA116.6%231,438$3,23713.7%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI125.7%200,891$1,42424.7%
Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ135.7%221,193$1,54013.5%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH145.5%207,696$2,48215.6%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA155.5%177,090$2,35916.7%
United States6.5%16,297,059$1,60914.8%

For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Porch’s website: https://porch.com/advice/cities-that-fell-behind-on-their-mortgages-during-covid-19


Fixed Wireless Access Has Become A Bright Spot During COVID-19

Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) has risen in prominence over the past year, in no small part due to the effects of COVID. Mobile Experts has just released a new report forecasting significant growth for FWA connections through 2026 — forecasted to provide almost 200 million connections around the globe by 2026.

FWA services grew almost 20% yearly to over 80 million in 2020 — Mobile Experts sees that number rocketing to almost 200 million by 2026. Around 8-11% of FWA connections over the next 5 years will be served via proprietary technology primarily deployed by small operators.

“Due to COVID restrictions over the past year, many people have found themselves in need of a reliable connection from home — no matter where home is. FWA offers a much-needed substitute for addressing broadband need in underserved rural and suburban markets where other solutions are too cost-prohibitive or takes too long to deploy,” commented Principal Analyst Kyung Mun. “The ability to connect virtually is more critical than ever, and FWA will continue to be an innovative solution for unreached areas.”

FWA equipment sales, including 802.11 based proprietary, LTE, and 5G CPE revenue, are projected to grow from $4.0 billion this year to over $5.5 billion in 2026. Meanwhile, the proprietary equipment market, including both access point and CPE sales, is expected to stay elevated around $880-$940 million per annum over the next 5 years.

“Large mobile operators will leverage LTE and 5G for FWA services, and we expect the 5G mm-wave will become a key aspect of their long-term FWA plans—especially in ‘fiber-rich’ markets in the APAC region. That said, large and small operators will benefit from government funding to help build out hybrid fiber plus FWA networks for the next 5-10 years,” commented Principal Analyst Kyung Mun.

This report includes 41 charts and diagrams, including a 5-year forecast illustrating the growth of the market for infrastructure and customer premise equipment and fixed wireless access connections by technology. Key details such as technical breakdowns, equipment revenue, and market shares are included.

For more about this report, Fixed Wireless Access 2021, please visit https://www.mobileexperts.org/reports/p/virtual-mobile-networks-pt3na-zrw9g.

About the Author: Mobile Experts provides insightful market analysis for the mobile infrastructure and mobile handset markets.  Our analysts are true Experts, who remain focused on topics where each analyst has 20 years of experience or more. Research topics center on technology introduction for radio frequency (RF) and communications innovation.  For more information, visit https://www.mobileexperts.org.


Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work

With her recently released book, Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work, Karin M Reed  breaks down the rules of the game and shares what it takes to thrive in a virtual and hybrid business environment when the stakes are higher than ever.  Here are some pointers:

#1 — Look at the camera, but not like you are being held hostage by it.

By now, you may have heard that you should look at the webcam (not at your device’s screen) when you are speaking, so it appears to the people on the other side like you are looking them in the eye. However, it’s not enough to just look at the lens; you need to focus your energy there too. The camera is the conduit to your conversation partner.

Too often, people end up staring at the camera lens, which can feel unnatural and unnerving.  You wouldn’t stare at someone if you were talking in person. Don’t do it on camera either.  Instead, interact with the lens as you would with someone face-to-face – naturally breaking eye contact periodically.  Plus, those quick glances away can allow you to read the body language of the people on the screen. It takes less than a second to see if someone is nodding along or if someone is nodding off.

#2 — Attend to your personal production value. To ignore it is rude.

You probably know someone who, before you could say the word “pandemic,” had already purchased a ring light and a high-end microphone. You probably also know someone who still shows up on webcam as if they were joining the meeting from the deep recesses of a darkened cave.  There is a middle way – and it’s not about vanity. It’s about showing respect for your conversation partner.

Your personal production value is how you “show up” on webcam – everything from your lighting to your framing. All of them impact how effectively your audience receives your message. Here are the 4 key elements to attend to:

Element 1 — Focus on lighting up your face. Don’t force someone to try to connect with a shadowy figure. Grab a lamp and put it behind your webcam or sit facing a window so your facial expressions can easily be read. 

Element 2 — Make sure your audio is crisp and clear.  You can’t hear how you sound to others, but it certainly impacts the experience of your fellow meeting attendees. Hop on a call with a candid colleague who will be honest about your audio fidelity, or record yourself on your video conferencing platform and play it back. Let your ears be the judge and look for other audio options if necessary.

Element 3 — Select a simple set with depth. Curate your background so it is uncluttered and not distracting, but don’t go to extremes. Sitting smack up against a blank wall can make you look like you’re getting your passport photo taken. Make sure there’s several feet between you and whatever is behind you to create a depth of field for your shot.

Element 4 — Fix your framing. You may have heard it’s important to have your camera at eye level, but here’s the key piece many people miss – your camera should be pointed straight behind you, not angled up. If you see your ceiling in the shot, adjust your camera down so it is squared up with the wall.  We all have seen enough ceiling fans whirring above people’s heads to last a lifetime.

#3 Stop the back-to-back meetings — recovery time is critical.

Digital exhaustion is real but could be greatly alleviated by simply building in breaks. According to Dr. Joseph A. Allen, a leading meeting scientist at the University of Utah, neuroscience confirms that humans need time to cognitively switch gears. “Running from one complex issue to another is both exhausting and cognitively difficult. 

Build in recovery-time between each meeting,“ suggests Allen. Recent research indicates we need 5minutes to recover from a good meeting and 17 minutes to recover from a bad meeting.

#4 Put more humanity into meetings to preserve culture and team cohesion.

When a team isn’t sharing the same physical space, we lack some of the social lubrication that occurs when we bump into each other in the breakroom or catch up in the hallway. This can weaken connections with our colleagues. To combat this, make time for small talk that is non-business related. Consider a “Take Five Moment” to kick off a call where colleagues share what’s going on in their world outside of work. It doesn’t have to be a deep discussion, but it should help to maintain rapport, which can suffer when teams are dispersed.

Virtual meetings aren’t going away, and it’s imperative to make them better. Whether you are a meeting leader or attendee, be an example of “What Good Looks Like.” You may find your virtual communication effectiveness becomes contagious.

About the Author: Emmy Award-Winning Journalist and On-Camera Expert, Karin M. Reed, has been the go-to virtual meetings guru over the past year, with top C-Suite executives, McKinsey & Co., Yahoo! Finance, Forbes, TechRepublic, and Fast Company, among others who are turning to her for advice on How to Own the Room on Zoom. Reed is the author of book, Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work.

For more information about Karen M. Reed, contact: Rochelle Levine, Full Scale Media. rochelle@fullscalemedia.com, 516-408-2171 ext. 104, www.fullscalemedia.com.

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