Week 2: April 20 – 24

Prepare now for 2 V-shaped recoveries

April 20, 2020

Tsunamis are both horrifying and fascinating. An earthquake happens, the water gathers toward the middle of the ocean, and people explore beach never before visible to the naked eye. The trick to survival is preparing for when the water returns.

 The COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath could be strikingly similar. The pandemic caused the economy to pull away and many leaders of business, government and nonprofits are still walking around on the beach. Now that the government has unleashed a wave of money, the question is whether the leaders are planning for a rapid economic recovery.

 At this point in the cycle, it’s no longer about money. The money is coming. What everyone needs is a vision and a plan to make the most of it, to leverage the resources to generate handsome returns for years to come.

 TPMA is wrapping up a 90-day plan to ride the wave as the economy recovers. We are positioning for a V-shaped recovery.

 Predictions are notoriously difficult to make in normal times let alone now, of course. But we think the cycle will repeat this fall. The coronavirus could make a comeback, again upsetting the economy and prompting a stimulus…and another V-shaped recovery. So a 90-day plan can be recycled—tweaked, of course, to take advantage of changing conditions and the things we learned earlier in the year.

 That’s our plan. What’s yours? I’d love to hear what you’re thinking. I’m happy to talk it through with you and help your organization prosper.

Thomas P. Miller & Associates

Use Your Resources as a Lifeline Until Small-Business Dollars Arrive

April 21, 2020

It’s no secret that significant numbers of small businesses are extremely vulnerable to failing. Many mom and pops have little to no cash to pay bills, payroll or May’s rent. The National Restaurant Association estimates 60% of workers laid off in the past few weeks are restaurant workers because few, if any, restaurants can compensate for their normal business with carry-out and delivery.

The mom and pops need your assistance immediately to survive the next month or two until SBA or other federal and state funds arrive.

Look at your cupboard and determine what’s available in the interim. Do you have any revolving loan funds, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars, or other local sources to tap while they wait for SBA or other CARES loans?

The National League of Cities reports that Jersey City, New Jersey, is floating small businesses through loans from its CDBG funding until other funds arrive. Thomas P. Miller & Associates is working with a county in Illinois that plans to use its revolving loan fund to sustain a number of small businesses while the firms apply for federal and state COVID-19 loans and grants.

Many communities will be able to replenish their cupboards with CARES funding from HUD, EDA, USDA, and other federal and state agencies.

But now is the time to act! If you don’t, you may have nowhere to eat after the quarantine is lifted.

Matt Rueff
Director, Economic Development & Resiliency
Thomas P. Miller & Associates

How the System Can Adapt to the COVID-19 Shakeout

April 22, 2020

This much is certain: Higher education institutions will be forced to adapt to the needs of their students in the coronavirus era and its aftermath. Employers and communities will insist on institutions’ pivoting entire delivery systems and seek new revenue streams that support these efforts.

However, these necessary changes won’t come easily. Governing boards, accreditation organizations and funding agencies can be expected to continue rewarding the status quo. Any institution coloring outside the lines will be penalized by these entities, and visionary, courageous presidents are rarely given tenure to accomplish a paradigm shift.

It is time to create support systems and revenue streams to support competency-based learning rather than teaching to accumulated seat hours.

Governing boards should allow for high-quality learning environments that support administrators while continuing to hold institutions accountable.

Accrediting agencies can abandon “seat hours” or Carnegie Units, as if “…a length appropriate to the objectives of the degree or other credential”—is any way to judge learning. Employers and society want and need competency!

Funding agencies can update and clarify the purpose of funding. Government and philanthropic funders allow institutions to protect their branding more than depend upon results of outcomes defined by their mission. Goals should focus on graduates who have subject matter competencies and can positively influence society.

Presidents can pay attention to the results of their graduates. Do employers compliment you about how new alumni are “real world ready?” Are they surprisingly competent right out of commencement?

A few institutions are adapting to the new cultural expectations, which are accelerating under COVID-19. A Darwinian process awaits those that do not.

Steve Catt
Senior Director
Thomas P. Miller & Associates

COVID-19 is Driving a Surge of Innovation

April 23, 2020

Businesses looking for a competitive advantage post-coronavirus are rushing to rethink office space.

Companies for weeks have fought to survive the crisis by rapidly embracing technology that enables remote work. The explosion in virtual meeting software like Zoom is just one example.

However, survival is different from long-term prosperity. Sustainable productivity gains will be about making better use of existing resources and possibly reordering work itself. This will prompt true innovation.

Successful companies will create the best balances between on-site offices and spaces inhabited by remote employees. Some firms might go so far as to cut existing square footage in half while investing in coworking memberships to accommodate their remote employees. The coworking industry could capitalize on remote work and even remote learning by partnering with education providers to offer students space and equipment.

Reduced office footprints raise a host of logistical challenges. Businesses will need to supply workers with equipment ranging from technology to desks, chairs and printers. Costs could skyrocket if, say, everyone gets a printer. And employees will be responsible for managing their environments, including keeping their printers full of paper; responsibility rises with autonomy.

This crossroads of work will drive a flurry of experimentation. When a new order emerges, the business environment will be better and, ultimately, so will the economy.

Jack Woods
Project Consultant
Thomas P. Miller & Associates

Working from Home is (Mostly) Supported by the Data

April 24, 2020

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us might have thought WFH was an acronym for a mobile app, an NYSE code or even a curse phrase. Now we know it means working from home, and WFH has exploded from 3.6% of the workforce to more than 50%.

The phenomenon might be temporary, but it’s worthwhile for organizations to dive deeper into data surrounding this forced experiment.

The advantages are abundant: Employers can save $11,000 per year for every person working remotely half the time, employee turnover can be reduced by half, and 68% of millennial job seekers gravitate to companies offering WFH. Full-time telecommuters save more than $4,000 per year, 80% report they can better manage coworker disruptions, and 82% report less stress.

There are downsides, though. Two-thirds of those transitioning to WFH during the pandemic prefer working in an office or workspace, according to a Harris Poll commissioned by Zapier. The poll also showed 42% of those making the transition miss socializing with coworkers and 27% say they’re working more hours.

So the evidence is mostly on the upside. This is a good time to see how it works for your team, and how the lessons we’re learning could lead to happier, more productive employees.

Vicki Thompson
Youngstown Manager
Thomas P. Miller & Associates

Want to receive daily recovery insights? Signup for our newsletter