The idea of a four-day workweek has once again been gaining momentum as the pandemic forced companies and employees to revise their working patterns and become more flexible.
Several countries in Europe are working to make it a reality, including Spain, the UK, Finland, and Russia. Microsoft’s Japan location has even tested shutting its offices down every Friday for a month and saw a 40% increase in productivity.
The Four-Day Work Week: A Near Future or a Utopia?
While there are certainly benefits to compressed hours, there are also a few disadvantages and challenges. Implementing a four-day workweek can be difficult as it requires the right support, technology, and workplace culture.
Is a four-day workweek a realistic prospect without compromising business? Let’s try to understand what prevents this initiative from being implemented, whether it is possible at all in the foreseeable future, and what role technology will play in this process.
With technological progress, people don’t work less
With increasing operational efficiency and automation in general, people’s roles are becoming more difficult, requiring more knowledge, non-standard thinking, and new skills.
Worldwide unemployment, with the exception of periods of acute crisis, remains roughly the same.
New Tech in work
With new technologies, business processes are accelerating and employee requirements are increasing. Take the example of a customer service representative in a bank branch.
Ten years ago, operators spent at least one-quarter of their working day reprinting data from passports, photocopying driving licenses and other documents needed to open an account, approving a loan, verifying a new corporate client based on their Federal Income Tax, and so on.
Today, almost all of these tech operations are automated at work.
Does this mean that employees are sitting and twiddling their thumbs on an office chair? No, of course not. Just through intelligent solutions, they manage to serve more people and simultaneously do something else: analyze data, respond to customer requests, and offer them new banking products. There’s still a lot to do Monday through Friday.
Just a couple of years ago, remote work was seen as a response to the public’s request for more free time.
Indeed, with the development of corporate mobility technologies, we are no longer tied to the office. We can work anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, constantly check mail, and respond to requests from partners and colleagues.
The pandemic has shattered the myth that we will work less when working remotely.
First of all, it turned out that not all companies were ready to switch to this format.
According to an ABBYY survey conducted at the end of 2020, 64% of companies had to adopt new technologies and processes, while 74% of employees said they faced challenges with switching to remote working.
Most of them found it difficult to set up a home office regarding technology and restructuring business methods. When identifying the cause of their biggest challenges, 40% of workers blamed a lack of information or solutions for completing tasks, while 32% blamed not having the right IT tools.
The global economy is holding on for two weekends
Businesses, as well as the model of consumption of goods and services, tend to adjust to the way of life of the people.
The U.S. officially adopted the five-day workweek in 1932, in a bid to counter the unemployment caused by the Great Depression. But Henry Ford, the legendary carmaker, made Saturday and Sunday days off for his staff as early as 1926 and he was also keen to establish a 40-hour working week.
An altruistic move in part also gave his workers the opportunity to spend their downtime buying consumer products and keeping cash circulating through the economy.
Entire industries have grown around free time.
It is safe to say that theatres, video games, the fashion industry, beauty and health, and restaurants and bars would not have received such development without two days off.
The share of services in the structure of the world economy is growing steadily. According to the latest data from The Global Economy, it is already approaching 60% of GDP. Experts predict that it will continue to increase.
Financial loss with a four, working day week
With that said, it could be difficult to move to four working days without significant financial losses and impact on productivity.
If you look at the current five-day program, the peak of employee efficiency tends to fall on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Most Mondays are when you’re ‘getting into working mode,’ and on Friday, work activity goes down.
On the other side, a four-day week could give employees plenty of time to rest and recover and return to work feeling ready to take on new challenges.
Perhaps this could even relieve the dreaded ‘Sunday Scaries’ feeling. For example, from 2015 to 2017, Sweden conducted a trial study into a shorter workweek. “Nurses at a care home worked only six hours for five days a week. Results were largely positive with nurses logging fewer sick hours, reporting better health and mental wellbeing, and greater engagement as they arranged 85% more activities for patients in their care.”
The “nurse study” shows that another day off could be feasible if approached correctly.
Just like when we have to adapt over a certain amount of time when changing to a new schedule, businesses should consider a gradual approach for employees. This could be accomplished by introducing programs and systems at the beginning of the day, sharing reminders of new and incomplete tasks, and encouraging open conversations to make the new schedule function well.
Work less but more efficiently
The battle for efficiency has been ongoing since the 20th century. Productivity growth is the only factor that can really help reduce the working week for the foreseeable future.
No company will entertain giving an extra day off unless they’re sure the job will still get done, whether it’s by an employee or a digital doppelganger. If we want to have more free time, we’ll be expected to, at least, do the same amount of work in less time.
Tech’s role — AI and business process at work
Technology has helped give away routine tasks to machines such as entering data from documents, comparing their versions, searching for information in corporate systems, and more.
The very optimization of business processes can be managed through automation. Now, systems with AI elements can automatically calculate employee performance standards.
In addition, these solutions allow you to identify repetitive tasks in the overall workflow that can be transferred to robots.
While robots don’t do all the work for employees, they can help them free up more time and avoid boring, monotonous work. In the future, AI is expected to make even more global advances. Analysts predict that by 2022 AI will create 133 million new jobs, and by 2030, it will increase the world GDP by $15 trillion.
Although AI gives a competitive advantage to businesses, there are no revolutionary changes yet. In general, the level of productivity in different countries is not the same. For example, the most productive countries globally are in Scandinavia – Luxemburg, Norway, and Switzerland, with the U.S. listed at seventh place, followed by Ireland and Australia.
Productivity at work is not always associated with technology
Productivity is not always associated with technology. For example, it’s not customary in Germany to talk about personal matters or non-working issues, except for during lunch breaks. On a large scale, this is a significant time-saver.
Motivation and non-conformity to business procedures also play a role. However, the processes themselves can often be blamed for this. We still spend a lot of time on unnecessary stages, slow collaboration, searching for information inside the company and beyond, and duplication of tasks.
IDC estimates that up to 20% of companies’ profits are a problem each year. In this regard, the concept of digital intelligence is gradually gaining popularity across larger, well-known companies. A company that wants to improve its digital intelligence and get a sharp jump in productivity needs to fully understand the deepest aspects of its processes.
What about mining?
According to research, in the next two years, the demand for process mining solutions will grow 8-fold to $1.4bn by 2023. This is because these technologies allow you to better understand what is happening in your company at all stages and levels of processes.
Digital analysis of everything you do at work in your company
It’s a digital analysis of everything that happens in the company. Accounts, credit agreements, tax forms, payrolls, and delivery reports are all fragments of the processes on which the business is built.
Companies that have the tools to analyze and use this data correctly gain an undeniable competitive advantage. They can map processes and see where technological innovation is most appropriate and where automation will, or will not, bring significant savings in time and money.
I’m confident that using machine learning and predictive analytics will one day help change company formats and allow employees to do a week’s worth of work in less than 40 hours. Until then, I guess I better keep that golf slot for Saturday.
Image Credit: evan wise; unsplash; thank you!
RUSSIA’S DEFAULT IS A REALITY AS GRACE MONTH IS OVER
Russia’s default has finally arrived on its sovereign debt in foreign currency for the first time in more than a century. Moscow has been unable to pay the interest on two bonds in dollars despite having enough foreign exchange reserves to do so. Investors assure that they have not received payment after the grace month.
Russia is showing the consequences of the sanctions the West has massively imposed on it after the war against Ukraine.
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For months, the country has managed to find ways and shortcuts to wade through the measures that tried to isolate the government of Vladimir Putin and make the country fall into technical default. In the end, the West has achieved its goal, albeit somewhat later than expected.
Although Russia had the capacity to meet this payment, leading economic indicators —the composite PMI sank in March and remain below 50, indicating that the economy is contracting— reveal that the country is facing one of the major economic crises of recent decades.
With double-digit inflation and several leading companies on the way out, Russia will face a deep recession and perhaps years of economic stagnation.
The one-month grace period expired on Sunday on around $100 million of trapped interest payments due May 27, a deadline that is considered an event of default if not paid in the correct currency, according to Bloomberg.
Russia’s default is also backed by other data. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reveals that the Russian Government had a debt of around $40 billion in hard currency at the end of 2021 —a relatively small amount.
Although the total foreign debt exceeds $470 billion, only part of that amount is in foreign currency and a smaller part is still a liability to the Russian Government.
This is a clear symptom of the rapid transformation that the country is facing, both financially and economically. Russia will have to go on without the foreign capital flows that have historically helped finance investments in emerging countries.
The nation’s Eurobonds have been trading on the secondary market at very low levels since early March, while the central bank’s foreign exchange reserves remain frozen. Russia’s largest banks are cut off from the global financial system, leaving the country in isolation.
Published First on ValueWalk. Read Here.
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Take Inspiration From Trending and Successful eCommerce Businesses
Believe it or not, online shopping has become a massive trend nowadays, and its popularity is increasing daily. Of course, we were already in the era of digitalization, but this entire pandemic situation has made eCommerce industries flourish more than expected in the last few years.
Nowadays, everything is digitized as people buy food, groceries, cosmetics, clothes, and even electronic gadgets online. This digital revolution has made it easier for creative founders to convert their dreams and ideas into a waking reality.
Old ways and patterns of handling businesses are changing every day, and business owners need to adapt to the fluctuating market trends. And in this, some trending eCommerce businesses have taken this eCommerce industry to a whole new level. They are ruling and conquering like a boss.
Here in this blog, we will be discussing such inspiring eCommerce businesses. So, keep reading to find out more and cope for the better.
What are The Types of eCommerce Businesses?
E-commerce businesses are not limited to one particular business model. Instead, there are various sorts of eCommerce business models as per their business offerings. So have a look at some of the highly prevalent eCommerce models.
- Business to Consumer (B2C): The process of selling from business to customer comes under B2C type E-commerce.
- Business to Business (B2B): The buying and selling process between businesses comes under the B2B type of E-commerce.
- Direct to Consumer(D2C): This new idea of selling directly to end customers without the involvement of any retailer comes under D2C type E-commerce.
- Consumer to Consumer (C2C): Consumer-to-consumer sales on platforms like eBay, Etsy, Fiver, and many more come under C2C type E-commerce.
- Consumer to Business (C2B): An individual selling their services to different businesses comes C2B type E-commerce.
Examples of Successful E-commerce Businesses
1. Warby Parker
Warby Parker is popularly known for producing designer, reliable and inexpensive frames for eyeglasses. An MBA student, Neil Blumenthal, and 3 of his friends launched this eCommerce company in 2010. They proposed the idea in 2008, and took nearly two years to implement.
Their idea of business was something very essential at that period because Luxottica (Another eyewear brand) was one of the few companies that used to sell designer and reliable frames, but they were costly as compared to Warby Parker.
Warby has a free try-on policy with free shipping and numerous return offers, and this is what the brand has adopted to stand out from the crowd and appeal to its customers.
An online Mattress retailer is helping people sleep better and comforting their sleep cycle. The whole idea behind this business model was to help people realize the importance of sleep and how an adequate amount of sleep can increase their productivity and quality of life.
Their first-ever mattress was “Universal Adaptive feel.” It was so flexible that it could easily adjust to all body types.
The 100-night free trial policy worked well for their customers and made the business model a huge success. Leesa had traditional showrooms at first, but with time they also opened online stores.
ModCloth is an eCommerce company launched in 2002, selling women’s clothing worldwide. They sell fun and quirky clothes that are not so exclusive but are comfortable and budget-friendly.
Everything about their store is creative and exciting – which customers nowadays love. The copies describing their clothes are also fun to read because every product has a name and story behind it – now, this is something very catchy.
ModCloth became a brand within a few years of its launch because of its targeted marketing strategy. They know who their target audience is and what requirements they have. Knowing this has made their business reach exceptional heights within a short period of time.
Mostly we know Amazon was launched in 1995 as an online bookstore and has been flourishing since then. Now amazon is not limited to books anymore because now it sells almost everything you can think of. From groceries to clothes and even jewelry, Amazon has it all.
Right now, Amazon is one of the largest eCommerce stores by revenue worldwide. Though amazon started with no competitors, now it has Walmart as one of its biggest competitors. Last year Amazon made a revenue of $470 billion.
Amazon has adopted a stellar marketing strategy, which is targeting the right customer and offering products at comparatively lower rates.
Shopify is a SaaS (Software-as-a-service) company that provides all the tools needed by a business to run its eCommerce business smoothly. It helps them with website building, marketing, payment processing, financial tracking, and everything in between.
It is a tech infrastructure that supports more than 2 million merchants and various operations ranging from mom-and-pop businesses to global brands. Shopify made $389 million in revenue in 2016 to $4.6 billion in revenue in 2021.
The profitability of Spotify has been improving with time because, just like every SaaS business, it has also scaled up.
LARQ is a business model that makes self-cleaning water bottles that are reusable, rechargeable, and also have some advanced features. For example, it has UVC technology used to eliminate viruses & bacteria from water bottles.
LARQ has the initiative to provide clean water to everyone. They also raised $1.7 million for the same. In addition, LARQ donates 1% of its earnings to help maintain clean water worldwide.
The product was so unique and exciting that it attracted numerous customers. As a result, many environmentalists and aware citizens switched to these LARQ bottles and saved their money from buying single-use water bottles.
7. Beer Cartel
Beer Cartel, as the name suggests, is Australia’s number one beer subscription service. It is said that some ideas sell themselves; the same was the case with this one.
Beer Cartel sells beers from all around the world to their subscribers at their doorstep. This online store gives people the freedom to select their unique beer bottles at a price better than traditional stores.
One of the significant reasons for Beer Cartel’s success is that they offer exclusive taste under budget. In addition, they have a wide range of varieties that keeps their customers interested and coming back.
8. Berlin Packaging
Berlin Packaging is well known for sourcing, designing, and even distributing containers and closures for companies like fortune and various family-owned startups.
They have always provided products at a lower cost to their customers to increase the overall efficiency of their enterprise. One interesting fact about it is that it is not a new startup; it is 80 years old, in fact. But Berlin Packaging has somehow still managed to bring their customers the latest and top-quality beer.
They started this eCommerce business model to keep up with the times, which worked out well for them.
With the introduction of eBay, Bonobos knew that the eCommerce business was getting more competitive with each passing day. So, they introduced a unique business model targeting only a super-specific audience.
This strategy of narrowing down to a particular audience helped them make loyal customers who also flourished their business in the long run. Bonobo’s success made everyone realize that focusing on the competition is not good for your business’s health.
They should focus on the value they provide to their customers, and they will reach greater heights of success.
The name of the company seems fascinating, right? Well, so is their initiative. TOMS is an eCommerce company that sells its customers quality shoes that are reliable, comfortable, designer, and inexpensive.
What separates TOMS from other similar eCommerce is that with every transaction, they will help one in need. Yes! Not only this, but they also run various social media campaigns with hashtags like #withoutshoes and many more to stand out from the crowd.
Everything about their business model is catchy and interesting, making it easier for them to drive more traffic to their online shop.
What are the Biggest Benefits of eCommerce?
Shopping in the comfort of home: eCommerce has made shopping easier and more convenient for our customers. Buying and selling things is a child’s play nowadays. As a result, our purchases are simpler, faster, less time-consuming, and not so hectic.
Markets are globalized: Now, you can shop from anywhere around the world at the convenience of your home. The impact of eCommerce on the planet can easily be visible. There are no limitations or barriers to buying from a different state or country.
Building startups is not so expensive anymore! Yes, in this era of digitalization, anyone can set up their online store at a meager cost. In addition, the operating cost is minimal because both buyers and sellers are now digital.
Technologies are evolving rapidly because of this, eCommerce businesses have to see a lot of changes frequently.
If you have an eCommerce business that is not growing as expected, you must adapt to new business models that add value to your customer’s life and your e-commerce services (my business: krishaweb dot com).
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What Does the G7 Russian Gold Ban Mean for Gold Stocks?
The G7 plans to announce a ban on Russian gold imports. But does that really matter for investors? While there hadn’t been an official Russian gold ban until now, this news isn’t exactly a surprise to the industry. Today, we’re seeing that lack of reaction in gold prices.
Typically, a ban on imports for a particular commodity sends prices soaring higher. Just look at what happened to oil after Russia invaded Ukraine. As it pertains to gold, prices also initially ticked higher this morning, with the futures opening up by under 1%.
However, it has now turned lower on the day, as have the VanEck Gold Miners ETF (NYSEARCA:GDX) and the VanEck Gold Miners ETF (NYSEARCA:GDXJ).
Does the Russian Gold Ban Matter?
This latest decision does matter. However, it will have a limited impact on the global gold market and gold-mining stocks. Warren Patterson, Head of Commodities Strategy at ING Groep NV (NYSE:ING), had the following to say:
“The impact from a ban on Russian gold imports by G-7 nations is likely to be fairly limited, given that the industry already took steps to restrict Russian gold […]It looks as though its largely symbolic.”
Russia has the world’s fifth-largest gold stash according to the World Gold Council. However, it only exported roughly 5% of the world’s gold supply in 2020. A bulk of those exports — over 90% — went to the United Kingdom, a G7 member. Still, Russia will likely find buyers in China and India.
In actuality, the buying pool may shift, but it will not completely evaporate.
How Does This Affect Gold Stocks?
At this point, the ban does not seem to have much of an impact on gold stocks. There’s multiple reasons why this is the case.
- The industry seems to have largely prepped for such a ban.
- Russia is not that large of an exporter of gold.
- The efforts from central banks to raise interest rates and strengthen currencies is likely playing a more important role in regards to precious metal prices.
Ultimately, a Russian gold ban certainly doesn’t hurt gold prices — if anything, less supply is a bullish catalyst — but right now that catalyst is not reverberating through the market. However, removing Russian supply from the market will be a modest positive for gold miners.
Published First: InvestorPlace. Read Here.
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