By: Manny Otiko, IVN Staff Writer
Statewide — Ron Williams brings his 40 years of experience in the business world to the Inland Valley News. He will share his thoughts on Corporate America, leadership and entrepreneurship in a bi-weekly column.
Williams, vice president of Personal Services Plus, started in the corporate world in the 1970s at Wilson Sporting Goods. Over the years, he’s worked as chief of staff for the HR Department for the District of Columbia and general manager for the Western Region at Nike. He also worked at Pelle Pelle and Champion Products. He provides a broad knowledge from both the private and public sectors of the business world.
Williams also speaks on the topic of leadership and management and offers leadership training classes. Williams is the author of the book, “Rhythmic Leadership.” He offers some unique insights into the current state of the workforce.
Williams says the Covid-19 pandemic has completely upended the business world. That will mean radical changes for both workers and managers.
When things return to the new normal, workers will find a different workspace. Williams said that more companies will move towards working at home since it has been proven that work can be done this way. This might be an upside for workers, who can avoid commuting, but Williams also predicted many companies will opt to hire workers as part-time employees or on a project basis.
“There’s going to be more gig work,” he said. “Covid-19 has changed the layout of the workforce.”
Business leaders are also going to have to adapt to the new environment. Williams said managers are going to have to become more empathetic as they’re dealing with nervous employees who are wary about returning to the workforce.
“Businesses have to make the decision between lives and livelihoods,” said Williams.
We have already witnessed some of the issues that Williams predicted. Tech companies such as Twitter and Square have decided to allow employees to work from home as long as they want. (Twitter and Square are both run by Jack Dorsey.)
“We want employees to be able to work where they feel most creative and productive,” said Square in an email, according to CNET. “Squares will be able to work from home permanently, even once offices begin to reopen.”
Google and Facebook have allowed workers to work from home until the end of the year. FOX News is also currently allowing its employees to work from home, even though its on-air personalities are encouraging Americans to return to work.
But not all workers have that option. Workers in the meat-packing industry are mandated to return to work, even though there have been thousands of cases of Covid-19 at these facilities. Several meatpacking workers have died after they contracted the coronavirus on the job. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported close to 5,000 cases of Covid-19 at meatpacking plants and at least 20 deaths.
“Improving physical distancing, hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, and medical leave policies, and providing educational materials in languages spoken by workers might help reduce COVID-19 in these settings and help preserve the function of this critical infrastructure industry,” said the CDC.
However, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that deemed the meat-packing industry essential. The legislation also protects the companies from lawsuits.
But this issue makes meat-processing industry companies look as if they value profit over human lives. Williams said they’re making decisions based on what’s good for the company over what’s good for their workers.
“Some companies have listened more to the politics of the issue instead of the science of the issue,” he said.