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How the pandemic could create the flexible workplaces parents need – CBC.ca

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For Tendai Dongo, the stress and anxiety was just too much at times. A project manager at a digital education company based in Calgary, she has spent much of the pandemic balancing her job with the needs of her young daughters.

With her husband’s insurance job requiring him to be out of the house frequently, the majority of the child-care responsibilities fell to her.

Everything came to a head in December. 

“I felt that I had to quit,” said Tendai Dongo, who works at Xpan Interactive Ltd. “I had to choose … a full-time career or my mental health.”

The mother of two girls aged five and eight years old told her employer that working full-time from home while parenting was causing her a lot of stress and anxiety.

“I was just going to throw in the towel. I did not have any other opportunity out there waiting for me,” said Dongo. 

But the chaos of watching employees juggle school closures, virtual learning, quarantines and their jobs could lead to more empathetic workplaces. Some companies, including Dongo’s, are thinking creatively about how to build more flexible work arrangements for their employees.

A year into the pandemic, parents are feeling the effects of being tugged in all directions — particularly women. 

An online survey of 1,001 working Canadians conducted between Feb. 9 and 15 by ADP Canada and Leger found half of working mothers (50 per cent) reported experiencing high stress levels due to balancing child-care obligations and work, compared to 40 per cent of working fathers.

Data released by Statistics Canada also shows pandemic job losses are disproportionately affecting women. In January, for example, the employment decline for woman was more than double that of men, with 73,000 fewer women working that month compared to 33,500 fewer men.

The numbers also showed the decline in employment was pronounced among mothers whose youngest child was between the ages of six and 12. Their employment rate fell 2.9 percentage points, compared to a drop of 0.9 percentage points for all working adults.

‘It’s really, really impossibly hard’

For Danielle Ellenor, working a full-time job as an account associate for a printing company that offered little flexibility while she was home with her young children was too overwhelming. 

“It takes a huge toll on your mental health, on your kid’s mental health,” said Ellenor, an Ottawa mother of two girls aged six and seven. “It’s really, really impossibly hard.”

Her partner has been working from home too, but his management job in software sales has him in virtual meetings most of the day. 

Ottawa mother of two Danielle Ellenor quit her job in December for a more flexible career. (Mathieu Thériault/CBC)

In December, knowing that more school closures were coming, Ellenor left the company she had been with for almost 10 years to focus on her kids and transition to a more flexible career in real estate. 

“It’s a gamble that I decided to make,” said Ellenor.

There’s concern that many other women may drop out of the workforce permanently.

‘We could lose an entire class of future leaders’

McKinsey & Company conducted an online survey of more than 40,000 workers across Canada and the United States between June and August 2020.

The survey found that one in four women were contemplating downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce.

“We would lose an entire class of future leaders and in some cases existing leaders, because it spans all the way to the highest levels of organizations,” said Alexis Krivkovich, a senior partner at the global consulting firm.

But amidst the crisis comes opportunity, she said. Some companies are finding creative ways to retain their employees, such as flexible time-off schedules, re-imagining performance management and thinking differently about working hours.

“We need more of that creative thinking now to make sure that the one in four women who are saying, ‘I’m not sure I can make it through this moment’ come out the other side,” Krivkovich said.

Letting employees chart their own paths

Vancouver-based software company Bananatag has embraced flexibility during the pandemic by coming up with a “choose your own adventure” schedule for its 130 employees.

“We are quite flexible on location, preferred work style, preferred hours,” said Agata Zasada, vice-president of people and culture at Bananatag. 

Agata Zasada, vice-president of people and culture at Vancouver-based Bananatag, says the company’s ‘choose your own adventure’ schedule has kept all of their staff employed over the course of the pandemic (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

With about 50 per cent of their workforce made up of women and many parents on staff, the company wanted to remove a level of uncertainty for all of its employees.

“We haven’t lost anyone through the pandemic due to not being able to be flexible enough,” said Zasada.

Post-pandemic Bananatag will continue to let employees choose their own schedules. The company also plans to become even more flexible by entertaining the idea of job sharing and becoming more project-based.

Tendai Dongo of Airdrie, Alta., scaled back to part-time work because she was so overwhelmed by the demands of her job and her children during the coronavirus pandemic. 1:04

Carly Holm, founder and CEO of Holm & Company, a human resources company, is hopeful that some good will come out of this challenging year.

“We’ve proven that we can be flexible and still be successful and be productive and that nine-to-five is irrelevant,” said Holm. “It is completely arbitrary and doesn’t work for a lot of people.”

Holm’s firm offers HR services for small to medium-sized businesses. She says results of her client’s employee engagement surveys show that employees are happier when given flexibility, and that companies offering it are performing better.

“The companies that encourage that and have kind of that flexible, remote work, they’re going to be the ones that are going to retain the people, retain women,” said Holm. 

COVID … has catapulted institutional mindsets around flexible work into the future– Jennifer Hargreaves, founder of Tellent

When Dongo, the project manager in Calgary, told her boss she couldn’t mentally handle being a full-time employee and a mother right now, her workplace took action.

Instead of letting her quit, Xpan Interactive came up with a solution that she says is working well. 

The company dropped her workload from eight clients to one and reduced her to part-time flexible hours. She now works when she wants and when she can.  

Dongo’s salary has also been reduced. She admits she and her husband have had to start dipping into their savings, but she appreciates that her company came up with a solution that allows her to stay in the workforce. 

“I still have that sense of purpose that I am still continuing in my career,” said Dongo. 

Creating your own flexibility

Since 2016, Jennifer Hargreaves has been an advocate for more flexibility and has successfully placed women in flexible higher paying jobs through her virtual networking platform. 

“One of the benefits … of COVID is that it has catapulted institutional mindsets around flexible work into the future,” said Hargreaves, founder of Tellent, a network that provides women with access to flexible job opportunities.

Jennifer Hargreaves, founder of networking platform Tellent, says the need for flexible work among her members has skyrocketed. (Submitted by Jennifer Hargreaves)

Among her 10,000 members, she says the need for flexible work has skyrocketed.

The first step in finding that flexible job, according to Hargreaves, starts with your current employer. She encourages women to approach their companies, as Dongo did, to see if they can draw up new arrangements.

“There’s no better time like right now to negotiate what you want because everything’s up in the air,” Hargreaves said. “Employers are starting from scratch and they’re trying to figure out what this looks like as well.”

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Canadian Business During the Pandemic

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In 2019 the world was hit by the covid 19 pandemic and ever since then people have been suffering in different ways. Usually, economies and businesses have changed the way they work and do business. Most of which are going towards online and automation.

The people most effected by this are the laymen that used to work hard labors to make money for there families. But other then them it has been hard for most business to make such switch. Those of whom got on the online/ e commerce band wagon quickly were out of trouble and into the safe zone but not everyone is mace for the high-speed online world and are thus suffering.

More than 200,000 Canadian businesses could close permanently during the COVID-19 crisis, throwing millions of people out of work as the resurgence of the virus worsens across much of the country, according to new research. You can only imagine how many families these businesses were feeding, not to mention the impact the economy and the GDP is going to bear.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said one in six, or about 181,000, Canadian small business owners are now seriously contemplating shutting down. The latest figures, based on a survey of its members done between Jan. 12 and 16, come on top of 58,000 businesses that became inactive in 2020.

An estimate by the CFIB last summer said one in seven or 158,000 businesses were at risk of going under as a result of the pandemic. Based on the organization’s updated forecast, more than 2.4 million people could be out of work. A staggering 20 per cent of private sector jobs.

Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s senior director of national research, said it was an alarming increase in the number of businesses that are considering closing.

We are not headed in the right direction, and each week that passes without improvement on the business front pushes more owners to make that final decision,”

He said in a statement.

The more businesses that disappear, the more jobs we will lose, and the harder it will be for the economy to recover.

In total, one in five businesses are at risk of permanent closure by the end of the pandemic, the organization said.

The new sad research shows that this year has been horrible for the Canadian businesses.

 

The beginning of 2021 feels more like the fifth quarter of 2020 than a new year,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the CFIB, in a statement.

She called on governments to help small businesses “replace subsidies with sales” by introducing safe pathways to reopen to businesses.

There’s a lot at stake now from jobs, to tax revenue to support for local soccer teams,”

Jones said.

Let’s make 2021 the year we help small business survive and then get back to thriving.”

The whole world has suffered a lot from the pandemic and the Canadian economy has been no stranger to it. We can only pray that the world gets rid of this pandemic quickly and everything become as it used to be. Although I think it is about time, we start setting new norms.

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Shopify shares edge up after falling on executive departures

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By Chavi Mehta

(Reuters) -Shopify Inc shares edged higher on Thursday, recovering partially from the previous day’s fall, with analysts saying the news of planned senior executive departures may have limited impact due to the company’s deep talent pool.

Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday the company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all leave their roles.

“We remain confident it (Shopify) can continue to execute at a high level, despite the departures,” Tom Forte, analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co said, pointing to the company’s “deep bench of talented executives.”

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the past year as many businesses went virtual during the COVID-19 lockdowns, turning it into Canada‘s most valuable company.

Shopify declined to comment further on Lutke’s statement suggesting current company leaders would step in to fill the three roles. After chief product officer Craig Miller left in September, Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

The Ottawa-based company is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

Jonathan Kees, analyst at Summit Insights Group, called the timing of the departures “a little alarming” but said the specific roles make it less concerning, given that the executives leaving are “more back-office roles.”

Lutke said each one of them had their individual reasons to leave, without giving details.

“I am willing to give Tobi’s explanation the benefit of the doubt,” Kees added.

Toronto-listed shares of Shopify were up 3.5% at C$1526.41 on Thursday, giving it a market value of C$188 billion ($150 billion). It ended down 5.1% on Wednesday.

“While we would refer to the departure of three high-level executives as ‘significant,’ we would not refer to it as a ‘brain drain,'” Forte added.

($1 = 1.2541 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Dan Grebler)

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Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company: CEO

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By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) – Three of e-commerce platform Shopify’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, chief executive officer and founder of Canada‘s most valuable company Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all transition out of their roles, Lutke said, adding that they have been “spectacular and deserve to take a bow.”

“Each one of them has their individual reasons but what was unanimous with all three was that this was the best for them and the best for Shopify,” he said.

The trio follow the departure of Craig Miller, chief product officer, in September. Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the last year as many businesses went virtual during COVID-19 lockdowns. It has a market cap valuation of C$182.7 billion ($146 billion), above Canada‘s top lender Royal Bank of Canada.

It is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

“We have a phenomenally strong bench of leaders who will now step up into larger roles,” Lutke said, but did not name replacements.

Shopify said in February revenue growth would slow this year as vaccine rollouts encourage people to return to stores and warned it does not expect 2020’s near doubling of gross merchandise volume, an industry metric to measure transaction volumes, to repeat this year.

Chief talent officer, Brittany Forsyth, was the 22nd employee hired at Shopify and has been with the company for 11 years. She said on Twitter that post-Shopify she would be focusing on Backbone Angels, an all-female collective of angel investors she co-founded in March.

Shopify shares fell 5.1% while the benchmark Canadian share index ended marginally down.

($1 = 1.2515 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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