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Introducing new-collar workers

April 27, 2022

So now that Elon Musk bought Twitter, we gotta ask — is he gonna go after the @elon handle?

In this week's edition:

  • How new-collar workers are shifting the U.S. workforce.
  • Making the case for (and against) alternative work schedules.
  • Harnessing the power of change to level up your business.
  • Is WhatsApp the hottest new business comm tool?


‘New-collar’ workers are shifting the U.S. workforce

“New-collar,” eh? That’s different.
Sure is. You’re probably already familiar with blue-collar workers. White-collar workers, too. But the pandemic created a new category in the American workforce: new-collar workers. These individuals made the leap from hourly-paid, blue-collar jobs to new roles in tech that come with better pay and schedules — without the need for a college degree.

What’s the backstory?
According to a survey sent to 80,000 workers around the world, a tenth of Americans made the leap from jobs in hospitality and manufacturing to tech-related roles in logistics, finance, and healthcare in the past two years.

And there are two main reasons:

  1. A mass increase in tech jobs.
  2. The Great Resignation: a sizable pool of tech workers quit or switched jobs, leaving companies with a hefty amount of roles to fill.

How is this impacting SMBs?
It’s rewriting the hiring standards most businesses — especially in the tech sector — have in place. Meaning, college degrees aren’t the meal ticket they once were. They’re nice to have, but coding bootcamps, skill platforms (like Skillshare or Udemy), and even good ol’ YouTube university are helping the workforce level up without the four-year commitment. And employers aren’t mad at it.

So when your next job applicant comes along, consider giving them a shot (if you normally wouldn’t have). Because new-collar workers might be more than just a trend — looks like they could be here to stay.


Can your SMB adopt an alternative work schedule?

PHOTO: A white male sitting on a couch with his legs stretched out. He has a laptop in his lap and is drinking from a mug.o

What, like four-day workweeks?
That’s one example! There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about companies ditching the standard 40-hour workweek.

On April 1, 38 U.S. and Canadian businesses embarked on a six-month pilot program to try a four-day, 32-hour workweek. The Martin Agency added their own special company-wide holidays to give their employees a three-day weekend at least once a month. At Trainual, the business operates “flex-first” — meaning, employees are allowed to work when, where, and how they work best without a strict schedule.

Why is this trend popping up now?
People want flexibility — in fact, 95% of employees stated that they want flexible hours. And right now, it’s hard to recruit and retain employees. Which is why companies are changing their policies and making employee happiness their top priority.

So, should I change my company’s work schedule?
Like all policy changes, there are pros and cons. Alternative schedules can entice potential job candidates and help you retain the employees you already have. Employees with flexible schedules also reported feeling healthier and more satisfied with their jobs.

But downsides include increased pressure on your team to perform to your normal standard so your customers don’t suffer. Plus, the struggle to accommodate your employees’ schedules while ensuring equal work coverage every day is so much harder for SMBs (especially service-based businesses) because they have to contend with smaller teams and fewer resources.

So, the choice is up to each individual SMB owner. If you can make an alternative work schedule (AWS) work with your business while reaching your goals, go for it. Otherwise, you may need to stick with your regularly scheduled programming.


How to get ahead of constant business changes

Photo: A white woman smiling with her hands in her pockets.

You pegged me. I feel like I’m constantly playing defense.
You’re not alone! SMB entrepreneurs have to react to changes and fluctuations in operations almost daily. Good news: Allyson Caffrey, founder and CEO of Operations Agency, jumped on the Organize Chaos podcast to give her top three pieces of advice for proactively absorbing business changes and pivoting operations in 2022.

Tip #1: Embrace hybrid work and foster community.
Now that employees know that flexible work environments are here to stay, they’re going to be less willing to go back to that time-sucking daily commute. So if you can, consider embracing hybrid work so your talent doesn’t go find it elsewhere.

But as your team members work apart from each other, remember to make time for relationship-building. Whether it’s stretching out meetings to squeeze in team-building activities or starting a virtual book club — make time to talk about something other than work.

Tip #2: Learn about the Metaverse and how to implement it.
There’s a good chance you’ve heard about the Metaverse. But if you’re not sure how it fits into your business, it’s time to start learning about it! That way, you’re ready to pivot if virtual reality starts going mainstream in your industry.

Tip #3: Get every employee motivated to update processes.
Thanks to constant change, your business will continually need to update processes and adapt. But how do you get your team involved?

Start by making process creation part of your employees' core responsibilities. That way, your whole team will have the resources they need to ​take on whatever change comes next!

👉 Read the full podcast summary.


WhatsApp: from messaging star to social media leader?

The background
WhatsApp is an online messaging and video calling app with end-to-end encryption (meaning only two pairs of eyes can see what you’re sending — you and the person you’re messaging). And for those who aren’t in the know, the app is also incredibly popular — it hosts 2B active monthly users from over 180 countries.

Meta acquired WhatsApp for $19B in 2014, hoping to turn it into an advertising revenue generator. However, because of the app’s privacy settings, data was hard to collect, and so the company formerly known as Facebook had to scrap their plans.

The news
Meta recently announced a new approach with their popular messaging app — they’re launching Communities, where users can now connect privately in larger discussion groups.

Sound familiar? Arguably, the plan is similar to another Meta feature: Facebook Groups. But here’s where WhatsApp’s encryption comes into play — Communities are invite-only and non-searchable. Plus, members’ phone numbers are visible, making Communities more intimate than Groups, which have traditionally connected strangers.

What does this mean for me?
Meta is putting WhatsApp on the social media map, but does that mean you need to add it to your business’s social network? It depends. Community-based social platforms like Discord have become increasingly popular and are great ways for businesses to connect with their customer base on a more intimate level.

WhatsApp’s Communities feature could function as your business’s go-to communication tool. And while customers might find the intimacy of shared phone numbers too high a hurdle to jump, it doesn’t mean you can’t use WhatsApp as a forum for your employees or your consultants.


This week's highlight reel

  • Optimus Prime. Looks like businesses can now harness the power of Amazon’s shipping sorcery. The everything-and-the-kitchen-sink retailer recently launched Buy with Prime, a new service that lets third-party merchants use Amazon’s vast shipping and logistics network to fulfill orders on their own sites. Because good things also come to those who really don’t want to wait.
  • #HashItOut. If you’re still hashtagging your Instagram posts so they look like a really confusing word cloud, IG’s Chief Adam Mosseri wants you to stop. Apparently, research shows a post’s distribution and views aren't influenced by the amount of hashtags it has. So… can we go back to calling it a pound sign yet, or what?
  • Swap, drop, and roll out. Home swapping might be in your very near future. That’s because two Opendoor alums have raised $7.75M to launch Kindred, a network for exchanging homes. The goal? To make travel and remote work more accessible — and affordable.
  • Penguin parcel. 1. Can you sort mail? 2. But more importantly, do you like… penguins? A remote post office in Antarctica was hiring for seasonal positions last week (applications have since closed, but keep an eye out for more!). Job duties include selling postage stamps, sorting mail, and counting penguins as part of a research study. Co-workers share one bedroom and shower once every two weeks, but hey — penguins.


Here’s what else is on The Manual’s mind

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