BY REGINA BOYLE WHEELER
For the foreseeable future, the COVID-19 pandemic is drastically changing the way we live. Public health officials continue their urgent calls for social distancing as this physical separation between you and other people is currently one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of the virus and ease the mounting burden on the health care system. So, in these uncertain times, just when we need each other the most, we’re urged to keep our distance.
Even as schools, businesses, churches, and seemingly everything shuts down, staying connected is vital—even while we hunker down at home.
Make virtual connections
Thanks to 21st-century technology, connecting to others from a distance is easier than ever.
- Use Skype, Zoom or other video conferencing platforms to have coffee or happy hour “with” friends or “lunch” with co-workers who are working from home. Host a virtual book club or card game.
- Start a family group text and share jokes, news or videos of your silly dog.
- Use FaceTime or similar video chat apps on your smartphone to virtually visit family or friends who live just around the corner, or on the other side of the world.
- If you have a Chrome browser on a desktop or laptop computer, use Netflix Party to watch movies and shows with your friends simultaneously. Use the group chat function so you can talk about what you’re seeing as if you were in the same room.
- Since most gyms are closed, many are offering free resources for people who want to continue their workouts virtually. Fitness chain Planet Fitness is live streaming free 20-minute “work ins” via Facebook at 7 p.m. ET daily.
- Your religious life can be an even greater source of support now. Many religious institutions are offering either live-streamed services or taped versions. Check your organization’s website or Facebook page.
Take advantage of social media
In times like these, social media platforms can not only help you help others but also help you feel connected to the world around you.
- Set up a neighbourhood Facebook or Nextdoor group so neighbors can post notices, share resources or alert others to someone who’s in need. Nextdoor has launched Help Map so neighbors can locate those who need food or supplies and people who are willing to pitch in.
- Storytime is online too. Check out the Storyline Online YouTube channel. It features a variety of celebrities reading kids’ books.
- Join Pinterest to find new recipes to make for your family or search for DIY projects to improve your home.
- Check out #quarantinelife or #socialdistancing on Twitter to see how other people around the world are spending their time and connecting. Search for other hashtags that interest you.
There are also low-tech ways that can help. Write letters, send care packages, pictures and the like, suggests Kozlov. “Not everyone has access to technology, so make sure you’re finding ways to send ‘mood boosts’ to those who don’t have access,” she says.
Older people, especially those with underlying health conditions, are at higher risk of complications if they get COVID-19. For their safety, nursing homes and long-term care facilities are tightly restricting or banning visitation. This is the same population that might not have access to technology and are at risk of social isolation, Kozlov says. So “old school” solutions like sending a card or making a phone call can really brighten their day.
Wondering if you could be exposed to COVID-19 through contaminated mail or packages? It’s very unlikely.
The chances of being infected by letters or boxes that have been “moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature” is low, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds that “In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.”
That said, frequent handwashing, including after receiving and opening mail, is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for infection.
Bond with your pet
Your pet is an important social connection and can be a stress reliever, too. A 2019 study published in AERA Open found that even a brief time interacting with pets can help lower stress. Researchers divided about 250 college students into four groups: one petted cats and dogs for 10 minutes; one watched the activity; a third simply viewed a slideshow of the animals; and the fourth didn’t touch or view the animals at all. They found that the hands-on petters had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva than the other three groups.
Important to note: The CDC recommends restricting contact with pets if you get COVID-19 because the risk of transmission between humans and animals is not yet well understood.
Take a breather
Go outside for walks, exercise, fresh air and sunshine, if allowed in your community. You can pass people on the street (maintaining the safe six-foot distance) and wave hello and exchange a smile or a few pleasantries.
“The videos of people in Italy singing out their windows is so moving, and people in my neighborhood have taken to standing on their front steps at 5 pm and singing ‘We Are the Champions’ together,” Kozlov says. “This is a great way to feel like you are part of something bigger.”
That underscores the idea that social distancing can be reframed as an act of social cohesiveness. If we all do this, we’re protecting ourselves and others as well, Kozlov says.
She encourages people to adjust their thinking about this trying time in another way, too.
“Take this time and try to think of it as something other than ‘the time the country shut down.’ Maybe it can also be ‘the time I learned a new skill, the time I read all the books I’ve been meaning to read, the time I watched all the classic movies, the time I reached out to old friends and cultivated our relationships,’ etc. We are all very much in this together, so find your community (from a distance) and try to support one another.”
Edited for ILSTV
Emerging technologies and intensifying competition provide occasions for reinvention
- Consumer trust, legacy technology and talent challenges create more urgency for change
- Defining a clear vision of the future crucial to long-term value creation
- An aspirational purpose, new offerings or traditional business models no longer enough
TORONTO, Feb. 26, 2020 – Canadian insurers must rethink existing business models to overcome the complex challenges brought on by new emerging technologies and intensifying competition.
“Canadian insurance providers are vulnerable to shifting trends within their own industry,” says Neil Pengelly, EY Canada Insurance Technology Leader. “Declining levels of consumer trust, along with legacy technology systems and a growing skills gap are creating more urgency for change. Those with a clear vision of the future and the courage to invest in thoughtful, customer-focused business models will emerge as leaders in the new economy.”
EY’s NextWave Insurance: personal and small commercial 2020 report outlines how providers can’t afford to be all things to all customers. They’ll have to focus and prioritize as they redesign their business models. Canadian insurers can embark on the right path forward by considering how to:
- Create seamless digital experiences: The most effective insurers will drive growth and capture customer loyalty and market share by anticipating consumer needs, targeting and cross-selling more effectively, building out robust self-service capabilities and focusing on data-driven customer relationships.
- Leverage relationships to enhance business processes and customer experiences: Insurance providers can expand the value of their offerings and rapidly move to cloud-based platforms by partnering with ecosystem relationships (e.g. sharing platforms, social media, InsurTechs and data providers) to offer specialized, but complementary services in mutually beneficial ways.
- Take a proactive approach to personal and commercial cyber risk protection: Insurance providers can build trust and confidence with consumers by developing effective techniques — from proactive monitoring to incident response — to fight cyber threats, adopting the strongest possible defences to protect their customers from identity theft and data breaches.
“While tomorrow’s leading insurance businesses will be purpose-led in their strategies — including more agile with their resources and dramatically more customer-centric — the most important capability will be their ability to drive organizational change,” says Pengelly. “Creating an aspirational purpose, new offerings or traditional business models isn’t enough. Insurers must also get better at execution.”
Read the full EY NextWave Insurance: personal and small commercial 2020 report.
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.
For more information, please visit ey.com/ca. Follow us on Twitter @EYCanada.
EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. Information about how EY collects and uses personal data and a description of the rights individuals have under data protection legislation are available via ey.com/privacy. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.
SOURCE EY (Ernst & Young)
– Majority of workers (56 percent) connect with the office during break
– Professionals in New York, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Miami and Seattle check in the most; Cleveland and Minneapolis the least
– Seven in 10 millennials check in with the office, while majority of workers ages 55 and older fully disconnect on holiday
– Employees plan to take an average of 9 days off this summer, down from 10 in 2017
Summer is typically when workers take time off to relax and recharge. But just because employees take vacation days doesn’t mean they’re completely checking out, according to a new survey from staffing firm Accountemps. While 44 percent typically don’t check in at all with the office, the majority will. In fact, 70 percent of respondents ages 18 to 34 will maintain some contact with work compared to only 39 percent of those ages 55 and older.
Professionals plan to take an average of nine vacation days this summer, but the frequency of office check-ins varies by market. Here are highlights among the 28 cities included in the poll:
- Never out of office: Nashville, Dallas and Los Angeles lead in terms of the number of workers who plan to take no summer vacation.
- Checking in constantly: Employees in New York, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Miamiand Seattle are most likely to connect with the office at least several times a week.
- Leaving town and never looking back: Professionals in Cleveland, Minneapolis, Denver, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City are best at disconnecting from work while out of office.
View an infographic of workers’ summer vacation habits by city. Data tables of the research by age and gender are also available.
Findings from similar surveys show employees are more connected to the office than ever: In 2016, a majority of workers (59 percent) said they never check in while on vacation; that number fell to 47 percent in 2017 and 44 percent this year.
Michael Steinitz, executive director for Accountemps, gives insight into the trend. “Employees need time away from work to rest, relax and recharge. Yet for an increasing number of people, totally disconnecting from the office can have the reverse effect and add stress,” he said.
“Some workers enjoy greater peace of mind when they allow themselves to check in a few times — but not much more than that — while on vacation,” Steinitz added. “Doing so confirms that all is well, which allows them to stop worrying and focus on relaxing instead.”
About the Research
The survey was developed by Accountemps and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 2,800 workers in 28 U.S. markets.
Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has 325 locations worldwide. More resources, including job search services and the company’s blog, can be found at roberthalf.com/accountemps.
Supporting parents and young families has always been a priority for the Government of Canada. That is why the Government will introduce the Employment Insurance parental sharing benefit.
Today, at the Armadale Community Centre, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, announced that in less than a month, soon-to-be parents will be eligible to receive extra weeks of parental benefits. In an effort to encourage more parents to share the work of raising their children more equally, the Government of Canada will launch the parental sharing benefit on March 17, 2019.
The new measure will be available to parents, including adoptive or same-sex parents, for a child born or placed for the purpose of adoption on or after March 17, 2019—as long as they are eligible for and share their Employment Insurance parental benefits. When parents agree to do so, they will benefit from one of the following:
- 5 additional weeks of parental benefits when choosing the standard option; or
- 8 additional weeks for those who choose the extended option
Corresponding changes to the Canada Labour Code will also be made to ensure that federally regulated private-sector employees have the right to take leave while receiving the new parental sharing benefits without fear of losing their job.
“As we’ve seen in Quebec, and in other jurisdictions that have implemented similar policies, this type of benefit has been proven to encourage a more balanced sharing of child care responsibilities. This new measure will help us break down barriers to gender equality by making it easier for mothers to return to work sooner if they wish, reducing the wage gap between women and men, and helping Canadians spend more time with their families.”
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
”Modernizing parental leave will help more women participate in the economy while encouraging two-parent families to share in the responsibilities and joys of raising children. The families of Markham–Thornhill will benefit from more time spent with their children and all Canadians will benefit from yet another progressive policy that is making life easier for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, and Member of Parliament for Markham–Thornhill
- Up to 97,000 Canadian parents are expected to claim the parental sharing benefit per year.
- Since it was launched in December 2017, more than 32,000 parents established a claim for extended parental benefits, higher than the anticipated 20,000 claims per year.
- In 2016-17, women represented 85 percent of all parental benefits claims made, indicating that child care duties continue to fall heavily on mothers.
- In 2017, in large part due to the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan, 81 percent of spouses or partners of recent mothers in Quebec claimed or intended to claim parental benefits, compared to only 12 percent in the rest of Canada.
SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada