Living/Working May 15, 2020

Living/Working

May 15, 2020

Post-pandemic workplace will be more tech-intensive

More companies forced to adopt automation, e-commerce to stay afloat, experts say

Delivery of takeout orders from restaurants is a growth business in the COVID-19 era | Chung Chow

The potential for visiting an office, picking up a pen to sign in and shaking hands with the first person to say hello looks decidedly iffy in a post-pandemic workplace.

“We think the days of visiting a location without following mandated health and safety precautions are going away or gone,” said Keith Metcalfe, CEO of Traction Guest Inc.

“Now everybody’s in the position of saying, ‘Those [days] are gone, now what do I do?’”

The Burnaby-based startup specializes in visitor management technology for companies like Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq:NFLX), and last year raised US$13 million in a Series A financing round.

With restrictions slowly easing and some workplaces reopening, Traction Guest this month unveiled new “contactless screening” technology.

The platform sends a link to visitors’ smartphones before they arrive at an office or manufacturing site with instructions on how to proceed.

Visitors use their smartphones to scan in at a company iPad without touching any surfaces, and they may be prompted with further instructions from there.

“When you come into a location, regardless of what it might be, there is now more than ever a need to have people sign in and sign out for record purposes,” Metcalfe said.

“However, people generally don’t want to be touching what other people have already touched.”

More broadly, as a result of the pandemic, expect technology to transform businesses previously reluctant to change, and accelerate trends for those already proving to be nimble, said Parisa Mahboubi, a senior policy analyst at the C.D. Howe Institute.

“With the beginning of the crisis and the impacts of the pandemic, we all realized that technology could help keep some jobs in place – basically any organizations and businesses that have been able to basically provide alternative work arrangements to shift from being in the workplace to being at home,” she said.

But Mahboubi added that the pandemic could result in a permanent shift in the labour market, requiring many workers to undergo retraining as, for example, more cashiers give way to automated checkout terminals.

“Yes, some jobs may disappear, but at the same time, new jobs will be created,” she said, adding government and business will need to invest in retraining many in the workforce following the pandemic.

Mahboubi said the impact will be felt deepest in the service sector, which has already seen a dramatic shift in online orders for everything from food delivery to curbside pickup for housewares.

But it’s unclear whether the agriculture is in a position right now to move away from its dependency on temporary foreign workers and invest heavily in automated processes, she added.

A March 2018 report from RBC Economics concluded four million young Canadians entering the workforce in the next 10 years are “unprepared” for sweeping changes to the workforce brought on by automation.

It may be a different story on the West Coast, however.

“Workers in British Columbia and Ontario face the lowest risk of disruption due to automation,” stated a separate 2018 study from the C.D. Howe Institute.

“Those two provinces also face a relatively low polarization of risk in the distribution of employment and a smaller fraction of employment in occupations that are likely automatable.”

The Toronto-based think tank’s report, Risk and Readiness: The Impact of Automation on Provincial Labour Markets, examined the composition of each provincial labour market based on factors such as basic skills, education and the proportion of jobs susceptible to automation. Jobs most vulnerable to technological change are those heavy on calculations and light on subtle human interactions, such as bookkeeping or assembly-line work.

Mark Thompson, a professor emeritus of industrial relations at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, said in the past the economy expanded enough that workers such as telephone and elevator operators were able to find new careers when old jobs disappeared due to advances in technology.

“So now we’re in a situation where there have been labour shortages in some areas. I think people might transition successfully into some of these other areas of the economy,” he said.

“I don’t see the predictions of mass unemployment and armies of people being out of work – they haven’t proven out in the past, and I wouldn’t expect them to in the future. If the economy is expanding, there will be other jobs created, people will find new careers of one kind or another.” •

 
Leading

Ottawa overreaching with its LEEFF bailout benefits requirements

We overreach. We get out of our lanes.

It’s human. In crisis, it’s common.

In COVID-19 times, who hasn’t made a broad prediction outside of their expertise?

And with more time on our hands, with more of a mess on theirs, the pandemic is teaching us much about the innate traits of our institutions and their leaders.

Some of what we have seen has been shameless and shameful: a remorseless U.S. president and a furtive initial coverup from COVID-19 Ground Zero. And we could as Canada quite properly, smugly squawk, but don’t – and likely can’t, or at least shouldn’t.

Not if we know what we need and what is good for us. We need America and China. We don’t recover or flourish until they do. We have to hope against the evidence before us that it happens.

Our leadership could press itself into the vulnerable pain points of others, apply that smarminess that comes with relative success in tackling challenges, and try to make a teachable moment out of tough times.

Not now. Not soon.

Justin Trudeau has bitten his lip almost every day before the cameras about Donald Trump, just as he has for months about Xi Jinping. The day may come to remind them we catch a cold when they sneeze somewhere else than into their sleeves, that their handling of a crisis has splattered the virus our way.

Right now, though, it is way wiser than not to stay in the lane.

Which, it merits reminding, might also be a wise message about the domestic scene.

Last week’s announcement of the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF), a federal lender-of-last-resort program for larger, destitute firms, could have used some congruence in how government treats its own as it treats its two largest trading partners. As in discreetly, delicately.

But no: overreach arrived; the lane has been strayed from.

The federal government has been largely keeping its place in this crisis, allotting support every which way it can and asking only that Canadians don’t take advantage of the offerings at this susceptible moment.

Now, in their most desperate throes, large firms find themselves subjected to an excessive scrutiny of their plans and operations – how they will structure, invest, compensate, employ and even commit to a partisan policy on climate action. The government isn’t asking Canadians how they’ll spend their emergency relief, but this new program is asking business exactly that.

Bear in mind these are neither bailouts nor grants – where strings, even leashes are properly attached – but simply bridging loans. And as others have noted, the government got these businesses into this survival mode by shuttering the economy as the pandemic struck.

So, out of the vault has resurfaced a trait we have seen at times in government. It is not content with addressing one problem; it senses an opening to solve more at once.

To wit: qualifying businesses for this program would be required by Ottawa to provide a plan on how they support “environmental sustainability and national climate action goals” to get the credit to avert insolvency. This amounts to hostage taking in the form of policy creep.

To be clear, to keep critics at bay: climate change is upon us. But please, one problem at a time in these times. Complicating the task in this context is inappropriate. While businesses are finding their feet, you cannot expect them to walk on water.

There will be a day to return to the climate change agenda, and ferociously, just as there will be a day to return to the behaviour of the leadership of America and China. 

Meantime, bring on the shipments of masks and goods and trade. Trump may meet his match in November; we would get to tell him not to slam the door on the way out of our lives.

For the time being, and the foreseeable time ahead, we have to accept results that are good enough, not great, and set aside our quest of the long-term gain for the short-term pain of stalling what were recently our imperatives. For ourselves, not just for others. •

Kirk LaPointe is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and the vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.

 

 
Spending

11 new places offering take-out and delivery in Vancouver

Burgers, beers, BBQ, and so much more from Vancouver restaurants to your door

Get Nero's famous mini waffles to go in packs of seven or 21 | Photo: courtesy Nero Belgian Waffle Bar

More and more Vancouver restaurants are re-opening their kitchens to serve up dishes available for pick-up or delivery as a means to carry on during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Plus, there have been some exciting openings of new ventures boldly stepping into the marketplace, despite how challenging things are right now for the restaurant industry.

This is great news for Vancouver food fans, who can bring home tiki vibes with fresh new cocktail kits, get their hands on some serious burgers, or turn date night at home into something next-level with fresh west coast fare. 

Over the last few weeks, Vancouver restaurant owners have approached operations from a number of new models - some are focusing on take-and-make kits, while others are rounding out their offerings with pantry and grocery items to help keep your fridge and cupboards stocked. While many restaurants are on board with existing food carrier companies, others are keeping it in-house, which means they're limited to pick-up, or they're trying out doing their own deliveries.  

If you're looking for a few places that have just launched new food takeout or delivery programs - including some new on the scene spots - here are a handful of note.

Fresh Sheet for Thursday, May 14, 2020

Nero Belgian Waffle Bar - Seymour St.

One of Vancouver's favourite sweet snacks is now available for curbside pick-up. Mini waffles can now be ordered in packs of 7 or 21 to be picked-up from Nero’s Seymour location. All the classic flavours are available as well as some new and creative flavours that will rotate every week. Pickup is available from Wednesday through Sunday, from 2 to 7 p.m. Limited quantities of mini waffles will be available for take-out as well. 

Pastificio di Luigi

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Launched May 1, Pastificio di Luigi is operating out of Pourhouse, offering house-made pasta, take-home pasta and sauces, grocery staples, and specialty Italian items (think canned tomatoes, olive oils, and sliced meats and cheese). The menu for Pastificio di Luigi is lead by Kitchen Table Executive Chef Alessandro Vianello, who oversees all of the restaurants.

Lil Bird Sandwich Co.

A take-out window for sandwiches has moved into Kafka's Coffee at their Main Street location. Here, customers can safely order-up nourishing eats on house-made sourdough bread. To get things started, Lil Bird will be offering four sandwich options and fresh lemonade. For the true little "birds" in your life, aka the kids, there's a Wee Bird Meal, which includes a small sandwich, apple slices, and a cookie. 

Honolulu Coffee Vancouver 

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Photo courtesy Honolulu Coffee

Honolulu Coffee has reopened both of its cafes in downtown Vancouver (888 Nelson) and Kerrisdale (2098 W. 41st Ave.) for five days a week service. Their new ‘Aloha to Go’ offerings feature an array of warm-weather favourites like iced Hawaiian Lattes, açaí bowls, cold brew and fresh-fruit smoothies as well as fresh-baked pastries, cookies and more available by phone for contactless, cashless pickup or delivery through Doordash and Uber Eats.

Dixies BBQ

Dixies has had a roller coaster few months. Last year they closed their Hastings Street restaurant, but continued to offer catering and delivery for their Texas-style eats. Since the COVID-19 crisis, they continued to deliver but focused on things like burgers. Now they've put BBQ back on the menu: their mouthwatering beef brisket and pork ribs have returned and are available in limited quantities for delivery via UberEats and Doordash or direct pick up by ordering online.

BRGR BRGR

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Abbotsford's BRGR BRGR has slid into the Vancouver market. Photo: BRGR BRGR/Facebook

A burger joint that launched just a few months ago out in Abbotsford is expanding its reach with the recent addition of take-out and delivery service from a Gastown restaurant. Now BRGR BRGR is firing up their burgers made with fresh, regionally sourced ingredients out of the kitchen of Noodlebox in Gastown (108 West Hastings Street), offering pick-up and delivery (via DoorDash and UberEats).

Bishop's

These were supposed to be the final, celebratory months of dining at veteran Kitsilano restaurant Bishop's - but COVID-19 had other plans for the beloved eatery. Closed since mid-March, this week Bishop's launched an "at-home" menu. Order up date-night or treat-yourself dinners made of dishes like Slow Roasted Fraser Valley Duck Confit and West Coast Seafood Chowder with sides of fresh-baked foccacia and Seasonal Berry Cheesecake for dessert.

Takenaka

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Photo: Takenaka/Facebook

This is a brand-new business offering stunning kaiseki bento sets and other beautiful Japanese dishes like chirashi bowls, aburi sushi, and sashimi. Customers can place orders via Uber, Doordash or Fantuan for delivery, or you can order direct from the website and pick-up from their "commercial kitchen located in the heart of nowhere at 1370 East Georgia Street in East Van."

Bells and Whistles

Fraser Street's popular spot for catching a game and enjoying some high-quality brews and grub has just re-opened to offer take-out. Use their online site to pre-order from their menu of brews and ciders along with snacks, burgers, salads, and sides. You can get their delicious soft serve sundaes from their walk-up window, too, for those sunny ice cream kind of days. 

Juju's Drink Shack

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Cocktail kits. Photo courtesy Juju's Drink Shack

Launched this month out of Published on Main, the concept brings together Tiki-style drinks and a rotating menu of pan-Asian dishes. To get things going, Juju's will help you bring the Tiki vibes to your own home with their six classic cocktail kits, each featuring Flor de Cana rum. Eats include things like coconut prawns and pork belly "bar bites." Orders can be made online for pick-up and delivery on Tock or delivery via DoorDash. 

Brewhall

Olympic Village's Brewhall has recently kicked-off their take-out service. The menu includes burgers, bowls, salads, pizzas, and kids' items. Beer, cider, Nütrls, and wine are also available. All takeout food orders receive 30% off from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 20% off from 5 p.m. to close. They've also got some take and make kits for pizzas and burgers, as well as a few grocery staples.

Vancouver Is Awesome

 
Spending

Recreational boaters asked to avoid non-essential travel over long weekend

Recreational boaters and operators of non-motorized watercraft are asked to avoid non-essential travel over the May long weekend due to COVID-19 | Photo: Getty Images

The Canadian Coast Guard British Columbia’s recreational boaters to avoid unnecessary travel over the May long weekend.

Those boaters – if they choose to go on the water this weekend or this spring – should also follow public health guidelines and “proceed with common sense and good judgement.”

That messaging is part of a joint statement issued Thursday by the federal government, Emergency Management BC, the RCMP, United States Coast Guard and Destination BC.

Those agencies, along with the Canadian Armed Forces, Indigenous Services Canada, Parks Canada and other federal partners, are working together to ensure all mariners on the water stay safe, and that they are observing B.C. and Canada’s COVID-19 protocols, according to the statement. 

People who operate non-motorized watercraft are also asked to avoid non-essential travel during the long weekend.

This is also not the time for recreational boaters to visit B.C.’s small coastal communities, the agencies said in the joint statement. Many communities, particularly First Nations communities, are closed to visitors to protect themselves from the virus.

If boaters must travel, however, they should be prepared to be self-sufficient as they may not have access to fuel, supplies or other services during their trip.

Boaters should also not get on a boat if they have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or are feeling sick. In the case of a marine emergency, boaters should let emergency responders know if they have any flu-like symptoms when they call for assistance.

The Canada-US border restrictions on non-essential travel remain in place until May 21. Boaters who travel across the border for non-essential purposes, including recreation and tourism, will be turned around, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, mariners who cross the border into Canada for essential purposes must quarantine themselves for 14 days.

Richmond News

 
Spending

A dazzling full strawberry moon is set to illuminate Vancouver skies

June's full moon is also known as the Honey Moon, Mead Moon, and the Full Rose Moon in Europe

Strawberry Moon | Photo: Getty Images

Spring is in full bloom and Metro Vancouver residents will get the chance to view a magnificent full strawberry moon to celebrate the season.

The June full moon is also commonly known as the full strawberry moon, and will be at its fullest on Friday, June 5.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the June moon got its name, "from the Algonquin tribes who knew it as a signal to gather the ripening fruit of wild strawberries."

They note that Native peoples would give distinctive names to each reoccurring full moon to mark the change of seasons. As such, many of these names arose when Native Americans first interacted with colonialists.

June's full moon is also known as the Honey Moon, Mead Moon, and the Full Rose Moon in Europe.

Stargazers should opt to travel as far away from city lights as possible in order to avoid light pollution that will obscure the clarity of heavenly bodies. While this works best in more remote places, anywhere that has a higher elevation will also provide more ideal viewing conditions.

Earlier this month, stargazers feasted their eyes on a dazzling full supermoon. May's moon is known as the full 'flower moon,' and since the flower moon qualified as a 'supermoon,' it appeared a whopping 15 per cent brighter and seven per cent bigger than a regular full moon due to its proximity to earth. 

Vancouver Is Awesome

 
Exploring

What are we reading? May 14, 2020

File photo, Shutterstock

Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.


 

Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Internal combustion engine cars on the ropes in Europe; is it really the end of the road for consumer-level vehicles powered by fossil fuels? – International Council on Clean Transportation

https://theicct.org/publications/combustion-engine-car-phase-out-EU

 

Purdue University engineers floating the idea of 3D printed concrete to build offshore wind turbines. Cheaper, lighter, easier to move than traditional steel turbine structures, they say. – 3D Printing Progress

https://www.3dprintingprogress.com/articles/20593/3d-printed-concrete-to-help-build-offshore-wind-infrastructure?stv1=1%3A413393%3A17651

 

Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

Columnist Evan Schuman on how telecommuting has begun to radically reform big companies, which have traditionally resisted it. He predicts that after COVID-19 subsides, pre-pandemic rates of telecommuting, somewhere between 3% and 9% of full-time employees, will soar to as high as 70%. – Computerworld

https://www.computerworld.com/article/3541512/

 

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says taking interest rates into negative territory like other central banks isn’t being considered as an option – at the moment. – Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-13/powell-says-virus-poses-lasting-harm-more-may-need-to-be-done

 

Jeremy Hainsworth, reporter:

Autocrats and would-be autocrats around the world are using the COVID-19 crisis to tighten their grips on power as they insist on extraordinary powers they claim protect public health. – The Economist

https://www.economist.com/international/2020/04/23/would-be-autocrats-are-using-covid-19-as-an-excuse-to-grab-more-power

 

As researchers come to understand autism and its childhood beginnings, there’s new hope for better lives of those with the condition. – National Geographic

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2020/05/autistic-youths-enter-adulthood-awaiting-a-new-world-of-challenges-feature/

 

Bedtime reading: The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The tale of the open-hearted, good, and guilelessness Prince Myshkin and the consequences of placing such a person at the centre of the conflicts, desires, passions and egoism of worldly society, both for the prince and for those with whom he becomes involved.

 

Nelson Bennett, reporter:

What Michael Moore-backed documentary Planet of the Humans gets wrong about renewable energy. Although the documentary makes some valid criticisms about renewable energy a single-minded fixation on them as being a silver bullet being one of them it also gets quite a bit wrong. Several critiques of the film have been made, but this one by Forbes is the most exhaustive to date. The central problem with the film is that the renewables it focused on are about 10 years out of date. Forbes

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidrvetter/2020/05/13/what-michael-moores-new-climate-documentary-gets-wrong-about-renewables/#6d37378e464d

 

The one country that was arguably the most successful in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore has the most valuable insights for the World Health Organization, is the one that the WHO continues to exclude: Taiwan. Quartz Daily Brief

https://qz.com/1855232/how-taiwan-could-emerge-from-coronavirus-stronger-than-ever/

 

Hayley Woodin, reporter:

“This is the most brutal jobs purge ever recorded.” The National Bank of Canada’s latest monthly economic monitor, which examines the damage to Canada’s economy, and what’s to come. – National Bank of Canada

https://www.nbc.ca/content/dam/bnc/en/rates-and-analysis/economic-analysis/monthly-economic-monitor.pdf

 

These weird dispatches from actor Robert Pattinson’s isolation in London, where he was filming The Batman when the pandemic hit. An entertaining read, and a bit of a reminder that we all have our own ways of coping with COVID. – GQ 

https://www.gq.com/story/robert-pattinson-on-batman-tenet-isolation-june-cover