We're taught a lot of useful things in school (how to tell time, multiplication tables, how to find—or at least attempt to find—Oklahoma on a map) and some not so useful (geometry). But do you ever wish you'd been taught some real life skills instead? Skills you may have had to learn the hard way, e.g. paying off interest fees on a credit card or paying full sticker price for a car. As an adult you may try to teach your kids these lessons, but wouldn't it be great if they actually taught them in school? Here are some life lessons we should probably learn early, in order to avoid future mistakes.
And not just our friendships, family, and romantic relationships. Ask multiple people how they landed the job at which they're currently working and you're bound to find at least a few who admit that they "knew someone." As anyone who has ever been on the market knows, securing a job is one of life's greatest stressors. It's like dating, but without the booze and possibility of sex. While the thought of networking may elicit a curled lip or exaggerated groan from most people, it's exceptionally important if you want to establish and grow your career.
You hate traffic too? Let's connect over coffee.
For those of you who'd prefer dentistry without Novocain to entering a room full of people you don't know and attempting to strike up a conversation, there are ways to make it more palatable and effective. The single most important tip for networking is not to exchange business cards or speak with as many people as possible, but rather to find people with whom you can form a long-term relationship. The woman who enthusiastically talked your ear off about her mushroom fertilizer business may have held court for 40 minutes, but it's the man with whom you bonded over a mutual love of ugly dog sweaters for two minutes who may actually be someone you'd want to see again, and could become friendly with.
Make a point to follow up on contacts you meet at networking events: grab coffee or a drink, send them a link to an article that they may find helpful, or simply drop a note to say "hi". Then comes the hard part – building the relationship. Do whatever you need to do to stay in touch with them, whether it's a reminder on your phone or a to-do list taped to your bathroom mirror. People will remember you and will be more open to helping you achieve your career goals because you they know you, not because they met you once at a mixer where you talked awkwardly while guzzling cheap white wine.
Never pay sticker price
Flea markets and craft fairs aside, we tend to think that the prices of most common products and services aren't negotiable. Not so. Even medical services are negotiable (yep, sometimes just letting a provider know you don't have insurance results in an automatic reduction). While rolling into Mark Jacobs and politely requesting a discount on the latest bag probably won't get you very far, one place where you should never pay full price is at the car dealership.
I do my best negotiating online
One strategy for getting the best possible deal on a car involves a little research, but it's well worth the effort. Start by identifying the exact car (or cars), including manufacturing year, you want to buy. Narrow it down to one if possible, but no more than two or three. Check the average value by using Kelly Blue Book so you have an idea of what prices to expect. Then identify several dealerships near you that have the car(s) and request a price from the sales team. Choose the lowest price and send that to yet another dealership that has your desired car. Tell them you were offered the car for that price at another dealership, but if they can beat it by X amount (go ahead, reach for the moon here – the worst they can say is no) then you'll buy it from them. Voila! You just scored yourself a great deal on a car. You can also try this strategy with medical expenses, home repairs, and other negotiable goods and services.
Use a credit card to build up your credit, not as a bottomless bank account
Think long and hard about that purchase before you pull out the plastic
You're probably no stranger to debt, which means you understand the concept of interest. Yes, that nefarious little percentage that ultimately results in paying way more than the original borrowed amount. If you think college loan and mortgage interest is high, a credit card's eye-popping percentage is often three to four times that rate.
To illustrate how much money you'll end up spending if you let your credit card debt accumulate, pretend you have a $3,000 balance on your card and you pay the minimum (say $25 every month). You'll end up paying a whopping $2800 in interest alone before you pay it off. The lesson here? Only buy what you can afford on a credit card, and pay it off monthly. If you hate carrying cash but can't help but splurge when you go shopping, use a debit card. It won't build up your credit but at least you won't be going into massive debt.
Learn how to budget
Speaking of using a credit card wisely, it's also smart to have a budget so you know how much you can afford to spend at a night out with the girls or for rent and groceries. Generally speaking, you shouldn't be spending more than 30% of your gross (before taxes) income on housing. Lifehacker's simple budgeting plan recommends the 20% rule for paying off debt: 20% of your monthly income goes towards debt, 10% to savings, and 70% for the rest.
You can sleep when you're dead
Helloooo wedding photographer
If you find that you're squeezed for cash once all your necessities are paid for, you may want to look into a side hustle. You don't have to be a master at a particular craft; there are plenty of side gigs that require very little skill. If you have an extra room you can rent it on Airbnb; if you enjoy driving you could try your hand at being a Lyft or Uber driver. Dog walking and sitting has also become a serious business, thanks to sites like Rover.com. If you love fur children you can make some decent scratch, especially if you walk or sit multiple dogs at once.
School curriculum has its shining moments, no doubt. Perhaps knowing the capitals of all fifty states will finally come in handy during trivia night at your local watering hole or maybe understanding the true meaning behind Wuthering Heights will help you imbue that blog post you wrote for your boss with true depth. But really, would it be too much to ask to replace calculus with a crash course on how to pay down debt?
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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.
What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.
The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.
There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!
Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.
Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”
While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.
That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying
the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.
This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.
Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.
That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?
Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”
While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."
In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.
We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.
As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.
What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.
The rising trend of pet-friendly offices is part of the effort to incentivize employees to come back to work in person. Many companies completely embraced the remote-friendly convenience of WFH. Digital nomad culture emerged and “second cities” arose when people exited New York, San Francisco, and LA, and headed to Denver, Austin, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh.
But now, employees and employers have a choice to make. The question now is: to return or not to return to the office? This is no longer about forcing employees to commute. Post The Great Resignation, employees feel more empowered to leave in-person positions and seek out remote jobs. So if offices want people to return, they’ve got to do a ton to entice their employees.
Some huge companies with giant operating budgets are not worried. With major perks like shiny facilities and full-service food bars, they feel comfortable requiring in-office work days — even if it’s for a hybrid week. But the solution might be simpler: pet-friendly workplaces.
The Allure of Pet-Friendly Offices
According to the Washington Post, pet-friendly workplaces are becoming a common solution to improve employee morale and appease the rising number of pandemic pet owners. “As offices start reopening and thousands of workers are being called back for the first time in two years, some companies are allowing employees to bring their pets. About 23 million American households adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Many workers say they find pet-friendly environments an important perk for their new furry family members. A recent survey conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital, owned by Mars Inc., showed that 57 percent of the 1,500 pet owners polled said they would be happiest returning to a pet-friendly workplace. Half of the 500 top executives surveyed said they are planning to allow pets at the office. Tech companies including Google, Amazon, and Uber plan to continue to allow dogs at their offices, even with their flexible office policies.”
With so many people adopting and fostering since the pandemic, becoming a pet parent is a trend. And to welcome these new additions into people’s lives, it makes sense for some workplaces to welcome them into the office.
After spending unlimited amounts of time at home, many pets grew greatly attached to their “parents” — and pet-parents feel the same about their pets. Rather than keeping them locked in the house while their caretakers head off to work, this is a mutually beneficial solution to the current separation anxiety faced by pets.
Pets have also been shown to boost happiness in pet owners. According to heart.org, “Studies show that dogs reduce stress, anxiety, and depression; ease loneliness; encourage exercise and improve your overall health. For example, people with dogs tend to have lower blood pressure and are less likely to develop heart disease. Just playing with a dog has been shown to raise levels of the feel-good brain chemicals oxytocin and dopamine, creating positive feelings and bonding for both the person and their pet.” Most likely, this might have a similar effect on people who bond with animals at work that don’t even belong to them, lending an overall mood boost to the office.
The controversy behind pet-friendly workplaces
However, not everyone is as enthusiastic about the prospect. Some would rather keep the office separate from their personal lives. Some are allergic to pets. And some people simply don’t like animals.
Offices considering pet-friendly policies are weighing the pros and cons to keep everyone happy. According to the Washington Post, clear guidelines and communication can increase the chances of success.
“Before making the jump, pet experts say that leaders should first understand whether their employees have interest in, or strong feelings against, having a pet-friendly office. Doing an anonymous survey may allow employees to freely share thoughts on the matter.”
Overall, the key to a policy like this is flexibility. “Be ready to adjust: Above all, pet-friendly offices should be ready to listen and adjust their policies as they go. What works for one office may not work for another, but experts say proper planning can lessen much of the burden.”
Ensure your office is actually suited to the pets you want to welcome. “A well-developed pet-friendly office should be both safe and welcoming to pets. That means companies should consider blocking off areas that could be dangerous to pets as well as making sure pets have access to clean water, food, and places to rest.”
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