In this chapter we will discuss four projects encompassing how the business sector in America is affected by COVID-19. Each project focuses on different aspects of the American workforce detailing economic strategies for large and small businesses down to individual work lives . The first project discusses the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses in Massachusetts and the use of social media to combat this interruption. The second project details how an individual firearm manufacturing company located in upstate New York is adjusting to COVID-19. The next project discusses how the individual worker has been affected by COVID-19 and how they are adapting. The final project explores special educators’ and service providers’ personal experiences as well as how they are adapting their teaching methods due to the shift to remote learning.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an incredible impact on society and has changed every aspect of business/work-life. The US economy has taken a steep fall for a vast majority of large corporations this 2nd quarter. The DOW JONES INDUSTRIAL average has dropped varying from 25-40% in 2020. According to large investment banking corporations such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, the DOW JONES is expected to drop an estimated 14-25% more from the months April-June. This emcompasses only large coorperations, unfortunately this is an exponential reflection of how small businesses are currently doing in the US (Horsley, 2020). With stay at home orders being enforced, business owners and employees have had to adapt.
In the United States, 28 million small businesses make up 99.7% of all business establishments. Small businesses also employ 58.9 million people, making up 47.5% of the country’s employee workforce (Lauckner, 2019). Small businesses are being hit extremely hard during this pandemic. Furthermore, with companies and businesses struggling, millions of people have been laid-off so far. Subsequently, the numbers for unemployment are rising exponentially (Villa, 2020). Some people, however, are capable of continuing to work, but they are struggling and adapting to their new situations. Some are working remotely from home, which can create obstacles that make it difficult to complete tasks correctly and by their deadlines (Liang, 2020).
An important workforce that has been affected has been the teachers and employees in the academic community. With stay at home orders in place, school is being administered online, drastically changing the day-to-day lives of students as well as educators. Students were supposed to return to the classroom two weeks after the order was issued to move to online education on March 15, 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19, but this deadline has since been pushed to the end of the school year (“Gov. Sununu moves all NH schools to online learning”, 2020). A significant branch of academics that has been affected are the educators in the special needs community. Due to the Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) rights of students, special education providers must adapt their accommodations to virtual communication, or school will be canceled and their students will be left in a difficult situation (United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 2020).
The Adjustment of Small Business Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
This explorative study focuses on small businesses in Massachusetts, how they have been affected by COVID-19, and what they have done to combat the difficulties they have faced. Within the investigation, various small businesses were interviewed about what they have had to change about their business to comply with government regulation, how this has affected them, and what measures they have taken to keep their business alive. The use of social media to improve business during this time was especially looked into. The variety of interviews included businesses within the food, self-care, medical, and clothing industries. These interviews revealed that the use of government loan programs has been difficult for small businesses. Also, it became apparent that social media has actively played a role in maintaining connections with clients/customers. Within the interviews, it was captured how difficult it is to be a small business during this time, but most are doing their best to remain positive and productive.
Returning to Work: Challenges on the Production Lines
This project focuses on a large manufacturing company located in New York State and how there have been difficulties reopening the production line during the COVID-19 pandemic. This company is marked with a great task to adjust for the logistical changes, health and safety of their workers, while trying to balance the company from an economic standpoint. The company has been shut down multiple times due to a case of COVID-19 along with uncertainty about the essential vs nonessential status by government officials.
Determining How COVID-19 has Affected Workers
The goal of this project was to determine how workers are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. I conducted interviews with 14 workers from different occupations and levels in their career. These interviewees were either laid-off, essential workers, or working from home because of the pandemic. During the interviews, I tried to understand what emotions they felt toward their current work situation, what adaptations they have had to take, and what they are planning for the future. The interviewees exhibited a great amount of stress during this time, and also explained how they were worried for the future as many thought their situation could get worse. These interviews also showed that each worker was changing their work life due to the pandemics’ effect.
Special Educator Pandemic Experiences and Adaptations During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This project explores the experiences of special education teachers and service providers during the shift to online learning, as well as the various adaptations they have had to make to continue to provide for their students. Interviews with various types of special educators were used to gauge the attitudes of the educators during this time. They also spoke to the various challenges and successes they were having during this time. The interviews revealed that special educators and service providers are working longer and harder, and are doing more paperwork than teaching. They all cannot wait to get back into a real classroom, but are not concerned with students falling behind during this time.