Coronavirus update for business: The cost of crisis, Elon tweets himself out of millions, and are you Slacking at the weekend?

Instant Asset Write-Off

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Costlier and costlier

Australia’s coronavirus shutdown is costing the economy a massive $4 billion a week, according to new analysis from Treasury

All in, the mass closures of businesses and stay-at-home advice is expected to wipe something like $50 billion from the economy — about 10% of GDP.

At the same time, unemployment is expected to double in the June quarter to hit 10%, the highest rate in Australia for 26 years.

In a speech later today, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is expected to welcome the National Cabinet’s decision to bring forward talks about when restrictions should be lifted, and which businesses will be unshackled first.

We expect to hear more details on this soon.

No Slacking?

Blackbird Ventures partner Nick Crocker took to Twitter yesterday to extol the virtues of switching off from Slack for the weekend.

The team at the VC firm apparently collectively agreed not to post in work channels between Friday night and Monday morning. Hailing the initiative as a “big success”, Crocker said ‘no-Slack weekends’ will now be a regular thing.

While some praised the move as a supportive of workers’ mental health and work-life balance, Joan Westenburg, herself a strong advocate of workplace and founder mental health, suggested this should be the bare minimum for the norm.

Should teams be mindful to avoid weekend work thoughts? Or is that easier said than done? Let us know what you think.

Elon’s back

Tesla founder Elon Musk has drawn the ire of his retail shareholders after tweeting about the car company’s share price last week.

Tesla tumbled more than 9% after Musk shared his view the price was too high, leading investors to lambast him on Twitter for eroding their savings.

It’s not the first time Musk has courted controversy among investors for his Twitter activity, having fallen into hot water with American securities regulator the SEC last year over his comments on the site.

The tweet comes just days after Musk labelled the United States’ coronavirus lockdowns as “fascist”, calling on the country to open back up again.

Walkout after walkout

A senior engineer at Amazon Web Services has resigned in dismay over what he says is a “vein of toxicity” running through the e-commerce giant’s company culture, amid global criticism warehouse workers aren’t being properly protected from COVID-19.

In comments published to his personal blog, former Amazon vice president Tim Bray detailed Amazon’s hostile approach to workers organising for better warehouse conditions, saying he “snapped” when several colleagues were fired for shining a public light on the issue.

“Firing whistleblowers isn’t just a side-effect of macroeconomic forces, nor is it intrinsic to the function of free markets. It’s evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture. I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison,” Bray said.

Bray said Amazon treats its warehouse workers as “fungible units of pick-and-pack potential”, but the company is not alone. “It’s how 21st-century capitalism is done”, he says.

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