Coronavirus update for business: A hot chip crisis, delivery bots on the move, and are you missing your work mates?


Tell your co-workers you miss them

Are you missing your work buddies, chats at the coffee machine and an after-work pint on a Friday? You’re not alone.

The folks at Asana have (naturally) embarked on some global research to see how workers are faring from their make-shift home offices.

And, while it found that people are shifting hours and using more tech tools, it also unearthed some of the social and mental challenges of working remotely.

The top three challenges, globally, were motivation, managing stress, and struggling to switch off.

But in Australia, specifically, 80% of respondents said they’re craving the face-to-face human interaction they get at the office. That’s more lonely workers than in any other country.

It’s a heartwarming tale of co-workers who love each others’ company. But, it also suggests the future may not be in Zoom calls and remote work. Don’t throw away those office keys just yet.

Sign me up

In Belgium, an agricultural industry group has called on its citizens to take up the fight and support local farmers by doing the most difficult of tasks… eating la frite.

As restaurants have closed, sales of hot chips in the country have plummeted, leaving potato farmers with a surplus of potato crops totaling some 750,000 tonnes.

Industry group Belgapom is now calling on the population to incorporate the humble but delicious chip into their dinners twice a week — double the usual consumption of the average Belgian.

The potato sector is also donating its veg to food banks, helping to support those worst affected by the economic crisis.

Disruptor disrupted

Apple has delayed mass-production for its 2020 flagship range of iPhones, reportedly due to a weakened global demand and disrupted manufacturing chains in Asia.

The Wall Street Journal reports the delays. caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and the accompanying economic slump, means the new models will be released at least a month later than scheduled — the tech giant usually releases its handsets in September.

It’s also reportedly cutting the number of phones it plans to make by 20%.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom for iPhone addicts. Apple is apparently developing a new feature for its latest software update, that will make it easier to unlock your phone using FaceID, without having to remove your protective facemask. Small blessings, I guess.

Overworked delivery bots

We’re seeing more and more indicators that the COVID-19 crisis will have lasting effects on the ways we live and work long after the pandemic has passed.

One of those effects could see tiny wheeled robots knocking at your door to deliver your Friday night pizza (or, if you’re in Belgium, your mandated chip dinner).

Autonomous delivery bots were already in the world pre-virus, but startups working in the space are reportedly seeing a notable uptick in interest, and rolling out more robots in more areas to meet skyrocketing demand.

Residents in some US cities are seeing the esky-on-wheels delivery bots whizzing all over town, as people order their groceries through the service, as well as hot meals, to avoid human contact at all costs.

One hungry would-be patron said he tried to order through the service, but was informed by the app: “Our robots are very busy right now.”

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