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TICKER VIEWS – Should your boss pay you to work from home?

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The pandemic has completely reshaped the way many of us work. In March 2020, the whole world turned upside down, as the realisation swept across parliaments and businesses that we were in for an unprecedented journey.

Almost overnight, and for some, definitely overnight, they were suddenly working from home, if they were working at all.

Let’s be honest, it felt like the beginning of a great holiday. Zoom calls in your PJs – more time with the dog.

But as time went on, a bit like two weeks in hotel quarantine, we started to notice a few key issues. Firstly, humans like to change up their surroundings. It’s why we go on holidays to different places, have dinner at different restaurants.

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We also miss seeing our colleagues. Just the general office banter of “how’s your weekend?” or “Did you see MAFS?” was suddenly missing from our lives. Don’t get me started on Zoom fatigue. That was day three right?

But the thing most people noticed… was their utility bills went through the roof. Suddenly, many of us were home… all the time. In the cooler states, that meant we were blasting the heater while powering our devices.

Essentially what happened, without anyone really thinking about it, as companies were able to shift their costs of doing business… to the employees.

And it’s big business.

Google pocketed $268 million in related savings during the last quarter, which equates to $1 billion on an annual basis. Essentially all those Google workers got on their little colourful bikes and rode home, never coming back.

A billion dollars in savings!

But some people have been fighting back. I’m aware of a law firm where the staff began invoicing their bosses. First it was for thing like laptops and iPads. Makes sense right? And why shouldn’t they pay.

Then it turned to splitting the electricity and water bill – making sure employees were fairly paid for the extra power they were consuming at home.

Some even went a step further. I’m aware of one company whose employees started invoicing them for toilet paper! It was a law firm, so I’d love to know how that one ended up.

It’s not all bad

But while we tally up the total cost to employees, there are also some amazing savings we’ve seen too. For example, the savings in tolls and commuting fees like public transport tickets. In London, March 2020 saw a 95% drop off in user trips. That’s incredible. And anyone who has used the London Underground would know… it’s not cheap.

Then there’s the coffee budget. I’m a strong skinny latte man myself. Usually about $4.50. That becomes pretty expensive when you have it every day, and then reach for a second on around 11am right. So many of us have turned to Nescafe or the dreaded International Roast to get by! While others have seen a walk to the nearby suburban coffee shop as a good way to get out of the house between Zooms.

But now it’s time to return

I’m a big believer in the saying “no man is an island”. A home should not be a prison, and as people we really do need to connect. I’ve spoken to other employers who really struggle with keeping the team together, and being able to make sure tasks are being completed. We have all just emerged from a shockingly real human experiment. For some introverts, WFH has been the best thing ever (I call them cat people) – but for others, it’s been a year of anxiety and uncertainty. And usually the best antidote for that is human connection, and a good laugh. And for that, I’d happily pay a train fare.

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Tokyo’s economic games get underway | ticker VIEWS

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Tokyo's economic games get underway.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are officially underway. But in light of the ongoing pandemic, are they really worth it?

We already know that global sporting events can successfully take place in the midst of a pandemic. Take this year’s Formula One season for example, which has moved around the world with relative ease.

Similarly, 15,000 Britons recently attended the Men’s 2021 Wimbledon Final, and up to 60,000 attended the Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium.

In each of these instances, authorities have backed the economic argumentgiving fans some much-needed sports action.

Japan has put strict coronavirus measures in place to reduce exposure to Covid-19. This comes despite the nation recording over 850,000 cases, and a devastating 15,000 deaths.

However, Japan is a strong vaccination nation. Around 23 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) says the Games will have “well above” 80 percent of Olympic and Paralympic village residents vaccinated. In addition, between 70 and 80 percent of the media will be vaccinated.

Spectators are banned from this year’s Olympics. All athletes and delegates must be tested before departure and on arrival.

Do people even want the Game to go ahead?

There has been strong opposition to the Olympics taking place. In fact, a local newspaper suggests 80 percent of Japanese people want the Games postponed or cancelled entirely.

Similarly, athletes have also expressed concerns over the Games. Tennis’ World Number 2, Naomi Osaka believes there should be a wider discussion about whether the Games proceed.

“If it’s putting people at risk, and if it’s making people very uncomfortable, then it definitely should be a discussion.”

Naomi osaka

But these aren’t the first Olympics to experience controversy. In fact, there seems to be controversy surrounding most Olympics before they even begin.

Kirsten Holmes from Curtin University says the Tokyo Olympics are no different.

“In previous Games like Athens or Rio, there was a lot of negative press about whether the athlete’s village will be ready on time and the displacement of local people.

“Yet when the events themselves were held, they were very successful. They painted the host city in a positive light on the global stage.”

How much will the Tokyo Games cost?

The already-delayed Tokyo Games are expected to exceed USD $26 billion.

The IOC has a strict agreement with Japanese organisers. In fact, the IOC are the only body that are able to cancel the Games. If Tokyo cancels, they have to foot the bill.

The IOC expects to make 70 percent of its cut from broadcast rights, and an additional 18 percent from sponsorship opportunities.

But remember, the Olympics are funded by taxpayers. So, it might be worth giving the locals a thoughtespecially because international tourism is off the cards.

All eyes are set on Tokyo as the Opening Ceremony gets underway. Photo: @erikzunder

Health vs. economics

In light of the ongoing pandemic, Tokyo is currently under strict state of emergency conditions. This means there will be no bars, restaurants, or karaoke venues operating if they serve alcohol.

Tokyo residents are expected stay at home and watch the games on the couch.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also chimed in.

“The mark of success is making sure that any cases are identified, isolated, traced and cared for as quickly as possible and onward transmission is interrupted,” he says.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

But he also also says “zero cases” may not be a true indicator of success, especially given Tokyo’s increasing Covid-19 numbers.

The Olympic cluster had already grown to over 80 on Wednesday this week, with even more athletes testing positive and unable to travel.

If teammates are listed ‘close contacts’, they can continue training under strict protocols.

But are these rules and protocols designed to limit the spread of the virus? Or are they measures to ensure the Games can proceed? I’m not sure if they are mutually exclusive, and neither does the WHO Director-General.

“The pandemic is a test and the world is failing.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Mr Adhanom Ghebreyesu predicts more than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths before the Olympic flame goes out on 8 August.

With such strong opposition and rising case numbers, nations have a simple choice: straighten up the health response, or cash in.

Tokyo 2020 might be one of the most successful Olympics of the modern era. As organisers weigh up the costs and hope the rewards outweigh the risk.

We will just have to wait and see. Nevertheless, I suspect the Games might be a welcome relief for locked down communities, and the global sporting community.

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China launches world’s fastest train | ticker VIEWS

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China reveals the world’s fastest ground vehicle in the world, travelling speeds of 600kph

Travelling innovation is speeding up and China is at the forefront with the Maglev bullet train making its debut in Chinas, Qingdao.

The Maglev Bullet train

The Maglev bullet can reach a maximum speed of 600 kph. In comparison, a plane flies at around 800 kph. The China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation developed the world’s fastest train.

Maglev represents “magnetic levitation”, referring to its floating appearance above the tracks. The Maglev simply glides above the tracks using its electromagnetic forces.

Speed isn’t the train’s only stand-out feature, it also emits low levels of noise, pollution and requires less upkeep.

A win for China

High-speed rail is at the top of China’s priority list. The aim of the train is to create transport between major areas within hours.

The aim is to connect cities with reduced travel times and expenses. China is the world’s most populous country and this will fill a significant demand in the travel sector.

China has one Maglev line in commercial use. It connects Shanghai’s Pudong Airport with the city, in about seven minutes.

However, before these trains can be rolled out for widespread use and travel, more Maglev tracks will need to be installed.

China’s newest train is expected to be ready for widespread commercial use within the next decade. 

Others on the market

Advances in train technology have taken off in recent years. Japan has a bullet train that can reach speeds of 400kph.

In the United States, a train track near Orlando International Airport is underway for a train that will reach speeds of up to 200 kph.

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The Greek Freak triumphs all | ticker VIEWS

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In a world of NBA Super teams, one man won against all odds.

Ever since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach in 2010, N.B.A. super teams have become the new norm. A super team refers to the best players in the league teaming up to secure a championship.

All that changed in recent days with the Milwaukee Bucks winning the championship. Giannis Antetokounmpo put together one of the greatest performances in NBA finals history, to secure a 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Antetokounmpo also ranks as the first NBA Finals MVP to have also won the league’s Most Improved Player Award.

Giannis score 50 points and 14 rebounds in game 6.

He called out other players for winning the “easy way” in recent times.

“It’s easy to go somewhere and win a championship with somebody else … this is the hard way to do and we did it.”

ANTETOKOUNPMO SAID AFTER THE WIN.

James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving all left their respective teams to chase glory. Giannis stayed.

The comments may have not necessarily been a dig at his opponents, but it sure came off that way.

The two-time M.V.P. could’ve signed with a team that already had another superstar, in place to give himself the best chance to win a championship. 

Instead, he stuck around in a small market and prevailed to win the Finals M.V.P. and lead the Bucks to their first championship in 50 years.

Antetokounmpo was the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA out of Greece, where he played at Filathlitikos.

Him and his brothers are of Nigerian decent, with a strong basketball background.

The Greek superstar was true to his word and now has the highest form of glory to show for it.

The NBA could be entering a new era, with the new Finals MVP and the centre of it.

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