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Should I add some fun after-hour Zoom events for my team?

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Should I add some fun after-hour Zoom events for my team?

How do I keep my team engaged? As a manager, can I host Zoom cocktail parties after hours or bingo night, or some other fun activity until we can get back into the office?

“What I really need is another Zoom meeting, after normal work hours, with my colleagues, to play a game, to help make my day!” Said no one ever. Everyone was hailing Zoom as the savior in the beginning of this pandemic. People were creative and hosted all kinds of game nights, happy hours and cooking classes. Let’s just say that the novelty has worn off. Smart employers are dedicating certain hours or days as Zoom-free because we’re all burned out from sitting on our screens all day. Do you want to do something fun and helpful for your team?

Give them back the “after work” hours that have become blurred now that home and work have fused. And if you do want to host something fun via video, do it during work hours. The world was cautioning us to limit screen time for our kids — now working and learning full time while staring at a screen is acceptable. (And, my fellow New Yorkers, now that the city is opening up, I see you are still addicted to the phone screen, walking the streets like zombies with your heads down. Stop it!)

A member of my staff has succumbed to COVID-19 and the team is devastated. I’m a new manager. Should I grieve with them or be the source of strength? I don’t want to seem insensitive but we also need to get past this and move on. Any advice?

One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is to give the impression that they are minimizing a tragic event and trying to force people to move on. Some fear showing too much emotion, but employees want to see their leaders, during challenging times especially, help set the tone and model how to act. They want leaders who demonstrate empathy and make it OK to not be OK. You don’t have to have the perfect words. A genuine expression of grief and vulnerability is comforting for the team to see in their leader. People grieve and then they want and need to move on, but it is a process. I’m sorry for your team’s loss.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive and is dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work. E-mail your questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at GoToGreg.com.

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CryptoPunks NFTs sell at Christie’s for $17M, double expectations

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CryptoPunks NFTs sell at Christie’s for $17M, double expectations

A collection of nine so-called CryptoPunks were sold at auction as non-fungible tokens for $16.9 million, roughly double what Christie’s estimated the digital art would fetch.

It’s the latest sale of NFTs to bring in eye-popping valuations, piquing interest in the space. NFTs are digital assets that represent ownership of virtual items like art and sports memorabilia. 

Ownership of NFTs are recorded on a blockchain network, which supports cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether.

CryptoPunks were one of the earliest NFT projects and have risen in value as collector’s items. The project included a total of 10,000 small pixel-art portraits of people, zombies, aliens, and apes. Larva Labs, which created the CryptoPunks project in 2017 on the Ethereum blockchain, says on its website that the series “inspired the modern CryptoArt movement.”

When Larva Labs created the figures in 2017, it kept 1,000, but gave away the rest for free to anyone with an Ethereum wallet. The collection of CryptoPunks sold at the Christie’s auction house came directly from Larva Labs. Christie’s did not identify the buyer. 

Each CryptoPunks figure was algorithmically generated and has unique attributes, from hairstyle and glasses to hats and smoking accessories. 

The nine that sold at Christie’s included some that had rare traits, which boost their value. CryptoPunk 635, which has a blue face, bandana and sunglasses, is one of just nine so-called alien punks in the entire 10,000-piece series, Christie’s said. Another of the nine sold, CryptoPunk 2, is sought after for being the second in the entire series.

The interest in and value of CryptoPunks has risen along with the NFT movement in recent months.

Over the past 12 months, 9,524 of the 10,000 CryptoPunks have exchanged hands, according to Larva Labs. The total value of all transactions tied to the NFTs is $740 million, Larva Labs says.

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Gurney’s Montauk launches new ‘Bungalows by the Sea’

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Gurney's Montauk launches new 'Bungalows by the Sea'

Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Spa has partnered with style icon/celeb event planner Jung Lee, of Fête NY, to launch Bungalows by the Sea.

Lee will also be at Gurney’s teaching flower-arranging classes this weekend.

Each private oceanfront “bungalow” holds up to six people and boasts a seasonal menu with curated cocktails created by Lee and Robert Hamburg, the new exec chef of Gurney’s Montauk.

Lee will also be working with Gurney’s for weddings on the property.

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COVID-19 pet boom has veterinarians backlogged, burned out

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COVID-19 pet boom has veterinarians backlogged, burned out

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — During the gloomiest stretches of the pandemic, Dr. Diona Krahn’s veterinary clinic has been a puppy fest, overrun with new four-legged patients.

Typically, she’d get three or four new puppies a week, but between shelter adoptions and private purchases, the 2020 COVID-19 pet boom brought five to seven new clients a day to her practice in Raleigh, North Carolina. Many are first-time pet owners.

Like many veterinarians across the country, she’s also been seeing more sick animals. To meet the demand, vets interviewed by The Associated Press have extended hours, hired additional staff and refused to take new patients and they still can’t keep up. Burnout and fatigue are such a concern that some practices are hiring counselors to support their weary staffs.

“Everyone is working beyond capacity at this point,” said Krahn, who added evening hours last year.

Approximately 12.6 million US households got a new pet last year after the pandemic was declared in March 2020, according to a COVID-19 Pulse Study by the American Pet Products Association.

Meanwhile, fewer people relinquished their pets in 2020, so they needed ongoing care, experts said. And as people worked from home and spent more time with their pets, they’ve had more opportunities to notice bumps, limps and other ailments that could typically go untreated.

Vets were already struggling to meet the pre-pandemic demand, with veterinary schools unable to churn out enough doctors and techs to fill the void.

Krahn left her North Carolina practice three months ago and now oversees nine veterinary and animal hospital clinics across Utah and Idaho under Pathway Vet Alliance.

“All of my practices are booking out several weeks in advance. Clients are actually calling around and scheduling appointments at multiple locations,” and even resorting to emergency care facilities, she said.

Banfield Pet Hospital, one of the largest national providers of preventive veterinary medicine, had approximately half a million more pet visits in 2020 than in 2019. And its telehealth service more than doubled in volume from March through the end of last year.

Thrive, another veterinary hospital primary care group, with 110 facilities across the US, reported a 20 percent increase in demand during the pandemic. Both repeated a common refrain — as humans spent more time with their pets, they were more in tune with their ailments — big and small.

“With COVID, a lot of people became powerless to the ones closest to them,” said Claire Pickens, a senior director at Thrive, “but the one thing they still had the ability to control was caring for their pet.”

Clinics have been forced to streamline, having patients fill out forms online or by phone pre-appointment because hiring additional staff often isn’t an option.

“The industry is growing at a rate that it can’t fill all the roles needed to keep up with the increased demand for services,” said Pickens.

Veterinary positions are projected to grow 16 percent by 2029, nearly four times the average of most other occupations, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. Vet tech jobs are expected to increase nearly 20 percent in the next five years.

“We are still short staffed despite active seeking of additional staff,” said Dr. Katarzyna Ferry, Veterinary Specialty Hospital of Palm Beach Gardens.

Verg, a 24-hour emergency and specialty hospital in Brooklyn, reported a 40 percent jump in emergency care since the pandemic began. That’s also meant more pet hospitalizations, straining various specialties like surgery and cardiology.

“The demand continues to grow,” causing extreme weariness in a profession known for its big-hearted workers, said Verg’s chief medical officer, Dr. Brett Levitzke.

“Fear of the unknown with the pandemic leads to more intense emotions from our clients,” said Levitzke. He’s seen expletive-laced outbursts and threats from pet owners and also outpourings of love, with cards and baked goods. After the toll on the staff became noticeable, they hired a compassion fatigue specialist for support.

“Unfortunately, compassion fatigue, anxiety and depression already plagued our profession and the pandemic has certainly taken it to another level,” Levitzke said.

Krahn said she sold her North Carolina practice to Pathway and later took an administrative role with the company in part to provide practical and emotional support to veterinarians, knowing the toll first-hand.

“As veterinarians, its our job to care, but we also take care of people through their animals,” said Krahn. “Doctors and support teams struggle with caring for themselves in a way that preserves them to be able to keep doing this.”

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