Afternoon Coffee: Mass vaccination efforts might face challenges in developing countries; Upwork releases work from home report showing its successes; GE Appliances upgrades digital supply chain

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With the United States and other advanced economic countries beginning to administer vaccines, it’s led to worries that developing countries will be left out of the mass vaccination efforts, according to the Associated Press.

An initiative called COVAX was created to ensure the whole world has access to COVID-19 vaccines. However, it has secured only a fraction of the 2 billion doses it hopes to buy over the next year. Meanwhile, it has also not confirmed any actual deals to ship out vaccines and is short on cash, the AP reported.

There are also the logistical hurdles of mass vaccination — for all countries. It was reported that COVAX does not have any supplies of the two most effective vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna). Even with adequate supply of these vaccines, it will take the richest countries many months to reach mass vaccination, not to mention the requirements for cold supply chains, the AP said.

Upwork report finds that 1-in-4 Americans will work remotely next year

Upwork, a freelance and contingent worker platform, released a report Tuesday finding that 1-in-4 Americans will work remotely in 2021, according to CNBC.

The study also found that by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels. Upwork surveyed 1,000 small businesses owners, HR managers and CEOs across industries to assess how they think about remote work. CNBC reported the key findings of the study:

  • Companies continue to be remote, with 41.8% of the American workforce remaining fully remote.
  • Remote work will continue through 2021, with 26.7% of managers saying the workforce will be fully remote in one year.
  • Companies say remote work is getting easier as time goes on.
  • Key benefits of remote work continue to be increased productivity and flexibility.

“Our research shows the long-lasting impact that remote work and COVID-19 are likely to have on how hiring managers think about their organizations,” said Adam Ozimek, Upwork’s chief economist. “As businesses adapt and learn from this remote work experiment, many are altering their long-term plans to accommodate this way of working.”

“What’s interesting is that remote work is getting better for the vast majority of companies as they adapt to the new model,” Ozimek said. “Only 5% of respondents of the survey said it was getting worse.”

Pandemic speeds up GE Appliances' upgrade of digital supply chain

GE Appliances was working to update its digital supply chain when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, disrupting global supply chains while consumer demand soared for the company’s refrigerators and washing machines, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Rather than pausing the project to deal with turmoil in retail markets, GE Appliances accelerated the pace of its upgrade. While it did that, people sent in a rush of orders as more consumers stayed at home, which pushed production capacity to its limits. The WSJ reports that the pandemic provided the appliance maker a fertile testing ground for digital tools intended to balance manufacturing and demand by connecting certain parts of the supply chain that had been operating on separate tracks.

“Now there’s no inventory,” Melanie Cook, Chief Operating Officer for GE Appliances, told the WSJ. “Typically our customers would be used to placing an order, [and in] five to seven days they can get a product. Now we’re still building them.”

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