When is a leash necessary?

Early in the pandemic, two complimentary things happened: thousands of people adopted dogs, and thousands of school yards, sports fields and municipal parks went empty.

This situation allowed owners to let their dogs run loose where leashes would normally have been required. And now that little (and not so little) people have returned to sports fields and municipal parks, police officers are stepping up the enforcement of leash regulations.

Something similar is bound to happen at the office, as millions of employees who got used to working from home are now being recalled. Just like leashes, some work rules will have to be enforced anew. But all rules?

The single mother, who was working on her laptop from 6:00 to 7:30 AM, and then taking her kids to school, running a few errands in town, and returning to her laptop at 9:45 AM – will she now be able to arrive “late” at work?

The employees who wore t-shirts on team Zoom calls – will they have to revert to collared shirts, even on days when they have no meetings?

The dad who went to see his daughter’s after-school volleyball game at 4:15 PM, and made up the work time after dinner – will he be able to skip out of work early?

What is the workplace for? Who is it for? Why do we have offices? Why do we need people in them? Those are the questions we need to revisit before we blindly apply the old, pre-pandemic rules.

Actus reus

If you disagree with a rational person on any given topic, the answer to the following question will usually lead you to an agreement: “What would you need to see to change your mind?”

An irrational person will not be able to answer that question. A disingenuous one will refuse to answer it. Alternatively, they will take a position that is impossible to refute. For example, they will contend that the COVID vaccines contain undetectable microchips that allow the government to track their activities. Or that massive fraud during the 2020 elections will be proven in an upcoming report. Or that the 1969 moon landing was filmed on Earth at a secret location.

Secret. Undetectable. Just wait (and wait, and wait).

Some of our employees are making similar contentions in the workplace right now. The ones who don’t believe in the moon landing are probably not disruptive. Those who believe in election fraud may have caused some friction in the office. And the ones who believe in undetectable microchips have probably accused your company of unethical behavior when you decided to make vaccination a condition of employment.

What to do with such employees? My criminal law teacher, when explaining mens rea and actus reus, liked to remind the class that “you cannot convict a man on his thoughts alone.” In the E&C world, we need to learn to live with disagreeable people. How we treat them must be based on their behavior, not simply their beliefs.

Good communications

The CDC is being criticized for holding only two briefings in 2021.

That criticism is justified. In a crisis, uncertainty adds fuel to the fire. Frequent, accurate and practical information from the authorities can keep things under control.

At my company, in the early days of the pandemic, I noticed an important change. My leadership not only increased the frequency of its communications but also the quality. They not only increased the amount of technical support (for remote work) but also of emotional support (for all employees). Significantly, that effort hasn’t let up yet.

Whether it’s a pandemic or a new gift policy, a change from what was normal requires good communication.

What change are you about to experience at work in the coming weeks? How well will you communicate it?


In a misguided effort to encourage unvaccinated citizens to get a shot, the French President just insulted 13 million of his voters. By doing so, he probably further entrenched the recalcitrants.

Perhaps you work for a company where some employees still refuse to get vaccinated. While it is your duty to try to change their mind (you could literally be saving lives), you must do it with compassion, not contempt.

Once contempt infiltrates a relationship, that relationship is doomed.

Next appointment

Florida’s governor doesn’t believe in vaccine mandates. So it wasn’t a surprise when he appointed a new chief medical officer who shares his beliefs.

When leaders make important appointments at the top of their organization, they are telling everyone where the organization is heading.

So the next time your CEO appoints a Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer for your company, pay attention. Was the new CECO an internal promotion or an external hire? How did the CEO describe the job in the official announcement? What were the CECO’s major accomplishments at her previous job? What did she promise to do in her first communication to employees? Can you tell if her focus is going to be on compliance, ethics, culture — or all of the above?

Some appointments bring peace of mind. Others don’t.

You just need to act accordingly.

Fake vaccination cards

Yesterday we saw yet another story of fake vaccination cards being sold.

In the early days, cards were sold in person for about $20. Now they are sold for as much as $200 on the internet.

With one vaccine now fully approved by the FDA, many employers are requiring employees to be vaccinated. It is safe to assume that some employees will attempt to circumvent this requirement by producing fake vaccination cards.

What should the discipline be in such cases? To find out, it helps to ask the question “Is this a breach of performance or a breach of trust?” A breach of performance is often easily remedied with training or a second chance. Not so for breaches of trust. In such cases, we need to ask ourselves “Can I trust this person again? Can I trust this person with the job I gave them? If they were willing to lie about this, what else could they be lying about? Am I allowing them to put others at risk?”

A breach of trust often leads to termination. Is your organization prepared to do so with fake vaccination card?

Has the pandemic caused stress fractures or muscle growth for your company?

Trauma can lead a person to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Or it can trigger post-traumatic growth.

Companies, being made of people, can also experience both.

The pandemic has been traumatic for many companies. What was its effect on the company you work for? How has it responded to the trauma? Are you bracing for PTSD, or are you poised to emerge stronger?

These questions are important because they can reveal the current state of your compliance culture. If the pandemic has weakened your compliance health, now is the time to take action.

Being a helper

In the early days of the pandemic, a medical student working for a health literacy program noticed that many of her clients didn’t have access to easy-to-understand COVID information because they didn’t speak English.

So she reached out to fellow multilingual students and created 19 COVID fact sheets in 40 languages. These fact sheets have now been downloaded 250,000 times in more than 150 countries. Not bad for a working medical student, who surely has less free time than most of us.

When I read stories such as these, I wonder what else we could accomplish if we simply took ownership. There are so many needs in this world, if we only pay attention. A quick glance at our local newspaper could identify such a need. We could then find others willing to help. There are helpers everywhere.

Let’s be one of them.

Every vaccination counts

After reading how Uber and Lyft are offering free rides to vaccinations centers, I decided to do a little research.

It turns out that in exchange for getting a shot, you can get a Krispy Kreme donut (yum!), a Bud (but only for 3 more days), and a White Castle dessert (on a stick), among many other incentives.

(Yes, I does look like one could pack a few pounds after getting vaccinated.)

My own company has manufactured PPE, and is now offering space – a decommissioned airport runway, actually – as a drive-through vaccination site.

How could your company help people get vaccinated?


It had to happen sooner or later.

A man selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards has been arrested in the US.

For $20, unvaccinated covidiots will soon be granted access to concert halls, cruise ships, sports stadiums and other public spaces by showing fake cards.

I rarely wish shame on others but I’m willing to make an exception here.