October 16, 2020

Back to Work

Back to Work

One of the more controversial decisions we made here at Marcum recently was formalizing our back to work initiative. So 16 days later, I’m reflecting on whether or not we made the right decision, whether we’re demonstrating leadership to the accounting profession and office workers in general that it’s safe to go back to work again. Here are some of the things we looked at in making our decision.

Since March 24, Marcum has had 24 reported cases of COVID-19 among our workforce, including my own very mild case right at the beginning in mid-March. The last case was reported in our Nashville, TN, office on October 3 by someone who was last in the office on September 15; the case before that was reported in New Haven, CT, on September 29 by someone who was last in that office on September 22; the case before that was reported in our Deerfield, IL, office on September 25 by someone who was last in that office on August 28.

Of the 24 cases, six were reported by people who were working remotely at the time of infection, and another four hadn’t been in a Marcum office for at least three weeks prior to getting sick. And in ALL cases there was no follow up report of any Marcum team member contracting the virus in the same office during the two weeks subsequent to the reported associate being infected. Considering we have more than 2,000 people working for Marcum, our total infection rate has been just about 1% over a 7-month period, with fortunately no fatalities, although there are many stories of people close to our team who passed away as a result of the pandemic. We express our sincerest condolences to them.

Of the 24 cases reported, 22 were in offices where people drive to work; one early case was in Boston, a mass transit town, and one case was in DC from someone working remotely. I think the jury is still out on how our urban offices will fare for those using mass transit, but more on that shortly.

I look around the rest of the workforce from my perch on Third Avenue in New York City and what do I see? Policemen, firemen, restaurant workers, retail store employees, bus drivers, truck drivers, taxi drivers, sanitation men, EMTs, parking garage attendants, doctors, nurses, and the list goes on and on. Many in NYC get to their jobs day in and day out via mass transit–subway, railroad, bus. And they show up every day, healthy.

At the beginning of the pandemic, in late March/early April, it was reported that close to 20% of the NYC police force was out sick with COVID-19. Once everyone figured out proper safety protocols, as well as the correct use of PPE, the infection rate dropped dramatically and has stayed low. The same for healthcare workers and everyone else going to work on a daily basis who can’t, as a practical matter, do their jobs remotely. It’s amazing that those who “have to” show up have found a way to do so and stay healthy at the same time.

Marcum’s offices have not become super spreader (or any spreader) locations. We limit density, we wear masks, we keep proper social distancing, and we are staying healthy. And some of us are getting out–seeing clients, referral sources, friends of the Firm, and eating outdoors (while the warm weather lasts)–wearing masks and PPE where needed and following the science and healthcare guidance as it relates to proper conduct during this pandemic.

So was it the right decision? At this point I think the answer would be a resounding yes. Those of us back in our offices are enjoying getting back to our routines, seeing our colleagues, collaborating, and not letting the pandemic get the best of us. Hopefully, the second wave that many predict is coming this winter won’t be as bad as it was in March, but I’m sure we’ll be better prepared if it is. And we should all do our best to get back to work, and if the second wave does come, not shut the economy down the way we did last time. As a country, we just can’t afford to do that again.

On a completely different note, the Marcum Foundation’s first annual golf outing was an overwhelming success (financially that is–the event was actually rained out) earlier this week. We raised over $240,000 to benefit our national charity of choice, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A big Marcum thank you to all of the event sponsors, those who actually thought they’d get to golf, and those who supported the online charity auction. A special shout out to Tracy Weiner and Kristen Caserta who actually did the heavy lifting to make the event the success it was.

And lastly, yesterday was October 15, the last of 2020’s major tax filing deadlines. Needless to say, most of us at Marcum will never forget this year and the challenges of getting it done. Thanks to all the clients who year after year entrust us with their tax filing needs. And although we just never say it enough, a big thank you to everyone at Marcum, whether you worked in an office or remotely, who made this year’s tax filing season the success it was. Your efforts are appreciated and don’t go unnoticed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and remember we are all in this together.