Are Ellen, Starbucks “coffee shops” and corporate office spaces being cancelled?

The Ellen Show, Starbucks coffee shops (as we know them), and corporate office space — i.e. Uber, Google and Twitter — may not survive the pandemic.

Let me explain.

By now, you may have heard about workplace problems at The Ellen Degeneres Show — allegations of a toxic work environment, including racism, fear and intimidation. The hashtag #ReplaceEllen was even trending earlier this week.

Starbucks is undergoing restructuring plans during the pandemic. More than 400 locations will close, with a new focus on curbside pick-up, drive-thrus and mobile-only pick-up locations. As the world’s largest coffeehouse chain, this new business model diverts from Starbucks “third place” vision — the place where people spend time outside of work and their home. (Important to note: in 2018, Starbucks closed 8,000 stores for a day to conduct ‘racial bias and respect’ training following the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia store.)

Google, Uber, and Twitter are continuing with remote work until summer 2021, with Uber paying each employee a $500 stipend for at-home office expenses. (Important to note: Uber has a documented history of sexual harassment and sexism claims by employees.)

I share these three seemingly separate scenarios because I see a pattern.

Do you?

Here’s one pattern:

  • All three scenarios involve people.
  • People are/can be problematic.
  • When people are together, problems occur.
  • Therefore, when people are together, it’s a liability.

Obviously, correlation does not mean causation in the aforementioned scenarios.


When you decentralize a workforce, with employees working at home, the likelihood of interpersonal misconduct, harassment, and conflict can decrease significantly.

The same could be true from removing customers/general public from hanging out at Starbucks or other retail locations. Less people equals less problems.

We could replace Ellen with another talk show host, but with the “people being people“ construct similar allegations and problems can ensue.

It all seems hopeless, doesn’t it?

It doesn’t have to be.

We get to “people” better.

And, as a leader, you get to make your “people better.”

It’s a gradual climb of awareness, acknowledgment and action.

How will you “people” better today? How will you make your “people better”?


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