signed a letter urging management to be more open to flexible work arrangements. It was a rare show of dissent from the company’s rank-and-file, who historically have been less willing to openly challenge executives on workplace matters.

But as tech companies grapple with offering employees greater work flexibility, the firms are also scaling back some office perks.

cutting back or eliminating free services like laundry and dry cleaning. Google, like some other companies, has said it approved requests from thousands of employees to work remotely or transfer to a different office. But if employees move to a less expensive location, Google is cutting pay, arguing that it has always factored in where a person was hired in setting compensation.

Clio, a legal software company in Burnaby, British Columbia, won’t force its employees back to the office. But last week, it gave a party at its offices.

There was upbeat music. There was an asymmetrical balloon sculpture in Clio’s signature bright blue, dark blue, coral and white — perfect for selfies. One of Clio’s best-known workers donned a safari costume to give tours of the facility. At 2 p.m., the company held a cupcake social.

To make its work spaces feel more like home, the company moved desks to the perimeter, allowing Clions — what the company calls its employees — to gaze out at the office complex’s cherry blossoms while banging out emails. A foosball table was upgraded to a workstation with chairs on either end, “so you could have a meeting while playing foosball with your laptop on it,” said Natalie Archibald, Clio’s vice president of people.

Clio’s Burnaby office, which employs 350, is open at only half capacity. Spaced-out desks must be reserved, and employees got red, yellow and green lanyards to convey their comfort levels with handshakes.

Only around 60 people came in that Monday. “To be able to have an IRL laugh rather than an emoji response,” Ms. Archibald said. “People are just excited for that.”

Karen Weise contributed reporting.

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How Food Trucks Endured and Succeeded During the Pandemic

This article is part of Owning the Future, a series on how small businesses across the country have been effected by the pandemic.

The Covid pandemic hit California hard. It has seen well over 3.5 million cases and over 60,000 deaths. Scores of businesses have closed. But for Ana Jimenez the owner of Tacos El Jerry, a small fleet of food trucks in Santa Cruz County, it provided an opportunity to bring her business into the 21st century.

Ms. Jimenez’s four trucks began taking orders through an app and a website, delivering directly to customers, and cultivating a customer base through a new social media presence. All of that added up to a significant increase in sales.

Facebook and Instagram pages for the food trucks, a social media advertising campaign and began accepting credit card purchases. “Each truck is now serving around 300 people per day, which translates to roughly $5,000 in sales daily,” Ms. Jimenez said.

Food trucks — kitchens on wheels, essentially — are flexible by design and quickly became a substitute during the pandemic for customers who couldn’t dine indoors and coveted something different than their mainstream carryout options. That, in turn, has delivered a new client base to add on to an existing cadre of loyal followers. In a very real sense, food trucks are vehicles for equality in the post-pandemic world.

“While the pandemic has certainly hurt the majority of small businesses, it has also pushed many to be more innovative by looking for new revenue streams and ways to reach customers,” said Kimberly A. Eddleston, a professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at Northeastern University.

Like Ms. Jimenez, some businesses have “focused on ways to maintain their customer base by, for example, delivering products directly to customers,” Prof. Eddleston said. “While others have created products and services that attract new customers.”

Blue Sparrow food trucks in Pittsburgh, adding pizza, four-packs of local beer, gift cards and five-ounce bottles of housemade hot sauce.

Mr. Cypher’s main fare since he hit the streets in 2016 has been global street food. His menu carries a heavy Asian inspiration. There’s made-from-scratch kimchi on the menu daily. Dishes can include rice bowls, Vietnamese banh mi, falafel burritos, and a burger made with a ramen bun.

During the pandemic, Mr. Cypher’s business took a hit when 24 festivals and over a dozen weddings where he was booked were canceled. “I switched gears to keep things as lean as possible,” Mr. Cypher said.

He temporarily shut down a second food truck — a retrofitted 35-foot, 1956 Greyhound bus that he used for the big parties — and introduced a website to interact with his customers and an online ordering system for his smaller truck, which he usually parked at a neighborhood brewery.

“I switched the menu to focus on soups, noodles, burritos and pressed sandwiches, so that the things that we were handing our customers would make it home and still be a good experience after they opened up the bag and took it out,” he said.

And he began to make and sell pizza one day a week at the kitchen where he used to do his prep work for the trucks before the pandemic. (The pizza, too, has an international flair: a banh mi pie, for example, made with pork or tofu, miso garlic sauce, mozzarella, pickled carrots, cucumbers, and cilantro.)

Accion Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit organization providing small-business owners with access to capital, networks and coaching. “Many food truck owners stepped forward to seize opportunity during a time of great uncertainty,” she said.

As Pittsburgh emerges from the pandemic, Mr. Cypher is adding a twist at his kitchen location. “We have licensing to offer beer on draft from our local breweries, so we’re going to have a small beer garden,” he said. “And that’s a revenue stream that we’re going to kind of lean into that we probably never would have done if not for Covid.”

In 2020, Mr. Cypher’s food trucks had $200,000 in gross sales, down about 40 percent from the previous year, he said. “But with the new offerings, more efficiency and only running one rig, we were actually able to net enough to keep the business moving forward,” he said. “This year we’re already up about 30 percent from where we were at last year at this time.”

Shiso Crispy, timing was much tricker: she opened her first truck in November 2019, just a few months before the pandemic. And yet Ms. Whaley, 35, who offers handmade gyozas, bao buns and their signature dish, dirty rice, now has two trucks because of a strategy of regularly parking in certain neighborhoods and offering discounted and free meals outside a nearby Ronald McDonald House. (She added the second truck in January.)

One challenge: “The internet here is shoddy. And cellphone service in different areas out here just doesn’t work,” she said. “During the height of the pandemic, I was consistently losing two or more transactions at my point of sale every shift.”

Clover Flex point of sale program for touchless transactions. “It has digitally transformed my business,” Ms. Whaley said.

She also signed on to an app, called Best Food Trucks, that allows customers near her to pre-order once they know her location for the day.

“The inextricably connected stories of food trucks and Covid are a perfect microcosm of the undeniable reality that women, immigrants and people of color, historically relegated to the edges of the economy, are actually the foundation upon which the next economy must be built,” said Nathalie Molina Niño, author of “Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs.”

But the silver lining from the pandemic for some operators is more personal — including bringing families together. “I have a ton of wisdom about how to operate food trucks and cooking,” Ms. Jimenez said. “It’s the coming together of the generations that made the business stronger now and for the future.”

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U.S. Readies Small-Business Grants as P.P.P. Nears End

The federal government is preparing to open two new industry-specific small business relief programs, one of them months in the works, as its signature pandemic aid effort, the Paycheck Protection Program, nears its end.

The Small Business Administration said it hopes to start taking applications by the end of this week for a $16 billion grant fund for live event businesses like theaters and music clubs. The program, called the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, was supposed to begin nearly two weeks ago, but its application system malfunctioned and collapsed, stymieing thousands of desperate businesses that have been waiting months for the promised aid.

On Saturday, the agency posted additional details on its forthcoming Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a $28.6 billion support program for bars, restaurants and food trucks whose sales were devastated by the forced shutdowns that states imposed in response to the pandemic. The fund was created as part of last month’s $1.9 trillion economic support package. Within the next two weeks, it will begin a seven-day test intended to help the agency avoid the kind of technical fiasco that plagued the venue program.

The agency has not announced a specific start date for either grant program.

“Help is here,” Isabella Casillas Guzman, the agency’s administrator, said of the restaurant program. “We’re rolling out this program to make sure that these businesses can meet payroll, purchase supplies and get what they need in place to transition to today’s Covid-restricted marketplace.”

webinar last week organized by the Independent Restaurant Coalition. Lawmakers projected at least $120 billion in demand for the restaurant fund, Mr. Kelley said, but provided money for less than a quarter of that amount.

The law creating the restaurant fund required a 21-day exclusive period for businesses that are majority-owned by women, veterans or socially disadvantaged individuals. The S.B.A. said that group includes those who are Black and Hispanic, as well as Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans and South Asian Americans.

That period alone will almost certainly exhaust the restaurant fund. Applicants will be asked to self-certify their eligibility for the priority period, the Small Business Administration said.

Participants in the fund’s seven-day pilot period will be picked randomly from current Paycheck Protection Program borrowers who meet the priority period criteria, the agency said. They will help test the system but will not receive grant money until the application system opens publicly.

The S.B.A. has offered few details on the technical meltdown that demolished its application system for the live-events grant program. On the day it was supposed to open, frustrated applicants spent more than four hours reloading a broken site before the agency shut it down. No applications were accepted.

“After our vendors fixed the root cause of the initial tech issues, more in-depth risk analysis and stress tests identified other issues that impact application performance,” Andrea Roebker, an agency spokeswoman, said on Friday. “The vendors are quickly addressing and mitigating them and working tirelessly with our team so the application portal can reopen A.S.A.P. and we can deliver this critical aid.”

A spokeswoman for Salesforce.com, whose technology underpins the system, said the company “worked with S.B.A. to resolve initial technical issues, and we’re continuing our work together to enhance the site’s performance.”

The restaurant fund is run by a different part of the agency and uses a separate technology system than the shuttered venue program. After waiting nearly four months for that program to start, industry businesses can’t hold out much longer, said Audrey Fix Schaefer, a spokeswoman for National Independent Venue Association, a trade group.

“Landlords can’t last forever. Eviction notices are coming. People are saying, ‘We can’t do this anymore,’” she said.

The Paycheck Protection Program, created just weeks after the pandemic took hold, has made $762 billion in forgivable loans to millions of businesses over the last year.

It is scheduled to end May 31, but it appears likely to exhaust its funding before that. As of mid-last week, the program had $44 billion left, according to an S.B.A. spokesman.

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