Carvana ($CVNA) wants to get back to business. Badly

Carvana wants to get back to business so badly, according to a recent HuffPost report, that it is telling staffers if they don't immediately get back to the office, the company will consider them as having "abandoned" their position or "resigned" from their post. 

Why a company that operates in the e-commerce space requires staffers to all return to the office - in early May - is a perplexing decision, especially when we see reports in other businesses that do require staff to be present, and in close proximity to one another, experiencing infection rates hovering near 60%.

Regardless of the short-term impact on morale, it also remains unclear what legal liability CEOs would face - to say nothing of criminal liabilities if their decision to re-open resulted in the loss of human lives - when they demand staff return to work. 

But a look at Carvana's social chatter, as measured via Facebook's Talking About Count, highlights why the company's leadership was itching to run back to work. By April, chatter around Carvana's brand plummeted to next to nothing - although it already began to rebound.

And when angry consumers want to let a brand have it, between their access to social media, and their abundance of time thanks to the global pandemic lockdown only now being lifted in other countries that have better managed the disease, they had time to really tee off on other brands that let them down, too. So it's not clear how much of the chatter is tied to car buyers, versus how much of it is tied to people who oppose the decision the company made.

Some of Carvana's social chatter may be less tied to happy customers now and more tied to the leaks coming out of the organization. 

Based on Carvana's job postings chart, it seems as if dozens if not hundreds of people chose to have the company force their hand and terminate their employment. Because people with compromised immune systems remain particularly vulnerable to the Coronavirus outbreak, it's possible that a number of staffers that didn't return to work simply could not afford to take the risk with their safety (or, their loved ones).

But, as of May 7, Carvana started posting a lot more jobs online - although, still down more than 64% from the peak postings hit earlier in 2020.

App store ratings can be used as a gauge of customer satisfaction - and here, it's been a back-and-forth year for Carvana. In both the Google Play Store - pictured above - and in the Apple Store (not shown), ratings of Carvana's apps have begun to decline slightly in recent weeks, signaling stalling user satisfaction. But, if Carvana's selling fewer cars, it is peculiar that its user satisfaction would start to stall now, especially on two separate app platforms.

Whether or not the end of Carvana's work-from-home program results in better revenue (or, alternately, the loss of human life) remains to be seen - but employers who are ready to force staffers back to their desks should also gauge the value of their online reputation when word of their actions inevitably leaks out. 

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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