Remote Control: How Working From Home Is Shifting Our Future
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Coronavirus has brought a surge in people working from home. How are they coping, and what’s next?
By OZY Editors
The coronavirus pandemic has confined much of humanity to their homes. And for those whose jobs can be performed remotely, it has meant a new era of work: endless Zoom meetings, pantsless conference calls, interruptions by family and pets.
Remote work is nothing new, but the crisis has accelerated the growing trend in ways that may well be permanent and could reshape what our post-coronavirus world looks like. This OZY original series looks at the opportunities and pitfalls ahead. Make sure you’re on mute for your meeting, and read on.
Pro athletes are working from home now too. And a big part of that job is keeping fans engaged with all the leagues on hiatus. From the Cincinnati Reds’ Trevor Bauer and David Carpenter streaming a wiffle ball game (after the season was canceled but before stay-at-home orders) to NBA teams and NASCAR drivers staging video game matchups in place of real-life contests, these innovations are designed to make sure fans’ ardor doesn’t fade in quarantine — and that the revenue keeps rolling in when the leagues relaunch.
Working from home (herein: WFH) can seem like a dream: Unlimited access to the fridge. No annoying “how was your weekend” back-and-forths when all you want is to use the communal coffee maker. And of course, pants-optional dress code. But when you’ve been told to work from home –– as many of us have been in efforts to lessen the spread of the coronavirus –– that can be stressful. After all, you had no time to prepare. And the thought of all that time at home (which may involve listening to new annoying sounds –– like your guinea pig squeaking –– or realizing that your neighbors like to roller-skate around their flat) can be anxiety-inducing.
But fear not, new WFH-er. Here are some ways to make it, well, work.
Data on the mental health toll of those who work at home versus those who work in offices is still scanty. But a survey of U.K. workers found that freelancers were 86 percent more likely than office workers performing similar work to self-report depression.
When Planned Parenthood launched a sex education chatbot called Roo for teenagers last year, the coronavirus was not even on the horizon. The app was aimed at complementing what students learn in sex education and health classes and building on the work of another online service that Planned Parenthood offers targeted at young adults. Now, with schools across the United States closed indefinitely as part of social distancing measures implemented to control the spread of the virus, Roo is one of a growing number of apps attempting to fill in for that missing classroom sex ed.
In a mid-quarantine glance across the interwebs, you discover the dulcet tones of a talking head with eyes that bore into your soul. Could be the complete isolation, but you listen. Then you relax. Six seconds later you realize you’ve been TikTok’d into knowing exactly what to say to the boundary-steppers in your life.
You have been Kreft’d.
The pilgrimage of millennials from high-cost coastal hubs to smaller metros is nothing new. But the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating this demographic shift, say experts, at a time when working from home could become the new normal in many industries — while millions are suddenly finding themselves without work. Well before the current crisis, we’ve seen young professionals who live in coastal hubs like Los Angeles, Boston, New York and San Francisco move to populous but more affordable metros, sometimes called “second-tier cities” (think places like Dallas, Houston, Nashville, Columbus and Orlando). Within the costliest metros, there’s been steady movement to the suburbs and outskirts. More recently, we’ve started to witness people shift to smaller cities with populations of 500,000 or fewer residents.
The world has changed drastically over the past few months — and if you’re like us, you probably get to/have to work from home. Which could be great, if only the kitchen sink waste disposal wasn’t doing what it does quite so often. Same with the vacuum cleaner, leaf blower, car alarms, cats, kids playing in the street, kids playing in the next room, etc. If only they weren’t so … noisy.
But you can’t go to the neighborhood café for a few hours to get that project outline to your boss. And AirPods on full blast are not a long-term solution if you enjoy being able to hear.
Enter Silentium. Last year, the Israeli company hit the Consumer Electronics Show and introduced technology designed to create a personal sound bubble.
- OZY Editors, OZY AuthorContact OZY Editors