Working from Home: Exploring Possibilites
Read the news summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. The video has been edited for length. To watch the video in its entirety or read the transcript, click here.
As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the United States, many workers have transitioned to working from home. This shift has raised questions about when and if workers should return to the office, and what implications work from home has for employees, companies and the economy.
- One-third of the American workforce is working remotely full time.
- A study by Stanford economists surveying a company in China found that of 1,000 employees studied, those who worked remotely were 13 percent more productive, worked more hours, took less sick leave and were 50 percent less likely to quit.
- Mark Zuckerberg said that 50 percent of Facebook’s employees could be working remotely within the next 4-5 years.
- As you watch the story, keep in mind that 38 million Americans are currently unemployed and have filed for jobless benefits.
Will Working from Home Remain? Discussion Questions
- Essential Question: How does working from home affect employees and companies?
- What kinds of jobs can be done remotely? What kinds of jobs can’t?
- What resources does a person need in order to work from home?
- Are the tools needed to work from home accessible to everyone? If not, what could the government or an employer do in order to fill those gaps?
- What businesses have you visited in your neighborhood? What do you notice about the workers and the environment? Are members of your family working from home? Ask them if their level of productivity and time spent working has changed.
- Media literacy: Why did this story focus on those working from home and not those going into work? If you were to produce a story on people who have to go to work in person during the coronavirus pandemic, who would you interview and what questions would you ask?
1. Online learning activity
A. Watch 5m:30s-6m:43s of the video. Nick Bloom refers to skills like people-management that are gained from working in an office setting.
- Make a list of skills that a student would gain from learning in an in-person classroom setting.
- Next, with a peer, brainstorm different ways that you could try to gain those skills while learning from home. Compile all these ideas into a shared class list.
2. Workplace safety during COVID
A. On May 28, labor officials testified before Congress about how the government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA—federal government agency that oversees workplace safety) is protecting workers who have to go into work from COVID-19.
B. Some critics argue that the U.S. government is failing in this endeavor; Rep. Alma Adams of North Carolina said that OSHA’s “failure to take meaningful action has sent a clear message to workers across the country that they are on their own.”
C. Read this article about the hearing on government protections of workers during COVID-19 and answer the following questions:
- What steps has the government taken to protect those who must go back to work? What steps haven’t they taken?
- Why might some people choose to go to work at in-person jobs, even if their workplaces were unsafe?
- What do you think the government should do in order to protect both the jobs and the lives of in-person workers?
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