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COVID-19

Too much virtual connection can be a bad thing

Jasmine Garsd Apr 6, 2020
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A substitute teacher in Bethesda, Maryland, works from home on April 1, 2020.
COVID-19

Too much virtual connection can be a bad thing

Jasmine Garsd Apr 6, 2020
A substitute teacher in Bethesda, Maryland, works from home on April 1, 2020.
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Millions of Americans are working from home right now. We’re trying to connect with colleagues more than ever before; the use of video conferencing services like Zoom has skyrocketed. Some might say we’re trying a little too hard.

Let me paint a picture for you. You’re at home working. You’re in your sweatpants, your kids are tearing each other apart in the background, and your hair — let’s not even talk about your hair. Suddenly, you get a video call from your boss.  

“It’s exhausting because of the level of access,” said Michael Cohen, an educator in Tel Aviv. “It’s exhausting because people can contact you at any hour.”

Mallory McMaster, who teaches executives and employees how to be better communicators, said even though video calls are one step closer to in-person meetings than phone calls, it’s still a lot of work to be watching a dozen of your colleagues at once. 

“It’s actually harder and it takes more energy to communicate that way,” McMaster said.

She’s reminding some companies not to use tools like Zoom as a way to check up on workers — only for actual meetings. She recommends everyone be assertive with their time.

“What I’ve told people is maybe set a limit of two hours of video calls a day and be upfront and honest with your teammates or your employers or your clients about that,” she said.

According to New York-based psychologist Andy Schwem, there’s another, deeper reason these video calls feel tiring. 

“It’s really nice to connect with others, and there was this initial outburst as soon as the stay-in-places got put into place,” he said, adding: “… seeing the people and doing this form of communication can just remind you of what’s going on.”

People are at home because of a deadly global pandemic — it’s OK to want to disconnect from that reminder.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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