Work is back on site. But is it better?
As the pandemic winds down in the US, companies are preparing to bring millions of employees back into the office.
Many employers are arguing that being in the office is essential for collaboration and innovation. They say that new insights and deeper decision-making are born out of casual encounters and spontaneous meetings.
But is it true?
My colleague Claire Cain Miller, who writes about gender and the future of work, dug into this question and found that not only is there no evidence to support that argument, but in some cases, the opposite may be true. . The office stifles creativity as it can create an inhospitable environment for many people.
“The requirements for longer face-time in the office are often worse for many women, many people of color, people with caregiving responsibilities, people with disabilities, people who are shy,” Clare said. “And when you lose those people you’re losing diversity, and the ideas that come with people from diverse backgrounds.”
However, remote working enables ideas to emerge from people with diverse backgrounds. Those who are not comfortable speaking in an in-person meeting may feel more able to participate in a virtual setting. Brainstorming sessions using apps like Slack can uncover many more perspectives by involving people who might not otherwise be invited to a meeting, such as interns or employees from other departments.
Even companies with an emphasis on in-person work may be overlooking one of the big takeaways from the country’s massive experimentation in work from home. Even as the virus terrified workers, sickened millions and ravaged entire industries, a funny thing happened: “It works out really well for many white-collar workers,” Claire said.
Sure, many parents brought their kids home from school and workers were constantly worried about getting sick, but for many, “it was good for productivity, and work-life balance,” Claire said. said.
But changing corporate culture is difficult because companies stick with what they know, Clare said. Employers may be wary of allowing people to work from home indefinitely; This requires a lot of trust in the employees.
“The people who are making these decisions are usually the managers, and they are the people who like to have visibility into the work of their employees,” Clare said. “The people who are making these decisions are also the same people who have back-to-back meetings throughout the day – and a long day of meetings is not as much fun on Zoom.”
related: Do meetings also have a purpose? Our colleague Katy Weaver investigates.
A coronavirus from deep time
This is hardly the first time humanity has faced the coronavirus pandemic. It might not even be the last time we’ve run out of one.
June 24, 2021, 4:02 pm ET
Researchers have found evidence in human genes that a coronavirus pandemic broke out in East Asia some 20,000 years ago. This discovery could be useful in drug development.
“This is the first time that people have found evidence of another coronavirus from deep time, from our very, very ancient ancestors,” our colleague Carl Zimmer from the Science Desk told us. “It was an epidemic that was so great in East Asia that it left a mark on their DNA for thousands of generations.”
It plagued the region for years, a discovery that could predict our fate if we don’t bring this coronavirus under control through vaccination sooner rather than later. And troublingly, the coronavirus seems to have spread at a time when people were still living in small hunter-gatherer groups rather than in large cities, pointing to the power of the infection.
“It should worry us,” said David Enard, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona who led the study. “What is going on now can go on for generations and generations.”
Researchers looked at DNA in parts of the human genome that are thought to be important in fighting the coronavirus. In those genes, the scientists looked for evidence of rapid evolution. (People with a specific mutation are more likely to survive coronavirus infection, while those without it probably die.) In East Asian populations, but not others, Enard found that dominant variants in 42 of the coronavirus-specific genes those that were developed. at the same time.
“Those 42 genes went through an evolutionary change at the same time,” Carl said. “It’s indicative of the kind of evolution you’d expect if humans were being affected by a massive pandemic at once, so that all of these genes could be selected for at the same time to survive.”
The discovery could have major implications for scientists trying to design drugs to help us out of the current pandemic.
“We might be able to get some ideas about how we can manipulate those genes to do a better job of fighting this new coronavirus,” Carl said.
White House plans to send three million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine Brazil.
San Francisco, which has one of the highest vaccination rates of any major US city, will require all city employees to be vaccinated.
Researchers at the University of Washington unveiled a new map to chart attitudes towards COVID vaccines by zip code, a tool that will allow for highly targeted vaccine drives.
Recently, dozens of new cases have been reported in two schools. Israel, which has been a leader in fighting the pandemic but has struggled to vaccinate 12- to 15-year-olds.
More people are getting two different covid vaccines. Here’s what you need to know.
See how the vaccine rollout is going in your county and state.
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I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium on the first day of California reopening. Timely entry tickets were required, and everyone wore masks but the crowd was there! We were all together, “oohing” and “ahhing” at the octopus’s movements and bat rays. I saw a little girl walking in front of a big tank saying, “I love aquariums.” Brought tears to my eyes.
–Martha Hack, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
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