As more adults work from home during the pandemic, those homes with a home office that works well as a quiet room to concentrate and work often defaults to the man. Women are getting the short end of the stick, again. Responses to the census are due by Sept. 30, giving Nevadans just over a month to be in the once-in-a-decade survey … Remote work doesn’t eliminate culture. It reveals it. Learn 3 ways too build and sustain a positive culture in the work-from-home era. ‘Where economics allow, workers will adjust schedules and leave jobs to accommodate their children’
The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writers. CNN is showcasing the work of The Conversation, a collaboration between journalists and academics to provide news analysis and commentary. The content is produced solely by The Conversation.
(CNN)It’s just past 10 a.m. and my partner, on his third virtual meeting today, is working nonstop in our home office. My son has taken over the family room to attend a virtual science camp and video-editing classes and to play video games. I now realize that this will be his workspace to attend distance learning classes in the fall.
For this reason, each morning, I find myself carrying my laptop and tea around my house trying to find a quiet place to work. Before the pandemic, I never needed a dedicated space at home for work. But now I’m faced with teaching online this fall and won’t have access to my campus office, which closed in March.
With Google announcing that its 200,000 employees can work from home until June 2021 — and Twitter, Square and Slack announcing that employees could still continue working remotely after the pandemic ends — I’m sure others find themselves in the same boat of not having their own dedicated professional workspace.
The rise of the home office
And as I explain in my recent book on the social history of the home office, historically, it’s been women who have been the ones left searching for space.
To better understand the makeshift nature of workspaces in the home — and why the spaces are often gendered — it’s important to look at how the home office first emerged as a distinct space.
In the 18th century, three separate spheres of domestic activity started to appear in middle-class and wealthy single-family homes. There was a social area for hosting guests, such as dining and living rooms; a service zone, which included the kitchen, cellar and laundry areas; and a sleeping area, which was the most private part of the house.
What we now call the home office emerged from generically named “chamber” rooms used by both men and women prior to the 19th century. The majority of the chamber rooms were later simply labeled “bedrooms” on builders’ floor plans. However, beginning in the 19th century, some of these spaces depicted on floor plans were interchangeably referred to as the library, den or study.
A place for men to conduct business
By the late 19th century, the study became primarily a space reserved for male professionals to conduct business at home, indulge in scholarly pursuits and entertain friends. For example, clergy, merchants and doctors needed a study or “interview room” because their work was more likely to be conducted at home.
The study was often separated from the private zones of the house and placed as close to the front door as possible — in the home’s social zone — to maintain family privacy.
But then, in the early 20th century, the study largely disappeared from standard, middle-class homes, which were getting smaller, remaining only in houses built for upper-middle-class professionals, creative professionals and the wealthy.
Even though the study was a male space for leisure and occasional work, the home was largely seen — and championed — as a place that fostered family life.
Working from home as a ‘convenience’
Yet companies that sold office supplies saw the home as an untapped market. All they needed to do was convince Americans that being able to work from home was a form of convenience. Through advertisements, these companies encouraged Americans to create distinct spaces for work that needed to be properly outfitted with office equipment.
For example, in 1921, Remington Rand began marketing portable typewriters, with advertisements that tried to sell consumers on the idea of flexibility and the ability to work in the comfort of one’s home. And in the 1950s, Bell Telephone teamed up with the builders of middle-class homes to market the installation of additional telephone lines as a way to combine work and leisure under one roof.
When PCs replaced typewriters, computer companies such as Apple and IBM geared their ads towards professionals, depicting their products as tools that would allow them to telecommute, run a business out of the home or make it easier for their kids to complete homework.
As these technologies started appearing in more and more homes, families started to wonder where to put them.
Popular culture offered some models. In the sitcom “Leave It to Beaver,” the study of the father, Ward Cleaver, is equipped with bookshelves, a globe, two leather chairs, a desk and a telephone. It’s a place where Ward occasionally works from home in the evening and relaxes during the weekend.
By then, however, most middle-class homes lacked studies.
Furthermore, during the postwar period, typewriter and telephone companies didn’t just advertise their products to men. They also sought to entice middle-class women into using their products to better manage tasks like corresponding with schools, insurance brokers and doctors, as well as keeping family records and paying bills.
Women didn’t get a home office
However, unlike men, women’s workspaces in advertisements, newspapers and on television were often depicted as a planning desk in the kitchen or as a little desk in the master bedroom. Rarely, if ever, did they have their own space.
Where to put office equipment was another issue. Placing it in the master bedroom interfered with the perceived functions of the bedroom: intimacy and relaxation. A PC in the living room competed with the television, while office equipment in the kitchen or dining room impeded the ability to work uninterrupted by other family members.
For these reasons, advertisements and computing magazines in the 1980s began to recommend new spaces dedicated exclusively to PCs, such as the home office or a “hobby room.”
The home office works well as a quiet room to concentrate and work, but in homes that do have one — and when both partners are at home, as is increasingly the case — that space often defaults to the man.
In the end, all those companies’ advertising dollars paid off. We were working from home in greater numbers before the pandemic, and the number has since risen as offices around the country shuttered. But we’re still stuck with the same issues of too much work and not enough space to do it — with women often getting the short end of the stick.
Elizabeth Patton is an assistant professor of media and communication studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Republished under a Creative Commons license from The Conversation.
Author: Elizabeth Patton, The Conversation
Nevada tops 2010 census response rate, but ‘there’s still work to do’
A briefcase of a census taker is seen as she knocks on the door of a residence Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Winter Park, Fla.
Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020 | 2 a.m.
It’s crunch time for the 2020 census in Nevada.
Responses to the census are due by Sept. 30, giving Nevadans just over a month to be in the once-in-a-decade survey.
Nevada has already beaten its self-response rate from the 2010 census. In 2010, the response rate was 61.4%. Currently, it is at 63.5%.
But officials still want to do more, knowing the responses are key to securing much-needed federal funding for the next decade.
Las Vegas ZIP codes 89121, 89169 and 89030 — which include Winchester, Paradise and Sunrise Manor — have low response rates. Nationally, Nevada ranks 27th for response rates, tied with North Dakota.
Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall, who is in charge of the state’s Complete Count Committee, stressed the need for a full and accurate count. Nevada’s growth, she said, means the state needs as much funding as it can get.
“Because our population grows so much faster than other states, we still have work to do, and while I’m very, very pleased and absolutely proud of the work that the Complete Count Committee and the subcommittees have done, there’s still work to do,” Marshall said.
Nevada is one of the fastest-growing states in terms of population in the country. The state’s 2010 population count sat at around 2.7 million, and the estimated population count broke 3 million in 2018.
A report from the George Washington Institute for Public Policy at George Washington University showed that Nevada received about $6.2 billion in fiscal year 2016 from 55 federal programs subject to a population count.
Lawmakers will have to craft a budget during the 2021 legislative session that will have much riding on federal apportionment of money. An accurate count can ensure more money goes to programs ranging from Medicaid to highway construction grants.
According to the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts, federally funded programs made up 32% of state revenues in 2017. Nevada is currently in the middle of a massive budget shortfall, with Gov. Steve Sisolak calling lawmakers into a special legislative session in July to cut around $1.2 billion from the state’s budget because of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
Like almost everything, the census was impacted by COVID-19. After months of suspending many in-person roles, the Census Bureau restarted door knocking on a limited scale on July 16, before expanding fully on Aug. 11. The bureau says workers have been trained in social distancing and safety protocols, will follow local health guidelines and must wear masks for the visits.
“The pandemic has caused these gaps in the ability of the Census Bureau to go out and do what they would have done in any other census year,” Marshall said. “So that makes it more incumbent upon us to get the word out to people to please either fill it out online, mail it in, call it in.”
Emily Zamora, the executive director of nonprofit Silver State Voices and a member of the state’s Complete Count Committee, said that responses around the state were better than activists feared.
“Especially with the pandemic, I think we are in a much better place than we had anticipated,” Zamora said.
Areas with a transient population, she said, along with areas with high college student populations, will need more work to ensure the most accurate count possible. College student populations are typically hard to count accurately, especially in Nevada, as the majority of students live off campus and commute.
“I think they are folks that may have been living around campus during the census, but now that the pandemic is happening they’re not there, so they may not really be checking their mail and stuff like that,” Zamora said.
Marshall agreed, thanking nonprofits for their help in calculating the state’s homeless population, a demographic that is notoriously difficult to count.
“In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau counted, I think, 1,700 homeless people,” Marshall said. “We probably had something more like 17,000.”
Households that have not responded will receive another mailer from the Census Bureau between Aug. 27 and Sept. 15. The census does not include questions about financial information, Social Security, political views or citizenship.
Nevadans who have not yet completed the census can do so online, by phone or by mail. The state runs a website, census.nv.gov, that links to phone numbers for seven languages and to the online form.
Author: By John Sadler (contact)
ServiceNow BrandVoice: Turn Remote Work From Culture Killer To Culture Creator
In the last few weeks, seven of my friends have announced their imminent departures from the Bay Area—four to Santa Barbara, two to L.A., and one to New York City. While it’s not unusual for 20-somethings to move around, the pace of change lately has been dizzying.
My friends are just a few of the many who are moving for no reason other than because they can. Unshackled from their offices, thanks to the pandemic, they’re asking, “If I can be anywhere, where do I want to be?” Though it remains to be seen how permanent these moves will be, announcements from tech giants like Twitter and business mainstays like Nationwide Insurance suggest the arrangement will be as permanent as employees want.
Working wherever, whenever, with a connected remote team.
“An employee’s office will be wherever they need it to be,” Lara Caimi, ServiceNow’s chief customer and partner officer, recently noted.
Technology is simple; culture is hard
Companies with established digital workflows were able to more quickly and seamlessly move employees from the office to home. As remote work normalizes, we’ll only further refine the digital tools we need to do our jobs well.
But remote work has its downsides, and five months along, some companies have soured on it entirely. They see that employees are increasingly disconnected and that, as a result, projects can take longer to complete. They’re concerned new hires are failing to integrate effectively and that young professionals will take longer to professionally develop without mentors at hand.
Together, these employers raise the question: will culture decay with employees dispersed, offices empty or half-filled, and communications almost entirely online?
“An opportunity to be more strategic”
As a young professional who started a new job at the height of the pandemic, I have a vested interest in the answer, To explore it further, I spoke with Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, a professor of management and organizations at the University of Michigan.
Sanchez-Burks studies the social dynamics that shape strategic change, and he admits building a cohesive culture in the COVID era will be harder than ever.
“Culture is going to be more fragmented when you start off remote—full stop,” said Sanchez-Burks. “If I were to go to your organization and ask, ‘What are the three most important norms and taboos?’ I’ll get different answers than if I go to a group of employees who work together on a regular basis.”
Thriving cultures don’t build themselves—especially when folks are working outside of the office.
But dysfunction is not inevitable, and if we break down culture into norms and rituals we may see ways to build it more strategically.
With that in mind, here are three recommendations for building and sustaining a positive culture in the era of workplace anywhere.
1. Meet face to face when possible
I’ve never entered ServiceNow’s office as a full-time employee, but I was able to meet my colleagues in person through a socially distanced offsite and communicate with them daily via Zoom. These interactions make me comfortable voicing opinions and contributing to the team.
“One of the best ways to improve virtual or remote collaboration is to have at least one face-to-face meeting, ideally very early on in the [relationship],” Sanchez-Burks said, citing research. “This allows you to get the modes of communication so you can start to understand when someone is being sarcastic, for example.”
Once that relationship is established, your location matters less. “Just like you can call an old friend and have a great conversation,” Sanchez-Burks said. “When it’s a new relationship, it’s harder to be remote.”
2. Get your Zoom on
More than 60% of communication is non-verbal, so while Zoom fatigue is real, teams must fight the urge to go audio-only. This is especially important when onboarding new hires and interacting with those just starting their careers.
“Culture is learned through paying attention to the subtleties,” Sanchez-Burks said. “As you grow up in a culture, you’re learning a culture. You notice that some people get attention and others don’t.”
The importance of video extends beyond integration and training. Research shows that attunement to non-verbal cues is one of the biggest drivers of collective intelligence.
“If I’m in a group and we are really trying to hash out something, I need to be able to see somebody who has something to say but they’re not saying it,” Sanchez-Burks said; otherwise “that opportunity is lost to leverage that expertise or POV.”
3. Be direct, then reinforce
Culture is often something we experience rather than intentionally build. But with teams remote, leaders must explicitly identify the rituals and patterns of interaction they want to encourage and then reinforce them frequently.
“You could actually come up with really positive norms, and they wouldn’t necessarily continue because the frequency of interaction isn’t as common,” Sanchez-Burks said. “So, there will be a greater need to support productive aspects of culture.”
For example, when I started at ServiceNow, my manager made it clear that outcomes mattered over appearances. “I don’t want to tell you how or when to do your job,” he said, and that stayed with me as a representation of ServiceNow’s culture.
Little statements like that clarify culture, and six months into my remote start, I’ve come to a surprising realization.
Remote work doesn’t eliminate culture. It reveals it.
Author: Zach Dubin
Will workers increasingly leave the work force if schools stay closed?
Union-Tribune reporter Joshua Smith recently wrote about why he decided to take time off work, at a steep pay cut, because he and his wife were struggling with schools being closed.
He used a program called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (created by Congress in March) to supplement his income. He did look at hiring a tutor, but was said it would eat into savings, among other concerns.
A recent New York Times survey found that more than half of parents plan to help their kids distance learn while also holding down paid work.
Q: Will workers increasingly leave the work force if schools stay closed?
Jamie Moraga, IntelliSolutions
YES: Some may have to. It is unrealistic to think that a dual-income family can both effectively work full time and be able to continue to facilitate remote learning for one or more children. It isn’t sustainable. Many may not have the luxury of flexible work schedules, understanding employers, or childcare benefits. Should workers voluntarily leave the workforce to supervise housebound children while schools remain closed, then our economy could face significant harm. Working parents play a significant role in the country’s financial recovery.
David Ely, San Diego State University
YES: According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s weekly Household Pulse Survey, in May, 6 to 7 percent of non-retired not-working adults reported that caring for children not in school or daycare as the reason for not working. This share increased to over 9 percent by July. Balancing work and children’s online learning may be feasible for short periods. But if the reopening of schools appears far off, more workers will feel they must make a choice.
Ray Major, SANDAG
NO: School closures will increasingly put pressure on parents to become more involved in their child’s education. Some parents will hire tutors, work in “pods,” or find other ways to support distance learning. The most affected may be single parents, and/ or those who have young kids or multiple kids in school. Only a small percentage of parents with no other options will be able to take advantage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act because of the financial limitations of the program.
Reginald Jones, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation
YES: Where economics allow, workers will adjust schedules and leave jobs to accommodate their children — an option mostly afforded by traditional, two-parent households. Far too many parents, especially single head of households, cannot consider leaving their jobs. The lower-earning worker is hit particularly hard. Low-wage jobs tend to require workers to be present. These parents must rely on relatives or leave their jobs too, but certainly under more unfavorable economic circumstances.
Lynn Reaser, Point Loma Nazarene University
YES: A New York Times survey recently found that just 13 percent of parents are contemplating leaving work, identical to the share pondering such options as private school enrollment. Those numbers will rise the longer schools stay shuttered as parents fear for their children’s well-being. Research indicates that students could fall a year behind if schools stay shuttered through January. With lower-income parents less able to quit their jobs, this means that their children could be particularly hard hit.
Austin Neudecker, Weave Growth
Not participating this week.
James Hamilton, UC San Diego
YES: The current situation is a two-edged sword. The costs of working are greater when your family is in more need of your help. And the benefits are smaller when good jobs are unavailable. As long as that’s the case, it makes sense for more people to stay at home. But make no mistake — taking care of the children when school and many of the familiar activities are closed is a bigger job than it’s ever been.
Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health
YES: But I don’t believe in large numbers. There will be some who can afford to stay at home. However, many — if not most — parents won’t be able to leave the workforce because they need their jobs. Some parents might look for jobs where telecommuting is permitted. Others may have jobs or find jobs with flexible schedules. And some may be able to work different shifts that would allow them to also care for children.
Kelly Cunningham, San Diego Institute for Economic Research
Not participating this week.
Gary London, London Moeder Advisors
YES: But this will be a temporary leave. With recessions come job losses. One or both parents losing a job is not particularly unusual. What makes this recession different is the voluntary aspect of leaving the work force almost solely due to school closure and the need to step up and provide full-time child care. Even under the worst scenario the schools will eventually reopen, and parents will go back to work.
Phil Blair, Manpower
YES: As much as we would like to avoid saying it, families have realized that school is not just valuable because it educates our kids but school is also what allows us to have two-career families. Yes, it was difficult to balance after-school activities but that has paled by the demands for parents to now be actually home schooling their children with no preparation and no experience. I think we will see tough decisions being made of one parent dropping out of the job market until this whole COVID-19 issue rights itself. We may well be looking at another six months but hopefully reentry into the job market will be reasonably easy by then. But know that some families will become very attracted to a stay-at-home parent and plan for it long term.
Alan Gin, University of San Diego
YES: It will not be most workers, but many workers will make the sacrifice to try to improve the education of their children. This will especially be the case for those with younger children, who need much more supervision. However, workers at the lower end of the income spectrum are going to be put in an impossible situation, as they need to work to make ends meet. That is why programs such as emergency family leave and the extension of unemployment insurance are so important.
Bob Rauch, R.A. Rauch & Associates
YES: School is de facto daycare for many families and for our kids, school is too important to ignore this dilemma. Who will stay at home with the kids in our nanny state? The Families First Act guarantees that parents of school-aged children can take up to 12 weeks of leave at two-thirds of their regular pay, capped at $200 a day, if local schools/daycares are physically closed due to the pandemic. It’ll be used.
Norm Miller, University of San Diego
YES: Nearly 100,000 San Diego workers in hospitality and tourism lost jobs this spring and most of this group cannot afford child care. So if schools stay closed or only online, many of them will not be able to work, given the low wages for hospitality service workers. Another problem is the reduced density of child care capacity until we have vaccines deployed, so aside from informal parent groups, many parents will find child care challenging.
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Author: By Phillip Molnar