Romano Law Nurse Corner COVID 19 #25
REMOTE WORK LIFE - SCHOOL REOPENINGS
Since this pandemic entered our lives, many of us have had to learn how to work remotely and continue to be productive. At first, this seemed like an impossible task. We, the ROMANO LAW Nurses, thought we would never be able to get as much done without going into the office every day. Wow, were we surprised! It took a little bit of time to figure out what we needed and to make sure we got the proper equipment for a home office set up. Then, we had to learn a lot of new technology--Zoom-what is that!? We, as we imagine many of you, realize that this technology is here to stay in some form or another. We have both found ourselves more productive than ever since this pandemic forced us to work from home. Further, in some ways, it seems like our work/life mix is more manageable working from home. There is data that productivity does not suffer when workers are remote.
Mercer, a human resources consulting firm, recently published a study that found that the number of companies expecting to have half or more of their employees working remotely post pandemic increased to 1 out of 3 compared to 1 out of 30 companies that had employees working remotely before the pandemic.
During the pandemic, 60% of businesses are providing flexibility for caregivers which includes allowing parents to change their schedules, letting parents temporarily shift their hours to other times, part time or off times. Other companies are allowing parents to perform work outside traditional business hours. This type of flexibility is extremely helpful for most of us as we navigate the new “normal” while at the same time maintaining productivity in our work life.
Surprisingly, despite these changes to workplaces, 90% of companies reported that productivity has remained the same or actually improved since employees began working remotely.
Nicholas Bloom, a professor at Stanford University has made a career out of studying work practices including remote work. He thinks that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed attitudes around the world about remote work.
Bloom, working with a Chinese company, did a study in 2013, that found that the staff of the company became notably more productive by working from home four days a week. His study showed that 13% of the people studied increased output. Results showed that this was attributed to 2 things--workers being able to cram more tasks in per minute and workers working more minutes per shift. Bloom notes that the reason for these results include the fact that commutes were eliminated entirely, lunch breaks were shorter and fewer workers took sick days. This same trend has played out in many companies during this pandemic as well.
Lynda Grattan, a professor at London Business School points out some problems with Bloom’s experiment by saying it was essentially happening at a call center and says we have no proper data on the productivity of knowledge of workers when they are based at home. However, she does note that during the pandemic executives have said that their knowledge workers have become more productive.
Grattan also points out the inequality that shows up with remote work. For instance, some workers do not have an ideal living situation conducive to remote work. In Bloom’s study, everyone had a room to work in that was separate from their bedroom. Admittedly, successful remote work depends on a conducive environment.
There are drawbacks to remote work, which include feeling disconnected and missing out on seeing other colleagues. Zoom calls just aren’t the same as face to face interactions. The days of the “water cooler” discussions are gone with a remote workforce. There are no unexpected conversations and collaboration on strategies. In fact, Grattan states that often bumping into other people is important and many decisions and ideas come out of those meetings in hallways.
Eddie Obeng, founder of Pentacle, a virtual business school, says he’s concerned about remote workers’ feelings of isolation and loneliness, in the absence of those important personal interactions.
It’s a point reinforced by Christy Johnson, who runs a US-based consulting company staffed entirely by remote workers. She says that isolation was the biggest source of staff turnover during her first year. Johnson makes sure to schedule annual in-person meetings to compensate for this loss of in-person interaction that could potentially weaken morale or slow productivity. She also tries to replicate random conversations on Friday afternoons about people’s fun plans for the weekend, in the way people would speak on a Friday afternoon in a real office.
In other COVID news, schools are slowly opening…and outbreaks are happening.
Over the last several weeks, there has been a 90% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among children in the U.S. according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s hospital Association. There have been clusters of outbreaks in places such as Georgia and Mississippi and of course, our very own Florida. In fact, in Florida, according to Newsweek the week of 8/25/20, Nearly 9,000 Florida children were diagnosed with Coronavirus in Two Weeks as Schools Reopened.
Further, as of 8/25/20, there were 48,730 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus among children under 18, according to a recent pediatric report released by the Florida Department of Health. In a previous report released August 9, there were 39,735 confirmed cases among the same group, which marks an increase of 8,995 cases over those two weeks. As more and more schools open, experts expect similar increases and outbreaks.
Aside from numbers of cases increasing, the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased. According to the Florida Department of Health, as of August 9th there were 436 hospitalizations of children which compares to 602 in a report as of 8/25/20.
There is no doubt that the increase in cases comes from the opening up of schools. Because many have already reopened, the state health department released a report recently showing that more than 700 cases of the virus have been linked to K-12 schools and higher education institutions within the first two weeks of reopening.
Many school districts that have reopened have had to completely revamp their plans for the school year. In Georgia, several schools which had reopened had to close and switch to remote learning until the spread is stopped.
Some places, such as Rhode Island, have delayed the start of school for several weeks. There, Governor Gina Raimondo believes educators need more time to prepare for in person classes. They are still figuring out proper social distancing guidelines and need more supplies such as PPE.
In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear is asking schools to wait until late September to begin in person classes. Governor Beshear took note of increased cases in Georgia and Tennessee where students had to quarantine within days of starting classes. We don’t want to start and stop, Beshear said.
There is controversy of course. In July, the Florida Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran ordered all school districts to open brick and mortar schools for at least 5 days a week. The order does leave the final decision up to the district superintendent; however, it also suggested that funding would be held if they did not reopen.
In response, the Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit saying that the order defied recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on safely reopening schools. The lawsuit was filed against Corcoran, the Florida Board of Education, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Last week, a Florida judge ruled in favor of the teachers union, saying that the order for schools to reopen violated the state's constitution. The decision is being appealed which will keep everyone in limbo as we figure out how to safely resume education for our young people.
The school reopening controversy will continue to progress both here in Florida as well as all over the country. As we deal with our new reality of COVID-19 and education, once again we must remind everyone, we are all in this together.
We are Susan Ramsey and Amie Goldberg, both practicing attorneys and nurses here at the Romano Law Group. Here is a little more about each of us:
Susan Ramsey is both an attorney and an RN. Ms. Ramsey’s professional experience began as a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Yale New Haven Hospital. While pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree, she was a counselor with the New Haven Rape Crisis Program. During her time with the Program, Ms. Ramsey counseled sexual assault survivors and performed seminars for local police departments, universities, and high schools. During her time working as a registered nurse, Ms. Ramsey decided to attend law school. Ms. Ramsey graduated from CUNY Law School, and has practiced law in several different State and Federal Courts. She is a Florida Heath Care Risk Manager and a member of the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force. Ms. Ramsey actively litigates cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death on behalf of survivors, cases include injuries suffered by victims of professional negligence, product liability and medical negligence.
Amie Goldberg is both an attorney and a certified APRN. After completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree at Whittier College, Ms. Goldberg attended nursing school at Emory University. Ms. Goldberg’s professional experience started as a Registered Nurse at Egleston Children’s Hospital taking care of children with congenital heart disease. After a few years, she continued working in all areas of the hospital while attending Kennesaw State University on weekends in order to get her Master’s Degree in Nursing with a specialty of Primary Care Nurse Practitioner/Family Nurse Practitioner. During her time as an APRN, Ms. Goldberg decided to attend law school at St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida. Since graduating, she has mainly practiced in the areas of personal injury and worker’s compensation, fighting for the rights of injured people. Since joining the Romano Law Group, Ms. Goldberg has been the Director of the Opioid Litigation Project. Ms. Goldberg also practices in the area of medical malpractice and nursing home negligence, bringing an inside perspective and knowledge to help get justice for our clients.