我是Zoom课程的一员

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随着美国等世界上更加繁荣和全面接种疫苗的国家开始摆脱大流行,有很多关于“办公室”的说法。我一直在想“办公室”,因为我花了一周的时间在我们匹兹堡的办公室里,为我们在温彻斯特瑟斯顿(Winchester Thurston)的一个人工智能营地做准备。
麦肯锡(McKinsey)的最新报告显示,许多企业高管表示,他们预计员工在家工作和在办公室工作的时间会分开。(点击此处阅读报告)。精明的企业家甚至为远程工作者制作了特殊的扬声器,让他们感觉自己在办公室里,即使他们并不是在办公室。他们还给孩子们寄去了照顾包裹,并补贴了部分托儿服务。
我同意办公室辩论是必不可少的。事实上,我是在家里写这篇文章的。但对全世界数十亿人来说,这场辩论与他们的工作和生活无关。
主要是因为数十亿人的工作不能在远处完成,例如,理发,照顾重病或受伤的病人,或提供食物。或者像卫生、农业、配送或运输这样的工作是必要的,但不局限于任何特定的空间。
国际劳工组织估计,在大流行期间,全球只有18%的劳动力(约5.57亿人)一直在远程办公。(点击此处阅读报告)。这是COVID之前的三倍。但对全球超过27亿人来说,“重返办公室的辩论”听起来像是来自另一个星球的东西。
让我们不要忽视这27亿人及其家人在工时和工资损失、情感创伤和破坏性失业方面受到COVID – 19最严重的打击。
今天,“极速阶层”和世界其他阶层之间的划分,反映了一些跨越我们的社区和社会的更明显的不平等断层。
如今,即便是在美国这样的繁荣经济体,也只有一小部分员工能够持续远程办公。在美国,这一比例约为五分之一。但在中等收入国家,这一数字要低得多,因为“笔记本电脑阶层”或“Zoom阶层”的规模大幅下降。例如,在印度,超过4.7亿人从事农业零售,只有5%的人能够在Zoom从事这项工作。非洲的数字也差不多。
让我们进一步思考这个问题。这是因为在欠发达国家,面对面的服务工作更为普遍——在中等收入国家做街头小贩的可能性是富裕国家的5倍,从事农业工作的可能性是富裕国家的16倍。这也与互联网连接和互联网服务的限制有关。大多数国家都没有互联网基础设施来支持大量的远程办公人口。最重要的是,许多这些国家还经历了额外的打击,因为这些国家的公民在海外工作,他们的汇款往往“遥不可及”。
此外,高负债和缺乏现金意味着中低收入国家无法推出我们在美国或欧洲看到的那种失业救济或基础设施重建项目。更为繁荣的国家已拨出国内生产总值的30%来缓冲疫情的冲击。但低收入和中等收入国家的增幅不到6%。(点击此处阅读IMF的报告)
坏消息是,大流行已经逆转了数十年的减贫进程。仅在2020年,全球就有超过1.2亿人生活在贫困线以下,生活在极端贫困中的人数24年来首次上升(自1997年以来)。(点击此处阅读报告)
今天,即使在富裕国家,非远程工作绝大多数都是低收入、经济上脆弱的职业。根据皮尤研究中心最近的一项研究,超过四分之三的美国低收入工人根本不能在家工作。非远程工作中,妇女、少数族裔和年轻人所占比例更高——这些群体在经济上处于不利地位。这些国家在危机期间都遭受了不成比例的金融损失。
大流行还远未结束,但仍有许多事情需要做。在全球范围内,更繁荣的国家需要考虑为资金短缺的发展中国家减免债务的问题。但即使是在更繁荣的国家,为“基本工人”提供更好的补偿和劳动保护也是非常必要的。
能站在阳台上为重要的工作人员鼓掌、发推特是件好事,但除非我们开始给予他们更多补偿,否则如果另一场大流行又来了怎么办?

英文原因文

I am part of the “zoom” class

We all can learn a great deal from reading great writers

As our world’s more prosperous and fully vaccinated countries like the United States begin to come out from the Pandemic, there’s a lot of talk about “the office.” I have been thinking about “the office” as I spent most of the week at our Pittsburgh office preparing for one of our artificial intelligence camps at Winchester Thurston by ReadyAI.

Many business executives say that they expect employees to split time between working from home and the office, according to the latest report by McKinsey. (Click here to read the report). Savvy entrepreneurs are even making special speakers for remote workers to feel like they are in the office even when they aren’t. They’re also sending them care packages and subsidizing part of childcare services.

I agree that office debate is an essential one. In fact, I am writing this piece from my home. But billions of people around the world, this debate is not relevant to their work and lives. 

Mainly because billions of people have jobs that cannot be done from a distance, for example, giving haircuts, tending to seriously ill or injured patients, or serving food. Or, perhaps jobs in occupations like sanitation, farming, deliveries, or transportation are essential but not confined to any specific space. 

The International Labor Organization estimates just 18 percent of the global workforce, or approximately 557 million people, were consistently teleworking during the Pandemic. (Click here to read the report). That’s triple what it was before COVID. But it still leaves over 2.7 billion people worldwide for whom the “back-to-the office debate” sounds like something from another planet.

Let’s not ignore that those 2.7 billion people and their families have been hit hardest by COVID in terms of hours and wages lost, emotional trauma, and destructive unemployment. 

Today the division between the “Zoom class” and the rest of the world tracks some of the more obvious fault lines of inequality that cut across our communities and societies. 

Today even in prosperous economies like the US, only a small portion of workers can telework consistently. Here in the US, it’s about a fifth. But the numbers are far lower in middle-income countries as the size of the “laptop class” or “Zoom class” plummets. For example, in India, where more than 470 million people work in retail for agriculture, only five percent can Zoom to the job. The numbers in Africa are alike.  

Let’s think about this a bit further. This is because in-person services jobs are more prevalent in less developed countries – you are five times as likely to be a street vendor in a middle-income nation as you are in a wealthy one and 16 times as likely to work in agriculture. This is also about constraints on internet connectivity and internet services. Most countries don’t have the internet infrastructure to support massive teleworking populations. On top of that, many of these countries have also experienced the additional blow of losing remittances from their citizens working abroad in jobs that often aren’t “remote-workable.”

Also, high debt obligations and lack of cash mean that low and middle-income countries cannot roll out the kinds of unemployment benefits or infrastructure rebuilding programs that we’ve seen in the US or Europe. More flourishing countries have allocated up to 30 percent of their GDP to cushion the pandemic blow. but low and middle-income countries mustered less than six percent. (Click here to read the IMF report.)  

The bad news is that Pandemic has put decades of poverty reduction in reverse. In 2020 alone, more than 120 million people fell below the poverty line globally, and the number of people living in extreme poverty rose for the first time in 24 years (since 1997). (Click here to read the report)

Today even in rich countries, non-remote jobs are overwhelmingly in lower-income, economically vulnerable professions. According to a recent Pew study, more than 3/4 of low-income workers in Americans can’t work from home at all. Non-remote jobs have higher proportions of women, ethnic minorities, and younger people – groups went into the Pandemic at an economic disadvantage. All suffered disproportionate financial losses during the crisis itself.

The Pandemic is far from over, but and many things need to be done. Globally, more prosperous countries need to look at the question of debt relief for cash-strapped developing nations. But even within more prosperous countries, better compensation and labor protectins for “essential workers” are genuinely essential.

It is nice to be out on the balcony applauding the essential workers and tweeting about them, but unless we start compensating them more, what happens if another pandemic comes around?


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Roozbeh Aliabadi 专家专栏
美国AI教育先驱ReadyAI CEO,全球增长顾问公司合伙人,厚仁集团学生领航导师,美国陆军特种部队心理作战司前军官,《论坛报》提名杰出青年公民。
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