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This software sales job is not really far away, Ore., a small town 200 miles south of Portland. This practice is also not. This job probably isn’t at Remote, Mich., A place that doesn’t seem to exist.
When a pandemic struck and millions of Americans left their actual workplaces, some employers left vacant fields in online job listings or filled in “remotely”. The computerized system of career websites still performs movements linking jobs from anywhere with a city and state.
That’s how, as Brian Feldman wrote in the BNet news a few days ago, Remote, Ore., Appears to have become the job capital of America.
This is a relatively small example of computers not being as smart as we would like them to be. But there’s also something profound here. Career websites reflect the general mood of millions of American job seekers and companies. If you want a glimpse of our intricate feelings about work during and after the pandemic, job search sites are a good place to start.
I spoke to this with Julia Pollak, a labor economist at career website ZipRecruiter, who told me she had a chance to see how fast American work interests change when she began early coronavirus crisis. She noticed a mismatch between what the recruiter and the rest of us wanted.
Last year, Pollak said, the most popular job search term so far on ZipRecruiter was – you can guess – working remotely or similar phrases. There has been a huge increase. Pollak says that for every 100 pre-pandemic remote job searches, there are now 330 times.
Many people don’t want remote work to be temporary, she says. In ZipRecruiter surveys of job seekers, 45% of respondents said they would like to find a job that would allow them to work from home after the pandemic ends. (A Wednesday article from my colleagues cited similar survey results.)
In order to give job hunters what they were looking for, ZipRecruiter completely reprogrammed its computer system to try to analyze whether job listing offering remote work is purposefully work from anywhere temporarily or permanently.
I’ll add an important reminder: The debate over whether telework becomes permanent is just about a small part of the jobs. About a quarter of Americans working outside the home in July 2020 had done at least some remote work in the preceding four weeks because of the pandemic.
That means three-quarters of American workers don’t work from home and work from anywhere won’t be a reality for most Americans. (The other issue is whether remote work means working away from work five days a week or occasionally, and whether an employee or company makes that choice.)
But for the types of work that can be performed remotely, there is a mismatch. A significant proportion of job seekers say they want to work remotely. The recruiter isn’t sure they want that. Career websites are seeing this tension with their own eyes.
Hiring news has shown that while many recruiters initially didn’t want to commit people to work from anywhere forever, that has begun to change. “We are seeing a gradual change to more and more remote work listed as such,” Pollak said.
ZipRecruiter currently categorizes about 8 or 9 percent of job vacancies as permanent home jobs, up from about 2 percent before the pandemic. The job listing sites Monster and LinkedIn have also told me that remote jobs are still only a small portion of open positions but have risen sharply.
The computer systems of career websites are beginning to adapt to job seekers’ desires for more flexible work. The human boss will still have the last word.
The fight against piracy online
Some have long complained that copyright laws are being abused to protect people and companies from accountability.
This is one of the longest debates on the internet and I don’t know how to deal with it. But I’d like to re-think it as an example of the high-powered internet telepaths that most of us do not normally think of.
Vice News recently reported on a number of cases where police played songs on their phones while people around them recorded interactions with them. Civil rights activists have said they believe this is an attempt to ensure that videos will be taken down from sites like Instagram and YouTube.
Many internet companies have automated systems that block people from posting material containing popular songs or videos. Websites like Google and Facebook also process billions of requests each year from people, organizations, and companies, large and small, to remove material they think belongs to them and they don’t allow others to post.
All of this is in response to the 1998 law, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which requires online companies to remove copyrighted material. There are many doubts about how the law has played out.
In particular, major entertainment companies often say that the law and the ways internet companies enforce it are too lax to downplay material they believe is inappropriately posted online. They also don’t like having to make too many requests to enforce their copyrights.
As we saw from Vice’s report, some digital rights activists and smaller organizations in the music and entertainment sector effectively say the opposite – that of the Internet companies too often fail to protect powerful organizations or remove trusted information from public records.
Law writing is difficult. The DMCA shows that internet-related laws are even more difficult to keep up with the rapidly changing habits of people while having proper enforcement.
Before we go …
When online is your job: My Times Opinion colleagues made a short video of requests to Chinese online celebrities who live-stream all their actions. Related: Taylor Lorenz has written about building new bureaucracy around professional internet stars.
Attractive exercise classes with cheap prices: My colleague, Brian X. Chen, tried to create the experience of an internet-connected Peloton indoor bike without spending a lot of money. Don’t miss that awkward moment when Brian’s weightlifting routine was interrupted by a YouTube soap commercial.
A homage to desserts on the internet: Eater’s fascinating pastry history says that the creative desserts that are now flooding Instagram and other social media sites are “a trend driven by quarantine baking, but inspired by from everything from popular Korean bakeries on Instagram and Pinterest to the video game Animal Crossing. “
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