$7,000 All-In-One Kits, Remote Work Goes Luxury, But Many May Be Left Out.

$7,000 All-In-One Kits, Remote Work Goes Luxury, But Many May Be Left Out

Facebook has unveiled online "workrooms" for users of its Oculus virtual reality gear

Washington:

Virtual reality meetings, $7,000 all-in-one kits and digital hot desking: Big Tech is rolling out premium tools as the work-from-home era looks set to last well beyond the pandemic.

But experts warn that while top-of-the-line features may benefit privileged Americans, millions of others can barely access remote work tools already available.

Facebook has unveiled online "workrooms" for users of its Oculus virtual reality gear, and Google showed off interactive conferencing displays, declaring the "hybrid" mix of in-person and remote work is here to stay.

Yet outside of Silicon Valley and other urban centers, basics like a fast internet connection and proficiency in remote tech is beyond the reach of tens of millions in the United States.

"For many people, being able to work from home is still a luxury," said Michelle Burris, a senior policy associate at progressive think tank The Century Foundation.

One reason is access to high-speed connections, with advocacy group BroadbandNow saying in a May report that 42 million Americans -- about 13 percent of the population -- cannot get broadband internet.

Another problem is equipment as many workers have to buy their own.

Take the example of Patricia McGee in Texas -- a 39-year-old mother of four who switched from an Amazon warehouse job to remote customer service work for another company when pandemic lockdowns hit about 18 months ago.

She had to plunk down $2,000 to get a computer, not to mention the price of internet and the process of installing software and updates.

"Not everybody can afford a computer. So it's taking jobs from people that can't (buy one) or actually don't have the skills (to use one)," she told AFP.

Her machine broke a few days ago and because she had exhausted her paid time off, McGee can't work or make money until her computer is back online.

Risk of being left out

The digital divisions exposed by the pandemic are well-documented with striking examples like families using the wireless internet at fast food restaurants so their children could attend school online.

As schools and workplaces have, in many areas, moved gradually back toward in-person activity, some inequalities have been eased.

But a percentage of workers have come to appreciate the flexibility and utility of a "hybrid" mix where they can work from home sometimes.

"It's one of these innocuous seeming things that looks like it's convenience but it can be -- unless we really address and acknowledge it -- another tool for increasing inequality," said Monica Sanders, a Georgetown University professor.

Sanders noted that this is different than other technological developments, like the latest smartphone or even having a videocassette player when the machines revolutionized home entertainment.

They didn't "impact your earning power or where you live or how you work," she said.

The change in how people work has not gone unnoticed for employers, with digital skills for zoom presentation or remote management tools working their way into job ads.

Author and remote work expert Rhiannon Payne said virtual reality will become as normal a part of how people do their jobs as cell phones and laptops.

She agreed the risks of excluding people cannot be ignored, but also that high tech tools can make life better.

"Companies are trying to find ways to make remote work genuinely easier and to help us increase connections with our colleagues," she told AFP.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV News

NDTV.com provides latest news from India and the world. Get today’s news headlines from Business, Technology, Bollywood, Cricket, videos, photos, live news coverage and exclusive breaking news from India.

https://www.ndtv.com/

Related news
VA mom goes viral for confronting school board over explicit books.

VA mom goes viral for confronting school board over explicit books.

Stacy Langton, a mother of six, raises questions about who decides what books are approved for public school libraries. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all...

1 1167

Sky News Breakfast: Anthony Joshua loses his belts

Sky News Breakfast: Anthony Joshua loses his belts

On Sunday 26th September: - Visa rules set to change to allow HGV drivers from the EU to enter the UK until Christmas - Boxer Anthony Joshua unexpectedly loses his bout with opponent Oleksandr Usyk - And marathon runner Ella Rothwell on her mammot...

La Palma volcano opens new vent, threatens to collapse - DW News.

La Palma volcano opens new vent, threatens to collapse - DW News.

Eruptions from a volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma have intensified, with a new vent opening up, releasing more lava. More than 400 homes have been destroyed so far. Ash and dust from the new fissure have forced the island's authorities to...

1 515

Vladimir Putin shows off ‘macho’ holiday hunting bears and fishing amid COVID fears in inner circle.

Vladimir Putin shows off ‘macho’ holiday hunting bears and fishing amid COVID fears in inner circle.

RUSSIAN strongman leader Vladimir Putin is featured in new images showing him in the wilds of Siberia — amid fears over health after his inner circle caught Covid. The action-man-style videos showing the president hunting bears and fishing are und...

Congressmen travel to border to probe 'legal mechanisms' used to process migrants.

Congressmen travel to border to probe 'legal mechanisms' used to process migrants.

Congressmen Clay Higgins and Andy Biggs traveled to the border to probe the 'legal mechanisms' used to process thousands of migrants near a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel...

'Connect the dots': Pamela Brown on how Trump's Big Lie will affect future elections.

'Connect the dots': Pamela Brown on how Trump's Big Lie will affect future elections.

CNN's Pamela Brown says that GOP leaders who stay silent on former President Donald Trump's Big Lie about the 2020 election are spreading his message even further. #CNN #News #Politics