The vast majority of employed expatriates in Beijing continue to work from home, according to a poll the Beijinger conducted over WeChat Friday.
The poll was circulated in eight Beijing-specific, expat-oriented WeChat groups. Of approximately 3,000 members, 341 responded.
Of them, 68 percent are working exclusively from home, while another 20 percent are working a hybrid of in-office and at-home work.
Only 12 percent are working exclusively in the office, and an even smaller portion of those – fewer than 1 in 10 – are working their regular full-time jobs in the office as they did prior to the start of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile, 42 percent of respondents are working less than their previous workload as a consequence of a downturn in business.
A flaw in the survey was revealed when several people responded that their current situation fit none of the poll choices provided: Those that were working more than 100 percent of their job since the coronavirus, and those that are in limbo – as they are still awaiting word from their employer when they might resume work.
Teachers in particular are saying that shifting from in-person teaching to online classes has been a major addition to their workload.
One expatriate university lecturer reports that before the outbreak he was responsible for three 90-minute classes per week, which usually consisted of a 45-minute lecture followed by 45 minutes of discussion. Working remotely has meant that the discussion portion has been all but eliminated, requiring him to double the length of his lectures, complete with expanded presentation materials.
“I find that I am working a minimum of six days a week, lose half my weekends, and have very little time off,” he said.
An expat teacher at a local high school echoes that sentiment. “Before I just taught classes during weekdays and it was very standard classroom work," he said. "Now, students send me videos of them speaking and I send comments back ... with 818 students to evaluate, I went from 20 hours a week to over 60.”
Another teacher at an international K-12 school said that one of the difficulties has been the loss of boundaries when working from home. Teachers are being asked to be online for classwork during regular school hours, but due to the newness of the situation, faculty end up having meetings during off-school hours to make required adjustments, she said.
In addition, monitoring student progress is an increased burden. “In class, while they are working I am always moving around seeing what they need help with,” she said. “Online I can’t help unless they ask or I have to wait until I get an assignment back to see that maybe they didn’t get it.”
In addition, the fact that her first-grade daughter is at home exacerbates the difficulty. "She isn't at the age where she can self-regulate and do her work independently," she said.
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By Michael Wester