USC should embrace Zoom flexibility

design with students studying and the words "zoom" in blue in the middle
(Amanda Ding | Daily Trojan)

“Zoom fatigue” is a phrase that we’ve heard so much over the past two years that by now, they should have created a word for fatigue related to hearing that word. 

Zoom University was an interesting time. The days went by slowly, but in the blink of an eye at the same time. It didn’t matter if it was Friday or Monday — every day felt the same. Now that we’ve been back to in-person classes for one semester and counting, the novelty is beginning to wear off and a more permanent place for Zoom in our lives seems to be opening. 

Let’s be honest. Commuting or walking to school takes up more time than it should. Attending a 50-minute class can consume about three hours of your time. If you shower and eat breakfast before class, that means you have to wake up at least one hour before the class starts — that is, if you want to be on time. Once class is over, you have to walk home or use some other type of wheeled transportation. If you use the latter or if you live very close to campus, you may have the next hour open to do whatever you want. 

But those who live further from campus or who do not own another method of transportation besides their feet can say goodbye to that next hour of time that will be spent going back home and unwinding. 

While staring at a computer screen all day was boring and constant exposure to blue light was unhealthy, Zoom is constantly proving that it’s ahead of its time. When the pandemic started, Zoom was there to make remote learning possible, and now that we’ve been back in-person, Zoom is here again to revolutionize the workplace by making our day more flexible. 

Harry Moseley, the global chief information officer for Zoom, calls this time the “era of flexibility.” Workplaces are slowly becoming the first to accept this. 

According to the 2021 Microsoft Work Trend Index, remote job listings on LinkedIn have increased five times since the beginning of the pandemic. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that the work is more flexible, the study also found that 46% of the workforce plans to relocate because they now work remotely. It’s a sign that remote work, if not the flexibility of time, offers the flexibility to choose where one lives without having to calculate commute times. 

I’ll admit that college is an institution that works best when social interaction takes place in person. But this semester, I have found that Zoom’s existence has made my week easier by allowing me to choose when I am on campus.

As college students, we have become very familiar with pulling all-nighters. Sometimes, they happen because of our own irresponsibility or because of hectic midterm seasons, where the workload is overwhelming. 

Regardless of the reason why getting up for our 9 a.m. classes is hard, when Zoom is an option, you not only get to sleep more, but you also can spend that time doing whatever else you want.

The problem with remote learning wasn’t the fact that school was online. We have to look at the bigger picture. The problem was that social interaction with our peers was mostly occurring online instead of in person. A 2020 Harvard study found that feelings of loneliness increased during the pandemic, with 61% of young adults saying they felt “serious loneliness.” Now that school is back in person and it is relatively safe to visit family and friends, Zoom gives us the flexibility to spend more time with our loved ones. 

Zoom should be available for every class at USC because it affords us that flexibility and because, more importantly, the pandemic isn’t over. Everytime we step foot on campus, we run the risk of getting sick and spreading the disease to others in our community. 

While the pandemic still lingers, many are already thinking about life after it. In addition to the many structural changes that this country needs to make regarding racial inequalities in areas such as education, healthcare and income, the country needs to reshape the way we think about school. 

USC can be a pioneer by making Zoom a permanent part of their instruction. Not only will we have more flexibility in planning our day, but we will also make the school safer, healthier and more open to extracurricular activities. 

Zoom fatigue is a thing of the past. Zoom flexibility is happening now, and it’s time that we embrace it.