Health

There is little information regarding the health aspects of VipKid. I have compiled a list of broad health topics meant to serve as a guide. The topics were decided upon after researching health and occupational risks in other similar industries as well as from personal experience and observation. There is much that we do not know about occupational health in our industry.

 

What I do know is that occupational health in the digital age is changing rapidly. Contingent work like Vipkid is replacing jobs, with these changes arise new health challenges to the workforce.

The goal of this site is to first address how to best face these health challenges. How to best promote a safe and healthy workplace.

Keep in mind, every occupation since the beginning of time has had some sort of occupational risk involved. There is no avoiding it in most cases. Doing something often enough and for long enough is generally a recipe for work related injury and illness. There are also typically some inherent risk associated with certain professions. For example, firefighters have extremely dangerous and stressful jobs, about 45% of on the job deaths are due to sudden cardiac arrest.

Teaching ESL Online is obviously not nearly as dangerous as being a firefighter. There are in fact many aspects about working from home and being an teacher that make it incredibly safe when compared to nearly any other profession.

 

VipKid teachers are likely to be healthier than the average person because we do have the freedom and time to make healthy choices.

 

There is indeed a lot to be thankful for.​

 

One interesting phenomenon is that because working for Vipkid is so rewarding and fun, many teachers simply don't see it as work and forget to utilize safe work practices.

 

So here it is The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good

  • No commute. Since there is no commute, there would conceivably be fewer rush hour accidents. Not only does this considerably cut down on accidents, it also reduces stress of having to deal with a commute in the first place.

  • Less Stress. Since working from home gives you more control over how you work, you’re more likely to be satisfied with your job and less stressed out.

  • Work While caring for loved one. This can lift a huge burden for those who need to be a caregiver. This ability lift not only a financial burden but also helps in terms of mental health simply from being able to continue working. The reality is that Vipkid has allowed some families to spend more time with terminally ill love ones while relieving some of the stress that comes with doing so.

  • Freedom and Autonomy. The freedom that comes from working from home adds immeasurable value to your mental health. No longer will you have a colleague or supervisor peering over your shoulder. Do you still need to be accountable? Of course, but you can now manage your day to suit your needs. An added bonus: you can control the thermostat instead of being held hostage by office temps that are too warm or freezing

  • More Work-Life Balance A work from home position can have big payoffs when it comes to finding the eternal balance between having a career or simply bringing in extra money and nurturing a family.

  • A Healthier Lifestyle If you skip breakfast, grab take-out for lunch, or hit the vending machine for an afternoon pick-me-up, working from home can change that. You have more choices to eat better when you’re in control of your environment, and you are at home. Removing the daily commute can mean you have enough time to make healthy dinners, your family eats healthier too.

  • Work while sick/recovering. Though not ideal, this is a really touching aspect that few may consider. I've heard from teachers who were undergoing chemo treatment and were able to continue working. This not only helped them earn money while they were undergoing treatment, it really helped their mental health You can only imagine how this helps them recover from illness.

  • Mental Health. We've talked about reducing stress, which is certainly good for everyone's health, but what about those who suffer from the types of mental illness that prevent or restricts their ability to work? Working itself is a huge component to mental health,  jobs like Vipkid offer a nice alternative to the workforce.

  • Less Germs. Don't have to worry about all the people you work with spreading germs around. This can be way more important than you think. I heard from one teacher who share with me that she had a double lung transplant. The anti-rejection drugs she must take for the rest of her life leaves her immune system compromised. Because of Vipkid she is able to work.

  • Sense of community. Few companies have a warm vibrant community like Vipkid does. Although teachers are in competition with each other, you would hardly notice this most of the time. Teachers are very supportive of one another with communities for many different niche's popping up daily there is likely a place for everyone.

 

The Bad

 

  • Circadian Disruption: Even those who live on the east coast will find themselves having to get up before 5 am. This leads to Disruption of our bodies natural clock or biorhythms. Our circadian clock plays a role in nearly every physiological process, being out of sync has consequences to our health.

  • Lack of Benefits and protections. VipKid teachers are independent contractors. Vipkid has done a wonderful job of conveying a caring image, every communication I have ever had with them has been supportive and friendly. The reality remains that teachers are independent contractors and as such do not enjoy traditional workplace benefits such as overtime pay, protection from discrimination; a safe and healthy workplace; employers’ full or partial contributions to payroll taxes that make workers eligible for unemployment insurance, Social Security retirement and disability benefits, and Medicare; workers compensation insurance and health insurance.

  • Uncertainty. Ideally, a teacher would like to teach a predictable schedule, tailored to their liking. It doesn’t always work out that way for everyone. Sometimes this uncertainty is self-imposed, teachers burn themselves out often with the false belief that they must continue to teach constantly without break to maintain bookings or to keep up.  This can be stressful for obvious reasons. Among the forces that cause uncertainty are fluctuations in schedules i.e. Chinese New Year; summer, daylight savings and personal time off.

  • Musculoskeletal disorders. Any injuries related to muscle, tendons or nerves caused by prolonged or repetitive use; arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome,

  • Prolonged sitting/standing. Sitting itself puts the body in positions, often with poor body mechanic, for long periods of time. Not to mention the lack of activity. It’s not surprising that sitting is being compared to smoking. Prolonged sitting is linked to obesity and a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that make up metabolic syndrome. Standing is often seen as the cure to prolonged sitting and it makes sense, however prolonged standing especially with bad posture can be damaging as well.

  • Eye Strain. A lot of things can cause eyestrain, from bad lighting, to computer glare.

  • Ear Discomfort. Typically caused by wearing headphones for prolonged periods of time, it is also important to remember that headphones can cause hearing damage.

  • Lack of Sleep. The reality is that if someone is doing this as a full time gig, that means they are getting up before 5am in most cases. If they are doing it part time that means they likely have another job, gig or side hustle, many teachers tend to burn the candles at both ends and will run errands during the day. This means driving to places and putting themselves at greater risks for accidents if they are sleep deprived. Accidents around the house also increase as do a whole myriad of health concerns linked to poor sleep.

  • Irregular Shifts. For some teachers it can be feast or famine, other teachers fail to impose any sort of limit or rules so their schedules fluctuate with the wind, whichever the case working irregular shifts(nights and then mornings, weekends than weekdays.) never allows the body a chance to acclimate to any type of schedule. This can’t be good for the long term and it really defeats a lot of the good we receive from being able to control our time in the first place.

  • Loneliness. While it’s too early to show direct causal relationships, some researchers fear that remote work could lead to an increase in the health problems associated with loneliness and social isolation, but not everyone agrees. As mentioned in the good section, Teachers have the freedom to schedule social time and can be active members of the very vibrant teacher community.




 

The Ugly….

 

Here it is, the ugly truth is that in this modern age we must be response able for our own physical, mental and social well being. As entrepreneurs we have to take care of our resources which includes our health. These are some possible steps we could take to make this community a safer and healthier one. The goal is to be realistic, we’re not going to get companies to start paying for spa retreats, but I think there is  a lot we can do as a team.

 

  • Align your clock. Mind you Circadian Health. Adopt lifestyle changes, such as sleep, diet and even daily activity to be supportive of our circadian health.

  • Education. Obviously our bread and butter. Because of we are teachers after all this should almost come second nature. It is crucial that healthy minded teachers, especially those with expertise in the fields of health and wellness work together to form a trusted community.

  • Promotion/Avocation. Company sponsored is very powerful and VipKid has been making solid progress in this area. It will be exciting to see where the company goes in terms of its health and wellness practices. In fact the rest of this list are probably issues that would be improved dramatically by just a few blog post from vipkid.

  • Set-up your workstation ergonomically. Have a competent person assess your workstation for ergonomic issues. Perhaps use the teacher community to assess each others work stations for ergonomics?

  • Exercise. I mean people might think this gets old and that’s exactly why it needs to be said over and over again. It just does so much for us and there are still so many people who are not doing it. It can be done for free and at home. Exercise alone will make a person more resilient to other health risk. We need to find groups and help people with accountability and support.

  • Get eye exams, optimize lighting, avoid glare, set up display, ergonomics, posture etc.

  • Ear exams, hearing test, purchased comfortable headphones or modify them. Keep volume low.

  • Optimize sleep environment. Increase not just the amount of sleep but sleep quality, become a sleep expert.

  • Set limits. Work around your own schedule not parents or companies.

  • Join a social circle. And vipkid might just be that circle. There are more and more meetups all the time. You might find that going to church more often, joining a gym, just going outside and being around people, you don’t have to even actually talk to them if you really don’t want to. All these things are ways to satisfy your social need if they are not being met online. Many argue that online relationships are not sufficient to satisfy our social itch.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.

The sole purpose of this site is to serve as a resource of online ESL teachers. To educate and promote safe occupational health measures that to enhance the teaching experience.