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Night Shift

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Duplicate and distribute these activities. Students may work independently or cooperatively.

The Changing Night Shift
As Will Durst says in the introduction, night shifts “aren’t just for cops and comics anymore.” Growth in the high tech sector is increasing the need for employees who can work all night long. How do you think overnight jobs will change in the future in response to the demands of our changing economy:

• Do some research or conduct interviews to find out what jobs have involved overnight work in the past. You may want to look at the web resources on the "Night Shift" website.

• Find out what kinds of jobs are experiencing an increase in overnight shifts today as a result of developments in the high tech industry. Also think about the kinds of jobs you saw in “Night Shift.”(Segments 3, 7, 9, and 11) The website above can help you here as well.

• Make a chart in which you list night jobs and categorize them as belonging to the traditional economy or the new economy.

• Poll your classmates and friends. Find out what types of work they think will have the largest increase in night-shift jobs in the future.

Use your results to create a collage, time line, or other graphic presentation in which you show your predictions for future developments on the night shift. Display your work in class or in an appropriate public area, such as a space where job notices are posted.

The employees in “Night Shift” choose to work those hours for many different reasons. Some of them, such as Amy Petrarca, truly love being awake and working at odd hours of the night. Others, such as Carol Lin, feel that working overnight is necessary for their career advancement, but would rather be working more traditional hours. In almost all cases, there is a trade-off that employees make; in that they have to balance the benefits and drawbacks of their choices.

• Choose two of the stories profiled in “Night Shift” in which you think employees have made a choice after carefully weighing the benefits and disadvantages of night work.

• Create a chart in which you list what the pros and cons of the night shift are for each person, and why he or she has chosen to work the night shift.

• Write an analytical paragraph in which you discuss whether you think the trade-offs are worth it for each individual. If so, explain why. If not, offer what you think might be other options for these employees.

• You may want to interview a night shift worker in your community. Find out why they chose to work at night. Then assess the pros and cons of night work for this person, and decide which of the stories in "Night Shift" this person most resembles.

Share your analysis and opinions with the class. Also discuss what kinds of trade-offs you might be willing to make in your own future career.

Separated by Shifts
Anchorperson Carol Lin and her husband have a very limited amount of time together because she works a different shift than he does. Such a situation is not uncommon: “Night Shift” reports that fifty percent of women in America work different shifts from their husbands. Consider the following scenario and the impact on family life if a couple work different shifts:

•A husband and wife are trying to support themselves and their two children on a modest income. Both parents hold 9-5 jobs; they are able to cover monthly expenditures (rent, food, clothing, child-care, medical expenses, and basic household expenses) with their pay, but they have almost no money left over for luxury items or vacations. Imagine that either the husband or the wife is offered a night job at an Internet service provider at a rate 50% higher than his or her current income. Should that parent take the job?

• With several other students, conduct a debate on whether the parent should take the job. Support your position with information and examples from the video, as well as your own knowledge, experience, and values. You can also use as supporting examples the stories about working parents at .

For the Good of All
The night shift causes many stresses and health problems for its workers. But some companies, such as Lucent (Segment 11), provide services and support to overnight workers, such as a twenty-four-hour onsite gym to promote fitness. What are some other ways that companies can help keep employees on the night shift healthy and happy?

• First, list problems night shift workers must deal with as a result of their unusual hours. For each problem, think of a possible solution that could involve the company.

• Next, jot down notes about how some of the companies shown in “Night Shift” help workers get through the night. (You may want to consider CNN, Globex, San Francisco General Hospital, and Lucent.) Find out some ways people are surviving the night shift at www.pbs.org/livelyhood/nightshift/surviving.html, or investigate more sites at www.pbs.org/livelyhood/nightshift/webresources.html. Which of these ways seem the most effective?

• Then do research in your own community. Find out if any companies in your area have special plans for helping workers on the night shift. You might interview an employee or an employer to find out the facts.

Finally, combine your ideas with those shown in “Night Shift” to create a problem-solution chart in which you illustrate the ways that a company can improve the night shift for the benefit of employees. If possible, share this information with the management of a firm in your area that has employees working the night shift.