Uri Berliner

There's a saying going around these days: The future of work is now — put into overdrive by the pandemic that suddenly transformed millions into virtual workers. But the coronavirus has also accelerated a major shift to freelancing that's severing ties between companies and employees.

Two million Americans have started freelancing in the past 12 months, according to a new study from Upwork, a freelance job platform. And that has increased the proportion of the workforce that performs freelance work to 36%.

In normal times, hotels promote their star chefs or their swanky design upgrades. But priorities have changed. In the age of the coronavirus, the news from Hilton is a partnership — with Lysol.

As hotel guests begin to return, the standard expectation of hygiene has been elevated to "where it's cleanliness almost with a double exclamation point after it," says Phil Cordell, Hilton's global head of brand development.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Cubicle culture has gone dark. Open floor plans stand empty.

Offices around the world are shut during the pandemic, making work from home the new normal for millions of white-collar employees.

In the United States, remote work is still being encouraged under guidelines outlined by the federal government.

But in webinars and conference calls, business leaders and management strategists are discussing what steps must be taken to bring workers back to America's offices.

The U.S. economy has been staggered and shocked by the coronavirus pandemic. A stock market meltdown was followed by a more seismic event — waves of business shutdowns, putting millions of jobs at risk.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

What does it mean to be a sports fan - not just the part about wearing team jerseys or keeping up with wins and losses - emotionally? NPR's Uri Berliner looked for an answer when he followed a minor league basketball team for a season.

Being a news consumer means you're constantly on the receiving end of bad news. War, unemployment, crime, political dysfunction — it can be enough to make you think we humans aren't doing anything right. But good news: We are. As the year draws to an end, here's a look at a few areas of real progress in the U.S. and around the world.

Air Safety

Let's start with flying. It's not a lot of fun: baggage fees, pat-downs, cramped seating, disappointing snacks.