Apr 27, 2020 - Sports

The virtual NFL draft offers a remote work awakening

Kendall Baker, author of Sports

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Remote work is not a new concept, and neither is having a home office. But the abrupt switch to telecommuting en masse due to coronavirus has accelerated shifts in how work is conducted — and fundamentally changed how we view our jobs.

Driving the news: The NFL had its awakening this weekend during its virtual draft, where coaches and general managers were shown working from home, oftentimes with their children in the background.

  • Many of them have said how much they enjoyed the experience, and commissioner Roger Goodell — thrilled with the record viewership (55 million) and generally positive reviews — already said he wants to keep some of the elements used this year for future drafts.

What they're saying: In addition to revealing how much can be accomplished from the comfort of one's home, the virtual NFL draft — and the limited offseason — has also inspired coaches and GMs to think about making permanent improvements to their work/life balance and working smarter rather than longer.

  • "[It] was unanimous. So many coaches wondered, do we really need to work the sheer hours we do when their work was really done? Literally every person mentioned the extra time with his family. A legit eye-opening experience," tweeted NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
  • "It's been a lot of fun actually," said Dolphins coach Brian Flores. "I haven't spent this much time with my family — my kids, my wife — in a long time."
  • "If we can find a better work-life balance in the months of February, March and April, I'm all for it," said Lions GM Brian Quinn.

The big picture: The NFL is a cutthroat business full of Type-A personalities who spend every waking hour seeking out an edge over their opponents. But the coronavirus disrupted that and "left everyone questioning the wisdom of spinning their wheels nonstop," writes Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel.

  • "Can't we just video chat with that prospect, not host them on an all-day visit to our facility? Isn't watching college game tape at home more insightful than flying to some far-off campus to witness a scripted pro day? Does a mid-morning playdate with my daughter actually sharpen my focus?"

The bottom line: Remote work is still uncommon in the U.S. (3% of Americans primarily worked from home in 2017) and there's ongoing debate about its effectiveness. But it has given millions a glimpse of a different way of life amid this pandemic, even the buttoned-up NFL.

Go deeper: The NFL's virtual draft experiment goes smoothly

Go deeper

Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,724.516 — Total deaths: 394,018 — Total recoveries — 2,996,832Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,894,753 — Total deaths: 109,042 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. Sports: How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
  6. Media: The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut.

Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.