Are We Witnessing a Major Shift in the World of Work?

FlexJobs, an online job boards site, recently surveyed over 2,100 people worldwide, who either worked remotely during COVID or are still working from home. The results of the survey are eye-opening.

Here are some of the numbers:

Vast majority want to continue to work at home:

  • 65 percent want to keep working remotely full-time even after COVID ends; 33 percent would prefer a hybrid arrangement involving some office work and some days at home. and two percent say they are looking forward to working in an office full-time again.

And they are serious about wanting to work from home:

  • 58 percent of remote workers say they would look for a new job if they can’t keep working from home.
  • Only 11 percent said not being allowed to work at home anymore wouldn’t bother them.

Why they do not want to work in the office:

  • 49 percent still say fears about COVID-19 exposure is their biggest concern about in-office work; 46 percent worry about having less work flexibility; 43 percent think it will disrupt their work-life balance.

Benefits of working from home:

  • 84 percent listed not having to commute to the office anymore as the top perk, while 75 percent of remote workers named saving money as their second favorite perk.
  • 38 percent estimate working from home is saving them over $5,000 a year (from not having to eat out, not buying gas, or needing dry cleaning), while 20 percent believe they’re saving around $200 a week, or roughly $10,000 annually.

Time to move?

  • 37 percent are “definitely” considering living elsewhere, while 31 percent say they might consider a move to a new area.
  • These respondents name quality of life (58%) as the biggest reason to move. A lower cost of living and housing (47%) and a better climate (38%) follow closely behind.

Frustrations of working at home include:

  • 35 percent say overworking and being unable to “unplug” is the biggest challenge of remote work
  • 28 percent mention dealing with non-work distractions
  • 28 percent listed troubleshooting tech problems alone
  • 26% noted getting reliable WiFi as a frustration

Health effects of working from home:

  • 56 percent of workers say they’ve experienced burnout during the pandemic.
  • 39 percent say their mental health is worse today than it was in January 2020.

Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, summarizes things this way: “The landscape of remote work has permanently changed as a result of COVID-19 and its impact will be felt in the job market and the workplace well into the foreseeable future.”

It will be interesting to see how this all works out, but at this point, it seems that there has been a fundamental shift in how work will get done and what people’s attitudes are about jobs.

As a colleague mentioned to me the other day, if the number of people wanting to work from home stays at current levels, there will be a shock to company culture. One of the outcomes of such a shock may be just having mercenaries on your staff, with people just selling their services to the highest bidder, and not really committed to the firm’s mission.

And that would be a shame…

Seems like we are entering a Brave New World…

 

80 thoughts on “Are We Witnessing a Major Shift in the World of Work?

  1. When my office re-opens, probably hybrid (3 days at office/2 remote), my work commute will be 9.5 miles (prob 45 min full traffic!). My last commute was 30miles/2hrs. I still don’t want to back to an office. My job doesn’t need for me to be on site and I do not, in the slightest, want to be around any of my coworkers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think many jobs do not require people to be at the office, or not nearly as much as they are now, and that is why many people are thinking just like you are…

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      1. Even our boss doesn’t want to return. I think we’d have more freedom to set our flex schedules if the company hadn’t leased a new facility and stocked it with high end furniture. I’m sure those empty cubes are frustrating someone!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s another reason I’m bugged that rather than IT doing some really easy setup to allow the super high end printer to scan to folder (a built in feature), we’re being told to by a less functional desktop scanner and cut IT out of the process. The printer is already there, as are IT staff!!

        I went in to the office last week without remembering that they’ve turned off a/c. It was hot & humid!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. who knows why people make the decisions they do…

        hopefully the office was just in a transition between seasons regarding the A/C. Our building has that problem in May and November…

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      4. Nope. There are only a handful of people at the office so the ac was turned off.
        I went to the office for the first time last month. In the cube “welcome” package is a note about how much your dept will be charged if you request ac outside of default hours (??-7pm). So… they’ll blow money for unnecessary equipment on a whim but air is gonna cost ya!!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Esp when they made $5B profit last year and throw money at all other problems, and are a global 24/7 company! Gee, why cover a/c for corp during rotine 7pm/8pm mtgs with China?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is a real thing. I believe that a large percentage of people will go back to work in offices at some point down the road when things improve, but not as many as before.

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  3. The Pandemic certainly hastened a logical evolution toward more work from home. Once forced to implement such a scary option on a large scale, I cannot help but think that both employers and employees are seeing too many advantages to return fully to the old model. But I am generally wrong whenever I predict anything!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. we must bein the same club when it comes to making predictions, but I would make the same one as you on this one. It will be interesting to see how it plays out…

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  4. As with anything, there are benefits and pitfalls to this new dynamic of a remote workforce. I could readily speak to both sides of the issue. But the decision for most companies will not be based on the intangibles that swirl between these two philosophies, it will likely be made strictly on the cost effectiveness of one over the other. If a company believes that continuing to have a largely remote workforce is financially beneficial, they can become blind to the down-side of their actions. I would imagine that at some point the “on-site” employees will demand to be compensated for their willingness to simply show up each day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. good point, Brad. It may simply boil down to the economics of the situation. But as behavioral economist Dan Ariely has often pointed out, people, and therefore by extension, companies, often do not act rationally…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. i do believe the working landscape will never be as it was before, and now that companies and employees have seen the possibilities, the cat is out of the bag. in my own job, working with young children, i feel it’s imperative to be there in person, but for many jobs, it has worked out just fine without having to be present. there are two sides to the coin, and certainly it’s not all good or bad, but i feel a hybrid model or flex time may become the norm over time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that certain jobs, like yours, will always be in person. But many jobs really don’t need people to be “at the office”, except because of tradition. It will be interesting to revisit this in a year or two…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting times indeed! Thanks for sharing Jim. I made the decision to continue teaching only via Zoom. Most people enjoy the comfort of practicing yoga at home …. and it makes economic sense.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. In person for learners is much better Jim! The teacher can then see the details and adjust the person. Once you have the foundations,then online works. 💛

        Liked by 1 person

  7. My daughters have both enjoyed working from home and seem to have managed to find a good work/life balance. But I can see that it might be problematic for some. There are also impacts on employers – do they need to keep larger office spaces – and on service industries, such as the shops where workers buy lunch, transport systems, garages etc. This could be a huge shift in the longer term.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very interesting read! I loved working from home when I had the opportunity, and encouraged my staff to do so when they can (way before the pandemic). Although they in the article is a ny mention in the article non-work related distractions, I don’t think they mention the elimination of at-work distraction, which is almost eliminated.
    As to culture, my daughter was fortunate to work remotely for a company that went remote before Covid, and their company culture seemed to improve in the process. It was a combination of changes that they made, and it looks like they made the switch to working remotely accompanied with tools that will enhance connections in a positive and productive way. My other daughter’s company went remote and they see themselves going back to 25% of the employees having an office space again, so a bit of a mixed approach. The company culture may have suffered a bit since social activities were a big thing and I am not sure that they were able to replace this remotely. ANyway, I think I am trying to say that I’m a big fan of remote work 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks for your insights! That’s good to hear that your one daughter’s company culture improved because of the move to remote working. How they did so would be useful info to other companies. I think we will see most companies with some sort of mixed approach…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. These findings reflect what I am hearing among colleagues, Jim. Most people want to work from home most of the time with the occasional meeting or function to get together and bond. I agree that this will break down loyalty to firms, such that there is any with most people nowadays, but I think corporates are moving towards this now that they also know how much money they can save.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Robbie, that the future will include a bit of work from home a nd a bit of work from the office. I think it would be hard to go back to the way things were before the pandemic…

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  10. I lucked into the opportunity to work from home about 20 years ago. I loved it. It was when my son was in school from about 8 until he graduated from high school. As a graphic designer, I could move my work around the day as needed and would stop when JT came home so we could have tea and chat. We did this every day for years. It was a wonderful situation for a working mom. When the company I was freelancing for was sold, I had to return to a cubicle and never really adjusted well to the corresponding structure of being back in an office. It could be a difficult adjustment for many when this is all over.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that sounds like you had a wonderful job while your son was in school, and both of you benefited from such a schedule. And I think you make a valid point that many people have learned to like working from home, and will not be happy campers if they are forced to go back into an office full-tie…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Jensen Comment
    This article appears to be an example of how to mislead with statistics. The sampling population was entirely made up of people working from home. Among other things they apparently thought they worked “successfully” at home. Others affected by their work may my not be inclined to label that remote work as successful. Prime examples are teachers working at home who naively think they are just as successful with remote students as they are with onsite students. Many students and their parents, on the other hand, may not feel the same way by the successfulness of remote teaching.
    For example, one of the great benefits of having minority teachers teaching minority students onsite is that the minority students can see and interact face-to-face with their role models. Remotely, students can’t even be sure that their teachers are really from minority groups.
    Another example is the set of auditors who think they are doing good work remotely. Their employers and their clients possibly have a much different view of their performance. I’m inclined to think that the physical presence of auditors sometimes instills a fear factor to prevent fraud. If clients never have visits from auditors (think of the Purchasing Department at WorldCom that had not been visited by Andersen’s auditors for years) they may have less fear that their frauds will be detected.
    I know you, Jim, are inclined to want work to be what makes employees happiest. But worker happiness does not always correlate highly from standpoint of happiness of customers, clients, and employers. Some (most?) workers should be judged by people intended to benefit from that work.
    Are takeout dinners in a restaurant really as good as when they are served hot in the restaurant?
    Worker happiness is only one of many very important work performance criteria.
    I’m inclined to think that most work cannot be done remotely such that it’s misleading to confine research on the topic only to work that can possibly be done remotely?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bob, you make a good point about the people being surveyed, and I thought the same thing, that it is certainly a biased sample. But even if it is, it is good to know what that subset of people are thinking, because I don’t think it is an insignificant number.

      I also agree about the audit work; no doubt there are some jobs where it should be required to be done on site.

      The same can be said for teaching.

      But for all those examples, there are many compelling ones that could be given where the opposite is the case, where people really do not need to be at work, but are forced to be their either because of tradition, or an old-fashioned sense of control.

      and while yes, I do agree that worker happiness is a key criteria, it is only one of many that factors into how a job should be administered…

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  12. I agree that tbings aren’t going to go back to exactly the way they were before. We learned that some jobs can be done at home and groceries can be picked up at the curb. LOL! I know some people that say they aren’t going back to normal grocery shopping.

    My job can’t be done at home, well not my home at least. Being that I am a caregiver for an elderly lady in her home. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m a 2 percenter. A couple of weeks after lockdown, I just started going into work again. We didn’t have a VPN link and I found it impossible to foresee which electronic files I would need to access. Plus, I have drawers of paper files that need to be consulted from time to time. I really enjoyed being alone in the building though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that does seem like a good situation – to have access to what you need from work, but not have to worry about the interaction with other employees…

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  14. Having more people work from home seems to be here to stay. No or very limited in person contact with fellow employees presents new problems. Those who work nearly full time from home might be more accurately classified as contractors.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Time will tell..but ultimately from a company perspective, the decisions will be made on cost and output from an employer perspective it will be the work/life balance and from my children that has been mainly positive although my son admits to actually working more hours from home but he does seem to have found a balance…Time will tell but I don’t think it will go back to how it was 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think for many people working from home was a positive experience, so it’s not a surprise that they would like to continue to do so. But I have also heard that many people, like your son, are putting in more hours than they used to, while working from home…

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  16. My next door neighbours work for JP Morgan in a lovely green glass building, but they have both worked from home except for the odd day all this time. They do like it, but found home schooling very hard with a six and eight year old. They had to take it in turns to work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Spain’s Four-Day Work Week (32 hours with no reduction in pay) Is a Game Changer —
      Click Here
      Jensen Comment
      This has to increase the cost of most everything. For example, public workers (think police and firefighters) have to be on duty 24/7. Supposedly more such workers will have to be paid or the same workers will start collecting overtime after 32 hours. This will require a significant increase in tax dollars. Similarly, private sector products and services will cost more with most of those costs being passed along to customers in the form of higher prices. The saving grace may be more robotics in some instances, but more robotics may translate into higher unemployment in some instances (not all). Spain’s unemployment rate is around 16%. The 32-hour work week will both decrease increase costs in some sectors and decrease costs it in other sectors where robotics and other technology will come into play.
      One thing is bound to happen. More workers will start working two or more jobs, thereby defeating the purpose of the reduced work week.
      For professors who both teach and conduct research it’s hard to count hours of work. My guess is that this change in the work week will have little or no impact on their time spent on “work,” although the number of assigned classtime hours may be reduced, thereby leaving more time for research.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would still venture to say that many white collar jobs could have their hours reduced from 40 to 32, and the drop in productivity would be much less than the 20% drop in hours…

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      2. Hi Jim,
        Productivity is hard to measure (think an automobile assembly line) when each worker only contributes a small fraction of the total productivity. If the assembly line keeps rolling five days a week, each worker will either have to be replaced with another worker or a robot, thereby adding to cost. I think cost is more of a consideration than productivity since most organizations will try to remain as productive as ever with greater costs.
        A reduction in hours provides some cost efficiencies, but in some industries the costs are likely to rise —
        https://phys.org/news/2019-11-economics-four-day-week-businesses-money.html
        Quotation
        One of the main challenges outlined by our research is that the four-day working week can be difficult to implement in service industries where customer demands need to be met, and particularly for smaller businesses. It would also imply a significant change in public services like teaching and nursing. But Labour did recognize that different sectors will need to respond in different ways.
        Meanwhile, research by the Centre for Policy Studies, a center-right think tank, also found that reducing the hours of public sector employees would mean at best a £17 billion cost for the Treasury and at worst a possible £45 billion cost, assuming no increase in productivity and a need to expand the workforce in public services.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree that productivity is hard to measure, and probably even harder to measure the productivity of white-collar office jobs. Perhaps some jobs are better suited to reduced hours compared to others…

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      4. Hi Jim,
        Those white collar jobs that can be done as well in 32 hours as 40 hours have had great “slack” inefficiencies for a long, long time. One problem with some white collar jobs is that they do not make even demands week-to-week . Sometimes a week’s worth can be done in half the time. At other times, a weeks work requires 60 hours with no overtime for white collar workers. Imagine trying to pay the President of a University by the hour.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. quite true, Bob. I guess the key is finding out which jobs don’t really need 40 hours of people’s time. Perhaps all the work from home that has taken place might shed some light on that…

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  17. Between AI and so many jobs that will stay online and business going under, and empty stores and shopping malls not getting their rents, I fear they’d take any building and sell it and turn into a condo here. I notice in our pharmacies, they leave one cashier on and opened up 3 self checkouts. The writing is on the wall. And the seniors get left behind with all the technology.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. New results on Work from Home —
        Work from Home & Productivity: Evidence from Personnel & Analytics Data on IT Professionals | BFI (uchicago.edu)
        There are many variables to make performances highly circumstantial and difficult to compare

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve really enjoyed the benefits of working part of the time at home and part of the time in office. I wouldn’t want to go back to full time in office nor would I want to go back to 100% at home.. I like the interaction and work culture but I love the work – life balance of having both… I hope this pandemic has made employers realize that ppl can be just as effective and productive at home!

    Like

  19. The research firm Gartner put together a 37-slide deck on the problems with remote and hybrid work. Here are the 3 slides you need to see —
    https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-design-hybrid-work-gartner-research-2021-5

    Gartner’s study homed in on the loss of consistency, visibility, and serendipity that occurred when employees started working remotely or in a hybrid arrangement. It also found that many of the most common strategies that HR and leaders use to address these gaps are likely making the problem worse.

    Employees are exhausted by their current working conditions. The study found that having more meetings, moving offline activities online, and tracking employee are the main drivers of increased fatigue among workers.
    . .
    Gartner found that the structure and strategy around meetings, collaboration, and managing productivity need to be revised.

    Jensen Comment
    I read where personal distractions are a major friction on productivity (think interruptions at home arising from a child, a spouse, a pet, those many telephone calls that get through more easily at home, etc.). This is offset, however, by not having to waste time commuting to the office.

    I agree with the value of serendipity that arises in face-to-face contacts. Sometimes it really helps to have chance discussions with customers/clients, other employees, etc. in the office where fresh ideas seem to emerge serendipitously.

    The three martini or three-beer lunch at home alone just isn’t the same as that three-glass office break at noon or late afternoon. At home alone it’s all about the booze, whereas with office colleagues it’s more about camaraderie.
    Sometimes those frequent office receptions are a bore, but at other times you’re glad you went.
    Some people miss the little things about physical presence such as a compliment, a bit of gossip, a laugh, or even just a smile.

    I think you are more apt to feel good about yourself in the office, but there’s no guarantee of this.

    There is some truth to the phrase: “Out of sight, out of mind.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s probably a happy medium with a mix between on-site and at home. A friend of mine who is a CFO told me was surprised more of the younger people don’t come into work while it is so empty, since it gives them a much better opportunity of having impromptu conversations with people like the CFO…

      Like

  20. So much in this post, jim. For me, working from home means its me against the world. In the office, I’m part of an organisation. Also actually miss the commute as a way of putting the day behind me. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. good point about the commute as a way of separating work from home. I’ve read about several people who work from home but go on a fake commute, perhaps just for the reason you note…

      Liked by 1 person

  21. If this culture is accepted across information and software industry then it will help overcrowding of cities and will shift the load towards remote or small towns. Also, it will obviously created a better infrastructure in small cities than just overloading the big cities.

    Liked by 2 people

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