Over the past year, many ideas have been bounced about as to how our lives will change as a result of the pandemic. The ‘need’ to shake hands has always confounded me and perhaps that will be the first social ritual that will fall to the side of the road. If so, I will be the first in line to kick dirt over the custom. Heck, I will even bring a shovel and make sure it is truly buried.
Then let us end the blowing out of candles on the birthday cake. That custom, too, has always left me cold.
But the idea of how workplaces are changing and evolving is the one that has most caught my attention over the past months. Friends who work in office jobs either for large financial companies or within the government have alerted me that they like the ease of working at home. It removes the drudgery of driving to and from work, along with the bulk of the office politics that often is just plain stressful. In addition, I am hearing that the productivity rate of working from home has many bosses pleased.
So that is why the following adds to my pile of evidence that another change, due to the raging virus, is how many people will work in the future.
With the end of COVID-19 finally in sight, employers are probably counting the days until their offices reopen. However, a new survey finds they shouldn’t expect their workers to come flowing through the door — even after the pandemic. In fact, 58 percent of remote workers now say they would look for a new job if they can’t keep working from home.
The FlexJobs survey of over 2,100 people worldwide, who either worked remotely during COVID or are still working from home, reveals the growing popularity of never setting foot in an office again. Just 11 percent said not being allowed to work at home anymore wouldn’t bother them.
The poll, completed in early April, also finds 65 percent want to keep working remotely full-time even after COVID ends. One in three would prefer a hybrid arrangement involving some office work and some days at home. A mere two percent say they are looking forward to working in an office full-time again.
This growing trend among the stay-at-home workers will add another layer of separation among demographics in the nation, as reported by Pew Research. This will be yet another split among those with higher education and those who did not see any reason to attain it.
To be sure, not all employed adults have the option of working from home, even during a pandemic. In fact, a majority of workers say their job responsibilities cannot be done from home. There’s a clear class divide between workers who can and cannot telework. Fully 62% of workers with a bachelor’s degree or more education say their work can be done from home. This compares with only 23% of those without a four-year college degree. Similarly, while a majority of upper-income workers can do their work from home, most lower- and middle-income workers cannot.
What I can say is that the work world will be changing, and in large profound ways, even if in the same breath it is not clear what all those changes will actually look like. The 9-5 grind is so outdated and not where the lives and lifestyles are for a large and more youthful segment of the nation. What was already percolating among many in the nation with their work lives has been thrust forward with speed due to the pandemic. This has provided the first test of a new way to working where tasks performed remotely have been largely reported not to have resulted in a significant drop in productivity or quality.
That result is good news to those who are not willing to go back to the cubicles and endless office meetings with the ones who never know when to end with the sticky notes offering ‘suggestions’.
This is offshoot of the pandemic that will be worthy of our attention as the months play out and the economy bounces back.