It seems as though a “Help Wanted” sign is hanging in the window of every other place of business these days. I hear the phrase, “nobody wants to work,” a lot as well. On the other hand, I also hear the phrase, “there are no good jobs available.” Did you catch the keyword? “Good jobs.” So, what exactly does that mean? These days, a good job can be defined as a lot of things. A job with lots of benefits like health care and retirement, a job with a reasonable, livable wage, a job that has added bonuses and perks, or one of the most desirable qualities a job could offer today…remote working.
As we all know, the era we are currently living through has changed the way a lot of things are done. In March 2020 millions of people across the country were sent home for two weeks in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As two weeks came to a close, many of those millions were ordered to remain at home indefinitely and work remotely. As the months went by many employers, especially larger corporations, started noticing a difference in certain things such as higher productivity and lower balances due on bills. They came to realize that the jobs they needed done could be done away from the traditional office setting and could save them money in the long run. This also allowed them to expand their teams and hire people all over the nation rather than only relying on talent in their local area, thus increasing the open positions in the job market.
A recent survey conducted by Pew Research maps out the massive shift we are noticing in the job market and workforce as work-from-home jobs become more widely available. Stating that prior to the pandemic about 23% of people were already working from home. Now, two years later, nearly 60% of people who have the option to work from home are doing so. As the pandemic has evolved so have their reasons for staying home. At first a vast majority (64%) worked from home because their offices were not open while only 36% chose to work from home. This has now flipped and 61% are choosing to work from home and 38% are home because of office closures.
Working from home can be appealing for a number of reasons. For some it may mean less distractions resulting in better productivity. You don’t have to worry about traffic and commuting, you can stay home with children if needed, you can accomplish passive household chores such as laundry, you don’t have to take time off to wait for a delivery or for pest control, you can work in the comfort of your favorite sweatpants, the list goes on. After we all got a taste of what it could be like it turned into something that a lot of people worked towards. There are plenty of jobs that cannot allow teleworking, and I am confident that as we progress through the pandemic and things start to get to the new normal those jobs will be filled.
There are a lot of jobs available right now, but that doesn’t mean no one wants to work. So where is everyone? Why is no one pounding the pavement and turning in applications to these business with a help wanted sign on the window? Because they are sitting at home with their company issued laptops, working off a VPN (virtual private network) with their high-speed internet provided by their employer, whom they may or may not have ever met face-to-face. People have been working from home for years, but because of this shift, it is becoming more noticeable.
However, it is important to keep in mind that teleworking isn’t the only thing keeping people from working in the public, there are a lot of other things that could be changed to make those jobs more appealing too. Millennials and Gen Z are known to be a force for change and I think this is no different when applied to the workforce. I believe we will continue to see this shift further along with a lot of other changes as the two generations become the majority of the workforce.