In Review: How Has Work Changed Since the Pandemic?

The pandemic irrevocably changed how we look at the world around us. As millions of Americans lost their jobs, traditional employment evolved into remote and hybrid models.

Over two years into the pandemic, we can start to analyze the results of this shift in work models.

While some changed careers, left major cities, and navigated a new normal, others learned how to work their long-term jobs remotely. As a result, freelance and remote work thrived, creating new possibilities for a healthier work/life balance.

It's time to ask the question: do more people prefer to work remotely or in an office?

Catching Up With the Labor Market

A recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows job openings have decreased to 10.7 million, down 6.6% percent. While that might sound like good news, many major companies are announcing layoffs.

Peloton has let go of 4,150 people this year. Spotify plans to lay off 10% of its workforce, while Vimeo will lay off 6%. Even Tesla is not immune. Elon Musk‘s company laid off 229 employees in June.

At the same time, millions of Americans are quitting their jobs in favor of freelance and remote work. The traditional work model as we know it could be gone forever.

The University of Potomac has been researching search trends for remote work in 2021. We spoke with Elise Alva, the Director of Career Services at Potomac, to understand what people are looking for in employment.

According to the university's research, Google searches for “remote jobs hiring immediately” increased by 262 percent since 2021. “Work when you want remote jobs” grew by 556%, while searches for “remote positions” saw an 85% increase.

“A fully remote and hybrid model might come closer to the perfect model as you have more free time to spend with your loved ones, and you have time for yourself,” Alva told us. As for that elusive work/life balance, Alva offers the following tips: it's okay to say “no,” don't work more than you should, and don't use your lunch break for work.

What Do Remote Workers Have To Say?

Sascha Hoffmann is a lifestyle marketing consultant and blogger. His work has brought him to Silicon Valley, the U.K., and Germany. In March 2020, he was working in San Fransisco with plans to move to New York. The pandemic changed all of that. Hoffmann decided to quit his job and carve out a career as a digital marketing freelancer.

“Being a solopreneur always means a lot of work,” says Hoffmann, “however, I don't struggle to enjoy life.”

Today he lives out his days in Thailand. He scuba-dives in the morning before checking his work emails. For him, remote work offers flexibility, travel, and adventure.

Elena Zimmerman has worked many jobs. She was a waitress and bartender in Massachusetts for eight years, making $2.61 an hour plus tips. Then she became a teacher, a position she held for fifteen years until the pandemic. Covid-19 caused a reckoning for Zimmerman, who decided she needed to make a career change. Today she works fully remote as a content writer.

While Zimmerman prefers remote work, she notes some areas for improvement. “We still need to make a shift towards quantifying work in terms of achieved goals and product versus time spent at work,” she says.

Surveying the Job Market

new survey polled potential employees' preferences for the ideal work model.

62% of workers preferred a job that would allow them to work remotely 100% of the time without having to leave home for work, according to a survey conducted by Virtual Vocations.

Wealth of Geeks spoke with Kimberly Back, the Senior Job Data Content Producer for Virtual Vocations, to unpack some of the findings in the report. For example, 45% of workers want a four-day work week, while 20% say their top concern is limited access to remote work.

In a separate job satisfaction survey, Back and her team found that 65% of workers are actively looking for new jobs this year. 47% of workers voice some dissatisfaction with their current positions. 40% of those workers would be willing to leave their employer to pursue a job with remote options.

With all the data suggesting a push to fully remote work, we wanted to investigate if there were people who yearned to return to an office and the traditional work model.

A Welcome Return to Office Life

“We switched to remote work because of the lockdowns, and we've been dying to return to the office ever since,” says Ian Kelly, the CEO of NuLeaf Naturals.

For business leaders like Kelly, remote work just didn't work for him. “Leaving the office left a hole in my work life, and it's been difficult to fill it,” Kelly explained. Luckily, he's now back in the office and loving it.

Since returning to work, Kelly has observed some changes in office life. “There's an increased focus on employee health and wellness, and we invest far more time and resources to improve,” says Kelly.

Although Leanna Serras could work effectively from home, she longed for the days when she could return to the office. So the Chief Customer Office of Fragrance X was excited to learn she was returning to in-person work.

“I missed the sense of belonging and social identity I get from working in the office,” Serras told us. She is careful to set boundaries with her work life, preferring to detach completely at the end of the day by doing yoga, going for a run, or spending time with loved ones.

The data may show an increased preference for remote work, but there is no denying that some professionals would much rather be in an office. Having more options about the way that we work could allow for more success across all industries, as individual employees find the right model that highlights their strengths and expectations.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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Justin McDevitt is a playwright and essayist from New York City. His latest play HAUNT ME had its first public reading at Theater for the New City in September. He is a contributor for RUE MORGUE where he lends a queer eye to horror cinema in his column STAB ME GENTLY.