16 votes

The workforce is about to change dramatically

16 comments

  1. [9]
    Icarus
    Link
    I think the longer that we work from home and it becomes the norm, the more resistant people will be to return to their workplace. The 1+ hour commuters will be the most resistant. Since we have...

    I think the longer that we work from home and it becomes the norm, the more resistant people will be to return to their workplace. The 1+ hour commuters will be the most resistant. Since we have been on lock down, I have started a completely new routine. I get up an hour before work and prep for the day, play some video games in my downtime when I'm bored, cook my lunch, then do yoga afterwards, and close out my day. There were days in the office where I just didn't do anything because the work wasn't there. Now, I can go run an errand during that time and if more work comes in, I can finish it later in the same day.

    I know my company had to invest hard when everyone went remote and I don't think they would want to waste money when the capability is now there. The senior execs haven't committed to a long-term work from home program but I think in time they will. There will be a ton of new "market factors" for job hunters where they will have much more choice between work-from-home and work-from-office. Talent strategy will change and the perks that companies offer will too. I do anticipate seeing an exodus of people flow out of expensive cities (I know I am anticipating moving), but I don't think it will be a great as people think, at least until the way compensation practices changes to allow for that influx to occur. Current practices, as I understand now, utilize their nationwide and county-level specific salary surveys to dictate what people are paid rather than the actual skill requirements in jobs. The cost of living adjustments will see someone making $80k+ in the Bay Area, making $50k in Alabama (as an example). Until you can make $80k+ in Alabama, I don't think people will opt for smaller cities unless cities incentive remote workers and make up the difference. Some are doing that now.

    Some changes I hope to see is the sprawl of cities/towns to begin to retract as driving long distances is less frequent, thus requiring less places to have pit stops in between. If people are less incentivized to move to a metro area for work and can do their job from their rural hometown, there shouldn't be a need for the suburbs to continue to grow at the rate they are now.

    15 votes
    1. [6]
      UniquelyGeneric
      Link Parent
      Couldn't this incentivize more people to live in the suburbs? There's a lot of drawbacks to a city, especially when raising a family. People put up with city cost of living because there's a...

      If people are less incentivized to move to a metro area for work and can do their job from their rural hometown, there shouldn't be a need for the suburbs to continue to grow at the rate they are now.

      Couldn't this incentivize more people to live in the suburbs? There's a lot of drawbacks to a city, especially when raising a family. People put up with city cost of living because there's a central focus of economic activity due to people working in the area. If that goes away, there's less reasons to within the city itself.

      9 votes
      1. Icarus
        Link Parent
        I am basing this off my own anecdotes, but where I live the suburbs are still incredibly expensive. I'm talking $3,000 if you are lucky for a 2-bedroom, $4,000+ for anything modern. The families...

        I am basing this off my own anecdotes, but where I live the suburbs are still incredibly expensive. I'm talking $3,000 if you are lucky for a 2-bedroom, $4,000+ for anything modern. The families that I have talked to in the past struggle immensely due to the high cost. Suburbs near low cost of living cities would definitely likely grow, but places where I live, I see people leaving until the housing market collapses and property taxes are lowered.

        6 votes
      2. [4]
        acdw
        Link Parent
        I know that for me, I prefer living in a city because I like the feeling of being around people. And I like the stuff that goes on in a city, I like being in the middle of things. Of course, I...

        I know that for me, I prefer living in a city because I like the feeling of being around people. And I like the stuff that goes on in a city, I like being in the middle of things. Of course, I grew up in the sticks - and the biggest city I've ever lived in is the one I'm in now, which is about 250k, so it's not a huge city.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          UniquelyGeneric
          Link Parent
          I agree with you for the same reasons to live in a city (I’m in NYC myself). That being said, the current economic climate makes me worried that cities might start to show the first elements of...

          I agree with you for the same reasons to live in a city (I’m in NYC myself). That being said, the current economic climate makes me worried that cities might start to show the first elements of societal decay.

          If the current administration can’t get their act together and we enter a new homelessness crisis, cities will be an unfriendly place to live in. NYC has been the safest it’s been in decades, but I could see things getting ugly quickly if you see many of people out of work and out of a home.

          While I chose to stay in the city during the pandemic, there seems to be a good number of people leaving under the premise of “if there’s nothing to do, why would I pay so much to live in the city?”. For me, it’s a bet that things will turn around and some element of normalcy will return, but I think there’s a very real possibility things don’t get better and we’re going to continue to live in the “new normal” for the foreseeable future.

          Granted, if I lived in the ‘burbs or somewhere rural I’d probably have nearly zero social contact (not that there’s a great deal going on right now either), and I’m not sure the isolation would be great either. I don’t think I could make the move unless I had a SO, so I guess I’m stuck in the city for now.

          4 votes
          1. MimicSquid
            Link Parent
            I don't think that people will actually be out of a home for very long. If not with money or rent forgiveness, with squatting and other methods of simply taking property. In the Bay Area you're...

            I don't think that people will actually be out of a home for very long. If not with money or rent forgiveness, with squatting and other methods of simply taking property. In the Bay Area you're already seeing things like Moms 4 Housing, started by a group who simply moved into a house and made it theirs. They were evicted, eventually, but with millions of evictions expected there will also be millions of empty units and houses. There's no way that enforcement could actually keep up with making people leave.

            We know that there are more empty units than homeless people in the USA (though supply doesn't match geographically with demand), and I'm personally expecting a breakdown of respect for landlord's property rights unless something is done to address this.

            2 votes
          2. acdw
            Link Parent
            Your points vis a vis homelessness and hoping for a return of normalcy are very good; I hadn't thought of them, probably because I think those issues are going to be worse in truly large cities...

            Your points vis a vis homelessness and hoping for a return of normalcy are very good; I hadn't thought of them, probably because I think those issues are going to be worse in truly large cities like NYC, versus Baton Rouge, where I am -- though it'll come here too.

            I'm honestly just so worried about the future.

            2 votes
    2. acdw
      Link Parent
      I used to work about 3 blocks from my house, and so I came home for lunch every day. Now I'm more like 3.5 miles (5km) away -- and I don't always have the car. So I've been eating at work more,...

      ... cook my lunch ...

      I used to work about 3 blocks from my house, and so I came home for lunch every day. Now I'm more like 3.5 miles (5km) away -- and I don't always have the car. So I've been eating at work more, and let me tell you: I did not appreciate the ability to come home and eat until I couldn't do it any more. It's such an important thing. It breaks up the day, it saves money, it lets me eat real food, etc.

      Current practices, as I understand now, utilize their nationwide and county-level specific salary surveys to dictate what people are paid rather than the actual skill requirements in jobs.

      This is some BS, and honestly I think it amounts to discrimination. Place-based discrimination, if you will.

      4 votes
    3. teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      Even without considering cost of living adjustments, there is no way remote workers won’t make much less money on average. I see more remote options being available in the long term, but I still...

      Even without considering cost of living adjustments, there is no way remote workers won’t make much less money on average. I see more remote options being available in the long term, but I still believe you’re a more valuable employee to most companies when you’re physically present in the office.

  2. [2]
    Eabryt
    Link
    I live in North Carolina. I've been working at home since March and absolutely loving it. Talking with upper management they've said that they're preparing to let us work from home for up to 2...

    I live in North Carolina. I've been working at home since March and absolutely loving it. Talking with upper management they've said that they're preparing to let us work from home for up to 2 years while this whole thing kicks off, but then I got an email earlier this week about how they're starting trial runs to bring small groups of people back who want to, so not sure what to expect.

    All I know is the longer this goes on, the tougher it will be to go back to the office, I haven't been able to point to a single difference or difficulty with my work.

    I think if I was given the opportunity to work from home full time, I'd probably look in to moving back north to where I'm originally from. I miss living in the woods.

    10 votes
    1. acdw
      Link Parent
      This kind of thing has been #1 of problems I've had with my work -- management is decided week-by-week or even day-by-day, and it's frustrating. I mean, I guess it's the government too. 1000%. I...

      but then I got an email earlier this week about how they're starting trial runs to bring small groups of people back who want to, so not sure what to expect.

      This kind of thing has been #1 of problems I've had with my work -- management is decided week-by-week or even day-by-day, and it's frustrating. I mean, I guess it's the government too.

      All I know is the longer this goes on, the tougher it will be to go back to the office, I haven't been able to point to a single difference or difficulty with my work.

      1000%. I was on paid leave (thanks, city employment!) for 2 months, and it gave me that taste of retirement I cannot get out of my head. Since going back, I've been struggling with the ... use of it all.

      I miss living in the woods.

      You and me both :)

      5 votes
  3. [3]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [2]
      acdw
      Link Parent
      You've made really good points here, and I think you're probably right. Especially the networking and onboarding stuff I could see executives/management wanting in-person stuff. I wonder if WFH...

      You've made really good points here, and I think you're probably right. Especially the networking and onboarding stuff I could see executives/management wanting in-person stuff.

      I wonder if WFH will become one of those things like, everyone will offer it, but it'll be kind of frowned upon and people who do it too much will kind of be first to go in a downturn. Like "unlimited vacation days" I've heard about some companies offering.

      Though ----- WFH offers increased opportunities to extract more value out of workers, if the line between work and life is further eroded. Which would be in the interest of companies.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. acdw
          Link Parent
          Oh, absolutely -- I don't think the unlimited vacation days thing is on purpose either. But like you say, it's an emotional decision -- and I think you're absolutely right, bosses are going to...

          Oh, absolutely -- I don't think the unlimited vacation days thing is on purpose either. But like you say, it's an emotional decision -- and I think you're absolutely right, bosses are going to keep people they see more. So it'll end up penalizing those who WFH regardless.

          1 vote
  4. acdw
    Link
    An article from the Atlantic about how work could change the economy and political landscape, post-COVID. Posting in ~humanities b/c it's not really about COVID, just its effects -- feel free to...

    An article from the Atlantic about how work could change the economy and political landscape, post-COVID. Posting in ~humanities b/c it's not really about COVID, just its effects -- feel free to re-file.

    I thought this was kind of interesting, and was wondering what yall thought -- how will our country change as a result of this major, and long, event? I thought the three predictions and counters were interesting.

    6 votes
  5. [2]
    Atvelonis
    Link
    This is a great article, and I agree that the workforce is going to become more remote in the future. But I don't think that the change will be as substantial or permanent as one might think, even...

    This is a great article, and I agree that the workforce is going to become more remote in the future. But I don't think that the change will be as substantial or permanent as one might think, even for white collar work.

    Face-to-face meetings might feel even more valuable in a post-pandemic world, restoring business travel with surprising speed.

    I hate working from home. It's a nightmarish situation where the balance between my job and my life breaks down, reducing my ability to differentiate between the two to the extent I need in order to maintain my sanity. I might take it over an hour-long commute, but that wasn't a problem I had before the pandemic anyway. The worst part about it is that communicating remotely is just so much harder than doing so in person. I feel extremely out of touch with all of my remote colleagues, even if we talk every day: I have no animosity toward them, I just don't have a good way to visualize who they are and what they genuinely mean to me without talking face-to-face. The article describes them as "annoying abstractions," which is accurate when there are disagreements about how or whether to do something. I don't pretend that I'm friends with all my coworkers, but I believe that at least a dim sense of camaraderie in the workforce is an important part of being a team, and that's really hard to come by if you only see each other through a tiny box for 45-minute meetings a couple times a week.

    My prediction is that we'll see a bit more online work in the near future, and then a rebound back to in-person collaboration again, as people go from "I hate working from home!" (early pandemic) to "I love working from home!" (post-pandemic) to "Wow, I'm being deprived of the minimal amount of social interaction and structural routine I need to be a functioning human being in our society. I hate working from home!" (post-post-pandemic). I don't mean to suggest that family and friends can't provide support here, because they can, but my brain just can't be happy if I only talk to the same four people every day. More like twenty, even if it's those four that nevertheless provide the most meaningful interactions. Not everyone will have this experience, but as impersonal as a company can be, I suspect that even the moderately extroverted among us will begin to feel the creeping effects of loneliness in a sans-office work work.

    Given the okay to go remote, workers in expensive cities may use their freedom to move to cheaper metros where they can afford more space, inside and outside. In political terms, this would reallocate the Democratic bloc.

    This is an intriguing concept, although I'm not sure how to interpret it. The Democratic party has been shifting a good distance to the left in the past few years—a much-needed change, as far as I'm concerned. I would be disappointed if this sudden increase in purple states were to reverse this shift on the national level, with Democrats seeking compromise positions like they have for a long time.

    5 votes
    1. georgebcrawford
      Link Parent
      I don't have a great deal to add to what you said, but it's refreshing to see a perspective that isn't "this has irrevocably changed us". Don't get me wrong, this will lead to big changes in...

      I don't have a great deal to add to what you said, but it's refreshing to see a perspective that isn't "this has irrevocably changed us". Don't get me wrong, this will lead to big changes in working culture, but I think a lot of discussion around this has been from the viewpoint of people who's work is mostly done on computers rather than face-to-face.

      We're social - a word that encompasses a wide range. Take me - I currently work in retail (it's not hellhole-retail by any stretch), and I actually really look forward to going to work. I like the people I work with, and enjoy spending time there. Oddly enough, I consider myself somewhat introverted - maybe I'm just no extroverted.

      The other part of this is clients/customers/contacts. So much is lost in those goddamn video calls! And specifically to my job, some things can't just be ordered online. You have to see things, hold things, compare things.

      A bit of a scattershot comment I'm afraid! I got a little frustrated at something a theater director acquaintance said the other day. "Theatre isn't coming back, people don't or can't cram into theatres anymore, the arts industry is dead!" To be fair to him, his career and passion is currently in the toilet and he was drunk, so I didn't push back - my retail job is safe for now, poor form etc - but I keep saying to people "We've been through worse".

      I studied history, which I feel is a blessing and curse. A blessing because I feel like I am better at seeing the big picture. A curse because I often zoom too far out and forget that while humankind and society generally pull through, individuals all too often don't.

      4 votes