The Week (US)

Workplace: Not headed back to the same old job

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For many of us, “the pandemic revealed how much we hate our jobs,” said Joanne Lipman in Time magazine. The modern office was created after World War II with “strict hierarchie­s” and an assumption that a wife at home could handle the chores. It’s long been clear that the model is broken. Pandemic shutdowns upended the lives of many workers, but also gave them a chance to reassess. Kari and Britt Altizer of Richmond, Va., worked long hours as an insurance broker and a restaurant manager. “Their lives were frenetic, their schedules controlled by their jobs.” After Kari had to quit to care for their infant son and Britt was briefly furloughed, they thought about whether they were getting what they needed out of work. They weren’t, and now they’ve left their old careers to start a landscapin­g business.

The reset of expectatio­ns has been most dramatic for lower-wage workers, said Daniel Alpert in The New York Times. Enhanced unemployme­nt benefits have kept some Americans from returning to work, and it’s no surprise. Before the pandemic, 43 percent of all production and non-supervisor­y jobs “offered weekly pay averaging less than $750.” That’s 45 million jobs. Roughly half of them paid under $500 a week, and many offered well below 30 hours of work. It’s OK for Democrats to admit that workers are not eager to return to “a lousy, low-paying job, when they can make more money collecting unemployme­nt benefits.” The simple economic lesson the pandemic has revealed is that “businesses are paying tens of millions of workers too little.” Many in the restaurant business “described the pandemic as an awakening,” said Eli Rosenberg in The Washington Post. It’s not just about pay. A huge number of restaurant­s have been dealing with staff shortages as employees who have long been unhappy with their working conditions decide this is the time to leave the business. “The pandemic is just the final straw” for restaurant staff who have experience­d years of abusive conditions, said one Austin restaurant worker.

In many industries, even good jobs are becoming hard to fill if they’re not flexible, said Anders Melin and Misyrlena Egkolfopou­lou in Bloomberg.com. With the pandemic receding, “the push by some employers to get people back into the office is clashing with workers who’ve embraced remote work as the new normal.” A May survey of 1,000 U.S. adults found that “39 percent would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work.” That’s exactly what Portia Twidt did. The end came for the 33-year-old research compliance specialist when she was asked to attend an in-person meeting that lasted six minutes. “Twidt got dressed, dropped her two kids at day care, drove to the office, had the brief chat, and decided she was done.”

 ??  ?? More workers are leaving unsatisfyi­ng jobs.
More workers are leaving unsatisfyi­ng jobs.

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