What Happened to Us?
Maybe they were your parents, your grandparents or even your great-grandparents….
The Greatest Generation is a 1998 book by journalist Tom Brokaw that profiles those who grew up in the United States during the deprivation of the Great Depression and then went on to fight in World War II as well as those whose productivity within the home front during World War II made a decisive material contribution to the war effort.
In the book, Brokaw wrote that “it is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.” He argued that these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the “right thing to do.”
No one may ever forget 2020. Covid 19 was running rampant. Mandatory work from home orders sent business and workers reeling. The world had to learn how to survive, not just a global health crisis but how to prevent global economies from collapsing. More than 60% of all US workers were working remotely.
The daily interaction of offices was replaced with Zoom meetings.
Sketchy internet connections were the thing of the day.
Laptops, desks, webcams and toilet paper were nowhere to be found.
Office network security was a thing of the past.
And yet, we managed to survive.
Fast forward to Spring 2021……The world had started to re-open. Almost 50% of the 2/3 of the remote workforce were back to work. Then came the “Great Resignation”. Texas A&M’s Anthony Klotz has been validated as one of the great pre-pandemic prognosticators. The organizational psychologist coined the term “Great Resignation” in 2019 when he predicted a voluntary mass exodus from the workforce in the near future. 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2021 saw an unprecedented number of American workers voluntarily leaving their jobs. The pandemic changed people, the idea of Mandatory return to office policies, daily commuting and getting dressed to go to work seemed unreasonable.
For the year 2021, 47.4 million American workers voluntarily quit, a record for the country, yet the U.S. labor market recorded a net gain of 6.4 million workers in 2021.
And now ……
Approximately 10% of employed Americans worked remotely in March 2022 because of COVID, according to data recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these figures only represent the share of Americans who are working remotely due to the virus. Those who worked remotely pre-pandemic or worked from home for other reasons are not included in these figures.
Most current data shows that roughly 25% to 35% of workers are working from home, according to Nick Bloom, a Stanford economics professor and cofounder of Working from Home Research Project. According to Bloom the Covid-19 pandemic has created the “Work from Home Economy”.
Remote work is a hot topic and appears as though it will keep increasing into the next decade. Below are some estimates and predictions from several sources that drive that point home.
A survey conducted by Upwork of 1,500 hiring managers found that due to COVID-19, 61.9% of the companies were planning more remote work now and in the following years to come. Accelerating the remote work trend that has been going on for the past few years.
This same report predicts 36.2 million workers or 22% of Americans will be working remotely by the year 2025. This is an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels.
Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 56% of W2 workers or 75 million employers could work from home if their employers allowed it.
Working from home has many benefits including less office space costs for employers. The numbers tell the story, and it looks like the remote worker trend will continue.
Looking back at some of the deadliest world events in recent history, to put Covid in perspective:
Influenza pandemic (1918-19) 20-40 million deaths
AIDS pandemic (through 2000) 21.8 million deaths
World War II (1937-45) 15.9 million deaths
World War I (1914-18) 9.2 million deaths
COVID-19 Pandemic (2020-June 2002) 6.3 million deaths
There was a time people came to the United States to build a better life. But somehow, in the course of less than 100 years, we have gone from the Greatest Generation to the Great Resignation. When things were tough in the 1940s men and women packed up and travelled halfway around the World to protect the freedoms we enjoy today. But when things got too tough in the early 2020s a significant number of people just packed it in. Was the Covid pandemic a life altering event? Yes! Are we smarter, softer, or more self-centered? The real question is how will history judge the example we are leaving for future generations?