Working from home has been a benefit that has developed over the last year and a half. It has allowed us to see that we can work outside of the normal work building and still be productive. This situation has encouraged companies to rethink forcing employees to come back in person. In order to be more competitive at recruiting job applicants, many companies are hiring employees from all over the country. But, they aren’t forcing them to relocate. The new employees can work from wherever they are today.
This higher level of flexibility is creating a new normal. It’s a normal that allows employees to have a better work life balance. It allows them to be near family if they choose. It is creating an entirely new lifestyle for many people. There’s less time spent commuting and more time for family and life. Many people have taken up hobbies and have started to work out.
Unfortunately, this trend only goes so far. As we have observed, there are many people who cannot work from home. This is the case for people who work in grocery stores, restaurants, and any other essential service industry. And sadly, it is often these workers who are paid the least.
This year, another important topic is also on our minds: equality. Discussions around important topics such as race, gender, and social class are more part of our everyday dialogues than they have been for many years. We are talking about systemic issues, and what we can do to change them.
As I think about work from home, I wonder if it may present challenges along with the benefits. Will lower paid workers have the same opportunities to work from home? Is a healthy work life balance going to be even more of a luxury than it is today? Will services like childcare become more exclusive and expensive?
One upside to working from home is that white collar workers will have the ability to redistribute and live in lower cost cities around the country. This shift may create more jobs in the markets where they move. If the population of a city increases, that city will be able to support more restaurants, for example.
Will we look back and be glad that work from home became so common, and brought families together? Or, will we wonder if it created a wider gap between people?
There is no clear answer to these questions. But, the more options we have on social media, and the more media choices we have, the more divided we have become over the years. We’re able to tune into our little corner of the world.
Whatever the future holds for remote work, we should take the time to consider it through the lens of equality. How can we create a better work life balance for everyone, rather than just those fortunate enough to be able to have more choices?