Empty Offices, Crowded Stadiums
By LaShaune Littlejohn
The U.S. economy has whiplashed with businesses opening only to close again when positive COVID tests increase leading to more hospital stays, sickness, and death. It is looking like working from home and hybrid flexible schedules are on the rise and may be here to stay in some cases. As we defend the need to work from home with our employers, arguing that it is primarily to protect ourselves and our families from COVID-19, many of us are also attending festivals and concerts, eating at restaurants, going to bars and clubs, and in the skies heading to our next vacation destinations…all in the midst of COVID-19. Whether masked or unmasked, vaccinated or unvaccinated, there are people from both sides of this ironic spectrum, defending the need to work from home while also making plans to hang out with friends Friday night.
Though COVID-19 can be considered the spark that ignited the flame of this new Era, it is certainly not the entire reason for it. The changes we are seeing in employment and in the economy stem from issues that have been brewing for quite some time now. In 2019, a study conducted jointly by the Lumina Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Omidyar Network, and Gallup showed that more than 50% of U.S. workers were unhappy in their jobs. And the pandemic has only helped to grow that number, with only 7% of Americans saying they have their dream job. People are considering switching jobs if their current position doesn’t support their well-being and desired work-life balance. They are tired of going to work for minimum wage to deal with rude customers made even ruder when told they have to put on a mask or be vaccinated to shop in their stores and eat in their restaurants. They are exhausted from the long commutes that consume one to four hours of their day (and almost everything in their wallet for gas), as they head to and from jobs they don’t even find fulfilling. And I haven’t even begun to touch on the matter of pay inequality. Indeed, this storm has been a long time coming.
The pandemic has given us all a chance to develop a clearer perspective of what type of work environment we want to work in. But that still doesn’t explain why some of the same people afraid to go into their offices are not afraid to live their pre-COVID lives everywhere else except their jobs. It is somewhat confusing if you look at it from the surface…If the Great Resignation was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, then it would be logical to say that these same people would also be still living in complete or slight isolation, limiting exposure to the outside world, utilizing Instacart so much that they have Instacart BFFs, and only participating in events online. Is this even about COVID-19 anymore? Maybe it never was…
What do you think is going on? Share your thoughts in the comments!