Remote jobs have ushered many people who were previously unemployed due to the pandemic back into the job market. This mode has been preferable, as these professionals are able to maintain a consistent salary, without sacrificing their work-life balance.
For Sara Corcoran, who got a job as a remote assistant project manager at a Dallas construction company, this arrangement allowed her and her husband to purchase a home outside of the city where they could pay less and have more room.
However, in early 2022, the company requested that everyone return to the office.
“They said, ‘We’re going to have everyone come back to the offices, we want to see your smiling faces,’” said Corcoran.
After two days of experiencing the 80-mile commute one-way and $15 per day in tolls, Corcoran quit and had a new job ready to go just days later.
Corcoran’s story is just one of many that shows how the Great Reshuffle will persist if leaders do not embrace a more flexible future.
The pleas from politicians and business leaders to return to the office come from a place of wanting to drive local economies, but employees argue that this is out of touch and ignores the realities of the volatile housing market.
Home, rental, and gas prices have skyrocketed in the past two years, making it more difficult for workers to justify commuting to their jobs without a significant increase in pay. The choice then given to workers is to move to an expensive city, or spend that money on long commutes.
Additionally, employers seem to be ignoring the fact that over one-third of jobs can be performed from home without any major loss in productivity. In fact, some companies even saw a spike in productivity when shifting to remote working.
While some companies are eager to bring workers back full-time, others are taking a more hybrid approach that divides time between working from home and in the office. However, this still means potentially making long commutes sometimes up to three times a week.
For instance, Google is one of many tech firms that is moving forward with a hybrid approach. However, in Mountain View, where the company is headquartered, median home prices sit at a staggering $1.9 million.
The average annual salary of a Google employee is $134,386, meaning a household with two Google employees would still have to pay over a third of their income each month to afford a home in this region.
Rising real estate prices aren’t just exclusive to major cities like New York and San Francisco either — the suburbs and exurbs are also seeing soaring real estate costs as people move further away from cities.
Compile inflation, investors purchasing single-family homes, and limited supplies, and you have a recipe for a strained, unaffordable future for many professionals.