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The Changing Landscape of the Workforce

As we find ourselves more than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, a great deal has changed about not only our physical workplace, but the workforce landscape as a whole. Recently, Pew Research released a report highlighting the current state of telework, the shifting reasons behind telework and the effects of telework on employee well-being.


Currently, about 60% of U.S. workers who are able to work from home are currently doing so all or most of the time. While this is slightly less than the 71% of telecommuters reported in October of 2021, it remains substantially higher than the 23% that were telecommuting prior to the start of the pandemic in 2020.


For many, telecommuting means less commute stress, location independence, improved work-life balance, financial benefits (it has been estimated that working from home can save the average person about $4,000 a year) and a laundry list of additional perks. According to Pew’s study, 64% of workers who are now teleworking, but rarely or never did so before the pandemic, say that it’s much easier to balance work with their personal life. In addition, 44% say that working from home has made it easier for them to complete assignments and meet deadlines. As a result of these aforementioned benefits, more workers are continuing to work from home by choice rather than out of necessity.


While some companies have voiced concern that telework could impede career advancement, Pew’s study found that 72% of respondents claimed that working from home has not in fact affected their ability to advance in their organization or industry. Furthermore, there are some that have found the remote work setting to be more beneficial to their career success and advancement compared to an in-office work setting. About 19% of female survey respondents found that working from home has made it easier to advance in their job, compared to just 9% of men. In addition, only 14% of respondents who choose not to work from home (rarely or never work from home) reported opportunities for advancement as the reason they choose to work from the office full-time.


Women in the Workforce


Although we have been in the midst of “The Great Resignation” for some time now, a national survey conducted by brought renewed attention to the fact that approximately 25% of all American workers are looking to leave their jobs in 2022. Getting more granular with help from the U.S. Census Bureau, we know that women have been leaving the workforce in disproportionate numbers through the pandemic. Since February of 2020, 1.3 million mothers between 25 and 54 years of age have left the workforce. While some women left their jobs due to burnout, Pew Research recently found that the top motivations for people who quit their jobs include: dissatisfaction with their pay (63%), a belief that opportunities for advancement were limited (also 63%), or else, a lack of feeling respected at work (57%).


As a result of the alarming resignation rates, more employers are offering perks to retain and attract employees, such as hiking pay and offering flexible options like remote work. For women who have been out of the workforce for some time, Sian Beilock, CEO of Barnard College, recommends they do something to bring their accomplishments to the forefront, such as updating their resume and networking. We would be remiss not to note that right here, close to home, the Times Union’s Women@Work membership organization is committed to bolstering the global effort by empowering and supporting local women through mentoring, networking, education and professional development.


Through organizations like Women@Work, local professionals have the opportunity to network and develop mentorships in order to further develop their career. Through strategic planning, fostering engagement and collaboration in a remote work setting can make an incredible impact on not only a single employee, but on an organization as a whole. Virtual mentoring that is done well can motivate and inspire employees, increase productivity and provide the framework for career development opportunities. Within the confines of a single organization, a structured mentoring program or more informal mentoring can also enhance retention potential for top talent.


During Women’s History Month, we have the opportunity at our fingertips to celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements, raise awareness about the ongoing fight for gender parity and inspire everyone around the globe to act in a way to lift female-focused charities and women-led businesses. We encourage organizations to continuing mentoring and developing their current and future female leaders to unlock the full potential of their workforce. In addition, we encourage all to embrace different perspectives and be a champion of innovation.


In the Times Union’s upcoming Upstate Business publication (publishing Sunday, April 10), we will feature content devoted to the workplace and it’s changing landscape. As all organizations work to navigate through the continuation of remote and hybrid work, the challenges associated with “The Great Resignation”, increased diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts and the prioritization of employee well-being, there are lessons to be shared and learned from one another.


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