Let’s talk jobs. There is a lot to discuss here.
U.S. tech industry employment has grown steadily for five months now with tech companies adding 16,000 new jobs in April. That’s data from CompTIA’s analysis of the latest employment data from the Bureau of Labor statistics.
Within the jobs data is a larger set of conversation – the entire US economy added just 266,000 jobs. This is lower than hoped, but also still reflects earlier vaccination levels.
The economy is also showing some signs of inflation, with price increases in some consumer products. Economists are expecting some continued gains, but are warning of potential spending igniting inflation, outstripping wage gains. The Fed, supported by most private-sector economists, believe this is a temporary period while the economy recalibrates.
Which leads to workers – why are they harder to find? I’m highlighting an Economist article diving into the struggle to hire workers. Vacancies are running at their highest level for at least two decades, and are leading to fewer hires than one would expect based on history. I want to highlight the third reason – a reallocation of resources in the economy.
And, in that reallocation, we have changes in the jobs themselves. Online jobs platform ZipRecruiter recently reported that postings mentioning a four-day workweek have tripled over the past three years. In context, a 2019 study found almost two-thirds of businesses with a four-day week reported increased productivity, and Microsoft Japan found a 40% increase in productivity when employees could take an extra day off.
And in that same collection of stories, Researchers analyzedaround 100,000 moves over the last year and found high-income individuals — those earning more than $100,000 a year — accounted for less than half of all movers, but made up 75% of those who said they were moving because of telework opportunities.
Researchers at the University of Chicago have released a working paper investigating Work from Home specifically with IT Professionals. Across 10,000 professionals at a single, large Asian IT services companies, they compared productivity before and during work from home in the pandemic. Quoting the study:
“Total hours worked increased by roughly 30%, including a rise of 18% in working after normal business hours. Average output did not significantly change. Therefore, productivity fell by about 20%. Time spent on coordination activities and meetings increased, but uninterrupted work hours shrank considerably. Employees also spent less time networking, and received less coaching and 1:1 meetings with supervisors. These findings suggest that communication and coordination costs increased substantially during WFH, and constituted an important source of the decline in productivity. “
Also of note here – researchers believe increased coordination time costs also has caused other impacts, like less coaching, peer networking, and those small interactions.
Why do we care?
It’s that recalibration and reallocation that I really care about here. I firmly believe there is a lot of contemplation by employees about what they want coming out of the pandemic. They are likely reexamining their skills, where and how they want to work.
Let’s tell the story – jobs numbers, which are still reflective of the early in the vaccination rollout, are not growing as fast, and consumers are facing at least a short period of higher prices on goods. There are lots of jobs out there, so workers do have some choice as they consider where they want to live, what they want to do, and what they want out of life. All of this analysis doesn’t even layer in the fact that as humans, people are examining what they want from post pandemic.
Now, let’s examine those new jobs. This is one company and one study, but don’t let it be said I don’t examine new data and new views. Successful work from home will need to address those lost interactions. That’s possible – it just didn’t happen. As I’ve said multiple times, work from home isn’t just throwing people to their home.
This is all recalibration and reallocation today. Past performance is no guarantee of future results, listeners.