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BEERG Newsletter - Future Work: A Roundup

Writing for Bloomberg, the author Julia Hobsbawm considers competing calls for greater flexibility as the campaign for a 32-hour workweek gains momentum around the world. 

She observes that “many who are experimenting with the so-called four-day week itself are structuring their programs not on a stringent four-day schedule but flexible arrangements that suit the needs of the individual workers and companies, such as two half days instead of one full day off,” and, as such, “F should be for flexibility, not four days.” 

Christy Hoffman, general secretary of UNI Global Union, which represents 20 million workers in 150 countries, observed in a session on the four-day week at Davos that “flexibility is what everybody wants. Some people would rather have a five-day workweek and then have six weeks off.”

Meanwhile, survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that home-based workers became younger and more diverse during the worst part of the pandemic. The share of people working from home between ages 25 and 34 increased from 16% to 23% from 2019 to 2021. The share of home-based workers who are Black rose from 7.8% to 9.5% and increased from 5.7% to 9.6% for Asian workers. 

It remained flat for Hispanic workers, the report said. Meanwhile, the share of home-based workers with a college degree also grew, and the survey found that people working from home were more likely to have moved in the past year than commuters. “If only temporarily, the COVID-19 pandemic generated a massive shift in the way people in the United States related to their workplace location,” the report said. “With the centrality of work and commuting in American life, the widespread adoption of home-based work was a defining feature of the pandemic era.”

The Wall Street Journal says that US employers are responding to continuing labour shortages and rising wages by sending jobs overseas. In August last year, 7.3% of US senior managers surveyed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta said they were moving more jobs abroad as a result of remote work. Deel, a human resources company that helps clients recruit overseas, says hiring through its platform more than doubled last year. The share of job listings that are remote has surged since 2019. 

The Wall Street Journal notes that “Office offshoring isn’t new . . . [but] What is changing is that more companies are moving highly skilled jobs abroad.” Also, the trend is spreading beyond traditional destinations such as India. Employers in Europe are increasingly hiring in cities like Tbilisi, Georgia, and Yerevan, Armenia, which offer plenty of skilled workers, including many recent refugees from Russia, according to Deel. Latin America, which shares time zones with the US, is also benefiting.

The Economist writes how “working from anywhere” is only for the few, and is only suited to those without family or caring responsibilities. 

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Authors: Tom Hayes

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