What Bosses Really Think About Returning to the Office (and, Sometimes, What They Mean by “Office”)
It’s an exciting time for returning to the office, with the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution and the dawn of the new freelance, home-based, remote workforce. But it’s also an exciting time for the workplace: When will you get back to work? Will you ever?
We don’t know, since that’s the question Bosses Are Trying To Answer. The latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shed light on the evolution of the time-and-a-half rule. The numbers, from June 2016 to June 2017, reveal that workers are delaying retirement longer than ever before, but now they’re delaying it by more than an hour.
That means the “average workweek” has gone up, even as the percentage of time that people are working at home has gone down. These numbers are inarguable: The average office has gone down, while the percentage of people working at home has gone up. In other words, the traditional definition of work is shrinking. It has shrunk for men, and shrunk for women in particular.
The problem is that there are no longer enough people to fill all the new types of full-time jobs that were created for older workers over the past 20 years. In fact, the number of people in the U.S. workforce has dropped from 175 million in 2000 to about 152 million in 2016. The number of people in the workforce has declined by 9 million people since 2000. And for the first time in history, the number of people in the U.S. workforce has never exceeded 115 million.
So, what does it all mean?
When the U.S. workforce shrank in recent years, it shrank for all workers: Those over 45 years of age, single workers, dual-income workers, and people with kids under 18 also became marginalized. The average worker lost her job, and she lost her benefits as well. Her 401K, defined benefit pension, and health benefits were eliminated.