From Equal Opportunities to Unfettered World Travel – What’s Driving the Standoff Over Remote Work

By Rachel Puryear

As workplaces reopen, employees’ desire to work remotely is significantly greater than employers’ willingness to allow such, collectively. More workers than ever before don’t want to go back to the way things were, and employers anxious to get remote-during pandemic workers 100% back to the office are already facing resistance.

Why do so many people want to stay remote?

The reasons for wanting remote work are diverse: For some, it’s because where they want to live doesn’t match their employer’s physical location. For employees with young children or special needs, remote work could make the difference between holding down a job and not. And for many, they don’t just want to work from home – they want to work from anywhere.

A person laying on a beach, working on a laptop.

Some Workers Settled Far from the Office Park:

Until pretty recently in the industrial era, people have determined where they live based upon where they work. Working people have chosen between cramming into pricey housing in crowded urban centers, or spending significant portions of their workdays stuck in traffic with a draining commute.

A laptop sitting on the forest floor.

Nowadays, those lucky enough to work remotely can have the best of both worlds. They can have a job from anywhere, and still live anywhere they want. They can stay close to friends and family, or live somewhere more affordable with less financial pressure; while still earning a living. People tired of a concrete jungle can live somewhere with natural scenery around them. And some members of LGBT communities have found that they can enjoy inclusive and supportive communities that they could not if they had to work in person. For these employees in varying circumstances, this is working too well for them to go back to the office in person.

For Some Workers, Working at Home Helps Equalize Opportunities:

For working parents, the ability to work at home means being able to spend more time with their children. The children of work-from-home mothers and fathers might know their parents much better than the past couple generations of children knew theirs. And with many parents challenged in finding daycare, this could solve problems for parents who work from home, as well as in-person working parents who have less competition for daycare.

Working at home is also a game-changer for workers with many kinds of disabilities, as well as neurodiverse individuals. Persons with disabilities can make their home workspace more accommodating than employers likely will. They can save themselves a commute which may be even more difficult than most other people’s commutes, if not impossible.

For neurodiverse individuals, the ability a home work environment which is not overstimulating and filled with distractions makes a huge difference in stress levels and productivity – in ways that few neurotypical people can appreciate. For some people, the ability to work from home makes the difference between being able to keep a job, and not.

Man in wheelchair working at a desk, while wearing a mask.

Furthermore, reducing the volume of commuter traffic benefits everyone, not just remote workers. Less traffic means less pollution and carbon emissions, less demand for gas which could lower prices, and less traffic on the road for people who do have to commute.

Not Just Working at Home, but Working from Anywhere:

Some remote workers take advantage of it in a particularly enterprising way – they travel and see the world without limits, all while working. This is known as digital nomadism. These fortunate people have gotten a taste of living the dream while having an income, and without having to retire first. For digital nomads, this way of life sure beats being trapped in a small cubicle for decades. There’s a lot to see in the world, life is short, and an opportunity to see more of it and pay bills should definitely be taken advantage of.

People accustom upward a lot better than they accustom downward. That’s a part of human nature. When someone has never had a good thing, they tend to not miss it. But when someone has a good thing and then it’s taken away from them, they tend to become much more adversarial about it than when they never had it in the first place.

For someone who has gone from struggling to hold a job to being able to finally hold a job because working remotely works so well for them; their success points to why more employers should be encouraged to facilitate options to work from home where possible, rather than trying to take these away.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to your prospering from anywhere, with the flexibility you need.

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