You hate your job but you love working from home: You’re in remote-work handcuffs

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Given the choice of a different job that offered the same remote setup, some WFHers would quit in a hot second.

There are many unhappy remote workers who wish they could quit and get another remote job. 
But options are limited amid economic uncertainty and a time when WFH jobs are in short supply.
The upshot: Remote workers who want to stay that way are handcuffed to their jobs.

If anyone’s living their best life as a remote worker, it’s Anna, a 23-year-old travel publicist who recently spent a month and a half living in Bali and Thailand while working full time for a New York PR agency. 

The 12-hour time difference was grueling, she said, though the weekend beach excursions more than compensated. But now that she’s back working from home in her native Brazil, she’s feeling antsy. Anna, who asked that her last name be withheld for privacy, wants a promotion, but knows it’s unlikely. She’s also aware that if she returns to New York, where the company hired her as a remote employee during the pandemic, she’d have to be in the office. 

“I can’t imagine losing the freedom this job gives me,” she told Insider. “I’m scared I’ll never be able to find another one that gives me this much flexibility.”

Anna is one of the unhappy workers happily working from home who, given the choice of a different job that offered the same remote setup, would quit in a hot second. But amid economic uncertainty and at a time when remote-job opportunities are in short supply, their options are limited.

The upshot: Remote workers who want to stay that way are handcuffed to their jobs.

The golden handcuffs phenomenon is an obvious parallel, Denise Rousseau, a professor of organizational behavior at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, told Insider. Jobs that are highly paid feel impossible to leave if you can’t command the same salary elsewhere. 

In academic literature, these shackled workers have what’s known as a continuance commitment, Rousseau said. “They stay because they have something they don’t want to lose, as opposed to staying because there’s something that’s attractive about their jobs, such as great colleagues or learning opportunities,” she said. 

These situations don’t bode well for personal or professional satisfaction, she said. “If you’re remaining in a job for purely extrinsic reasons — your working conditions are hard to replace — you’re going to have more stress.”

Feeling lucky to WFH, but also stuck

More than three years into a pandemic that’s shifted people’s priorities and fueled a greater desire for flexible jobs, many employers have lost patience with remote work, and some bosses — cough, cough, Elon Musk — have become downright hostile to it.

Many high-profile companies are fixated on getting their employees back in the office — with the risk of termination as a threat. Others are putting the kibosh on remote work for new hires

In March 2022, roughly 20% of job listings on LinkedIn offered remote work; last month, such listings dwindled to 10%. Meanwhile, nearly 70% of job seekers on the platform are looking for remote and hybrid opportunities.

“I would love to get a different remote gig — I just can’t find one,” Kristina Alexandra, the head of strategic partnerships at a fintech company, told Insider.

She’s worked at her remote job for about seven months. She loved it at first. Lately, though, she’s felt pressure from her boss to spend time in the office, and she’s resisting.

“I’ve gotten used to working from home: I have my standup desk and I’m a lot more productive,” she said. “But now that things have become so unpleasant at my job and I’m being treated like a second-class citizen, I’m actively looking for another one.”

The trouble is that every company she interviews with wants her to work at least a hybrid schedule. “I’m stuck,” she said.

Research by Julia Pollak, the chief economist at ZipRecruiter, shows that the share of remote-job postings has either stabilized or declined in most industries in recent months, yet the number of applicants has remained elevated. “There’s a major imbalance in the labor market,” she told Insider in an email.

David Bakke works from home in Georgia and said that while he doesn’t “completely hate” his position, he’d quit if he could find another remote job. “But honestly, looking for one takes a long time,” he told Insider. 

In the meantime, he’s grateful for his schedule flexibility. “I have an intense next 10 weeks of travel baseball with my son,” he said. “If I wasn’t set up remotely, I’d never be able to pull all of that off.”

Rousseau said that there’s hope that some unhappy workers will be able to land similar setups elsewhere.

“You need to show a new company what you can do. ‘Here’s what I produced, the people I managed, and the money I made and saved for my employer.’ Show that you stand out,” she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

​Careers, Strategy, work from home, Remote Work, Job change, hybrid work, Hybrid working, Job search, job searching  

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