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Remote jobs drying up as more workers want to toil from home

Tyson Oldham works in his home office as his son Carson, 7, rattles his chair in Highland on Aug. 14, 2020. More and more U.S. workers want to work from home.

Tyson Oldham works in his home office as his son Carson, 7, rattles his chair in Highland on Aug. 14, 2020. More and more U.S. workers want to work from home. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Even amid an ultra-tight U.S. jobs market, where unfilled positions outnumber people available to fill them by nearly 2 to 1, when it comes to the places where we toil, employers and workers appear to be moving away from each other. And remote work is the issue now marking the divide.

Seismic impacts on the function and philosophy of where we do our work, first wrought by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, continue to be felt by business owners and employees as new definitions of the workplace are still being written.

While public health rules limiting in-person interactions and public gatherings have long passed, current workplace dynamics look nothing like those of the pre-pandemic world and a new normal may be emerging.

Where remote work once held the place of exception over rule, toiling from home is now baked into the landscape. A statewide poll conducted last month by the Deseret News in partnership with the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics found 46% of Utah workers spend at least a portion of their schedule clocked in from home. And, a national survey conducted in the summer by McKinsey and Co. found 58% of U.S. workers are in positions that offer the opportunity to work at least part of their time from home.

But data coming in from national employment specialists reflects a decline in remote work opportunities even as more workers seek to bring home the bacon without leaving their castles.

Scoring remote gigs becoming more remote

Back in February, LinkedIn reported 20% of all U.S. job listings were for remote positions, an all-time high that attracted 50% of all applications. But that figure has since been on the decline and, as of September, LinkedIn found remote gig offerings had dropped to 14% of all advertised positions even as they drew 52% of all application traffic.

"It's the 'great remote work mismatch,'" Rand Ghayad, head of economics and global labor markets at LinkedIn, who wrote the recent report, told The Washington Post. "In the past, labor mismatches have been about skills. Now we're seeing a different kind of mismatch, where workers are looking for jobs that offer certain attributes — like the ability to work remotely — that employers aren't willing to offer."

Other jobs sites are reporting similar trends, according to the Post. At the hiring platform Indeed, for example, remote-job postings have slowed in recent months, even in tech-heavy areas such as software development. Monster.com, meanwhile, saw a 21% spike in job seekers looking for work-from-home positions between September and October, even as postings for remote jobs declined 6%.

Tech job drop-off could be playing a role

Pandemic-driven restrictions on in-person transactions and forced home isolations drove enormous growth among a wide swath of online goods and services providers. So, they hired like crazy to keep up with the new business. And, offering remote work options became a powerful recruiting tool as companies competed to attract a limited talent pool.

But now, a slowing economy and consumers' collective return (more or less) to pre-pandemic spending habits is compelling tech businesses to adjust to new realities.

The last several months have seen waves of large-scale layoffs, with HP as the latest in the tech industry to join the ranks.

During its fourth quarter earnings report, the company announced that it will downsize its workforce by 6,000 people by the end of the fiscal year in 2025, according to Gizmodo.

According to an online layoffs tracker, more than 150 tech companies have laid off nearly 65,000 employees worldwide in November alone.

Other significant recent layoffs in the tech industry in November include:

  • Meta: Earlier this month, the company announced its plans of slashing its workforce by 11,000.
  • Amazon: The e-commerce company plans to lay off nearly 10,000 employees.
  • Twitter: CEO Elon Musk has laid off nearly half of the 7,500-person workforce while hundreds of employees resigned, per The Verge.
  • Cisco Systems: This company announced plans earlier this month to cut 5% of its 83,300 workers, per reporting from online technology news magazine CRN.

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