A Record Number of People Are Leaving Their Jobs – The Role of Flexible Offices
Flexible offices are a retention tool for companies to use in a three-legged hybrid approach with Work-From-Home (WFH), the corporate office, and proximity flexible office spaces. But they can also facilitate the jump from employee to entrepreneur by providing a complete on-demand business infrastructure and empowering people to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
The great resignation
According to a report from the Labor Department, there were 10.4 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. workforce at the end of September 2021. About 4.4 million, or 3% of the nation’s workforce, quit in September alone, a back-to-back record after 4.3 million recorded in September and unusually strong turnover numbers in the prior months. Gallup data also shows that close to half of American workers are actively searching for new opportunities, as reported by the Washington Post on November 10, 2012.
People have choices
Low unemployment in a post-pandemic recovery creates particularly favorable conditions for people to explore other opportunities and sometimes completely different careers. Quality of life, flexibility, and the ability to work anywhere are often cited in surveys as reasons for their choices. Higher compensation can also be one of the criteria but is not viewed as the most important driver.
One of the reasons professionals are not afraid to take their chance is that they know they will easily find a job if their experiment with another company or with entrepreneurship does not pan out. This is true in all age groups. They prefer to take their chance moving to what they see as a more desirable location, sometimes before securing their next job. We see this with young people in search of a different lifestyle when they leave large urban areas for places like Reno/Lake Tahoe, driven by the outdoors, but also with families leaving San Francisco or Los Angeles in quest of more affordable communities to raise children such as the Sacramento or Las Vegas areas. It is no surprise that residential rates have grown amongst the highest in the nation in Reno, Las Vegas, and Sacramento during the pandemic while the cost of apartments in San Francisco has dropped to unprecedented levels (-11.9% from March 2020 to October 2021 for one-bedrooms per The San Francisco Chronicle)
The number of start-ups is exploding
A good illustration of the willingness this generation has to take risks, perhaps more so than any time before, is the exploding number of new business formations during the pandemic, a trend that continues to this day.
Many argue that there is no better time to start a business than today. Why would people not want to give it a chance when they know that if they fail, they will probably find a higher-paying job than the one they left anyway? At the same time, the changing needs and desires of consumers revealed by the pandemic create business opportunities that did not exist before.
Flexible offices support remote work and entrepreneurship better than ever
Robust remote infrastructures, such as ubiquitous internet, video calls, flexible offices, virtual offices, and coworking, are empowering forces to facilitate starting a business anywhere. Anyone can use a Virtual Office to establish a business identity in a professional building near home at less than $80/month in downtown San Francisco, a fraction of the price of a dedicated office. CloudVO Partner Pacific Workplaces in Northern California offers an All-Access Pass that enables pass holders to use any vacant office anywhere in its portfolio throughout Northern California anytime for only $269/month! And some folks are perfectly happy to start their business from home.
Sometimes, working from home can do the job too. Peter Rehage was somewhat of a pioneer when he moved to Lake Tahoe from Salt Lake City in 2011 and co-founded Protein Matrix, equipped with new green chemistry that binds and neutralizes fat, oil, and grease making them completely safe for wastewater transfer through the sewer system and in the wastewater treatment facilities. Not quite the typical activity you would expect to find in the middle of the Sierra Nevada!
“At first, I was a bit of a curiosity with the local adventurers and mountain lovers that you find in a mountain town,” said Rehage. “Now you’ll find entrepreneurs and professionals from all walks of life.”
Many of these entrepreneurs left a Bay Area company to start their own consulting or start-up activities. Some continue with the company they left but as outside contractors, with the freedom to pursue other clients. They work from home, from a coworking place, or both. When traveling they can check into an office or a meeting room with CloudVO.
Employers are slow to react… but maybe not for long
Statements made by large companies expecting a return to the office have had unintended consequences. Employees have learned to enjoy the flexibility to work from anywhere during the pandemic. Many are just not ready to resume their pre-pandemic daily commute. They know they have choices.
For some, returning to the office is a social relief after months–almost two years!–of isolation. Now they also have the choice to join a nearby coworking space when WFH becomes too heavy, too lonely, or too difficult. Proximity coworking provides the relief they need and social serendipity in a professional environment when they want to leave home. In all cases, the commute is drastically reduced or completely eliminated.
Smart employers are making efforts to provide that level of flexibility, combined with a requirement to come back to the corporate hub for training and company culture opportunities. The hub is the corporate office. The spokes consist of a combination of WFH and flexible office spaces. This approach provides more flexibility for employees, but also significant cost savings for their company and better adequation between need and infrastructure than developing satellite offices leased by the company. In a fast changing world, right-sizing the satellite offices and finding their optimum locations when the workforce is increasingly mobile is a challenge deemed to fail.
Will increased workplace freedom be enough to curb the wave of professionals leaving their corporate jobs? There is no guarantee it will be, but a flexible workplace seems to be a necessity.