The trend for discussing the ‘Great Resignation’ has got a lot of people up in arms. There is now hard evidence that people are quitting their jobs in record numbers, both in the US and elsewhere worldwide.

While the pandemic has doubtlessly contributed to this state of affairs, a lot of commentators are convinced that the switch to remote work is to blame for this sea change in the job market, while others argue that organizations which don’t offer it are hemorrhaging employees as a result.

Such claims don’t hold water when subjected to a small amount of scrutiny. In reality, remote work is neither the culprit nor the cure. Let’s look at how this trend is shaping the future of employment right now.

Opportunities are abundant

There are more Remote jobs available today than ever before, which is empowering those in the Millennial and Gen-Z age groups to choose a different path from their predecessors and take control of their careers.

While some people definitely felt the pinch when shifting to remote work and away from the office, for many more this was a liberating experience. It showed them that they could not only do their current job from home or from anywhere else, but that they could also take their pick of a whole host of other opportunities.

This is obviously an issue for employers, since retaining top talent is tricky if it is easy for valuable team members to find a better position in a rival firm without needing to relocate or change their routine whatsoever.

In essence, remote work opportunities have put employees in the driving seat like never before. Some might see this as a means to make the switch to a different industry or career path, others might tap out entirely.

Whatever the case, businesses now have to provide remote working as an option as a bare minimum requirement, rather than as an exclusive benefit or perk.

Thus it could be said that this over-abundance of opportunities is perpetuating the Great Resignation, and businesses have to put more time and effort into their retention efforts to compete.

Priorities have been irrevocably rebalanced

The second point which is rarely discussed in relation to the Great Resignation is that people aren’t quitting their jobs because they aren’t being offered remote work; in plenty of instances the primary motivation behind this is a lack of interest in the employment market in general.

Professionals who would previously have been content to work a 9-to-5 have found that the disruption caused by the pandemic has reframed the way they look at the work-life balance.

Ideas like job security, economic stability and even earning a wage that covers living costs and promises good prospects for growth have been swept aside, and younger workers have reached their limit.

Millennials in particular are in a tough spot. This is a generation that began work in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, has seen the affordability of housing slip away from them by the year, and now been sideswiped by a pandemic that only exacerbated the underlying economic pressures they face.

Retaining employees in this context is clearly a challenge that has very little to do with whether or not remote working is possible.

Looking forward

It is impossible to predict how employment will change in the months and years to come. The pandemic has proven that nothing is a certainty, and businesses as well as their employees need to be more agile and adaptable.

Remote work does give them the means to avoid unforeseen obstacles, and yet equally it is not the perfect answer to, nor the cause of, the problems that exist today.