Wall St. Journal, Others, Validate Prediction about the Changing Nature of Work


In our second set of predictions for 2023, we said we expect the workweek to continue to change — a direct result of remote work established during the pandemic. We felt sure there would be ongoing changes, and we feel we got this one correct.

First, we said that many temporarily remote workers were going to continue to go to the office only from Tuesday to Thursday while continuing to work remotely on Mondays and Fridays. We haven’t seen studies confirming that but, anecdotally, traffic patterns in Boston and New York City support that statement.

But we also saw a story that got tremendous pickup in a range of outlets, including the Wall St. Journal’s “After Testing Four-Day Week, Companies Say They Don’t Want to Stop; Firms saw productivity hold mostly steady and fewer employees quit“; MarfketWatch: “These 61 companies tried out a 4-day workweek — and most are sticking with it“; NPR: “We’re talking about the 4-day workweek — again. It is a mirage or reality?”; and the Washington Post: “4-day workweek trial so successful 91% firms to continue, trial shows.”

Our point is that the workweek (or work week, we’ve seen both) is continuing to evolve, driven by generational trends (which has received less attention that is warranted) as much as by technology and the aftermath of COVID. We expect to see continued coverage of what it means to hold an office job in 2023. What we haven’t seen yet — probably because it’s likely to be challenging to report this angle — is the cultural implications of the new office job. We think that by summer, when college students take on summer jobs and/or internships, there will likely be articles about how to train employees and how to inculcate a corporate culture when people work together only three days a week.

The final part of our workweek prediction was that there would be more layoffs in 2023, and that, unfortunately, has proven to be accurate. By the second week in January, when we scheduled the publication of our predictions, Layoffs.fyi reported that 50 tech companies had laid off nearly 21,000 employees. At the time we finished this article, near the end of Feb., 397 tech companies had laid off 108,986 employees. (To be fair, it’s hard to determine if that’s an apples-to-apple comparison since the numbers we’re able to look at now include companies outside the U.S. If it is, that’s a jaw-dropping jump in the number of companies and layoffs in about a month’s time, although the new numbers would include Google’s 12,000 employees representing 6% of its workforce on Jan. 20, 2023 and Microsoft’s 10,000 or 5% on Jan. 18. And also that Google and Microsoft are multinational, and their layoffs could be global. Our goal is to understand trends, and unfortunately, Layoffs.fyi is tracking huge numbers of layoffs around the world.)

Unfortunately, we do think we’ll continue to see layoffs in 2023. What’s interesting, though, is that we believe other companies — some not necessarily known as tech companies — need to hire people with strong tech backgrounds. For example, as more car models shift to hybrid or go fully electric, car makers will need more software engineers to program the software to make cars operate. According to a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article, “The Secret to EV Success Is the Software,” Volkswagen has hired 6,600 software programmers over the past two years, and wants to hire 1,700 more. We hope to see articles about people who left Big Tech for good tech jobs in other sectors.

One thing for certain is that HR, recruiting and retaining, and culture stories will continue to be covered in 2023.

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