City thinking, local knowledge

Do We All Want to Give Up Work for a Year?

By Questa Chartered

We don’t want to sit behind screens anymore. According to a recent BBC article, ever-increasing numbers of us have reassessed our work and our lives post pandemic, and we want to work outside.

Quoted in the article David Rochefort, a former IT worker, said the pandemic made him want to do something ‘astronomically different.’ “My body was restless from sitting all day,” he said. “I became stressed, I’d go to bed at 2 am and not want to get up in the morning.”

Confined to home during the pandemic he realised he wanted to work outdoors. He resigned from his job and started working as a volunteer at a local wetland wildlife reserve. Ultimately he was offered a permanent job there and, while it has meant a substantial pay cut, he says he “has never felt happier.”

That story could be told a thousand times over, both here and in the United  States, where a growing number of people are giving up their jobs based on cryptocurrency gains.

Most people reading this will have heard of Bitcoin, the crypto (or virtual) currency. While price movements in Bitcoin are highly volatile, it has undeniably enjoyed a very good run over the last two years. In the US, 4% of people claim to have quit their job thanks to cryptocurrency gains, while 7% of people say they know someone who has.

Even allowing for some overinflated egos (does anyone ever say they lost money?) this will still add up to a substantial number of people. But what is interesting in the US is that people don’t claim to have ‘quit their job’ for good: rather to have made enough money to take some time off work, confident that with the current shortage of labour they will be able to find another job when they are ready to return to work. Interestingly this could mean that labour shortages may not be due to a fear of Covid (as some policymakers suggest) but to cryptocurrency gains giving lower paid workers a new-found freedom.

This may well chime with the number of companies looking at giving employees unlimited holidays and career breaks – a recognition that people are now looking for very different things from their jobs and that the financial package on offer may no longer be the most important part.

…And you do wonder if a really progressive and forward-thinking employer might conclude that the secret to recruiting and retaining the best talent isn’t necessarily the company gym or share options – but may be the company allotment, or the company wildlife reserve…

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