Gen Xer Worked Remote for Decades and Now Can’t Find Another Remote Gig

Gen Xer Worked Remote for Decades and Now Can’t Find Another Remote Gig

A Gen Xer quit his remote job of 20 years after his company ordered him back to the office.He said it’s been difficult finding a new remote job even with decades of experience.Remote job postings are dwindling as companies bring staff back into the office.

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While millions of Americans shifted to working from home during the pandemic, it was business as usual for Mark Yampanis: He had already made the switch to full-time telecommuting two decades ago.Yampanis, 54, who is based outside of Berkeley, California, started working from home at a major telecommunications company in 2002. He held jobs as a systems engineer and software architect from the comfort of his home while nearly all of his colleagues worked in an office.But last year, he started to notice his long-established remote work arrangement was ending. His office wanted people back in the office, and Yampanis said he was put in a difficult situation.”When large companies have to start putting out these broad sweeping policies, even your manager’s manager doesn’t really have any discretion to alter them,” Yampanis said, adding he saw that his company started keeping tabs on where people were.He decided that it wasn’t worth it to start going into the office, especially since he felt like he had proven to his company that remote work was viable. He quit his high-paying job and decided to take a few months off and then look for roles elsewhere.However, after nine months of searching, he hadn’t had much luck. He said he sees fewer and fewer remote possibilities on job boards, as more companies adopt a hybrid work environment. If nothing lands, he may retire altogether.”I thought I have pretty good broad skills in technology, and I didn’t really think I was going to have any problems getting a job,” he said.The age of widespread, full-time work from home could be coming to an end. As more firms require staff come back to the office, the number of fully remote positions is dwindling. Just 9% of job postings on LinkedIn in August were for remote roles — down from 21% in March 2022. In contrast, nearly half of all applications filed on the site were for remote positions. Remote jobs on ZipRecruiter’s platform, which are also narrowing, get nearly three times the number of applicants as in-person roles.Many companies have implemented return-to-office mandates with the hopes of improving productivity and team cohesion. Meta requires employees work in the office three days a week. Meanwhile, TikTok uses an app called myRTO, which monitors in-person office attendance, and other companies are hopping on the trend.While in-office work might be preferable to some people, Yampanis said he wouldn’t consider returning to an office, as he is confident his expertise could translate to a stable remote position.”Being a systems engineer, software architect takes a lot of concentration, and back when we had cubicles, it was a little distracting to have things going on around me, constantly being interrupted while I was concentrating,” Yampanis said. “I think my supervisors and my colleagues always recognized that it was working out well.”Decades ahead of the remote work curveYampanis said it was difficult at first to participate in meetings and collaborate with teammates without being in the same room, though he said he learned to speak him for himself on calls. He didn’t miss in-person meetings, though, many of which he said were not relevant to his work.Yampanis was decades ahead of the curve when it came to learning how to work productively at home, and he saw some of his teammates struggle to catch up at the start of the pandemic.”I definitely noticed a lot more interruptions as people that were new to working from home went through the learning curve of what you have to do to be successful and make working from home like you’re working from an office,” Yampanis said.He started seeing his industry adopt new return-to-office policies, and that’s when he knew his time with the company may be coming to a close. His office let managers decide for themselves what type of in-office schedule they wanted, though his company started looking toward more codified, sweeping requirements. He suspected that even though remote work was effective for him, his company wouldn’t be making many exceptions.He said most of the people on his team don’t work at the California office closest to him, though his manager didn’t have much of a say in granting exceptions.Dwindling remote jobsWhen he started looking for jobs again, Yampanis knew remote work was his best option, as most technology jobs in his area would require an uncomfortably long commute. He’s reached out to recruiters for positions that he thought could be done entirely remotely, but many said he’d need to relocate to be considered for the role.Yampanis said he would keep searching for another few months, and if he doesn’t land something remote, he may just retire and do volunteer work.”I’ve saved enough throughout my career that I don’t really have to work, and if I want to retire, that’s fine too,” he said. “But I’m just having more trouble than I thought finding a remote job, but I keep trying.”Did you quit your job over return-to-office policies? Are you having trouble finding remote work? Reach out to this reporter at [email protected].

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