Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk proposed what is becoming a less radical idea about work: that physical labor will be optional. What is his alternative? A “Tesla Bot,” a robot he’s creating to do the jobs that humans no longer want to do.
According to Insider’s Ayelet Sheffey, Musk would assign that robot “dangerous, repetitive, and boring tasks” that humans would no longer have to perform. Musk stated that this could necessitate the creation of universal basic income, in which everyone is given a set amount of money, because people may no longer need to work some physical jobs but will still require cash flow. “Essentially, in the future, physical work will be a choice,” Musk concludes.
While the Tesla Bot has yet to be built, Musk is on to something about the growing aversion to working in person, as evidenced by America’s famous “labor shortage.” People are already abandoning physical labor, as evidenced by how employees behave. They have chosen not to do physical labor.
Jenny Zhang of Glassdoor Research stated in an analysis that “interest in remote opportunities is here to stay.” Zhang discovered that the share of job searches for remote work increased by 460 percent between June 2019 and June 2021 – and it’s only going up.
According to Zhang’s research, while demand for remote work has “stabilized” in recent months, it is still far above where it was prior to the pandemic. This can be attributed in part to the reopening of the economy.
According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics employment release, 13.2 percent of employed workers were teleworking due to the pandemic in July 2021. In June, the figure was 14.4 percent. Nonetheless, according to the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey, only 5.2 percent of workers said they worked from home.
According to a recent PwC survey, 41 percent of remote workers want to stay that way.
Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed’s Hiring Lab, tweeted a visualization of Yale data that shows how many workers switched jobs in July. As a result, more than 2% of currently employed workers have changed jobs.
Bunker’s chart concludes that job switching has returned to pre-pandemic levels, and the record number of workers quitting supports this conclusion. Another trend that has persisted for three months is workers reevaluating what they want out of their jobs.
Better work-life balance is becoming more of a priority. According to a recent FlexJobs survey, 68 percent of workers are thinking about changing careers, and they’d rather have a better work-life balance than be paid more.
Aside from raw data, countless stories of workers abandoning physical labor are emerging. This is especially evident in the leisure and hospitality industries, where wages are rising but workers are still leaving.
In other words, the people who serve you in hotels and restaurants are saying, “Enough!” Physical labor is a choice, and we choose not to engage in it.
There have been numerous reports of labor shortages at physical restaurants and retail locations, with employers scrambling to find new employees. Pizzerias are poaching employees, a limo service had to turn down thousands of dollars due to a driver shortage, and another pizzeria has stated that it will “literally hire anyone.”
Something else that has happened since 2019? The number of available jobs has increased by 70%, but the number of people looking for work has decreased by 10%.
So, if you’re reading this from your work-from-home job, you could be a forerunner of how the economy has changed permanently as a result of the pandemic.