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The pandemic offered an opportunity to reimagine how, where, when and under what conditions we work

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Flickr user Michael Lokner

When the pandemic forced Americans to quickly adapt to a new normal, it also presented an opportunity for millions of employees to experience previously unavailable approaches to and accommodations for work.

The pandemic also forced us to take a harder look at existing workplace-related challenges and barriers to entry that had long been a source of frustration, but up until then were still standard practice.

About 4% of all U.S. employees and 6% of white-collar workers worked exclusively from home in 2019, according to Gallup. By May 2020, 43% of all and 65% of white-collar employees were working from home.

Now, as employers — and even President Biden in his State of the Union address — increasingly call for workers to return in person, they're finding many are unwilling to acquiesce to inflexible pre-pandemic job conditions.

What are employees' top work-related concerns? Why did it take a pandemic to bring them to the forefront?

What's next for the shifting employment landscape? Will the labor market and workplace norms be forever changed by the pandemic or return to business as usual?

What are the benefits of job flexibility? How could the changing nature of work impact the employment of people with disabilities?

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for the future of work?


  • Sheela Subramanian, vice president of Slack's Future Forum consortium
  • Liz Morris, deputy director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings
  • Mia Ives-Rublee, director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress

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*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, March 15.

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