As Americans Seek Control During Pandemic, More Workers Are Taking Alternative Paths

Nearly three in ten (28%) working Americans shifted to self-directed employment during the pandemic.

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 12, 2022 – Today, Artemis Strategy Group released How the Pandemic Changed Us: Americans Choosing to Live and Work Differently, a study that identifies how a pandemic-infused environment has influenced the way Americans think about their lives, what they value, and how that affects the way they live, work and manage their health and money. A fascinating, large group of workers appears — those who didn’t just change jobs but who moved to more self-directed employment during the pandemic.

This has been a time of incredible job turmoil. Often by necessity but also based on opportunity, many workers have chosen to seek out new employers and better jobs. Nearly three in ten (28%) of the pre-pandemic labor force decided to go in a new direction by starting a new business, switching to freelance or “gig” work, or shifting to self-employment.

Who are these workers?

Reflecting the range of self-driven opportunities pursued, this is a demographically diverse group. Compared to other workers, they are somewhat younger and better educated, but also more racially and ethnically diverse.

These newly self-directed workers are more likely than other workers to have suffered the negative consequences of the pandemic, such as experiencing a decrease in household income, or an increase in time spent caregiving for family members. Despite losses, many used the opportunity to reflect and evaluate their lives.

They matched their reflection with shifted priorities. Since the pandemic began these workers are more likely than other workers to hold back on something previously planned. Simultaneously, they are more likely to engage in new outside-of-work activities.

Typical comments from this group of workers include:

“This time during lockdown gave me the break I needed to clear my mind and truly focus on the route my life has to take.”

“It has made me realize how self-sustainable and confident in my abilities I am. It has taught me to be myself and do what is right for ME.”

The outcome for this group — again, much more so than among other workers — has been greater personal satisfaction and greater attention to self-care, work/life balance and life purpose.

“We were surprised by the size and makeup of this group of workers,” said Christine LePottier, Partner of Artemis Strategy Group. “The fact that they have chosen to be more self-directed in their approach to work in this time of change is both an encouraging indicator and a potential evolving trend to watch.”

The national population study was conducted online by Artemis Strategy Group in August 2021 with over 1,500 Americans. To learn more about the survey and review additional findings click here [PDF].