The future of work is remote, and companies don't really have a choice.
This is excellent packy. Thanks for writing this
Speaking for myself, working remotely has made me more productive and more efficient.
More productive because I do not want to give up my five-minute commute from the bedroom to the kitchen for coffee to the work space for the motorized 45 minute-plus slog through insane traffic, made more aggravating and stressful due to weather; more productive because working remotely spares me the drop-in meetings commonplace in the workplace that are prefaced with "Can I talk to you for a couple of minutes" and two hours later I am forced to work another two hours from home; more productive because I can remain focused on a task at hand instead of constant disruptions and distractions.
More efficient because I can (and do) get started earlier, which allows me to complete the work day earlier. That translates into a willingness to do a few extra things to demonstrate my appreciation for the ability to work remotely.
Another great note. Here's the thing. The smarter traditional-company CEOs have figured that remote is a way to make more money, period. Some will say this out loud, some will not. On the recent Q3 earnings call the CEO of Raytheon Technologies ($RTX) - as traditional a business as it gets, veritable military-industrial-complex stuff - said that they had learned from working through the pandemic that, (i) they didn't need as many people in the office and (ii) they could work very well on a distributed basis due to all the great new technology that enable this and indeed - and this is the key to the adoption and embrace of remote by the enterprise writ large - (iii) they didn't need as many people, period. Our own house view is we're going to see more of this. Cheap and effective distributed enterprise software will lead to lower headcount = less real estate = less cost. This is in our view likely to be a big growth driver for remote. It's not touchy-feely-employee-spend-more-time-with-the-kids stuff - the opposite, it's hey-we-can-make-more-money-out-of-having-folks-pay-for-their-own-desk stuff. But we think this is going to catch on as a driver. (Disclosure - long $RTX and long a bunch of distributed enterprise software plays too).
I would pay money to watch a former Google PM, for instance, move to St Louis and try to live there for six months. The schools, the job hunt, the attempts to find recreation outside of going to Costco.
I think what we're really seeing is that the bulk of Gen Y is entering its late twenties-early thirties, and a lot of them will do anything to get out of corporate. Life stage for every generation, and there are just more of them. Substack, startups, etc. But there are too many incentives to keep work in an office, mostly because the deciders (middle management) believe that they create value by being around other people, a self-fulfilling prophecy to an extent. They are panicked and terrified right now. Most can't articulate it, but it's because a major prop of their identities has been yanked away. Bottom line: the birth of a niche, like surfing in the 1960s. It'll never be huge or even widespread--another lumpy Pareto distribution--but it'll stay around. Anything with a strong entrepreneurial or disruptive bent, basically, which probably rules out almost all corporations (even small ones).
Amazing as usual Packy. Love how you are looking at second and third order effects and not afraid to write about what most others think. Thanks for this.
One question: how do you think this shift impacts real estate moving forward? Specifically residential...I see a couple different scenarios in which housing will be built more rural and therefore an opportunity for innovation such as robotic construction startups, 3D printed homes, and software that eats the stack of real estate design (Atmos is doing something along this line).
Amazing writeup. There was a counter argument that thanks to optional remote work days, people will have more time after work (socializing & having fun), so they'd prefer living in cities (SF, NYC) where there are more things to do vs. living in some suburbs.
Also another notable second order effect, with less people commuting, means less incentives/resources to invest into public transportation...
Hahaha! When you're remote, the only difference between you and a smart kid in Malaysia is the price tag. Buh-bye.
this was my first Not Boring podcast, and you've created a convert! Looking forward to listening to your other topics
Thoughtful article. A couple of additional considerations that came to mind after reading that further support this shift. First, I think one really important aspect of a post-covid environment will be that not only will there be many technology advances and options that make today's Zoom version of WFH more durable, but many of the drawbacks of this environment will go away. Our children will go back to school, we will see friends, celebrate holidays etc. In short, we will get back to a social balance along with all of this amazing optionality and efficiency that will enable us to pour the extra time back into the things we care most about.
On a completely different note, this type of transition may lay the foundation for better balance for dual working households with children and more opportunity for both members of a household to remain in the type of work they most enjoy. Example - previous high travel jobs may offer new options avoiding the forced career disruption of the past (at least for some careers).
This is such great writing. Amazing insights.
Something you kind of touched up on but not really is a model in which people live and work in beautiful natural places where they can access community and regain mind and body wellbeing. This offered by companies as a perk for their employees and teams.
That is what we built at Ethos Remote. Check it out here and lets chat if you have a chance: https://www.ethosremote.com/
Your avid reader.
Brilliant article Packy, would love to talk to you about the role we see the remote agility framework playing in this - www.remoteaf.co
This is the best article I have read on the topic. A great read.
Thanks for writing this piece. I am in complete agreement that the nature of work has changed for ever. The prospect of a daily congested commute to a stodgy midtown office in Manhattan has become foreign to me, and many other New Yorkers. I don't however believe that the office is dead. There are many reasons to want to meet in person, to collaborate, brainstorm, hang out... but the nature of the workplace will have to shift to be much more user-friendly and even of consumer-grade quality. To help companies and buildings adjust to the "new normal" I've created http://www.humansphere.co/. Should you need any advice, please reach out!
Great piece. I started investing in the future of work in 2012. I was a delegate to the G7 and chatted about it there. The one company that survived in my investment portfolio is Deskpass.com. Check them out.
Amazing piece. You are in my must-read category and dudes don’t last in there.. but you just can’t MISS. 👏🏾👏🏾 Take a bow sir
We should use the term “distributed” instead of “remote” to truly capture the shift that’s happening. Also Automattic (makers of WordPress) not GitLab is the original distributed company. There’s event a book about it The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DVJXI4M/