The most important thing workers want today is remote working opportunities.
Every single one of us wants, and increasingly expects, five things:
1. Most companies don't feel comfortable giving their workers these things
Where we do not receive those things or the perception of our role leads us to believe that our boss is withholding them from us, workers will increasingly search out companies and opportunities which give them all of these things. For office-first companies, this will grow to become a major problem. They will lose their best workers to their biggest remote-first competitors and it will happen incredibly quickly.
The average talent between office-first and remote-first companies will grow slowly at first before a rapid explosion. The reason?
- 🏢Has an office
- ⏰time there a KPI
- 🏙️worker, expensive city
- 📍hire best person 30-mile radius
- ✈️is remote-first
- 📈output is the KPI
- 🌏worker, live anywhere
- 📍hire best person globally
Which company do you think will win?
The answer is as obvious as it is inevitable.
Remote companies will dominate this decade and disrupt every office-first company.
The challenge for companies is that, right now, they don't know what the difference is between operating remotely. Rather than leveraging all the benefits of remote work to maximize productivity, they want to replicate office work for remote workers.
The changes required to move from remote-work to office-work:
- async over sync
- output over time
- flexible over fixed
- control over chaos
- ability over location
- written over spoken
- efficiency over waste
- skills over credentials
- focus over distraction
- trust over surveillance
- autonomy over dependence
2. Most companies aren't ready to transition to this way of working
The difficulty of transition isn't what most people think it is.
It's not: Remote work vs. Office-work
Or even: Remote-first vs. Office-first
It's: Async-work vs. Sync-work
and: Async-first vs. Sync-first
Everyone who's worked remotely knows it's the superpower that enables them to do their best ever work. Everyone who's working remotely understands the benefits when you escape the instantaneous gratification of distraction factory adult kids club open offices. The problem is that the decision
3. Most companies have no experience of working remotely correctly
Everyone has worked for a bad manager
When you read this you're probably picturing who it is. Hopefully, you no longer work for them. Whether you do or you don't doesn't matter, what's important is that they typically operate in the same manner. Their only way to measure your performance is the amount of time you spend in the office.
It doesn't matter that you do more work than every other member of the team while you are there in less time. If you clock in at 9 and leave at 5, you will be viewed in a negative way. We've all heard the critique of 'good afternoon' when we arrive 5 minutes late' or something equally childish when we leave early, but this is the only way of operating bad managers understand.
4. Most managers have no idea how to manage remotely and are scared
'This won't work for us – our culture is different'
Every company thinks they're different. It's the thing which makes every single one the same. Everyone believes their culture is special, that what they're doing makes them stand out from the crowd. What that fails to understand is that culture is largely homogenous. The office is great for certain people terrible for others, and the implication is a lack of diversity.
Everyone knows that diversity, and increasing it, is a very good thing. It leads to more creative solutions, a wider spread of ideas, and generally a better more profitable company. Offices lead to a lack of all those things. Meetings that descend into the loudest, most forceful person in the room pushing their agenda. Time wasted debating things that could have been a long-form document that everyone could have read then contributed to.
'We don't want to lose those moments of serendipity. Two workers meet at the water cooler, solve a huge problem that leads to an explosion of creativity.'
The funny thing about this is that if it's true that the business's processes are broken. People fail to acknowledge this. The office is great for one thing: finding ways to spread out the 8-hour workday. Almost everyone knows they could do their job in hours less a day but we're expected to punch our car and waste away to make managers feel like they are managing.
'Nothing beats in-person collaboration!'
The myth of remote work pedaled by people who have never worked that way. Millennials, in particular, grew up on instant messenger. Many of us are more comfortable communicating via writing than in person. This isn't a bad thing. In-person collaboration isn't the panacea office workers make out. It may be more efficient for certain things, but better? That is debatable in every single way.
'Some people get the majority of their social contact at work!'
Is your boss selecting your closes social contact a good thing? In my opinion, it leads to shall superficial relationships, which lack breadth, depth, and meaning. That doesn't mean every single relationship does. Everyone has made friends at work. It simply acknowledges that your boss's hiring policy is probably not the best filter for you finding people who share a lot in common with you. Remote work, on the other hand, frees you to do more in your free time. Taking up hobbies, for example, leads you to find people who share more in common with us. This can help tackle major societal issues.
5. Most managers have no idea how to manage remotely and are scared
One company I spoke to recently spends $3,000 per month, per worker to provide office space. Their 2,000 staff cost them $72,000,000 a year in real estate cost to house them.
The reason that is so crazy?
They are all knowledge workers. On average, they commute two hours every day to travel to a place to do work they could do from anywhere in the world. They do little in the form of collaboration but due to their position an office is an expectation.
In the past, an office was a sign that a company had made it
An external signifier that suggested they were doing real work
Now they are a millstone around the neck of companies. An exorbitant cost with no rational explanation as to why companies should continue to pay for it. In the near future, office space will lead to significant questions of economic sensibility.
1. Companies won't see office-space as a good use of capital
In the current economy, companies live and die by their talent. Remote work will lead to the biggest disruption of the workforce in history. Great talent has more control than ever before to dictate terms of employment to their companies at the point they join a company and that will increasingly lead to them demanding to operate remotely.
The smartest people I know personally ALL plan to work remotely in the next decade
The remote workers I know would NEVER work for a company that wasn't remote again
The best companies I know personally ALL plan to hire remotely in the next decade
The remote companies I know would NEVER employ a worker than wasn't remote again
That's what non-remote companies are up against. The best, most exciting companies only offering remote work. Their costs will be significantly lower. Their average talent level will be significantly higher. That married to the fact almost every talented person on the planet wants more remote working opportunities means this is the perfect storm.
2. Companies will see remote as a way to retain and attract great talent