Offices around the world are sitting empty and doomsday prognosticators are predicting the end of the corporate office as knowledge workers embark on globe trotting digital nomad lifestyles.  This view of the world post COVID-19 is exaggerated.

But, the changes we’re going to see post pandemic from the adoption of remote first work environments are simultaneously drastically underestimated. While people are focusing on the impact remote first policies will have on existing workers, it is the impact from the workers who are yet to be hired that will be the most dramatic.

Why is the end of the corporate office overblown? Because people actually like going into offices.  They like talking to people face to face and having lunch with them. They like getting out of the house.  They just don’t like to be forced to do these things and they want to be able to work from home on a Friday without needing to justify it to their boss.

To enable this type of autonomy, companies will need to adopt remote first working conditions. Everything, from figuring out how to offer perks to remote workers and office workers equally, to ensuring that remote workers are promoted just as easily as those who choose to work from headquarters, will need to be reworked from the ground up.

As companies rapidly lay the groundwork for this remote first reality, many people are wrongly thinking that the biggest impact will come from changes in office utilization. Instead, when the dust settles and newly remote first companies realize that they can now hire people from anywhere in the world, the true impact will be felt.

What happens when chronically understaffed software engineering teams are finally able to hire the number of people they need?  What happens when hurdles to hiring, like H1-B visas, are no longer a problem?  What happens when technology hubs like Silicon Valley, Boston, and New York, are no longer fighting over the same relatively small group of geographically aligned individuals?

The changes will be significant, and companies, managers, and individuals that are better able to leverage this new reality are going to outcompete those that cannot. Those who can assemble and manage teams of people globally are going to get work done more efficiently, better, and faster than their peers.  Software engineering salaries in places like Silicon Valley are going to come down.  People who have an easier time staying on task while working remotely are going to accelerate their careers with a larger number of options than those who can only search for their next job in their immediate geography. Coworking spaces are going to flourish again and people will rewrite the term coworker to have nothing to do with their employer and everything to do with who they as an individual choose to physically surround themselves with on a daily basis. 

Companies definitely aren’t going to need as much office space post pandemic, but this is not the real story.  The story is that globalization is coming to knowledge workers at a pace that has never been seen before.  As companies consider whether to adopt a fully remote first philosophy or not, the true magnitude of that decision should not be underestimated.

Categories: Remote Work


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published.