On Remote Work

Back in February, Chris Herd (@chris_herd), CEO and Founder of FirstbaseHQ.com wrote a tweet on remote work.

It turned out to be a fairly along thread sharing the findings from conversations with 2.000+ companies. I have summarized it below as I think there are some very interesting points.

Most of us are used to working with distributed teams spanning multiple time zones. 4/5 hours from India to Europe and 9 hours from Europe across the US. We learn to work asynchronously and not ping someone in Teams just saying “Hi”, but actually state the purpose and question, so the recipient can reply in their own good time; added an amount of “small talk” (is it “small chat” if it happens in Teams?) depending on your cultural background 😊

Before you can talk Digital Transformation, you have to talk People Transformation. The points below confirms that.

The findings:

  • HQ’s are finished: companies will cut their commercial office space by 50-70%
    They will allow every worker to work from home 2-4 days a week, and come into the office 1-2 days a week
  • Fully distributed: ~30% of the companies we talk to are getting rid of the office entirely and going remote-first
    Companies doing this have seen their workers decentralize rapidly, leaving expensive cities to be closer to family
  • Access talent: The first reason they are going remote-first is simple – it lets them hire more talented people
    Rather than hiring the best person in a 30-mile radius of the office, they can hire the best person in the world for every role
  • Cut costs: The second reason they are going remote-first is because it lets them be far more cost-efficient
    Rather than spending $20000 / worker / year on office space they can provide the best remote setup on the planet for $2000 / worker / year
  • Remote burnout: The productivity inside the companies we’ve spoken to has gone through the roof
    Their biggest concern is that workers burnout because they are working too hard
    They are actively exploring ways to combat this
  • Remote onsites: 60%+ of companies we talk to are already thinking about ways to use time together physically to improve culture
    The most popular we hear is flying the team into remote locations for ~week. Portugal, Spain, Puerto Rico seem to be the most popular
  • Personal choice: the smartest people I know personally are all planning to work remotely this decade
    The most exciting companies I know personally all plan to hire remotely this decade
    ~90% of the workforces we’ve spoken to never want to be in an office again full-time
  • Async by default: is the thing that organizations are struggling with most
    The majority of companies have replicated the office remotely and it is causing strains that are beginning to show
  • Personal injury: These are exploding. Companies haven’t moved quickly enough to prevent them and back, neck and repetitive strain injuries are becoming a huge problem
    Expect this to remedy this quickly by providing better, ergonomic equipment to workers
  • Universal problems: doesn’t matter the size of the organization, every company is dealing with the same thing
    We spoke to early-stage companies, publicly listed tech companies, through to legacy incumbents with hundreds of thousands of employees
    All will be more remote
  • Pollution reduction: many companies we’ve spoken to care massively about the environmental impact that eradicating the office – and the commute – will have
    108 million tons of CO2 less every year
  • Quality of life: even more importantly companies are realizing that they don’t need to expect workers to waste 2 hours a day commuting to sit in an office chair for 8 hours
    Almost every company we talk to believes that their workers will be happier as a result of remote work
  • Remote pressure: a few companies we’ve spoken to have decided to be more remote than they initially intended because their competitors already did it
    There is a fear inside companies that if they don’t go remote they will lose their best people to their competitors
  • Remote fear: most companies aren’t scared about the quality of work that will be produces
    They are scared about intangible things they can’t measure
    ‘quality of communication’ & ‘collaboration in person’ & ‘water cooler chat’
    Many have realized these were excuses
  • Output over time: the measure of performance in the office is how much time you spend sat in your seat
    The measure of performance while working remotely has to become output.
    Tools that enable this to be tracked more accurately are something we are asked for a lot
  • Written over spoken: documentation is the unspoken superpower of remote teams. The most successful team members remotely will be great writes
    Companies are searching for ways to do this more effectively. Tools that enable others to write better will explode
  • Flattened orgs: middle management is in trouble, an unnecessary bottlenecks which serve no tangible purpose inside async organizations
    Companies need coaching and facilitators to maximize organizational effectiveness
  • Company Reports: Several companies are thinking about creating resort like compounds where work happens in person
    Expect these to be build in incredible locations and focused on providing the best on-site experience possible
  • Remote Laws: Many companies are beginning to operate under the assumption that the choice to work remotely will become a legal right
    This will give workers the options to choose where they work, and many companies are acting before they are forced
  • Meeting Death: Wasting 2 hours traveling to a meeting will end. The benefits on in-person are eroded by the benefits of not traveling
    Conferences and quarterly networking events will become more important for cultivating in-person relationships
  • Internal community: Team cohesion and company culture isn’t impossible remotely – but it’s very different
    In the same way companies are finally realizing that power of community externally – internally community may become even more important to a company’s success

About strobaek

.NET developer/architect. Runner, espresso drinker and lover of gourmet food.
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