The argument regarding remote work, office culture, and how to manage distributed teams is still going on. With the delta edition of COVID-19 pushing back many employers’ office return dates, there’s still a strong debate about the future of work.
However, as giant corporations wriggle their way through the present, I believe the discussion is mostly gone and that startups have triumphed.
Since the start of COVID-19, I’ve been on a lot of calls with startup owners, and it seems like practically every time I talk to an early-stage company, they have a remote, distributed staff. It’s only natural that some of these businesses were created during the COVID era. However, the trend is not limited to those businesses. Just thinking about the startup market for a second, I believe that raising equity capital to spend on rent will be just as strange a concept in the future as raising equity capital to buy a rack of computers and pay co-location fees is today.
For that, we now have AWS and Azure. In terms of offices, we now have remote work. Why should you pay for square footage with shares? To some extent, we’re being simple, but paying the rent with seed or Series A money makes early office space some of the most valuable real estate in the world. At least in the case of successful startups, the astute will avoid paying the tax.
There’s more to it than that: Today’s talent market is extremely competitive for many essential positions. Anyone looking for machine learning skills can attest to this. Alternatively, senior development roles, alternatively, the marketing staff is in charge. The list could go on and on. Startups are on the lookout for a specific type of talent that is both scarce and expensive.
Worse yet for startup tech firms, Big Tech firms have never been wealthier. So, what is a young business to do? Offer remote-friendly jobs, which the big guns don’t seem to want to offer. This will also aid startups in poaching people from larger tech firms. They have a talent that they don’t want to lose.
I believe that, over time, lower HR staff retention rates will lead to more workplace flexibility everywhere. Many of today’s remote businesses will scale while keeping to the strategy, eventually becoming tomorrow’s major companies with totally remote teams.
So the debate over whether to work from home or return to high-priced office space continues, but it feels more like doomed-cruiseliner deckchair shuffling than genuine discourse.
Will you resume commuting by car, or a combination of auto and public transportation, so that you may put on headphones and try to concentrate in the office? I seriously doubt it. I’m not one of them.