Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk done more to force innovation on the hotel industry than any company in history. By distributing hotel space to the excess capacity in hosts homes they altered the entire spectrum of human experience. A more cost-efficient travel option married to a more authentic appreciation of every destination has led to a massive rise in the quality of vacations while simultaneously enabling homeowners everywhere to profit from something that would have been idle otherwise.
Travis Kalanick, Garrett Camp, Ryan Graves, Logan Green, and John Zimmer done more to force innovation on the transport industry than any companies in history. By redistributing rides from unnecessarily expensive Taxis to any drivers car they exponentially increased the likelihood of people taking a cab. The more transparent pricing, opportunity to see who your driver was before you got in the car and the removal of the need to exchange any money created a far more efficient and effective industry which has led a better rider experience and allowed drivers to earn a living in their spare time.
How does that affect me?
That same disruption is coming to your workspace in the next decade. Remote working will explode as companies realize that office space is a vanity metric dragging down their bottom line more than anything else. By distributing office space to workers homes, companies will benefit from a tremendous decrease in overhead costs, while benefitting from happier workers, more likely to remain as workers for longer and do better work while they’re there.
The need for any company, anywhere in the world to have a bespoke headquarters will be destroyed during the next recession.
The current foray into the waters of co-working alternatives will lead to far lower productivity and massive increases in worker turnover as staff move between the companies within the co-working space they operate within. That the same time co-working providers will substantially increase rates to balance the books as the taps of VC subsidization are turned off.
How quickly is this coming?
The only alternative that remains is the one where the excess capacity resides. Remote working opportunities are doubling at a rate of every decade. The 7m workers operating remotely in 2005 across the EU and the USA became 15m in 2015 and will reach 33m by 2025. From 2% of the total labor workforce to 4% then 9% in a 20 year period during which 99% of people have indicated their desire to operate at least part of their career remotely. At the same time, 84% of people do so from their homes. The challenge then is this: how can remote teams operate at safely, comfortably and productively from home as they can from an office? The perception that operating remotely from is an inferior option to office working persists, but is it grounded in reality?
The general and increasing subjective experience says no, and a desire for world-class workers to have more control over where they live is only going to increase. Workers no longer want to waste 16 days of their life sitting in a pollution-spewing coffin commuting to work every year. They no longer want to waste the equivalent of 87 days sat in a soul-destroying, happiness-draining, time-consuming monster that office work has become. Rather than living in expensive cities, there’s a growing desire to relocate to regions where there is a higher quality of living, lower cost of sustenance, and the ability to find deeper meaning, connection and purpose in life.
The challenge remote working must overcome
Working from home is still seen as a perk by many. Companies incapable of trusting their employees resist the transition because they fear the implications of what will happen when they can’t physically see their teams.
The inconvenient truth which that ignores is that offices have become distraction-filled crucibles where it is incredibly easy to do busy work which is rarely productive. How much time do you or your co-workers spend in the kitchen shooting the breeze? How much time is lost from people tapping you on the shoulder to ask critical queries to their issues, disrupting your flow, and takes you hours to settle back in? How much time is lost to the wonders of the internet which workers surf with their backs to the wall? The oddest part of that is that companies care more about workers being present for a set period of time rather than how much work they get done. As companies force more people into smaller spaces, offices have become battery farms and this problem increases. Co-working spaces increase that density even further.
There are 255m desk jobs globally and, in theory, any of them could be done remotely. In a short period of time, you will be given the choice:
1. Work from a co-working space in a city, have your cost of living subsidized
2. Choose where you want to live, anywhere in the world, operate remotely
What will happen next?
Companies are already beginning to distribute office space to workers homes. This will transition the entire spectrum of human experience from one where you live your life to work to one where you work in your life. A Renaissance of hobbies and creativity will occur as workers escape the suppression of the current workplace and benefit from the freedom of expression, expansion of opportunities and control of their own working conditions which proliferate.
Rather than being forced to work to specific conditions every worker will have the chance to curate their workday and situation towards one which helps them flourish and do their best work in their most comfortable locations.
This isn’t a Panacea that will avoid every imaginable issue, but it’s a chance for people to escape the shackles of certain modes of work that only work for a decreasing few
The companies who embrace this opportunity to attract, retain and engage world-class talent will thrive. Companies who neglect the greatest future of work revolution will recede into obscurity as worker vote with their feet.
Remote work is coming to a job near you in the next decade
What will you choose?
Disclaimer: I am the CEO of Firstbase: a future of work company that lets you make and of the 255m desk jobs globally a remote role at the touch of a button