On March 12th 2020 the world changed.
In the 15 months since remote work has accelerated 15 years into the future. Where prior to the pandemic only 3% of the US workforce worked remotely full-time, after the pandemic 10X that number will.
In number terms the change is enormous. 3–4M full-time workers operated remotely full-time in 2018. By 2030 that number looks set to grow to at least 80M workers. This should be considered the base case scenario. I expect that number to increase dramatically as millions of workers experience normal, healthy remote working for the first time.
What people have worked through in the last 15 months has been the worst possible version of remote work. Lockdown, homeschooling, unable to travel, can’t see friends, little freedom to do the things that make us happiest. As a result, workers have not been able to experience the intangible benefits of remote. The things that make it 10X better than working in an office full-time. These things obviously won’t return immediately, but eventually they will.
The rush of investment in solving problems remote workers have always faced will lead to many of them being better addressed than in the past. This investment will lead to the core infrastructure needed to enable remote work more easily to emerge rapidly. The thing standing in the way of companies going remote or becoming more remote friendly is typically the ease in which it can happen. As these barriers to entry get removed, remote becoming exponentially more widespread becomes almost inevitable. It ties back to the age old question of disruption.
What happened to companies that didn’t adopt computers in the 1990’s?
What happened to companies that didn’t implement software in the 2000’s?
What happened to companies that didn’t embrace the internet in the 2010’s?
What enabled each of those revolutions to happen was massive investment in each of these areas that led to tremendous innovation. The question today then becomes: what happens to every company that doesn’t become remote?
The data coming out from almost every internal survey by companies of their own people tell the story of how revolutionary this will be. Habits and…