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Will you pick who you work with in the future?

Vikrant Duggal
Vikrant Duggal
• 3 min read

As part of a client onboarding I was chatting with a Head of Marketing today who mentioned she was planning on leaving Toronto because housing had gotten out of control. "Vikrant, when I put an offer down on a rental, or home I'm competing with ten other offers," she said. "I can live out in Alberta, Canada where it's beautiful, I have more room, and I can own a home. I love it." I also came across a piece Matthew Haag wrote for The New York Times titled "Remote Work Is Here to Stay. Manhattan May Never Be the Same".

I think a lot about the trends lines for the future of work and have written about trends showcasing the rise of independent consultants. Prior to March, 2020 most W2 employees couldn't pick two major things: where they worked and who they worked with. In the last twelve months we are seeing a significant rise in employees who had a choice as to where they worked. Over the coming decade we will see more of this.

Statistic: Change in remote work trends due to COVID-19 in the United States in 2020 | Statista
Change in remote work trends due to COVID-19 in the United States in 2020

Statistica claims:

Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 17 percent of U.S. employees worked from home 5 days or more per week, a share that increased to 44 percent during the pandemic. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the remote working trend, as quarantines and lockdowns made commuting and working in an office close to impossible for millions around the world. Remote work, also called telework or working from home (WFH), provided a solution, with employees performing their roles away from the office supported by specialized technology, eliminating the commute to an office to remain connected with colleagues and clients. [2]

The next domino to fall will be when W2 employees realize they can also pick who they work with and leverage their experience and expertise to what they love the most. I think we will see more people sharing their stories of success as an independent professional. You can see much of what I've created over the last four years and the acceleration in creating products online in the last twelve months as proof of what's possible

Prior to March, 2020 most W2 employees couldn't pick two major things: where they worked and who they worked with.

Then why are some companies picking up massive amounts of office space in places like New York? Matthew writes:

Facebook has added 1 million square feet of Manhattan office space, and Apple added two floors in a Midtown Manhattan building. [1]

Like an individuals who are looking for a great deal on a home they can call their own, companies are also looking for great real estate deal and if leases are available in places like Manhattan, and they are priced with attractive discounts, then companies like Facebook and Apple sitting on more than $50 billion in cash on the balance sheet can make a bet on the market being hot 5-10 years out. Companies like Facebook and Apple also have a well-oiled recruiting infrastructure, retention packages, and incredible brand equity to hire a specific type of individual.

Companies picking up office space will likely see a resurgence of employees coming back to the office. HR and People leaders will gain a better understanding of which teams and the types of individuals that perform their best while working remote. You'll head to the office when it's absolutely necessary.

The guidance may now be to give each employee more square feet essentially spacing people out. Maybe we will move away from the open office concept and each individual will get their own personal HVAC units at their desk that keep the air in their area clean.

Either way, many employees are realizing they can work from almost anywhere and perform at a high level. Once they realize they can also pick who they work with the game will change.

Sources:

[1] Remote Work Is Here to Stay. Manhattan May Never Be the Same

[2] Remote work frequency before and after COVID-19 in the United States 2020
Published by Statista Research Department

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