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Dave’s blog

I’m Ready to Predict the Future of Remote Work

I’m trying to satisfy a burning curiosity about where remote work will land.  In each of 100 conversations with C-level leaders of Colorado companies over the last year, startups to $ multi-billion public enterprises, I’ve asked about remote work for workers for whom that’s possible – and I’ve read lots of articles presenting a broad range of points of view.  

Over the last few weeks, ideas have been gelling, and… 

I’m ready to predict the future of remote work. 

Within 1 year (if there’s not another pandemic wave), most companies that prioritize a collaborative work environment will expect workers to be mostly in the office.  That will be OK because workers who find that despite what they’d come to accept as a better life, want to be working together again.   

Employers will do three things to attract and keep the people they want: 

First, employers will remain highly flexible where they were much less so before… need to manage a contractor at your house, take a parent to the doctor, coach your kid’s soccer team?  That’s fine, and if that activity makes it so that working from home makes sense, that’s OK, work from home.  In the past, people hid these decisions – now they will talk about them openly.    

Second, employers will adapt their spaces.  Josh Freed, CEO of Proximity, in the most recent ProCO360 podcast said that, “people gravitate to, and are most productive in, spaces that match their identity.”  Smart employers will ensure that workspaces are such that people feel drawn to them and productive in them. 

Third, the best employers will maintain a culture of trust.  Any employer that gives a whiff of indication that return to office is about regaining control for control’s sake will lose the best talent who won’t stand for it. 

Regarding jobs that don’t need as much collaboration (perhaps order entry, billing, customer service reps, analytics…), lots of fully remote tech-facilitated opportunities will remain. 

And people who just don’t want to go back into an office very much?  They’ll find employers whose business is a fit for that.  Don’t want to ever have to go to an office?  Depending on experience and job, in the next couple of years many will be settled into a role which is accepted as a “low collaboration” job, or transition to contract work.   

What about co-working?  I think it will thrive based on demand from freelancers, traveling workers and small business owners wanting communal energy not found in their homes or hotels, perhaps even as suburban satellite office options for large companies.  

Finally, the 1% “rarified air” tech talent will do whatever they want. 

That’s my prediction.  What’s yours? 

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