- Chris Herd is founder and CEO of Firstbase, a platform that helps companies supply and manage the physical equipment their teams need to work remotely.
- He spoke with 2000+ companies and learned that most plan on never returning to the office full-time.
- Employees can accomplish more from home and are happier when they can spend more time with family.
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Remote work is the biggest workplace revolution in history and nothing will deliver a higher quality of life increase in the next decade than this. Workers having more flexibility to decide their work schedule, able to operate when they are most productive rather than a fixed day, enables a far better future of work than the one we currently experience.
Organizing work around your life is a huge transition with major implications. Gone is the requirement to beg your bosses permission to go to an appointment, it is the ability to drop and pick your child up from work every day with time in the afternoon to go for your recharging run.
Being handcuffed to an office and expected to live in a high cost of living city with a low quality of life is a remnant of the industrial revolution. The devolution of offices into almost factory-like conditions as distraction factory adult kids clubs is complete. The office has literally become the worst place on the planet to get the isolation and focus you need to do deep work.
As the Founder and CEO of Firstbase, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to 2,000+ companies about their plans for remote work going forward. Here are a few things I’ve learned.
🏢 HQ’s are finished: Companies will cut their commercial office space by 50-70%. The will allow every worker to work from home 2-4 days a week, and come into the office 1-2 days a week.
🌍 Fully distributed: ~30% of the companies we talk to are getting rid of the office entirely and going remote-first. Companies doing this have seen their workers decentralize rapidly, leaving expensive cities to be closer to family.
⭐️ Access talent: The first reason they are going remote-first is simple — it lets them hire more talented people. Rather than hiring the best person in a 30-mile radius of the office, they can hire the best person in the world for every role.
💰 Cut costs: The second reason they are going remote-first is because it lets them be far more cost-efficient. Rather than spending $20,000/worker/year on office space they can provide the best remote setup on the planet for $2,000/worker/year.
📈 Remote burnout: The productivity inside the companies we’ve spoken to has gone through the roof. Their biggest concern is that workers burnout because they are working too hard. They are actively exploring ways to combat this. Many will mandate time off once a month to combat this.
✈️ Remote onsites: 60%+ of companies we talk to are already thinking about ways to use time together physically to improve culture. The most popular we hear is flying the team into remote locations for ~week. Portugal, Spain, Puerto Rico seem to be the most popular destinations mentioned to date.
💃 Personal choice: The smartest people I know personally are all planning to work remotely this decade. The most exciting companies I know personally all plan to hire remotely this decade. ~90% of the workforces we’ve spoken to never want to be in an office again full-time.
🚨 Async work: Is the thing that organizations are struggling with most. The majority of companies have replicated the office remotely, and it is causing strains that are beginning to show. The important thing to realize is that this is something that needs to be fixed by processes rather than adopting different technology.
🤕 Personal injury: These cases are exploding. Companies haven’t moved quickly enough to prevent them and back, neck, and repetitive strain injuries are becoming a huge problem. Expect them to remedy this quickly by providing better, ergonomic equipment to workers.
🌐 Universal problems: It doesn’t matter the size of the organization, every company is dealing with the same thing. We spoke to early-stage companies, publicly listed tech companies, through to legacy incumbents with hundreds of thousands of employees. All will be more remote.
🏭 Pollution reduction: Many companies we’ve spoken to care massively about the environmental impact that eradicating the office — and the commute — will have: 108 million tons of CO2 less every year.
❤️ Quality of life: Even more importantly companies are realizing that they don’t need to expect workers to waste 2 hours a day commuting to sit in an office chair for eight hours. Almost every company we talk to believes that their workers will be happier as a result of remote work.
🧠 Remote dilemma: A few companies we’ve spoken to have decided to be more remote than they initially intended because their competitors already did it. There is a fear inside companies that if they don’t go remote they will lose their best people to their competitors.
👻 Remote fear: Most companies aren’t scared about the quality of work that will be produced. They are concerned about intangible things they can’t measure. ‘quality of communication’ & ‘collaboration in person’ & ‘water cooler chat’ for example. Many have realized these were excuses for permitting distraction and disruption to help pass an eight hour day.
🚀 Output over time: The measure of performance in the office is how much time you spend sat in your seat. The measure of performance while working remotely has to become output. Tools that enable this to be tracked more accurately are something we are asked for a lot.
✍️ Written over spoken: Documentation is the unspoken superpower of remote teams. The most successful team members remotely will be great writers. Companies are searching for ways to do this more effectively. Tools that enable others to write better will explode.
👨💼 Flattened orgs: Middle management is in trouble, an unnecessary bottleneck which serves no tangible purpose inside async organizations. Companies need coaching and facilitators to maximize organizational effectiveness.
🏝 Company Resorts: Several companies are thinking about creating resort-like compounds where work happens in person. Expect these to be built in incredible locations and focused on providing the best on-site experience possible.
👩⚖️ Remote Laws: Many companies are beginning to operate under the assumption that the choice to work remotely will become a legal right. This will give workers the option to choose where they work, and many companies are acting before they are forced.
🛑 Meeting Death: Wasting hours traveling to meetings will end almost entirely. The benefits of in-person are eroded by the benefits of not traveling. Conferences and quarterly networking events will be where people cultivate & maintain in-person relationships.
🎳 Internal community: Team cohesion and company culture isn’t impossible remotely — but it’s very different. In the same way companies are finally realizing the power of community externally — internal community may become even more important to a companies success.
Remote work will likely be the most disruptive paradigm in the last century of work. We are likely to live through the highest period of turnover in history between company. Organizations everywhere must react now and understand the extent to which their team wants this to happen. Over 90% of workers never want to work in an office again full-time. The implication of this is that companies that refuse to work remotely likely won’t work at all.
This is a repeat of eCommerce vs. physical stores. Where initially most people wouldn’t buy most things online, today almost everyone buy almost everything on line. This has killed physical retail. Remote work means the same thing for the office. Where initially almost nobody works remotely, by 2030 a majority of the 255m desk jobs globally are likely to be done remotely a majority of the time.
Chris Herd is founder and CEO of Firstbase, a platform that helps companies supply and manage the physical equipment their teams need to work remotely.