The New Normal Is The Distributed Company
There has been a sharp increase in demand for property in upscale vacation areas, such as Lake Tahoe, about 200 miles from San Francisco, or The Hamptons, 100 miles from New York, from well-paid people fleeing the city and looking for properties with more space, as distributed work environments become the new norm and their children will also likely have to study from home.
More and more companies are making it clear that the distributed work environments are the future. It started with companies like Square or Twitter, which soon after lockdown announced that their workforce will not have to return to the office unless they expressly want to do so, and now giants like Google, Facebook or Apple, which are no longer in a hurry to get their staff back to the office and do not expect the situation to return to normal until mid-2021.
These are some of the most innovative companies in the world, which set management trends: working from home requires rethinking of many of the fringe offered to distributed workers, redesigning the onboarding processes for workers who get hired in remote processes, reducing and repurposing office space, and above all, rethinking their policies and their business culture: if you want to see it spelled out, check out the new distributed work policy of the German multinational Siemens, expressed in a few sentences:
"The basis for this forward-looking working model is further development [of] our corporate culture. These changes will also be associated with a different leadership style, one that focuses on outcomes rather than on time spent at the office. We trust our employees and empower them to shape their work themselves so that they can achieve the best possible results. With the new way of working, we’re motivating our employees while improving the company’s performance capabilities and sharpening Siemens’ profile as a flexible and attractive employer."
This is the end of being at the office to be seen or to keep a seat warm, or not going home before the boss. Vestiges of an absurd and irrational culture that simply transferred the workshop model of the Industrial Revolution, with constant supervision by the foreman, to tasks in which it made no sense at all. More and more companies are signing up to fully distributed models, to provide their workers with the right conditions to be productive from wherever they see fit, and to be able to attract and retain talent without geographical constraints.
Do companies really need offices any longer? If so, they will have a completely different role, not focused on being places where people do the bulk of their work, but rather places of interaction and socialization to strengthen corporate culture. The office as we knew it is part of the past.
Does your employer have a long term plan to develop remote work and evolve into a distributed company, or do you still think things will go back to the way they were last year?