21900 Musings
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21900 Musings

Daily Musings #4795 — the Future of Work & Communities

Over the past 19 months or so, working from home reinforced to me just how productive I am when afforded flexibility and freedom from small talk water cooler chats. Work from home indefinitely? I am a fan.

This past week, an article popped up in my daily email newsletter from Bing — “Small businesses try to survive around Amazon in Seattle as company shifts remote work policy again”. Kurt Schlosser, a journalist at GeekWire (source), provides a compelling perspective on how the work from home guidelines of large companies impact the small businesses who rely on the employees of those companies coming into a centralized office space.

This privilege I’ve grown to enjoy more and more has a ripple effect (naturally, as we are intertwined beings). One which will change the lives of others in less positive ways.

But does it have to? Or can it simply change the model in which we all operate?

Over the past several years, these companies attracted the brightest talent through campus amenities and hard-to-believe benefits. Always open cafeterias, on-site gyms and health centers, recreational spaces, etc. Switching to a more hybrid or majority remote workforce makes these obsolete. Who cares about an all you can eat salad bar if I have to travel into “the office” to take advantage of it?

Companies are going to be able to save millions but not needing to offer these benefits. On the other hand, they can also offer repurpose the money for “virtual benefits”.

These “virtual benefits” could be something like stipends or credits provided to employees for amenities like food, gyms, and the like. Similar to transportation cards or reimbursements already part of the benefit package for some. It would replace what would have been offered if the campus would remain the office.

However, the stipends would be invested into the actual communities in which the employees live. Instead of spending $12 for a lunch on campus, it can be spent at the local, independently owned pho shop. Or go towards a 2-a-week bootcamp classes at the gym on the corner.

Small business owners can continue to thrive and potentially more so. Large companies can make impact and stimulate a new economy in these communities.

Now, this is simply a thought exercise to go down the path of possibilities. There are many factors which weigh into the system. But change and innovation needs to start somewhere. For me, it started on a walk through the same neighborhood in the GeekWire article — of course, fueled by a coffee from a local roaster.

Money well spent.

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Jacob H. Marquez

Jacob H. Marquez

Constantly curious Seattlite. Data science by day; hobbyist also during the day; Human-behavior observer always. Coffee Connoisseur by choice.

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