Why Remote Work is Eating the World

Chris Herd
Dec 16, 2019 · 5 min read

From the moment I picked up Jason Fried’s book ReWork I was hooked. Much like reading Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin whitepaper, I felt like I was peering into the future and immediately understood the possibilities of the revolution we are about to experience. I saw not just the potential for my own startup to embrace it as a means to hire world-class people we would otherwise have had no chance of attracting, but more generally as a chance for the future of work to be infinitely better than the soul-destroying, happiness-draining, time-consuming monster that office work has become.

Working in an office is a remnant of the industrial revolution that understands none of the technological trends that have driven the rise of our current reality.

It is no longer necessary in any way, massively wasteful from almost every standpoint and environmentally contributes to unimaginable pollution.

Slack, Notion and similar tools (Tandem, Lattice, etc.) are dramatically reducing the barrier to creating remote-first businesses, helping companies transition or experiment easier than they ever could have before. Their impact in enabling the rise of the future of work is understated, but already we are seeing them free the next generation of leaders to imagine new possibilities for establishing the best remote working cultures and experience possible.

Anyone Job Could be Done Remotely

Once upon a time, only a very small number of jobs could be done remotely. The technology to enable workers to link into the systems they needed did not exist so they were tethered to the offices where the servers for the business were. The internet changed this dramatically, and though it has taken a long time for reliable cloud infrastructure to emerge, super-fast fiber broadband effectively means that any of the 255m desk jobs globally could be a remote role. This means that companies are now in a position, if they choose, to give any worker the choice of whether they want to do their job remotely or stick to an office. Some companies have taken to quicjkly, offering workers the chance at a higher quality of life in lower-cost regions, others haven’t — yet.

This is being driven by world-class operators who understand the influence they wield. Their refusal to be stuck in a city they don’t want to live has led to 7m remote workers in 2005, growing to 20m today and reaching 33m by 2025 (across the EU + USA). The other part is that startups can no longer compete with an increasingly few companies in cities for talent because it’s too expensive.

Our Full-Stack Remote Working Solution looks like this:

Calls — Whereby.com

Whereby is easy video meetings for your business that let you bring your team and clients together for flexible meetings

Video — Loom

Loom is a new kind of work communication tool that helps you get your message across through instantly shareable video

Data — GraphyApp.com

Graphy enables data collaboration in a visual, fun and flexible way

Talent — Turing

Turing enables start-ups, businesses, and organizations to hire remote, elite, pre-vetted software engineers

Documentation — Notion.so

Notion is your teams all-in-one workspace where they can write, plan, collaborate, and get organized

Performance — Lattice

Lattice is the people management platform that empowers leaders to build engaged, high-performing teams and inspire winning cultures.

Communication — Slack.com

Slack brings all your teams communication together in one place

Collaboration — Tandem.Chat

Tandem.chat is a virtual office for remote teams helping you re-discover the flow of working together in‑person.

Compliance — Deel

Deel simplifies compliance and payments for your remote talent while giving them the best payment experience

Workspace — FirstbaseHQ.com

Firstbase is an all-in-one solution that lets companies make any of the 255m desk jobs globally a remote role at the touch of a button.

Undoubtedly, I’m missing several tools that remote teams are using, so feel free to comment below and I will add them to this blog post

The critics

Remote working is still characterized by the stigma of what people think it is rather than the truth of what it actually is. Certainly, that reality doesn’t come without challenges, but the opportunity to have full control over where you live while escaping the need to waste, on average, 7.5 hours commuting to work each week outweigh every single one of them. Higher quality of life, opportunity to live in lower-cost areas, while spending more time with the people you love is the most promising formula for the highest possible quality of work each of us is able to create.

Ironically, the thing holding back remote working in most companies starts and ends with trust. How can we trust people to do the work the need to do when we can’t keep our eyes on them every second of the day? Disciples of this school of thinking have obviously never witnessed the time wasted by people each day in an office setting or witnessed the amount of time spent on tasks unassociated with the productivity of their job description. Remote working begins with an assumed level of trust and autonomy that the people you hire possess the capability and mentality to get their work done. The fact is if you can’t trust your team you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place.

The future of remote working

The rise of remote working is still early. There will continue to be naysayers and allegations of unsustainability from people who have never given it a chance. The inflection point has already occurred though, and there is no putting the genie back in the bottle. We are a recession away from the death of office work, where companies will realize the money they spend on office space is the most unnecessary expense on their balance sheets. In the same way that Airbnb massacred the hotel industry by redistributing capacity to the homes of people willing to rent it out, remote working will do the same things to offices where capacity will be redistributed to workers homes.

Companies who embrace this quickly will thrive, giving themselves the chance to attract, retain and engage world-class talent while expanding their margins and reducing their costs

Remote working will continue to explode as more people want to operate remotely and more jobs are able to be done that way. Tools that enable this will accelerate this transition and within 20 years the majority of people will be remote workers. Productivity will increase, happiness will explode, and workers will find more purpose and meaning in their lives as they are freed from the shackles, imprisonment, and constraints that office work puts on their lives.

The future is already here

It’s just not very evenly distributed yet

[1] Disclaimer: I am the founder and CEO of Firstbase

[2] The above list is not an exhaustive summary of all the products remote-first companies are using to do their best work and support their teams.

Chris Herd

Written by

CEO / Founder / Coach @FirstbaseHQ Empowering people to work in their lives not live at work ✌️✌

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