My chance encounter with the book REMOTE-OFFICE NOT REQUIRED by David Hansson was timely and apt like a bible. I had just quit the corporate world, after giving it 30 years of my life, due to inadequacy of life-balance. And was beginning the new phase of my career as a Consultant. It has been almost 3 years since my organisation started functioning in a fully remote model, which not only includes working with my clients, but also my team-mates and vendors. It took all of us a little adapting at initial stage, but has been an amazing experience all through. Today I live in the hills and enjoy freedom from all the perils of a megacity – housing issues, traffic issues, energy drains and frustration all around you. And I have become productive and give quality output, enjoying every moment of my work.
Needless to say, Remote working is the model of the times to come – for both the employers and the employees. It is only a matter of time when the world will change and reflect a new reality. Many changes are expected in the new scenario. Let us examine what all will change with this paradigm shift in work culture.
Brain Drain From Cities
In today’s urban world, an average of 70% of the population lives in cities. They are compelled to, for the sake of employability. Given a choice, anyone would love to move out to live in remote locations with clean air and simple lifestyle.
Imagine a world where a person living in a small town with his family can plug into an organisation and deliver the assignments allocated to him in the chain of processes of business. He will have time to spend with family and be more responsible living a satisfied life. He will be saved from perils of mega-cities – housing, traffic, pollution, energy drain and frustration that effects his efficiency levels. Imagine a world where there are no geographies and access to a large talent pool to choose from. And equal opportunities to anyone who has the wherewithal to deliver good services.
Change In Traffic Patterns
“The fastest-growing commute is not having one.”
Commuting wastes time, costs money and drains energy. This definitely impacts moods, mental health and productivity. Once remote work goes mainstream, you will find traffic patterns changing, lesser cars on the road and a world without rush hour.
Q: If you did not have to live near your job, where would you live?
A: Anywhere you want.
When jobs are available everywhere, the demand for real estate in cities like Mumbai & Bengaluru will drop – along with prices. Given the freedom to work from anywhere, people will move to be near family or better climate and low cost of living. Others will become Digital Nomads.
Demand for Office Leasing & Commercial Real Estate Will Go Down
The offices of the future will be either in the cloud or on the road. The offices can be scattered into smaller ones across geographies to facilitate teams, if required. Organisations will build processes that are less location dependent. This will give them resilience, flexibility towards opportunities and less cost of operations as well.
Many Jobs Will Disappear While New Ones Are Created
AI & automation will force more people to either combine their skills in unique ways. People will have to become more comfortable and fluent with advanced technologies becoming a part of their everyday roles.
Traditional Universities Will Lose Value
In the kind of jobs that we do today, in many job roles, it is not necessary to go to college anymore. University curriculums and professors can’t keep up with the rate of new information and the pace of technological change in many fields of study.
There will be a place for higher education, but not in the current form. There seems to be no reason to amass massive amounts of student loan and debt if you are never going to use your degree. It makes no sense to go to college anymore.
Barring a few, most of the jobs today have become automated and technology driven. The need to specialise in software languages is no more required to become a graphic designer or to manage a social media account. There are enough simple solutions available which can be self-learnt to make a living.
Global Citizenship/Taxation System
Many remote workers are currently living in a grey area where they live in one country and work in another, without work permits or long-term visas. Similarly, Digital Nomads work in the cloud and never stay at a destination long enough to be considered a tax resident. And as the remote working gains mass, tax authorities around the world will react. Eventually, there will be international citizenship, work permit, passport and taxation system for the millions or billions of nomadic citizens of the world. There will be international remote labour laws and standards for organisations, freelancers and entrepreneurs to organise around.
General Implications Of The Shift
- Companies will dole out more bonuses to employees out of the kitty that gets saved of managing physical offices.
- Corporate Tax structures will need to be changed by the governments
- National governments will have to make changes in their programs and constitutions based on the changed ecosystems. They may have to follow in the footsteps of countries like Estonia to offer E-Residency and Digital Nomad Visas.
Growth of the Global Middle Class
- Remote Work levels the playing field when it comes to age, race, disability or geographic location. For example,
- Virtual Assistants in Bengaluru can make a liveable wage without shifting to USA.
- Entrepreneurs of India can access the European market without leaving home.
- Economic immigrants and expatriates also have the option to return to their home countries without sacrificing their pay checks.
- More than a side hustle, the ability to work remotely should increase opportunities and earning power for everyone long-term.
How To Prepare For These Changes
- Accept your power
Make a plan to achieve what you want in life. Do not accept status quo if its not working for you.
- Improve your skills
Every individual will have to focus on continuous learning and self-development to remain competitive in the new times to come.
- Set your terms
Remote work is not main stream yet. Each one of us will have to contribute towards asking for flexible work or finding alternate options.
- Embrace the reality
Remote Work is the New Normal. Change is hard to embrace, but inevitable.
- Become an early adopter
Start your remote work policies now – before they become mandatory. This will reduce your operations costs and give you edge over competitors while boosting employee morale.
- Plan for the future
Integrate remote-first thinking into your long-term planning.
The ability to work remotely is the result of technological advances and the changing social fabric of the world. Who is are is no longer about what we do or where we live. How we shape up when our lives get intermingled between work and life. The opportunities seem endless with the world shrinking without borders. It is a matter of time to see how fast the change comes.