Remote Work: The Only Way Forward

Observations about how technology is changing the way we work, and those not paying attention will get left in the dust.

Computer technology - most notably the internet - has made communication across the globe much easier. This means that an accountant in Wyoming can collaborate with a developer in Romania with little more than a laptop and internet connection. You no longer have to find someone with the specific skillset you need within your same geographical area, so now the pool of skills is much, much larger. In a hyper-connected world where the average person has access to this massive pool of skills, suddenly you don't need as many generalists and a lot of human capital is freed up to become incredibly specialized. With low communication barriers and lots of specialists, we all win.

Think of a small town that just has one doctor. In the past, that doctor would have to know a little bit about everything. If you had a fever, you went to that doctor. If you broke your arm, same guy. Tear your ACL, same guy. Heart attack... you guessed it! But we are quickly shifting to a future in which you will be able to go into your local doctor's office and then work virtually with a heart specialist who might be across the globe. At some point in the not too distant future even surgeries will be performed remotely. So now the one doctor in town doesn't need to know a little about everything and can focus to be an expert in a few things. It's a naturally more efficient model.

So why are companies still spending enormous amounts of money on big fancy office buildings? Why is the focus not on enabling the workforce to be maximally productive whenever and wherever? If your company isn't shifting to cloud-based information systems which can be easily accessed from anywhere, lowering communication barriers with messaging tools like Slack (get out of email!) and video conferencing, and embracing flexible remote-work policies then chances are you're already falling behind. Of course, there are some industries in which some of these shifts will be much more difficult, but by and large the change is coming. Hop on board or suffer the inefficiencies and lose the best talent to your competitors.

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