The Honeymoon of Remote Working

What Most aren’t getting about Remote Working

Most of us were starving for good news during the pandemic. Some of us, like myself, found refuge in nature. My family and I spent the first four months of the pandemic at a natural reserve.

Many of us got a taste of what it is like to work from home (WFH), meaning:

  • No more commuting.
  • No more sitting at a desk or in a cubicle for eight to 10 hours per day.
  • More time with family.
  • More freedom to browse Facebook while on conference calls.

The list of perks is long. Many left expensive cities like San Francisco to work from much cheaper hubs like Las Vegas or Arizona. Others opted for exotic destinations like Hawaii or the Bahamas or Miami, and tweeting pictures to remind us how happy they are. This honeymoon won’t last forever!

We probably will not return to how it once was as some things have changed forever: Rush hour is a productivity killer, and some functions can be performed remotely. This blog though is a wake-up call to those selling their houses and establishing a sexy new base. Beware!

First, if you are in a developed country, your job is at a high risk of being outsourced halfway around the globe at a fraction of the cost. The argument will quickly build itself: “If I don’t see this team member in the office, if they are working from a remote location, then why not offshore?” Meanwhile, many large companies have started making pay cuts for employees who choose to work remotely; Facebook is an example. These are warning signs and a first step. Even Spotify (which you are all hailing on Social Media) who announced their employees can indefinitely work from anywhere, has not specifically explained how it will all work; if an employee in the US is making twice as much in salary than an employee in Spain, and this US employee relocates to Spain to work remotely, now what? Will they have two people in the same location at two different salary bands? Will they institute a universal salary regardless of location and cost of living?

Next, it depends on the type of job. Innovation, in particular, requires huddling. In Silicon Valley, where I lived and built my company, B-Yond, there are countless stories of business plans built on a napkin in an Irish bar, or products developed over long evenings and a shared pizza, or from inside garages such as Google or Apple…All these creations trace back to co-founders who were physically co-located.

There’s a reason why Apple built a billion-dollar campus and Facebook has music clubs, a food buffet, and why other companies offer spa or organic cafes. It’s about coming together.

Speaking of which, young people, Gen Z, for example, often live in tiny apartments and rely on their workplace to socialize, meet other colleagues, and often, while most won’t discuss it, date, or meet future partners. They are craving to be back in the office.

Let’s not forget that people used to flock to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley for job opportunities and networking. Think of Pete’s Coffee in Palo Alto, around the corner from Stanford, a famous place where VCs snatch young entrepreneurs like a scene from speed dating!

Within a few years of living in Silicon Valley, I met the person I eventually hired to become COO of B-Yond. I also met one of our advisory board members, an epic VC and single founder of a Unicorn.

I’ve attended each fall in LA and have become a part of the community of leaders such as Lars Dalsgaard, Brian Meehan, and know founders who have hosted some of the world’s best speakers, such as Jeff Bezos. I have also met Elon Musk’s brother, Timbal, Jeff Bezos’ brother, Mark, both outstanding human beings and, in my books, are as exceptional as their brothers.

My physical location opened up so many opportunities I would never have otherwise had; for example, I’ve held a roundtable with Howard Schultz, where I got the chance to share my American Dream story. One day, I found myself at a barbecue hosted by the founder of one of the largest Internet companies in Silicon Valley — that story needs a drink.

In conclusion, I hope my blog raises a red flag for those who are on a remote working trip and reminds young folks that what made Silicon Valley what it is today is the power of networking and belonging to a community. There’s immense value in co-working, huddling, and whiteboarding — maybe not for all positions, but a significant portion. May 2021 bring us back together!

Serial Entrepreneur (Nexius, B.Yond…). E&Y entrepreneur of the year. Angel Investor. Guitarist. Opera singer.