By Steve McCann
If sliced bread is the greatest thing since regular bread, then working remotely on the Internet is the greatest thing since the invention of the Internet.
So says tech legend and entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, who is calling the reinvention of work culture during Covid-19 “a permanent civilizational shift” and “a consequence of the internet that’s maybe even more important than the internet.”
From an employment perspective, it shatters what Andreessen calls the geographic lottery – opening up career opportunities to people around the world who weren’t born close to major economic centres, or even in a first-world country. It creates a potential to improve the lives of millions, if not billions of people.
There’s a huge effect for people who did win the so-called geographic lottery and is changing North America’s relationship with major cities. New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, you name it. If you’ve stepped foot in any major city during the past year, you’ve noticed the big change. Congestion-free streets, empty office buildings, store fronts with the lights off, or windows boarded up completely.
We’ve seen a mass employee migration to smaller, more affordable cities and towns, spurring on a huge demand for housing – all made possible by the ability to log on from a laptop anywhere on Earth.
That’s not to say major cities will sit empty forever. Vaccination rates are on the rise and depending on what you do for a living and where you prefer to do your work, people are already heading back – even if it’s on a part-time basis.
How companies do business, however, might already be a done deal. Yes, the patios are open. Yes, they’re packed, but the restaurant industry is already pivoting to a more dedicated pickup and delivery system, anticipating more than half of post-pandemic revenue will come from online food orders.
The question now, is how much normal will we return to? The hybrid model seems to already be the most popular option. Employees are demanding more flexibility: not rotting in traffic or on an overpacked train during their commute, being able to live well outside the city limits and live more comfortably, the opportunity to land a dream job without having to move to a new city or country.
Remote work is here to stay, and so will the way it shapes we learn, work, play, and do business.