Sunday, October 18, 2020

How do you take your Topia?

[If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape mode / hold phone sideways]

This past week was Zoomtopia 2020. Normally we would have been just now returning from California, back to The Big Apple. But this year due to COVID, the October 14-15 2020 event was virtual and it was free. I highly recommend that you check out the archives and session recordings. 

Anyone who knows me, is very aware that I am big fan of Zoom. I have been selling telecom and technology since the early 80's (damn, I'm old). I am so old in fact that the FIRST thing I think of when someone says the word Zoom is the PBS kids show out of Boston

Because I have been selling, marketing, installing, servicing audio - web - video conferencing since the old Bell Atlantic (now Verizon) days, I was an early adopter of Zoom. I was using Zoom long before Zoom became a verb. 

In today's blog, I am not going to spend a lot of time talking about Zoom vs. the competition. There are plenty of people doing the post-trade show wrap up this weekend, post Zoomtopia. 

I want to focus on the Topia. 

Greek topos, place. The key term here is utopia, an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect. Paradise.  

I recently hosted a video podcast with Chris Herd, the Founder & CEO of Firstbase. We chatted about how: 

The 2020s will be known as the Remote Work Decade. 

Third Space: Office and Working from Home will be joined by somewhere close by that a number of people will use. Supermarkets or local bank branches should emerge as a convenient ubiquitous location option – if they are smart.

Asynchronous Work: Offices are instantaneous gratification distraction factories where synchronous work makes it impossible to get stuff done. Tools that enable asynchronous work are the most important thing globally remote teams need. A lot of startups will try to tackle this.

Hobbie Renaissance: Remote working will lead to a rise in people participating in hobbies and activities which link them to people in their local community. This will lead to deeper, more meaningful relationships which overcome societal issues of loneliness and isolation.

Rural Living: World-class people will move to smaller cities, have a lower cost of living & higher quality of life. These regions must innovate quickly to attract that wealth. Better schools, faster internet connections are a must.

Constant Presence: Asynchronous work lets you have the isolation to do deep work but it's not always required. Communication solutions which enable presence, like an open mic while gaming, will become more compelling.

Bad Tech: Remote will grow so popular so quickly that it will attract people who have no interest in it other than greed – like blockchain/crypto in 2017. Their lack of understanding of remote work will lead to them replicating the bad parts of office working remotely.

Remote Rejection: Certain demographics and generations will reject the transition. Their benefit – that everyone in the office is like them and it's easier for them to progress – will be their reason. Companies that don't transition will be left behind. 

Diversity & Inclusion: The most diverse and inclusive teams in history will emerge rapidly. Companies who embrace it have a first-mover advantage to attract great talent globally. Companies who don't will lose their best people to their biggest competitors. 

Output focus: time will be replaced as the main KPI for judging performance by productivity and output. Great workers will be the ones who deliver what they promise consistently. Advancement decisions will be decided by capability rather than who you drink beer with after work. 

Single Car Households: The rise of remote will have tremendous indirect benefits towards slashing pollution. Families will benefit from only needing one car slashing cost of living, potentially cutting commuting a lot. 

Private Equity: the hottest trend of the next decade for private equity will see them purchase companies, make them remote-first. The cost saving in real-estate at scale will be eye-watering. The productivity gains will be the final nail in the coffin for the office.

The death of Coworking: The last recession was the beginning of the end for bespoke vanity office. The next recession will spell the same thing for co-working spaces. The rise of remote will mean a majority of the 255M+ desk jobs globally are remote by 2029. 

Talent Wars: Remote work is the perk that is most sought after by workers globally. This will only increase. Remote-first companies will disrupt every incumbent who doesn't/isn't able to make that transition. 

Written Communication: the most important skill for workers to cultivate. Reading and understanding also key. Cultural issues arising from misunderstanding meaning behind the way people write becomes a big issue.

Working Too Much: Companies worry that the workers won't work enough when operating remotely. The opposite will be true and become a big problem. Remote workers burning out because they work too much will have to be addressed. 

Distraction Avoidance: The home office will skyrocket in popularity. A space at home to get away a necessity. There will be an explosion of people purchasing standalone units for their backyards for this.

Global Citizens: Individuals with no national attachment become ubiquitous. Challenges of paying people cross border due to compliance and legal issues slowly fade away as the world becomes more borderless. 

Retreat Destinations: Global hubs will pop-up that cater to remote teams getaways. Resort-like escapes with a deep focus on team building, collaboration, planning, and efficiency. Hotels with facilitators and coaches who assist teams for the duration. 

Life-Work Balance: The rise of remote will lead to people re-prioritizing what is important to them. Organizing your work around your life will be the first noticeable switch. People realizing they are more than there job will lead to deeper purpose in other areas.

Fractional Ownership: remote work will make advancement less important/more difficult. Rather than reward being a better title, fractional ownership could enable workers to be more easily rewarded with ownership of their companies/make the market for equity more liquid. 

Bullshit Tasks: The need to pad out your 8 hour day will evaporate, replaced by clear tasks and responsibilities. Workers will do what needs to be done rather than wasting their trying to look busy with the rest of the office. 

Decentralized Opportunity: Remote work will do more for inequality than anything in history. Workers everywhere will find the best, highest paying job. The fear that this will depreciate wages will be unfounded as companies will need more talent than exists. 

Accessible Jobs: Remote work will make work more accessible than it has ever been. Nothing will stop workers getting the job they deserve because there will be no obstacles in their way. 

Remote Tools: Companies operating remotely now will have created tools every remote team on the planet needs. @Zapier,  @Gitlab,  @GitHub, will spawn Mafias who take these internal tools and create startups around them. Expect several $Billion Startups to emerge this way. 

Multiple Jobs: The gig/freelancer economy will evolve. Remote work allows workers to have multiple employers. The difference in terms of reliability and consistency will be huge, eradicating doubt, lead to better conditions for workers. 

Remote Jobs: There won't be enough remote jobs for at least the next 5 years. World-class people will drive the change. They will demand more remote opportunities and realize the influence they have to make their companies give it to them. 

Remote Infrastructure: The focus on the sexy won't change any time soon. There is a missing half of remote work that's neglected because it's difficult, boring, and unsexy. It will be the most critical. Until that's solved remote teams won't scale globally easily.

No Code: Will grows to dominate creation. @webflow@figmadesign amongst others will democratize access unlike ever before. Remote workers who have an area of expertise and one of these broad skills will be unicorns at first, before everyone else realizes the need.

Social Contact: Loneliness, disconnection neither improved or worsened by remote work. A number of people's main social contact comes at work, with people decided by their bosses hiring policy. Remote work must lead to deeper more meaningful relationships with friends and family. 

Health & Wellbeing: A lack of commute will give workers 25 extra days a year to do other things. Workers will exploit the freedom they have to organize things more freely in their day. Afternoon runs, morning meditation, two things a lot of people I know now do. 

Child Connection: Hearing your child's first laugh, seeing their first steps won't just be in the memory of one parent. Being there, feeling like your children know you. Dropping them at school each day. Small things that remote gives to you. 

Visa Issues: The problem with workers having to leave a job due to the expiry of their visas will no longer exist. Companies won't accept losing their best people simply because their right to be in a specific country expires. Remote will be an easy option. 

International Talent: Great for developing countries. International companies will access to talent globally. Access to opportunity will be decentralized. 

Job Title Death: What your job title is will become more irrelevant as remote work becomes more prominent. What you do, what you're capable of, the tools you can wield will enable you to do jobs that break you free from the shackles of a title. 

Universal Tools: Global workforce that understands and the same SaaS services means technical debt for training shall be $0. Companies add another seat to SaaS platform and worker uses the same tool they would use if they were in an office or with a different company. 

Older Workforce: Boomers may be standing in the way of the remote work revolution happening quickly, believe least in its benefits, lack the trust for it to emerge. Ironically, remote work will allow them to work far more easily later in life. 

Remote Living: Work from anywhere RVs will become huge business. Associated business parks and services will spring up. This will happen even more rapidly as self driving tech emerges. Expect a @Tesla type of product in this space.

Personal RPA: robotic process automation will transform work for individuals. No-code tools that enable workers to built bots that automate menial parts of their roles will be huge. 

Micro Co-working: a home on every street is transformed into a hyper-local co-working space. It comes with all the amenities needed, like high-quality coffee, and has on-demand fitness equipment like @onepeloton bikes. 

Today, I run the NYDLA, which (like Bell Atlantic) has now morphed into the NADLA, servicing all of North America. We went from servicing the 55M+ people living in the "New York Megalopolis" to servicing the 579M+ living across all of North America. I highly recommend viewing the session recordings from Zoomtopia 2020. For me, two days of Zoomtopia is like a trip to Disney World, virtually or otherwise. 

The future of work, the future of entertainment, the future of education, the future of medicine, the future of commerce - is all in the clouds. And now due to COVID, the future has indeed arrived early. 

Will the future be a Paradise? 

That is up to us. 

That is always up to all of us, since the future is what we make it. Together. 

From My Home To Yours 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Tom. I really enjoyed the bulleted Remote Work Decade. I appreciate you making it quite tangible for those paying attention out there. Keep it up, quite valuable.