How will tech companies cope with an office-free future?
What’s to become of the tech company office, and how do companies function without the structure that working together in the same building has traditionally provided us? That’s a monumental question facing tech companies today as they struggle to define their approach to work in a post-pandemic world.
Sure, there have been fully remote companies like GitLab for some time now, but the conventional wisdom prior to the pandemic was that you mostly needed to be in the same place to get serious work done.
This was certainly true for larger tech companies. Salesforce, Microsoft, Google, Meta, Amazon and Apple didn’t build sprawling campuses or skyscrapers across the world just to abandon them for no reason. They built them to house their workers and show off their sheer economic power. But when the pandemic hit in March 2020, it changed how we think of work, possibly forever.
Suddenly, we had a giant laboratory to experiment with everyone working from home, and while there are certainly some problems, depending on your business, your job, and, frankly, your living situation, it showed that whole categories of workers didn’t need to be sitting in a cubby farm inside a big building to get their jobs done — certainly not five days a week.
I spoke to a variety of people in the tech world, from consultants and investors to startup founders, to try and get a grip on exactly what the next phase of work is going to look like, and without a doubt, tech companies have at least become a lot more flexible when it comes to face time at the office.
Company policies are evolving
There is no one-size-fits-all answer here, but there are enough examples to suggest some shift away from the traditional office setup, even for well-established companies.