Over seven years ago I started work at Escalent as a remote employee. No one else on my team worked remotely and there were no systems in place for my work arrangement. To make meaningful connections with colleagues, I would chat for a few minutes before or after we got down to work. I could hear them rolling their eyes and wondering how fast they could get off the phone and done with work to rush home.
How things have changed! Now that we all work remotely, we chat regularly over the phone, through our Teams system, FaceTime, Zoom or WebEx. We flex our work day and find ways to connect meaningfully. Many of us have leaned into this new world in big and little ways. For example, I moved out of my suburban townhouse and into a more rural home with a bit of land and a beautiful view. I have friends who moved closer to their preferred recreation spot (from the Seattle area to Colorado for snowboarding, and to the bay shore in Texas to sail). While this may seem anecdotal, a study by Redfin showed 50% of employees in New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Boston would move if working from home became permanent. Many are buying bigger homes a bit further out of the city to have dueling home offices or a space for the kids to do school at home. And, companies are responding with home office stipends to entice and retain talent.
There is no going back. That old world where the sales team was flying hither and yon and taking clients to dinner to cement relationships or celebrate partnerships is over. The long-term impact of this change alone cascades out over many industries.
Airlines, hotels and restaurants will need to recalibrate expectations and revenue models for a long-term reduction in business travel. Additionally, service tiers, loyalty plans, marketing messages and the marketing mix will all need to be reimagined. There may be new areas of growth simmering, but one thing is sure, these businesses will need to quickly understand where they need to fill gaps and find new opportunities to make up for lost revenue.
On the flip side, demand for high-end video-conferencing systems will rise, along with increased need for fast and seamless gigabit internet service flowing through newly upgraded home routers and modems for uninterrupted conferencing. And, as employees continue to migrate away from big cities, there will be fresh demand for better service in some of the harder-to-reach corners of the country. How to meet demand and evaluate where enhancements are needed to maintain healthy growth will be essential.
Digital enhancements at home are being countered by very analog realities: building a physical home office with all the trappings. My friends who have moved to homes that accommodate work-from-home and home school setups are not alone. The many following this trend are kitting out their new homes with adjustable standing desks, ergonomic chairs, dual-monitor stations and printers. As I type out *printers* I can hear the collective groan of millions of Millennials and Xennials who had famously eschewed these analog devices but now find they require them. The new work-from-home realities give printer companies new opportunities to lock in far more of these generational markets. Frankly, technology companies that have grown comfortable selling to businesses with IT staff face interesting opportunities will need to shift messaging, packaging and installation instructions to serve end users.
Working from home represents a significant shift in how our world works across many elements. For example, it will impact public transportation and how we use automobiles—will people still need two cars per home? And, how does it change the calculation when considering electric cars?
These changes aren’t temporary and the ripple effects have far-reaching impact. Over this past year, we witnessed a lot of adaptation with little understanding of what the long-term impact would be. Now, we are starting to see what the long-term changes are and how they might shape the future of how business is conducted across all levels.
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