Work-from-home expert reveals why there’s no return to office life

Chris Herd spent the past 12 months advising companies how to make transition a success

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As the coronavirus pandemic keeps large parts of the world under various stages of lockdown, working from home is the default setting for many people.

Work-from-home expert Chris Herd, who spoke to 2,000 companies over 12 months, laid out why he thinks there is now no way back, despite the present reliance being dictated by the pandemic.

Mr Herd, founder and chief executive of Firstbase, a company that helps employers to go office-less, said that the biggest hurdle for working from home was managers trusting employees to be professional and capable of working without distraction.

In a Twitter thread he outlined reasons why working from home will become the norm, even after the pandemic subsides.

Fully distributed: 30 per cent of the companies we talk to are getting rid of the office entirely and going remote-first. Companies doing this have seen their workers decentralise rapidly, leaving expensive cities to be closer to family.

Cut costs: The second reason they are going remote-first is because it lets them be far more cost-efficient. Rather than spending $20,000/worker/year on office space they can provide the best remote set-up on the planet for $2,000/worker/year.

Remote burnout: Productivity in the companies we've spoken to has gone through the roof. Their biggest concern is that workers burn out because they are working too hard. They are actively exploring ways to combat this.

Personal choice: The smartest people I know personally are all planning to work remotely this decade. The most exciting companies I know personally all plan to hire remotely this decade. Ninety per cent of the workforces we've spoken to never want to be in an office again full-time

Async work: is the thing that organisations are struggling with most. The majority of companies have replicated the office remotely and it is causing strains that are beginning to show.

Universal problems: Size of the organisation does not matter, every company is dealing with the same thing. We spoke to early-stage companies, publicly listed tech companies, through to legacy incumbents with hundreds of thousands of employees. All will be more remote.

Pollution reduction: Many companies we've spoken to care massively about the environmental impact that eradicating the office, and the commute, will have – 108 million tonnes less Co2 every year.

Remote dilemma: A few companies we've spoken to have decided to be more remote than they initially intended because their competitors already did it. There is a fear in companies that if they don't go remote they will lose their best people to their competitors.

Remote fear: Most companies aren't scared about the quality of work that will be produced. They are scared about intangible things they can't measure. 'Quality of communication' and 'collaboration in person' and 'water cooler chat'. Many realised these were excuses.

Written over spoken: Documentation is the unspoken superpower of remote teams. The most successful team members remotely will be great writers. Companies are searching for ways to do this more effectively. Tools that enable others to write better will explode.

Flattened orgs: Middle management is in trouble, an unnecessary bottleneck which serves no tangible purpose inside async organisations. Companies need coaching and facilitators to maximise organisational effectiveness.

Remote laws: Many companies are beginning to operate under the assumption that the choice to work remotely will become a legal right. This will give workers the option to choose where they work, and many companies are acting before they are forced.

Meeting death: Wasting hours travelling to meetings will end almost entirely. The benefits of in-person are eroded by the benefits of not travelling. Conferences and quarterly networking events will be where people cultivate and maintain in-person relationships.

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