Since the start of the pandemic, knowledge workers have discovered how to work anywhere there's WiFi. Short-term, there are plenty of perks. Long-term, this remote workforce shift has the potential to re-balance regional economies and create more diversity. Years from now we will reflect on the impact of navigating (and overcoming) the challenges created by the global pandemic. There are several clear short-term benefits from remote work for individual employees:
But there is also potential for more significant macro impacts long-term.
Geographic diversity will accelerate workforce demographic diversity. The benefits of a diverse workforce are clear and unquestionable. A narrow geographic focus can create a supply / demand imbalance of diverse candidates - especially in regions with a high-cost of living. A wider geographic focus removes this supply constraint to create broader applicant pools and more diverse workforces. Geographic diversity will also accelerate economic diversity. For decades there has been an economic gap due to concentrated tech employment in a small number of regions (most notably in the Bay Area). The cost of living in many of these regions has made employment at big tech companies inaccessible for much of the workforce. When tech employment becomes more geographically distributed, the economic benefits of the digital economy will be much more widespread.
Many question the sustainability of the remote workforce shift. There are challenges in evolving to the remote employment engagement model. But plenty of tech companies have operated successfully for many years with a 100% remote workforce. GitLab has grown its 100% remote employee base more than 300% over the past two years and now has more than 1,250 employees. 100% remote Hashicorp has more than 950 remote employees, an increase of more than 250% over the past two years. There are many other examples including Zapier and Doist. All these companies have publicly shared great guidance on navigating the remote workforce shift.
A core element to tech entrepreneurship is talent. Geographically concentrated tech talent has resulted in a short list of booming tech regions. The remote workforce reduces the regional constraints on hiring tech talent. An entrepreneur can now start a tech company in a small town and hire most or all of her workforce remotely. The remote workforce trend has been happening for well over a decade, but has been "under the radar". The pandemic caused a massive global mainstream acceptance of the value and productivity of remote workers. The short-term benefits are obvious. But the long-term impacts could create a more balanced and more diverse digital economy. We have a track record of backing entirely remote teams and the technologies that support them. If you are an entrepreneur looking for a growth-stage partner with ScaleUp expertise and a deep network of operating advisors, please get in touch.