Quick Snippet: We have been around for 200,000 years. And it took remote work to finally upend the pyramid of work.
The Inflection Point of Remote Work
We’re at an inflection point. Not just in the history of work.
But in humankind.
For thousands of years, we have built our societies around an easy to understand way of working:
- The boss or leader of the tribe sat on top
- Middle management sat in the middle
- And employees or tribe members were at the bottom
The message was very clear: The bosses on top of the pyramid told the employees at the bottom what to do. And the employees generally followed orders – the success of the tribe depended upon it.
This pyramid worked well and was remarkably stable.
Right up until the last few months.
So what happened?
The Pandemic as a Catalyst
What happened? The pandemic happened. And during the pandemic, the world stopped. In more ways than one.
Humankind used that moment to take stock and reflect. Reflect on what’s important in life. Like being close to family.
This new way of work that was forced upon us all actually wasn’t that bad for a great number of people.
The world had gotten a taste of remote work and it was never going back.
The best example of this was a survey done which asked employees at top U.S. companies if they’d give up work from home for $30,000. The answer was a definitive no. Even for $30,000, they were going to continue working from home.
Back to the Office Mandates Backfired
Except somebody forgot to drop the remote work memo into the leaders of many of the Fortune 500 companies around the world.
In April 2021, many CEOs, especially those in the US, were advising their workforce to return to work by September 2021.
This message went down like a lead balloon for lots of their employees.
They had a taste of remote work and they were not going to give it up.
Many CEOs watched in horror as companies from Apple to Google and many more top tier technology companies saw their employees push back significantly against their CEOs, in many cases causing a significant reversal to earlier return to office mandates.
When it came to remote work, bosses told employees to go back to work. But the revolution happened.
Across industries. Across countries. Across all layers in every organisation around the world.
History was made. The pyramid was inverted.
Is this a seminal moment? A sign of real structural change? Or just a flash in the pan?
Time will tell.
P.S. If you do have a curiosity about remote work from anywhere, you could do worse than learn what leaders in this space such as Gitlab, SAP and Blueground are doing. Nobody has got this all completely figured out but those companies have got a lot of the right ingredients that many other companies could learn from.
John Lee is Co-founder of the Work From Anywhere team, a platform to help companies execute a hire or work from anywhere strategy. John is a Chartered Accountant who speaks 6 languages and was previously the senior finance leader of a €4 billion division of FTSE-listed CRH Plc. John and his family are passionate about travelling and his eldest daughter, Rosa, while only 5 years old has already travelled to 25 different countries.
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