16 Jun The Future of Work: Does Your Location Really Matter Any Longer?
The Covid-19 pandemic hit the most physically vulnerable, the elderly and those with a weak immune system. But it also exposed the intrinsic sickness built into capitalism, particularly in the United States, where there is a severe lack of social and medical safety net for their citizens.
Huge costs for standard healthcare were already common, but it’s the new norm for Americans to receive the “Covid-survivor” bill from the hospital – up to 200 pages long, with charges often totaling anywhere between 800K to 1,1M USD.
Studying and maintaining a job while being forced to live with parents and contributing to rent makes paying off student loans a far-fetched proposition for most who are just starting out their professional careers. Sadly, this is an experience many Americans have become accustomed to already, even into their thirties and beyond.
This was occurring even before the strain of pandemic and global recession. From one day to the next, and with a notice period of 1-2 weeks, millions have lost their jobs, and have no clear perspectives on what to do next. Those who didn’t lose their jobs aren’t feeling secure either – they are most likely experiencing salary cuts and uncertainty in their jobs.
As a result, there has been a radical shift in the potential future of work that is happening already, introducing a completely new concept for how we’ll live and work in the future – the remote beinghood.
As much as many companies now struggle with bringing employees back to the offices after months in lockdown as the result of the pandemic, a growing number have understood and started implementing new strategies:
- Saving significantly on costs connected to office space, insurance, parking and more
- Benefiting from a dispersed and more affordable workforce from around the world, while maintaining greater employee satisfaction, loyalty, and engagement
As a startup business or a large company, once you have opened your mind to remote working, you can instantly draw from a larger pool of talented people available for work, with salaries optimized for their locations. Why hire an expensive professional from London when you can easily find an equally skilled worker in Portugal with much lower salary expectations?
If your business is bound to a physical location, there are even more changes soon arriving. With bigger players like Neiman Marcus, Gap, J. Crew and Hertz losing the game and filing for bankruptcy, and the foodservice industry Staples moving primarily to take-out (Starbucks just closed 400 physical locations in the US), there will gradually be fewer jobs in low to middle-income sectors.
The market now favors larger companies who can afford to wait with hiring, but pressures hard on jobless applicants or smaller businesses who have a shorter cash runway.
In the future, as an active professional, it will become increasingly more practical in choosing to reside in countries with a lower cost of living, with the highest positive lifestyle opportunities available.
Why stay in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in America, working at a home-office for a startup, when you can move to Utah where your parents live, or sunny Costa Rica, for just a fraction of the cost?
With more waves of Covid almost certainly coming later this year and beyond, it will be a while until we can freely have meetings, attend large gatherings, or travel again, as we did in the pre-pandemic times. When 4G/5G Internet and upcoming holographic teleconferencing technology becomes widely available, a physical work presence, in-person job interviews, and in-office meetings will be more and more unnecessary, and migrating to a large city to search for a job will become obsolete. Your realistic avatar will be there to meet a future employer, client or investor, a phenomenon we’re possibly less than two years away.
These interesting times have revealed new economies and businesses emerging from these brand-new circumstances. A human can adapt to pretty much anything, including living in a constant state of emergency and stress, and acquiring new skills even under the most limited conditions.
As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and there is an intrinsic invisible power which has been running in the background and collectively rising, as many people ask themselves how they are going to adapt to this new world.
For a large percentage of us, it’s “how do I survive” (probably about 95% of the global population), and for a lot of us, it’s ”how do I also take advantage of this new situation and its opportunities?”
A larger apartment in the suburbs or a small studio or a shared flat in the city center? Today, you might respond to this question differently than you would have four months ago. Getting a certificate from a local university or investing that money in online courses instead? Again, the answer to this question might be quite different today than it was in the past.
Previously, it was crucial to move to a different country or a bigger city where there were more job opportunities. Now, this scenario will naturally shift, with a stronger tendency for the workforce to migrate from larger cities to suburbs, smaller towns and villages, and from more expensive locations to countries with lower costs of living.
The professional world would have to find a new balance where physical presence will become less relevant in defining your success as an individual. What will matter, is the essence of your value proposition. Which skills you carry, the size of your list of online contacts, and your ability and agility to adapt to the new era of predominant virtual communication.