As the founder and CEO of Tehama, the sole mission of our business is to enable secure remote work. While 2021 continued to present enormous pandemic-related challenges, if there is anything we’ve learned in the past two years, it is that businesses can operate successfully in fully remote and hybrid work environments.
Prediction #1 – Introducing the “workation.”
A while ago, we surveyed the staff at Tehama, and we asked if our people could see themselves wanting to work while travelling. A full 80 percent said yes. How might that work? Well, instead of booking a week in Costa Rica, for example, an employee might book a full three weeks. During the first week, the employee would clean up some work projects online while getting familiar with the best restaurants and beaches at their destination. During the second week, they would be fully on vacation, with the benefit of already knowing exactly how they want to spend that week. During the final week, the employee would ease back gently into the workflow while still being immersed in that amazing vacation experience. Right now, this might sound like a dream. But I predict it will soon be normalized as an entitlement. Already, Apple has added a 2-week work-from-anywhere benefit in an effort to attract and retain employees in the new hybrid mode
Prediction #2 – Tech innovation has just begun.
After 21 months of remote work, the jokes about terrible video calls have gotten pretty old. But as we move toward a digital-by-default future, that technology has to improve, and I predict it will. One simple fix: To address the annoying echoes that seem to be a part of every videoconference, let’s have a system that automatically realizes multiple parties are in the same room and mutes the mic of everyone but the relevant speaker. My other prediction about technology is that short-form video will expand from its social media origins into the new, asynchronous world of business. The type of video content we see on TikTok and Instagram has a lot to teach the corporate world about communicating simply, effectively, and asynchronously.
Prediction #3 – The future of work will be delivered by a carrier.
If there is one universal law of technology, it’s that eventually a carrier for any valuable good or service will emerge. For shipping, we have FedEx; for voice, we have AT&T; for wireless data, we have T-Mobile, and the list goes on. Work, however, still remains an industry without carriers. For one, there is a lengthy process involved with inventing the standard of care. Next, as many as a dozen technologies must be selected and procured, technologies that will have to be managed, governed and audited into perpetuity. Simultaneously, the roadmap of that capability must be owned and continually developed against threats and technological pressure. This is an expensive, time-consuming and risky proposition.Having a carrier for work flips this buying pattern on its head. Instead of creating your own carrier for work and assuming all the risk, all you need to do is evaluate the carrier’s functionality and standard of care to determine if it suits your needs before subscribing. From then on, every CIO and CISO that selects it validates your choice, and all of their feedback automatically slots into the carrier’s R&D roadmap, which means it captures the wisdom of the crowd in ways you cannot if you were to go it alone. Today, we are not far off from a future where building a custom, bespoke, and private platform to carry work will seem as ridiculous as building a custom, bespoke and private shipping fleet to carry goods. That is the business we are building at Tehama.
Prediction #4 – Cities are for culture, not business.
As the digital-by-default ethos expands, cities will lose some importance as business hubs. Air travel will return with ferocity, but this time more for reasons connected to tourism, culture and relationships. Business travel will be for conferences and retreats more than for sales meetings.
Prediction #5 – Suburbia moves even farther away.
Being close to any company’s head office has become prohibitively expensive for today’s emerging talent. While new graduates might sometimes prefer the social and learning opportunities presented by in-person work in the big city, I predict employees entering into their most productive years will opt for affordable homes in towns that might be an hour (or even hours) away from their workplace. The logic is pretty straightforward: If I’m able to work remotely, my once-a-week commute into the city will still take me way less time than I was spending in traffic before. The move to remote work has been underway for years, of course. But the pandemic created a tectonic shift in attitudes about how much business really needs to be done in person. Now that the ground is starting to settle, it’s time to build the structures that will make the hybrid workplace live up to its potential. I predict the necessary changes will happen. In fact, I don’t think there’s any way of stopping them.
While much progress has been made in 2021 in the fight against COVID-19, businesses still faced enormous challenges as they pivoted from remote work to hybrid, work-from-anywhere scenarios. Remote work will continue to grow as we enter 2022, and we will still face obstacles as the world emerges from the pandemic. However, I am very optimistic by the tremendous amount of opportunity there is for continued innovation and disruption in the way we work.
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