Remote working looks like it is here to stay. Whether or not this is good for young professionals in the long run is debatable.
More companies are actually demanding workers return to the office. But even big-name CEOs often have RTO orders for only three days a week; Meanwhile, many corporate offices are being downsized, and it is common for remote workers to be hired and eventually let go only after meeting someone in the company face-to-face.
Yet in American culture, the workplace has long been important as the primary place where young adults in particular form relationships, both personal and professional, that affect all aspects of their lives. What happens to the dynamic when more work is done at home and less—or not at all—in the office where people can meet?
As far as high-profile venture capitalist Marc Andreessen is concerned, trouble lies ahead. The Andreessen Horowitz co-founder spoke at length about the societal upheaval caused by the shift to remote work at the “American Dynamism Summit” in Washington, DC, hosted by Andreessen Horowitz in November. This week, the firm shared the recording from that summit on its a16z podcast,
Andreessen made his comments at a summit discussion titled “Disrupting the World’s Largest Asset Class,” which also included controversial WeWork founder Adam Neumann, whose latest startup, Flow, is about making renters “feel ownership” of their homes. The details are a bit fuzzy). Andreessen Horowitz invested in Flow in August, reportedly about $350 million.
Andreessen described a traditional middle-class path that existed 50 years ago, where you go to college, graduate, and then buy a starter house. In the past 20 to 25 years, he said, it has become common to have a corporate campus, as exemplified by Google. The idea was that employees—lured by perks like gourmet meals and swimming pools—would spend more time at work and, in the process, get more done. The corporate campus also served as a dating pool like the college campus.
When the pandemic hit, Andreessen said, “Then all of a sudden going through that experience of a kid — it’s like, No, no, you don’t get that. What you get is that you’re in your studio apartment in your Sit in front of the laptop and wish you’re cut off from everything else.
While some companies are discussing workers coming back to three or four days a week, he said “the soul is gone” in reference to workplaces being the primary source of connection. “Elvis has left the building for this kind of environment.”
The focus then turns to where you live, Andreessen said. “Are you really on your own? Do you have roommates? Are you on a small campus, are you on a large campus? Do you have any sense of belonging? Do you know who your neighbors are? Are?”
Traditionally in the US, tenants in an apartment building have little contact with other people living in the same building. When you remove work as a place to build relationships, you end up with more workers feeling “alienated and lonely,” Andreessen believes.
He is not alone. Carmine Di Cibio, CEO of consulting firm EY said Luck During the pandemic in late 2020: “We have a lot of young people living in tiny apartments around the world—and living in a tiny apartment in this environment isn’t great. we had more [employees] Calling our hotlines for help just because of the mental condition.”
The pandemic is over, but remote working continues. Of course, for many workers, especially married ones with children, remote work can be a blessing, allowing them to spend more time with family and less time commuting. He is in no hurry to return to his old ways.
Young workers have less time to establish such lives.
Andresen said, “It’s this whole model that an entire generation grew up with has suddenly exploded … I think the idea of sitting in an apartment in front of a screen with DoorDash and Tinder is not a good life.” Is.” “And so it opens the door for reinvention.”
As Luck As reported earlier this month, remote work is changing the way new apartments are designed.
“We’re designing for the home workspace in a way we’ve never done pre-COVID,” said Jessica Hester, CEO of the architecture firm Verdant Studios in Rogers, Ark. talk business and politics, “Making sure people have access to comfortable, well-lit desk space has become a priority,” as has consideration of “how the background looks on a Zoom call.”
Some also include co-working spaces.
But it seems likely that for many young adults who have recently entered, or are about to enter, the workforce, the chance for connection will not be what it was for previous generations.
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