For those who can remember, we used to work in offices. Our view was a reflection of our titles. "Step into my office" meant something.  Those days are long gone but people haven't forgotten about the Cubicle. I was speaking with a mentor at the Beekman and he was pontificating about the merits of bringing back private offices. He pointed to a HBR that stated:

When the firms switched to open offices, face-to-face interactions fell by 70%.

While he makes a good point, we're heading toward a new office paradigm – built on the shoulders of a distributed work force.

In 2018 Forbes predicted that by 2027, 50% of the US workforce will be remote. Just last week Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are asking staff to work remotely because of coronavirus.

Are we witnessing the death of the physical work space?

Zoom stock is up more than 42% since late January, when news of the virus' spread started to impact the market. Slack is up 16%. On Friday Techcrunch published an article with the headline "As coronavirus pandemic spreads, demand for remote-work startups spikes."

2020 will be 2027 in a matter of weeks. Post coronavirus, will remote workers want to go back? Will they need to? Buffer and AngelList said the following in their report on the state of remote work in 2020:

There’s one statistic that remains unequivocal each year: remote workers almost unanimously want to continue to work remotely (at least for some of the time) for the rest of their careers.
This year, 98 percent of respondents agreed with this statement. Also, it seems that once someone gets a taste of working remotely, they tend to recommend it: 97 percent told us they would recommend remote work to others.

The current pandemic is no joke. I'm getting some really great info from Tomás Pueyo. He's actually built an amazing model to calculate if you should work from home. The model enables you to assess the likely number of cases in your area, the probability that your employees are already infected, how that evolves over time, and how that should tell you whether to remain open.

Still I'm afraid. I fear for my dad and in-laws. I'm left wondering what life would be like if my Mom didn't pass last December. She had been in the hospital for 6 months straight with an already compromised immune system. Surely she would have become infected.

When I look past the fog of tragedy and catastrophe I see a working landscape that will be shaped by some form of social distancing or quarantine. All I can recommend is to start thinking how your workforce can operationally sustain itself.

2020 is the new 2027.


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