The Big Questions around Remote Work | One on One with A and Z #9 on a16z Live

Key Takeaways

  • Andressen Horowitz surveyed their portfolio companies on back to work strategies revealing continued remote/hybrid work and belief that efficiency/creativity will be maintained or exceeded
    • Check out the rest of the survey results
  • Remote communication tools are much more effective than once thought
  • In-person working connections will be redefined for the better
    • Off-sites could be more effective now, this might become a more intentional opportunity to connect with your work and colleagues in a different way
    • “Water cooler talk” doesn’t actually make connections. It is too time limited in a restricted environment and can often give a false sense of relationships
  • The market supply and demand of the workforce will eventually stabilize on the issue of the cost of living locally or remote and adjusted compensation
  • Remote work will redefine productivity; hours in-office or lines of code written per day are very unreliable stand-alone metrics for ensuring productivity
  • Beginning of the end for Silicon Valley – better if “silicon valley” exists in the cloud rather than a geographical center

Intro

  • Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) and Ben Horowitz (@bhorowitz) are the co-founders and general partners at the venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz
    • Also joined on Clubhouse, Steven Sinofsky (@stevesi), former President of Microsoft Windows
  • Marc, Ben, and Steven discuss listener-selected questions on their live Clubhouse show with an emphasis on the future of remote work and post-covid workplace dynamics

Andreesen Horowitz Survey

  • Andressen Horowitz surveyed their portfolio companies on back to work strategies
    • 25% fully remote
    • 67% hybrid:
      • 38% – require 1 to 2 days a week in office
      • 28% – occasional travel to off-site office
    • 89% of companies plan to continue to hire remote workers
    • 86% will prefer a hybrid or remote model for board meetings
    • 63% believe they can be as creative/innovative in a hybrid/remote world
      • 10% believe they can be even more creative in the hybrid/remote world
  • Check out the rest of the survey results

Surprises from Remote Work

  • Some companies are completely pivoting from 5-day in-office weeks to fully remote, never falling back into their old ways
  • Remote communication tools are much more effective than once thought
  • Forced creative companies to be even more creative

Questions Raised from Remote Work

  • What is the right model of hybrid remote and in-office work?
  • How do you know your employees don’t have multiple jobs?
  • How does remote work promote effective career progression and the ability to be more visibly noticed?
  • What is the substitute for “management by walking around”?
    • They discuss the value of management being in-office giving them more awareness of overall office sentiment which can lead to better leadership and the ability to identify problems quicker

New Workplace Dynamics

  • Remote work is just more efficient than in-person work but comes with drawbacks
    • Creativity and tough conflict resolution are less successful in remote work
  • Off-sites could be more effective now, this might become a more intentional opportunity to connect with your work and colleagues in a different way
    • Feedback to off-sites is always that the free time to connect socially is the most valuable
    • “Water cooler talk” doesn’t actually make connections. It is too time limited in a restricted environment and can often give a false sense of relationships

Remote Compensation Issues

  • How do you handle compensation when considering the local cost of living versus the opportunity of remote work?
    • Solution 1: Adjusted pay based on working remotely or working locally
    • Solution 2: Same work, same pay
    • Depends on the company’s angle of incentive, want the best talent or want the local workforce benefits
  • The market supply and demand of the workforce will eventually stabilize this issue
    • “You can’t outrun the market on this issue” – Ben Horowitz
  • Could result in a massive reshuffling of workforce geography
    • Silicon Valley most likely won’t be as concentrated of a tech hub as it has been historically

Productivity

Employee Retention

  • Surveys predict high levels of turnover in the upcoming “back to normal” months
    • People re-evaluated their lives and purpose during the pandemic
    • Burnout
  • Remote work diluted the in-office beneficial symbiotic relationship with colleagues and their work
    • Might change jobs to try and find this again

Decentralized Crypto Start-ups

  • When everyone in a crypto company is an engineer, rather than in typical business functions (Marketing, Sales, etc.), they tend to be more decentralized in nature

Silicon Valley

  • Is this the beginning of the end for Silicon Valley as we know it?
    • The podcast hopes so
    • Better if “silicon valley” exists in the cloud rather than a geographical center
    • Opportunity in tech has not been geographically distributed appropriately to maximize innovation
      • Resembles a monopoly – emphasizes power rather than innovation
    • 25-30 year transition curve
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Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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