Silicon Valley Can Re-Make the American Workplace.

By opening up micro offices, Silicon Valley can re-make the USA more culturally integrated and bridge the tech divide.

WFH won’t work. The Silicon Valley can re-make the American workplace by bringing high-quality, high-tech jobs to the places that have historically lacked them, tap and develop new talent pools for skilled labor, and unite the country’s difference in ideals.

Facebook, Google, Twitter, Square, and more announced work-from-home (WFH) measures for the rest of the year and in some cases for years to come. Aside from the obvious reduction in health risk, I presume organizations also believe it will create a boost in productivity. These companies have formed large offices in places where there is a bundled technology and progressive cultures like Austin, Seattle, Los Angeles, Boulder, and NYC. But few of these companies have opened up offices in the middle of the country.

Productivity might go up for a while; but, WFH won’t last.

People are already getting burned out from constantly answering emails and being on call. Weekends became working days. Boundaries blurred between the once separated private and work times.  

Those with kids also have to homeschool, cook, and deal with non-stop distractions. Others are learning they don’t like their partners. Still, those who are alone, are getting lonely and tired of virtual avatar Zoom relationships. 

After employees get fed up, pull their hair out, start to question their sanity, and get sick of covering their free-rider employees, they will ask for office space. Will everyone come back to the corporate offices? Of course not. WFH won’t work, trust me.

Here is how to fix it. 

Technology companies will form micro-offices around the world. These will be small offices for a few employees who meet at co-working spaces or other offices. Micro-offices will allow for weekly meetings and co-working time – even if the employees don’t have job overlap. Co-working spaces will schedule days for different companies so there aren’t too many people in the same office.  Co-working spaces will offer health checks as required by the companies. You thought WeWork was dead, didn’t you? Nope. Now is their opportunity to strike. Silicon Valley can re-make the American workplace.

Here is what it will also fix.

There is a technology divide in the USA – both in terms of employment and equality. This has caused a cultural rift as well. Technology companies rush to different parts of the world to hire and train people at the expense of American options. They rush to open offices in India, Eastern Europe, and wherever they can get qualified, cheaper labor, rather than other parts of the USA. 

Wouldn’t this be great for the USA if Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Google, and the rest of Big Technology opened up micro-offices in every state? By doing so, they may even win the hearts of the American consumers and youth once they realize they could actually get jobs there. It would also make it easier to hire more African and Hispanic Americans who have been left behind in the new economy. The middle part of the country would no longer look at these companies with contempt and envy as an establishment of the liberal left coast who care more about globalization than Americanization. 

It’s happening in Nashville, Tennessee.

Silicon Valley is a lovely place, if pricey. There are so many other great places in the USA without the price tag, like Tennessee where I spend half my time. Tennessee has no state income tax, beautiful nature, a world-class music scene, diverse food culture, and an open mind for international companies. For example, 190 Japanese companies operate here. To cater to these companies, restaurants serve sushi just a notch below that of San Francisco. Even a few technology companies like Lyft, Houzz, and Eventbrite (the latter two Sequoia Capital companies) have opened up satellite offices in Nashville. Employees will enjoy their shorter commute times, ability to stay closer to family and friends, and a higher standard of living even with a potentially lower wage – as Mark Zuckerberg warned. All of this plus a nice, safe office with colleagues.

I’ve been working remotely for almost four years and let me tell you, there is nothing better for your schedule, discipline, ultimate well-being, and personal life than going to an office with others around you and working on a shared mission. WFH won’t work. Giving employees the opportunity to work closer to where they grew up will give them a chance to impact their communities. University students will look up to them concerning these jobs and will take the right measures to one day, gain employment at big tech without having to move to California or NYC. They too would like a chance. Now is the chance for Silicon Valley to sprinkle its knowledge and culture in the middle part of the USA.

 

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