Gary Burchell -- Science Focus
Across the Bay Area, prominent tech companies have begun making the switch to remote work as the standard going forward into 2021. With in-house office spaces steadily becoming a thing of the past, how does the move from in-house to remote office setups affect incoming graduates looking to break into the changing landscape that is the Bay Area’s workforce?
In May 2020, Twitter became the first of the Bay Area tech giants to announce employees would have the option of working remotely on a permanent basis. Since then, we have seen more and more notable companies flocking toward this new working world norm
From Facebook, to Verizon, to Pinterest, Bay Area based corporate powerhouses are beginning to open up to the idea that the “work from home wave” is more than just a pandemic fad.
While remote work seemingly works more cohesively in Bay Area counties such as San Francisco and Santa Clara County, where 51 percent of workers can conceivably work from home, areas such as Sacramento County and San Mateo County still boast percentages over 40% respectively.
While there are both positives and negatives to the continued shift toward a fully remote workforce, incoming university graduates will enjoy many benefits, should the current trends continue.
First and foremost, remote work removes geographic obstacles separating employers from the best candidates; removing these borders will lead to a more diverse workplace that prioritizes aptitude instead of simply focusing on casting a net from within a small, limited hiring pool.
With the ability to search for jobs within other areas outside of the Bay Area tech bubble, graduates will have access to a much broader range of employment opportunities that may not have been afforded otherwise. In addition, remote employees take on less commute stress.
According to the Auto Insurance Center, commuters spend about 100 hours commuting and 41 hours stuck in traffic each year, while more “extreme” situations, like those in the Bay Area, face a commute of over 90 minutes each day. Scaling back to a work from home environment is more effective, because it wastes less valuable work time sitting in traffic while also drastically cuts down on our carbon footprint.
While the workforce may prefer a remote work environment, on the other side of the coin, there are some valid reasons as to why various companies are bucking back at the pandemic trend. Perhaps the biggest argument in favor of doing this is that a lack of an office community with little to no face-to-face interaction can lead to a rift in understanding and communication amongst team members.
The concept of creative collaboration may go by the wayside with more individualistic approaches taking center stage. In addition, working with an in-office team toward achieving a common goal has proven to be the Bay Area tech giants’ breeding ground of innovation. When the idea of teamwork in the workplace ceases to exist, what happens to the motivation of employees?
Another elephant in the room is employee productivity, performance, and security. Self-regulation of productivity is a tough ask for some and setting up a home office with high-speed internet and all the equipment necessary may prove to be a difficult job for even the most affluent of Bay Area tech workers.
The bottom line: The COVID-19 pandemic has moved the Bay Area and the rest of the U.S. closer to a fully remote workforce. With benefits and drawbacks aplenty, it will be important to closely monitor how these decisions impact the future of young professionals and what we can do to help ease the transition.