The Cost of The Office vs. Remote

April 12, 2020

The Cost of The Office vs. Remote

Remote work is everywhere. The smartest people I know all plan to work remotely this decade, while the most interesting startups I have discovered are all offering remote work. At the same time, there is a massive supply and demand problem. Far more people want remote jobs than there are remote jobs available. This had led to a perfect storm, particularly on social media, where a vocal minority evangelizes the remote work benefits while non-remote people question whether the benefits can be as great as is suggested.

Fortunately, this supply and demand problem eases with each passing day. Remote work has grown 400% in the last decade, while the number of full-time remote workers across the US and EU is projected to grow to 40m by 2030. While that is only a fraction of the 255m desk jobs globally, I believe that number will turn out to be a significant underestimation. As the workforce transitions to more flexible arrangements in search of better work-life balance, the inevitable implication is the rise of the two dominant locations of work away from the office: coworking space and remote working from home.

How can I predict that the number of full-time remote workers from home will race past 40m before 2030? Because the vast majority of remote workers today work from home

With that being the case, companies must deliver a far better experience to remote workers. Right now, remote workers are happy to accept less than optimum conditions because they see remote work as a perk.

It isn't.

Remote work benefits both parties and a failure for companies to acknowledge that will be as costly as not going remote at all.

Companies who don't:

Remote work experience is the thing that most companies are currently neglecting. We provide our remote work with all the physical tools they need to work remotely while failing to give them the physical tools they need to do their best work. Remote workers should be safer, more comfortable and productive at home than they can be in an office.

There is a missing half of remote work and that involves human connection, experience, and culture. It focusses on improving remote work and bringing it into the 21st century. Anyone who has worked remotely knows that sitting hunched over the kitchen table is a terrible experience. To do great work at home we need dedicated space. We need the right tools and equipment. Working remotely is only half the equation: we have the space to do deep focussed work in quiet isolation but we require more than that to do the best work we have ever done.

The economic calculations are even more obvious:

🏢Cost of the office:

Per person, every year


🌍The cost of remote work:

Per person, every year

A remote workspace is $16,400 less per year, per team member

Companies that don't go remote won't be competitive. Office-first companies will die twice:

Real estate cost means they won't be able to compete economically.

Fixed location will disqualify them from 99% of Worlds talent

Only being able to hire the best person you can afford within a 30-mile radius of your office will mean that your remote-first competitors become more talented than your company with every hire. At the same time, they will be operating at a lower cost than you.

Most Companies Want to Go Remote

But Don't know how to do it easily

The reasons are obvious. Leaders recognize that Remote work is more cost-efficient, time-efficient and environmentally friendly. Most leaders understand that offices are irrational. They are less productive, flexible, trusting, balanced and conducive to modern living. They are more disruptive, pollutive, wasteful and distracting than working remotely.

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