COVID19 has forced many companies to change from a go-to-the-office culture to a remote working environment. Although people will want to return some days a week to an office, what would happen if remote working became the norm for 3 or more days a week? What would a remote economy look like?
1) The obvious changes in a remote economy
Let’s start with the obvious parts of more people working remotely. We need less office space if more just-in-time desks can be used. Less congestion and lower public transport usage. More eating at home. More Skype, Teams, Zoom, Chime, WebEx, Google Meet,...
2) The more structural changes
Without large in-person workshops and events, virtual social networking will become more important. Tools to build up trust relationships with people you have never met will become more important. Also borders will become less important. If you are conferencing with somebody, you do not care if they live a 5 minutes drive or a 5 hour flight away. At the same time the pandemic has shown that globalisation where the majority of manufacturing comes from one country and the majority of generic medicines from another, can cause serious logistic disruptions. Industrial activity will become more local. ”Made near you” on-demand by a robot factory and 3D printers is more likely. Localised industries will require a lot more on-demand activities to be performed, e.g. robot repair, delivery of materials, delivery of finished products,... More Uberised jobs in the gig economy.
3) the Uber remote working platform
What if we take it a step further and look at the millions of office workers who all of a sudden are forced to furlough. What if their existing companies no longer need them. What if the next Amazon/Google/Facebook is like an Uber of remote working. Complex tasks get shopped down into smaller units which experts can solve in one hour. What if this Uber Remote Platform can make sure you get eight one hour tasks with activities you love doing and at an hourly rate above your previous fixed salary? Super specialism will increment productivity. New job roles will be born around decomposing office work in 1 hour activities as well as automated quality assurance. Would you still want to hire a full time recruiter, lawyer, accountant, developer, sales, actuary,... if you could get the best to work for you each hour. Can companies exist with very few permanent staff and thousands of hourly workers, different each day? Imagine the changes to society in terms of employment, tax, retirement, health care, office buildings,... if you would have over a hundred employers each month. Would you work for the Uber Remote Worker Platform if your hourly tasks would be more interesting, your hourly pay higher and you get work whenever you want to work?
Maarten Ectors is a strategic innovator who exchanged working with the who is who of high tech to apply disruptive technology and business innovation from the inside in the top UK insurance and investment management company. In less than a year they won the best claim technology solution of the year award and that is just the start...