Welcome to The Long View—where we peruse the news of the week and strip it to the essentials. Let’s work out what really matters.
This week, a remote/hybrid work special: Bribes to relocate you, Fridays are forgotten, and big tech firms stop building offices.
1. Smaller Cities Pay Incentives for Remote Tech Workers
First up this week: The explosion in local governments handing out five-figure bribes to tech workers if they move to their cities. If you can do DevOps remotely, why live in an expensive big city when you can leave and pay less for a better quality of life?
Analysis: Wanna be a big fish in a small pond?
There’s a definite trend here. Even before the pandemic, many who could move did move. And now, many more can move—and they’re doing just that.
Christopher Mims: 71 Cities and Towns Are Paying Tech Workers to Abandon Silicon Valley
A handful of such programs have existed for years, but they have … really taken off in just the past year or so. … Because these programs specifically target remote workers who have high wages, a disproportionate [number] work in tech.
Local governments are offering people willing to move up to $12,000, … subsidized gym memberships, free babysitting and office space. … An argument can be made that they constitute a novel kind of stimulus program for parts of the country that have been left out of the tech boom.
Every remote worker these places successfully attract and retain is like gaining a fraction of a new factory or corporate office, with much less expenditure and risk. … For towns that don’t have the budget to attract a whole office … the modest impact of bringing in a handful of remote tech workers can be balanced by the much smaller investment required.
Why are people doing it? Quality of life, says davide marney:
At one point in my career, I had to do site visits of every town in the US with a population of 50K or higher in which my Big 8 accounting firm had an office. When we’d visit a large town such as Detroit, they’d put us up in the soulless … expensive downtown hotel and we’d work in the office cube farm.
Then we’d drive 45 minutes west to a small town like Ann Arbor where we were the Big Employer in town, and it was rooms at the nicest bed and breakfast … lunch at the country club every day, and offices with walnut-covered interiors and bay windows.
You want a nice life in America? Work for a big company and live in a small to medium-sized town.
But wait, Mims says the biggest such program is in Tulsa. Do you really want to live there? u/TulsaGeek does:
While the politics in Oklahoma leave, well, pretty much everything to be desired, Tulsa is actually a … great place to live. Cost of living is very low comparatively to most other places, but we still have a ton of larger city amenities, friendly and accepting culture, good concerts and other touring attractions, and unique and cool permanent parks, architecture, businesses, and more.
2. Unwritten Rule: Friday is a WFH Day
If you’re being dragged back to the office on some days, beware which days you choose. Hybrid working is great and all, but the wisdom of the in-crowd says, we’re told, not on a Friday.
Analysis: It’s Friday then …
You probably already know this, but it might be news to your boss. Of course, perhaps you like working in a deserted office building—in which case, you know what to do and when to do it.
Abha Bhattarai: Nobody wants to be in the office on Fridays
As [knowledge] workers across the country settle into hybrid work routines, one thing is becoming clear: Nobody wants to be in the office on Fridays. [It] has increasingly become a day to skip the office altogether. The trend, which was already brewing before the pandemic, has become widely adopted, even codified, in recent months.
Some start-ups and tech firms have begun doing away with Fridays altogether. … A small but growing number of firms [are] moving to a four-day workweek. … Bolt, a checkout technology company in San Francisco, began experimenting with no-work Fridays last summer and quickly realized they’d hit a winning formula. Employees were more productive … and came back to work on Mondays with new enthusiasm.
As employers confront this new reality, they’re looking for more adaptable offices with more communal spaces and gathering areas instead of traditional cubicles. … Some firms are developing apps that offer employees a quick snapshot of who will be in the office on any given day, along with planned events and other perks.
None of which is news to NobleNobbler:
It took a pandemic for everyone to accept what engineers have already known—cut out the bull****. Real people can’t be firing on every cylinder for 40 hours a week plus 3 more a day for your bull**** commute.
But some people zig where others zag—people such as MattJones98:
I’m one of those few people that want to come into the office on Fridays. Why? With everyone not coming in and working from home, traffic is always great!
3. Who Needs new Office Space?
Big tech firms such as Amazon and Meta are pulling back from building fancy new offices in Washington state, New York and Tennessee. Why? Because people want to continue working from home.
Analysis: Offices fast becoming ghost towns
And it’s not just the tech titans: Watch for this trend to build and trickle down into smaller firms.
Chavi Mehta: Amazon pauses work on six new U.S. office buildings
Amazon … is pausing the construction of six new office buildings in Bellevue and Nashville to reevaluate the designs to suit hybrid work. … The pausing and delay of construction will not affect Amazon’s hiring plans, a company spokesperson said: … “The pandemic has significantly changed the way people work.”
Facebook parent Meta Platforms and Amazon have pulled back on their office expansion plans in New York City. … Meta has decided not to take an additional 300,000 square feet of space at 770 Broadway … and Amazon has cut down the amount of space it intended to lease … at Hudson Yards.
Bringing us full circle, it’s kalieaire:
Instead of spending money on … unsightly office buildings, they could pour money into the community. … With hybrid and more liberal WFH, now that money can be spent in rural country to help with infrastructure (say broadband at farms, or even last miles to your home).
Any business [that] cannot move with the current work trend is bound to lose employees, and lose them fast—quickly making their services highly untenable.
What’s the Amazon WFH culture like? A u/HappyApple35 answers with a metonymy:
Depends on the team. My org has really nailed it. You’re free to work from home as much as you like.
There are some happy hours that are done once a quarter where everyone is encouraged to come to the office. I try to go once a week just to see other people and talk about random stuff and lunch.