In the ebook, ‘The Last Rush Hour’ by Frederick Pilot, there is a striking analysis of the irony of seeing big Silicon Valley companies dis-intermediating time and distance, being the poster children for obsolete 20th century thinking of Centralized Corporate Offices.
The mega campuses that Google, Facebook, and Apple continue to grow, with all possible amenities a worker may want, are of another age. Just more colorful, with free smoothies, free Hint mineral water, a chef, and a dry cleaner. But in the end, they are just Big Corporate Centralized Offices. They don’t eliminate commute time. In fact, a few large Silicon Valley companies, like Yahoo! and HP, have actually reversed liberal telecommute policies, to get “all hands on deck.” Some say out of desperation, trying to treat symptoms rather than the deeper root cause of their problems.
This approach constrains these great companies to only access a workforce that want to live in this environment. Silicon Valley, where I write these lines, is a great place to live, but not all the best and brightest engineering minds want to live here. You’ll also find them in Florida, Michigan, India, or New Zealand too. On the other hand, many surveys have shown that most everyone is happy to work remotely, and that collaborative work does not require daily physical proximity to be effective, not to mention that work teams are increasingly cross-functional, cross-companies, and cross-geographical, which makes the concept of daily physical proximity obsolete in this century.
As a result, the San Francisco Bay Area is the 3rd most congested area in the nation and thousands of workers, and their companies, are wasting hundreds of thousand hours with unproductive commute.
Are Google, Apple, and -sadly– also Facebook on their way to becoming premature dinosaurs? Will they soon be replaced by the increasing vitality of smaller, distributed entrepreneurs, working with each other in more dynamic informal circles, often out of coworking places, a more attractive work environment, for many millennials? The future will tell. It will be interesting to watch.
Author: Laurent Dhollande, CloudVO CEO