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Is remote work finally back on track in tech comm?

Photo of woman doing remote tech work from home/Photo by Microsoft.Today, I was reading Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook post about remote work, and how Facebook is realizing that a lot of people like remote work. Surprise, surprise! They acknowledge there’s some down-sides to working remote in some cases, but they want to figure out how to resolve those issues and make it a viable option for more employees (not all, mind you).  You can read the entire post on Facebook, but the paragraph that caught my eye the most was this one:

This is probably overdue. Over the past few decades, economic growth in the US has been quite concentrated, with major companies often hiring in a handful metropolitan areas. That means we’ve been missing out on a lot of talented people just because they happen to live outside a major hub. Creating opportunities beyond these cities could also be part of the economic recovery, especially if more companies hire remotely as well.

No kidding, Zuckerberg! This has put a lot of talented people out of reach of you and other companies with the same practice. You’re just figuring this out now?

It also made me think about where we might be today if remote work hadn’t been disrupted several years ago. When was that? It was when Marissa Mayer of Yahoo ordered all positions had to be connected to an office, and there was no remote work for Yahoo anymore. That set a BAD precedence that other tech leaders decided to follow. I said that when it happened back in 2013, and it still applies now. That move set back remote work in the tech world at least a decade or so, and it’s taken a pandemic to force the issue now.

I’m glad to see Facebook and Twitter and other big tech companies start to realize and embrace that remote work is viable. Yes, there are still some issues to work out, especially for those who are not used to being without a physical office dynamic. But for those of us who have been almost begging for more remote opportunities, especially those in tech comm where being in person isn’t always a necessity all the time, it will hopefully expand our job opportunities so that technical communicators can finally work in places where we know we can without having to relocate if we don’t need to. (I’m one of those people who need to stay put because of services related to my son’s special ed education.) Hopefully these changes that are happening will be the new precedence that will have many more companies–even those outside of tech–realize that remote work IS viable for so many of us, and that it should be supported and embraced in order to attract the best talent out there. It doesn’t have to be for everyone, but those who prefer that work should have more opportunities and be supported in those opportunities.  Who knows? Perhaps we’d have a better environment with fewer commuters, more local community participation and support for the local economies, more affordable housing options, better interconnectivity infrastructure, and companies could save money while workers could actually find work!

What do you think? Include your comments below.

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By Paying Employees To Live Near The Office, Imo Cuts Commutes, Ups Happiness

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There’s that one guy who commuted seven hours a day and claimed to love it. But for most people, the daily commute is something we dread. The average commute time in America is 25 minutes, per the Census Bureau (with great variation by region).

Danielle M. Villegas‘s insight:

This is a great follow-up to my post titled, “Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? (Not a tribute to the Clash).” Thanks to @BillCush for posting this on Twitter. I did have a commute just a mile and a half from my house at one point. It was the next best commute I ever had (the best being my current commute, which is working from home). I would have no problem moving to be closer to a company if a) buying and selling a house in this area was easy to do–we know it’s not, and b) if, for my personal circumstances, we could be assured that there was a special needs program or school that would appropriately accommodate my son’s needs. That’s what holds us back now.

But this is what perhaps Marissa Meyer at Yahoo!–and other employers–should consider.  They need to make relocation more practical and accessible, and be in more accessible locations. From where I live–between NYC and Philadelphia, so many people drive more than the average 25 minutes to work. I think 25-30 minutes is reasonable, but others will drive easily two to three times that amount around here. I remember the average commute in Washington, DC could easily be 1-2 hours, and that was considered relatively “normal”. That’s ridiculous, if you really think about it. We live in a time of great technology, and there are social tools we can use. We need to find the right balance between being either very close to work, or allowing for more work-at-home situations.


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