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Friday, June 14, 2024
CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Special Reports - The Future is Remote—and Right Now

Special Reports

The Future is Remote—and Right Now

Barbie Brewer

When leaders talk about the future, when we plan for how our companies will evolve and how we will lead them into these next stages of being, there’s something we should remember: The future is not decades down the road or light years away.

It is not waiting to be decrypted, decoded, or dissected in Silicon Valley, Los Alamos, or Bell Labs. It is not nestled between the pages of some new and unfathomable science fiction novel. It’s not waiting for us patiently in a petri dish in an upstairs lab at Harvard Medical School or in a basement bunker at MIT.

That’s not where the future is. The future is right here. It is now.

Granted, we may have been dragged into it kicking and screaming, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to accept—however reluctantly—remote work, but after several years of this, we can only accept that the future is looking us square in the eye. It is now, it is digital, and we cannot go backwards. Nor should we want to.

Younger generations have become accustomed to working remotely. They appreciate, value, and perhaps even cherish this newfound freedom and the sudden, almost infinite expansion of opportunity. They have already tasted the sweet nectar of the future, i.e., working in a fully digital environment and being able to work where they live, and they have already begun to reap the social, financial, and emotional rewards.

So why should we, as leaders. also embrace this new model? Consider:

  •  Happy workers are productive workers, and people who are have the time and energy to nurture their families and enjoy interests outside the workplace will be happier, healthier, and more productive on the job. When I took a job with GitLab, a pioneer in the remote workplace, I discovered that my ability to feel present and fulfilled in my personal life allowed me to be one-hundred percent present for my job when I was working, and the company reaped the benefits of hiring an executive (me) who was highly engaged, highly productive, and just plain happy.
  • Remote work eliminates the necessity of commuting. With remote work, I was relieved of a grueling, unproductive 90-minute commute each way to and from my previous job and suddenly had three more hours every weekday for my job and my personal life. What could your employees bring to your company during those hours they might otherwise be sitting in traffic?
  •  And remote work removes geographic barriers to employment. I’m thinking, for example, of one brilliant employee I was able to bring on board at GitLab. Brittany was a military wife who would never have been able to take a job tied to brick-and-mortar because moving with her husband—and keeping her family intact—was important to her. With remote work, she was able to set down roots with our company, show up for work from wherever she was in the world, and excel, bringing benefits and growth not only to herself, but also to the company.
  • Remote work, by breaking down geographic boundaries, also brings a world of knowledge to your company. Where could your business go with global input from people embedded in different countries and cultures?
  • And with its potential for flexibility, remote work also strengthens communities, allowing employees to devote time to the places they live. Without being tied to an office or squandering hours on daily commutes, employees might find time to volunteer with their child’s PTA or a local food bank. Maybe even run for local office. And their tax dollars would stay in the communities where they live. Imagine if high-earning executives didn’t have to uproot and move to already-prosperous coastal cities? What could that do for the vast stretch of our nation between the coasts? And what could it do for developing nations, whose talent could also be tapped?

Certainly there are challenges to developing a successful and productive remote workplace. Leaders need to think creatively, embrace flexibility, and consider the specific needs of their employees. The future is a work in progress, but we cannot move back in time, only forward, and that will require coming to terms with—embracing, even—this fundamental change in the way we work. We must move forward fearlessly, with open minds and hearts, understanding that letting go of our employees will help us keep them, and that we have the power to help change the world by changing the workplace.


Written by Barbie Brewer.
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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Special Reports - The Future is Remote—and Right Now

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Barbie Brewer
Barbie Brewer, author of Live and Let Lead began her career in Silicon Valley during the dot.com boom of the ’90s and is now an industry-leading expert in developing critical areas of modern business performance and culture, including remote and hybrid workforces. As Chief Culture Officer at GitLab Inc., Brewer contributed to the all-remote SAS company’s growth from 150 employees to over 1,000 in more than 60 countries. She was Vice President of Talent for Netflix when the streaming service expanded from 20 million subscribers to over 150 million.


Barbie Brewer is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with her through LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website CLICK HERE.