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Is Silicon Valley Ready for WFH?

Move over, Alexa. Remote work is the hottest trend in tech.

Tech companies have scared the pants off of landlords since March by announcing permanent shifts to virtual workplaces. First Twitter announced it would allow employees to work from home permanently following the pandemic. Two days later, Facebook announced half of its workforce would go virtual over the next decade. Shopify, Dropbox, and Microsoft added to the long list of companies eyeing a permanent shift to all-day-pajamas and Zoom happy hours.

It’s a transition many people saw coming well before the pandemic. “We’re going to see an era of everyone employing remote tech workers,” AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant predicted last March.

The allure to companies is obvious. They can tap the best talent from all over the world while eliminating sky-high real estate in places like San Francisco, where workers pay an average of $3,500 a month to live in a tuna can. Plus, employees largely report positive experiences, citing the flexibility, freedom to live and work from anywhere, and increased autonomy.

What they don’t love, however, are the pay cuts that accompany this shift.

Fintech behemoth Stripe was the first to publicly address the elephant in the room when it announced last month it would pay employees $20,000 to relocate to less expensive cities. The catch: They’d take a 10% pay cut in the process.

There are other considerations for employees. Among their biggest gripes with remote work are the inability to separate work from home life and loneliness. Younger workers, in particular, are concerned about losing the less obvious career-boosting benefits of office life: opportunities to network with more experienced colleagues, ready access to mentors, and the ability to poke their neighbors for help (harder to do when they’re 17 time zones away).

The notable holdout in the big tech migration is Netflix, which announced last month their employees will return to their cramped desks and bland coffee “twelve hours after a vaccine is approved.”

Netflix employees immediately started perusing the 32,000 remote openings on AngelList.

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    Nice points. Downsides to loss of office don't appear on balance sheet so likely to be papered over. Blended working probably ideal. Mass commutes to spend 40+ hours straight in same building has always been a bit crazy.

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