There's a lot going on in the world. I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on the state of things and make a few predictions. The driving motivation is that I wish I had done this a decade ago and could look back on it now to see what I was thinking, what stood out at the time, and of course how close my predictions came to reality.
Let's dive in.
Here are some things that stand out in my memory. Lot's more happened of course but this is a subjective perspective:
This section is a mix of observation and prediction. It should go without saying but I like to be explicit: I may be totally wrong about any predictions made here.
That being said, let's look at some trends.
A pandemic the likes of which we've not seen in the lifetime of anyone living. This pandemic forced hundreds of millions to isolate themselves and minimize their exposure to the world outside their immediate dwelling.
I'm wholly unsure about the direct effects on future travel. I think the state of world travel will return to normal, but it will take at least a year. Even after lockdowns end in most or all countries, people may still be semi-confined to their country for a longer period of time.
Many countries had very different outcomes as they tried to deal with COVID. It's not clear how that will play out. For example, what does reinstating travel look like between a country that fully contained the virus and a country where the virus spread wildly?
I distinguish the two because they are slightly different.
There's some overlap here to be sure. The core distinction is that WFH is generally still geographically tied to the company you work for, while remote isn't.
Remote work means decoupling work from locale.
For anyone who chooses you can also continue to work at an office in the city of your company. The remote trend doesn't mean you have to work remotely, it just means you can if you want to.
Some people really enjoy working form an office. Some do not. Now both types of person can have a more ideal work situation.
My prediction is this—while many will choose to remain in dense cities some subset of the current residents will choose to move because moving does not mean living their job.
There may also be people that simply want are already living outside a city and commuting in. I expect that given the chance many of these people would work from home during the week and commute in occasionally for social events or other non-work activities.
Longer term I expect this dispersion to create downward pressure on property values in the most urbanized areas.
You may be thinking that conferencing—both video and audio—has been around for a while. Webex was around long before Zoom (indeed it was supposedly the genesis of Zoom), but there was still quite a lot of international travel strictly for the sake of meetings. My prediction is that this will change. Video conferencing is far cheaper in human time and monetary cost.
For companies interested in reducing costs without reducing productivity (read: all companies) this could be a significant boon.
I'm super biased here, because I really want VR to be a thing. So far it's been very lackluster but if the trend towards more remote interactions increase I predict...
My completely-biased hope is that the coming decade will show us the first killer app for VR. My prediction is that that app will be related to hangouts. You don't need to solve VR locomotion, you just need people to be able to hang out and maybe do interesting VR stuff while their at it.
I write about life as well as my mistakes and successes as I learn to build a business. I'm building a self-funded startup (Pairwise).