Silicon Valley will never be the same after the coronavirus. The best known valley, birthplace and home of the world’s leading technology companies, will experience more changes than expected after the pandemic.
The rapid spread of the virus and the measures to contain it forced companies and businesses of all sizes to close their offices, spread throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, last March. With their employees at home, in some cases numbering in the thousands, the solution was clear: teleworking. A natural and inherent part of the culture that surrounds the area, where everything related to technological advances is the order of the day.
What was not known at the time was the length of the remote working period and the possible consequences it could bring. Now, two months later, it seems that the horizons are becoming clearer. And they bring under their arm a business culture that is beginning to show the first signs of change in order to leave behind the stagnant methodology of requiring the bulk of their employees to concentrate on the same geographical point in order to go to work every day.
It has been necessary to experiment with this in a forced way, but the great technologies have realized, during the last weeks, that there are many jobs that do not have a big reason to go to the office every day. Instead, the task can be carried out just as efficiently from home. Meetings via Zoom and organization through tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams are now part of the new routine.
This could end up being a major change for Silicon Valley. Companies based there on pharaonic campuses, such as the recently opened Apple Park, could end up without such a high presence component.
The valley, the nerve centre of technological creation, has seen problems arising from the lack of affordable housing grow in recent years. These problems, caused by the great influx of employees from these large companies, have meant that it is now Comanche territory even for the workers themselves. Even their high salaries, which reach several hundred thousand dollars, are not enough, depending on the case. The cost of living in the highly sought-after area of California has skyrocketed, a fact that translates into having to seek residence far from the aforementioned campuses, investing more time in daily commuting. This is one of the reasons why many employees would consider working remotely as a permanent option.
It is still too early to know the strategy to be followed by companies in order to make this possible. Facebook announced, among other things, that they will adjust their employees’ salaries according to the cost of living in the city where they live. That is, an employee working for the company in Silicon Valley will only get the possible large salary while he is located there. If he moves to another area where costs are lower, he will see his pay reduced.
With everything still to be determined, Silicon Valley is preparing to make some internal changes that can mark and shape the next decade of technology companies. It’s time for the telework era.