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Today's Tea Leaves

David Sherry
3 min read

Our working lives are in the middle of massive disruption.

Not only has the fuel for economic growth effectively shut down and reverted to bare essentials, but we also have millions of people for the first time doing work from home instead of an office.

We’re seeing years of eventual transition get condensed into weeks. And so everyone is figuring out how to adjust to this, and no one knows how long it will last.

And I believe after restrictions are lifted, many will choose to stay home. Many businesses will rebuild their business models to be remote-friendly, and then everything changes.

See, when you’re calling into your team on Zoom, you suddenly realize that, while you may have been close with many of the people in your office, some of that was pure context.

It’s like college. Your friends are your roommates and dorm mates. Why? Because you live next to them.

And so suddenly this network and community start to slowly lose its magnetism.  Because it’s all flat. We all appear on the same screen. And so where you’re from, doesn’t matter so much anymore. And if where your from doesn’t matter so much anymore…

Physicality is no longer and advantage.

Now, I spoke about how this relates to brick and mortar services.

We’re in the middle of multiple paradoxes.

On one hand, globalism is in retreat. We’re shutting borders, limiting travel, and can expect many changes to this trend. It’s in reverse.

On the other hand, you can work with anyone on the planet remotely. I’m still fairly surprised at how rare my experience is working with people from around the globe. On any given day I can chat with people from a variety of countries, and it’s normal. But this shift opens up with remote work.

Because… it could be anybody beaming into that Zoom call. And you just want the person who fits best with the team. Background and everything that comes with the physicality of work have been flattened. So we look for new signals in who we hire. And we expand our search more globally. It’s a much bigger pool.

So while physically we’ll be keeping more distance, globally we’ll get more connected.

Haven’t you seen Chinese Doctors teaching Americans? Information flow is immediate online, whereas air travel could be considered a downright hassle.

Just like going to your lawyer's office.

And I’m not saying that meeting in person doesn’t have benefits, it does. I think group conversations and dynamics online are extremely difficult without being physically present.

Almost every meeting with 4+ people on a Zoom call that was for work and not just friends was a total waste of time.

It’s just awkward to do on Zoom, who talks when? We’re lost.

So here’s another paradox. Relationships matter more than ever.

We’re further away, but if you’re like me you’ve been in touch with a variety of friends and family. Maybe more than ever. I know US minutes on the phone have skyrocketed.

Not that we have much to talk about, as all we can report is a bit of groundhog day.

We’re witnessing a massive change in our professional and social lives. I hate to be the messenger but much of this will remain even as things get back to “normal.”

But, like always, we adapt. Do you want to go back to a world pre-iPhone? Pre-Uber? Pre-Amazon?

We’ve seen a lot of changes already. Don’t forget, if you’re reading this you were probably born PRE-INTERNET!

So we adapt because we have to. And hopefully, we learn.

So what have we learned?

Chamath said it best, the word of the last decade was “optimization.”

But the word of the next decade is “Resilience.”

We got out ahead of our skis. We didn’t prepare for the winter.

And now that everything has seized up we’re realizing that a bit more prudence, humility, and expert information can go a long way.

In financial bubbles, the people in the market are irrational and we get more out of touch as the market balloons.

When it pops, we’re all brought back down to reality. Remember We-Work?

And the reality today is that work has taken a permanent left-turn.

This is a line in the sand.

There will be great opportunities to come out of it, but we’re not yet in that phase. The mud from the river has been tossed up and we’re still swimming through it before it clears.

But you’ve changed before and you’ll change again.

There might even be parts of this stay at home thing that you like, like how you get to spend more time with your family or your dog.

So when things start to open up again…

You might just decide to stay in!

xx David