Virtual work trends in the USA

This article takes a look at various predictions for the continuation of home-based office assignments in the USA. I wonder how this corresponds to UK-based experiences. The writers quoted below provide a sampling of current viewpoints.

Matthew M F Miller is a bestselling author with articles in the Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News and more. His take is that the pandemic-necessitated remote work brought the office with all its pitfalls into the home. He predicts that the future of virtual work will look entirely different.

Chris Herd, Founder and CEO of Firstbase, also maintains that the current model of remote work was neither intentional nor a perk, but rather a requisite safety measure adapted hastily. The COVID-19 remote work was, therefore, based on necessity.

“It’s a problem because we’re in a pandemic and people have nothing else to do and they’re incredibly bored, so work becomes an escape in some respects,” Herd said. He believes this has tainted the experience of newcomers working from home, leading to burnout – an experience that he never felt as a remote CEO until now.

If you’re on different floors of the same office, you are basically remote. Nobody walks upstairs to have a conversation; they pick up the phone or they email you. This is the same as for ‘remote’ companies. Herd maintains that dependency on office culture will dwindle and he thinks that it is good thing.

A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey found that 52% of workers would prefer to remain remote permanently[1]. Hybrid appears to be the near-term strategy for many companies. A Gartner survey found that 82% of leaders intend to offer hybrid work options going forward[2].

Jane Fraser, CEO of Citigroup, says that the majority of the company’s 200,000 plus employees would be designated as hybrid. They would spend three days in the office and two remote. Starting in July, nearly 30,000 Ford employees will have hybrid work options. Herd questions the model’s efficacy: “You end up with this disparity in terms of access to information and contribution to information,” he said.

Bretton Putter, Founder and CEO of CultureGene, a consultancy platform that helps private equity funds and high-growth start-ups such as Experian and Outbrain manage their workplace cultures, says the transition away from office-dependent culture must start at the top. Putter believes hybrid success hinges on a structure that values mainly asynchronous or semisynchronous communication. Shared documentation will be essential.

“Pre-COVID, most companies were mainly synchronous,” Putter said. “Even email, which really is a semisynchronous, or an asynchronous tool, was used in a synchronous manner. You almost got annoyed if somebody didn’t respond to your email quickly.”

Working remotely affords employees independence, pride and more investment in the work itself.

Herd points to success stories such as that of Stripe, which has employed remote workers since its founding. He believes they are thriving in large part because they measure workers based on output rather than time spent working.

“We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they are at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.”
Sir Richard Branson, Virgin America

“One of the secret benefits of using remote workers is that the work itself becomes the yardstick to judge someone’s performance.”
Jason Fried, Basecamp

“Women are working more, men are understanding their value as caregivers, women are primary breadwinners – I mean, we could go on and on and on. Things are different. So we can’t keep operating like everything is the same, and that’s what many of us have done. And I think it’s up to us to change the conversation.”
Michelle Obama, Former First Lady

“Technology now allows people to connect anytime, anywhere, to anyone in the world, from almost any device. This is dramatically changing the way people work, facilitating 24/7 collaboration with colleagues who are dispersed across time zones, countries and continents.”
Michael Dell, Dell

  1. R Maurer, ‘SHRM: Half of workers wish to remain remote permanently’, SHRM, 3 March 2021. Available at:
  2. ‘Gartner survey reveals 82% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely some of the time’, Gartner, 14 July 2020. Available at:

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