I had independent chats with two people who work remotely full-time, one for a tech company, the other for a non-tech company. Headquarters is thousands of miles away for both people, and they work mostly from home. The tech employee is part of a team working to complete projects but is the only person in his city working for this company. The non-tech worker is an individual contributor (he doesn’t need others to complete his work), but he has coworkers in his city (though he rarely sees them). These conversations were enlightening. The tech person loves his work, but there’s a bit of feeling like he’s on an island (my words, not his). The non-tech worker loves his work setup and wouldn’t change a thing.
I’ve been a proponent of remote work for over a decade. My first full-time hire at my start-up was someone in Europe. She was an A player with my company for seven or eight years and opened my eyes to the quality of talent available remotely. We hired more people over the years in a hybrid model. Some were in-office in Atlanta and others were remote working in various cities worldwide (including Atlanta). I made mistakes managing this hybrid team but learned a lot. The biggest learning was that some roles (and personalities) are better suited to remote work than others. Individual contributors and those who like working alone tend to thrive in this environment.
Remote work is here to stay (in some form or fashion). I think every company must figure out what that means for them and their culture.