Remote culture is something that’s emerging. It hasn’t taken off yet but you’re going to hear that a lot more people, for example, living in places like Bali and working for hot tech companies.

When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.

As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Bijan Shahrokhi.

(BIO) A Web3 Product Executive and Founder of Product Management Exercises — a community of over 100,000 aspiring and existing product managers who help each other advance their careers in tech companies. Our community members help each other land their dream product manager jobs at Google, Meta(Facebook), Amazon, and other great tech companies.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.

One would be my immigration to Canada. It allowed me to pursue my interests in technology and business. I’d say that’s the first and biggest event.

Second, in terms of life experiences, I’d say going to the university and studying electrical engineering taught me how to think in system design ways — thinking about different moving parts that you need to put together for something to work. This is my motto in life, business, and when building companies and products.

What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?

One idea that people say with remote work is that productivity will go down. I disagree with that. I think all we have to do is think about new ways to keep track of our progress. It’ll be a process of measuring and improving things but productivity will remain the same or go up, in my opinion.

What would be interesting is whether or not people will come to the office as much. In my opinion, this concept of office will go away eventually. The activities we had in the physical offices, like doing group and team meetings, will continue existing but they’ll be in digital form.

What would be very different is that pretty much all companies will have a remote-first culture with a good chunk of the employees being completely remote. There won’t be any physical office unless its existence is absolutely essential. I think this is going to be the reality.

The only reason why companies, like Apple and Google, are resisting the remote-first culture is that they haven’t figured out a way to operate in a remote work environment. You see that they recently took a step back and slowed down on demanding their employees to come to the office because they’re realizing that people aren’t willing to come back.

So they have no choice but to adapt to the new realities of the world.

The other very important part is the world will go from working remotely to working from anywhere on the planet. Companies will start hiring anybody from anywhere. For example, I work in tech and North Americans in my industry are excited about having the opportunity to be hired by Silicon Valley based tech companies today without having to move to the bay area. However, this won’t last long in my opinion and soon, these companies will also start looking for talent all around the world and increase competition for tech employees in the US.

From an employee’s perspective, the competition is no longer just Silicon Valley residents who are applying for jobs. But now, it’s going to be anybody from any location in the world. Salaries will probably go down because there are people that are willing to do your job at a fraction of the cost.

You will see people choosing their location for living for convenience rather than being close to work so your house location will be selected based on your lifestyle preferences rather than work location.

This is where we can talk about the role of Metaverse in the next ten years or so because, for something like Metaverse to be useful in a working setup, we need to see a virtual reality technology that’s extremely mature and usable.

A solution like Zoom didn’t take off until towards the end of the third decade of the world’s adoption of the internet. We need to realize that it’s very hard to create a seamless, usable experience even in the context of video calls, let alone something a lot more advanced like virtual reality.

So I would say that people will continue to interact with each other through video calls by using tools like Zoom or Google Meet. There may be incremental improvements but it wouldn’t be something completely different like the Metaverse in the near future. That’s because, for the Metaverse to happen, the technology has to be fully developed before it can start penetrating the enterprise market.

What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?

Embrace remote work. I think that’s the reality of it. We should all accept it as a fact of life. Companies should start thinking about this already. When this happens, a lot of things change. For example, hours of work change, creating culture changes, and the definition of retention changes. Communication changes as well as the frequency of meetings.

Instead of resisting the inevitable of everything moving to remote, just accept and embrace it. Start experimenting with cultures and begin looking at companies like Gitlab that are doing a good job. Learn as much as you can from these companies.

What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?

The big gap that we would probably see over the next few months or so is the gap in compensation. We already see some signs. People aren’t willing to work. You’ve probably heard of the Great Resignation.

The reason they are not willing to work is that their salary is not sufficient. The other side is that employers are not acquainted with the reality of inflation, and are not adjusting the salaries and offers accordingly to meet the expectations of potential employees. Instead, they are looking elsewhere to hire talent. This is definitely happening in the tech industry.

We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?

In a work-from-home setup, employees will pay more attention to their quality of life at home. What this means is companies have to adjust the culture within their organization to cater to modern realities. For example, having a good home office where you have privacy, good sound, and good video and audio quality becomes really important.

People will continue to interact with each other for meetings through video calls using tools like Zoom or Google Meet. There will be incremental improvements done to the existing tools. In the long run, virtual reality, or as some of us call it the Metaverse will enable a much more enriched remote work experience.

We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?

One would be recognition of an employee from anywhere in the world as a full-time employee. It’s not really clear how it’s going to work out. In many cases, right now, American companies are just hiring people as contractors overseas because the infrastructure for hiring overseas talent is still not there but a few startups are filling this gap right now..

The other part would be figuring out how human coordination on a large scale with remote employees working at different time zones is going to work out. The idea of forcing everybody to work at a certain hour, given that the sunrise and sunset times are different around the world, is kind of crazy.

What we need to do is figure out how we allow teams to collaborate and still be very productive while they are distributed around the world. This is a really big cultural shift and will shift people’s thinking from input-based employment to output-based employment.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

High-speed internet everywhere. Especially the internet that’s being provided by companies like StarLink, is going to have a massive impact in enabling a larger population of the world to participate in the global economy.

That’s what I am most excited about. Once we see high-speed internet that’s reliable and usable for video meetings and even virtual reality being available everywhere in the world, we are going to see an acceleration to transition to remote work.

It will even out the playing field for all talents.

Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?

We need to think about the realities of the new work environment. The relationship between employers and employees is going to change significantly. For example, the product development process really changes as you move everything remotely.

As you shift your focus to measuring output instead of input, you will see a significant impact on the mental health of employees who might feel guilty about not being physically present in an office.

Also, figuring out what your company culture means in the new world and how to create that would be important. For instance, how do you create a bond and a desire for people to stick with you as a company if employees don’t get to see each other face to face?

It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?

I think we’re moving towards a world where access to human capital is limited. On that front, there’s going to be fierce competition all around the world with regards to getting access to top talent. What this means is that everybody has options.

A lot of companies are still hiring today. That’s why the employment rate still hasn’t fully gone down during the current financial turmoil. This means that company leaders have to offer something more than just good salaries if they want to stay competitive.

Instead, they have to focus on communicating and creating excitement around their vision for the future and their work values. Then use these as a way to engage and, hopefully, drive talent to the organization. Leaders should be thinking about creating a culture that embraces the uniqueness of everybody’s personal life while allowing remote work, allowing employees to be anywhere they want, and enabling them to embrace their digital identity.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”

1. Remote Work is Here to Stay

Remote culture is something that’s emerging. It hasn’t taken off yet but you’re going to hear that a lot more people, for example, living in places like Bali and working for hot tech companies.

2. High Liquidity Employment

I don’t know if that’s an actual term but I want to highlight that employment is becoming a lot more liquid than before. You can basically join a short project today and work with a team for a short period of time, then move to another one.

3. Opportunities are No Longer Reliant on Location

This becomes more and more popular because if you’re working remotely, you’re not limited to the geographical location of the opportunities. There’s less fear of disappointing your employer if you decide to move to another opportunity.

4. Salaries are Going Down for Experts

Now, companies don’t necessarily have to hire based on geographical location. Gone are the days when one uses their talent as a way to go to certain countries like the US.

Today, it’s possible to work for a US company where you live. They might even pay so well that there’s no need to move to the US. An employee might even want to accept a lower salary to trade for professional goals.

5. Remote Work Optimized Home Office

Having an office room or multiple office rooms is going to become the norm. This is going to have a significant impact on the way new houses and condos will be built.

I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?

The quote from Steve Jobs says that you can only connect the dots looking backward. Inversely, you cannot connect the dots looking forward. It’s so inspiring, and it tells you to follow your interests and everything works out. I would say that this is my favorite quote.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.

I’d love to have lunch with Aaron Levie, the founder of Box. He is a person that I’m really impressed with. I think he’s an amazing product leader who happens to be a CEO and a founder as well.

I get a lot of inspiration from reading some of his comments on Twitter and some of the interviews that he’s done.

I’d love to grab lunch and chat with him.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

You can connect with me via [email protected].

We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.