Labor Market Migrations

by Matt Flanagan October 9th, 2020

While the opportunities in the collaboration software sector are attractive for a number of reasons, I can't help but wonder how much the companies I'm doing diligence on could have helped my Dad in 2007, when he took a remote job at a UK-based software company, Arieso.

Reduced costs for telephone service, plane tickets and high-speed internet globalized the job market. My Dad was part of a workforce migration, which gave top performers exposure to opportunities and projects regardless of geography. He would often be on a conference call when picking me up from football practice in high school. During those rides I was provided a glimpse into what the capabilities and limits of remote work were in the early days. My exposure would continue when we got home. After the ten foot commute to his desk in the morning, my Dad communicated with his co-workers in the UK primarily via email. Upstairs, I heard about his persistent issues with Skype, which never seemed to work when he needed it.

Because of these pain points and the lack of a reliable tool kit, migrating to a fully remote model made my Dad a true pioneer over a decade ago. In addition to industry standards like Zoom, Slack, Notion, many robust efficiency and collaboration solutions have emerged, making the idea of asynchronous distributed work more mainstream. The infrastructure and tool kit has passed a significant stress test with the sudden shifts imposed by COVID. Industries have proven their ability to sustain productivity in an asynchronous environment as both supply and demand for remote work has exploded. For perspective, there were nearly three times the amount of remote job postings on LinkedIn in August then there were in March of 2020.

This high energy migratory wave will again expose top performers to more opportunities and projects. Seeing how much easier it is to do your job from anywhere, combined with the rising demand for outsourced knowledge work and proliferation of gig opportunities has me wondering if the changes forced by COVID are a precursor of a larger shift. Are the days of working for only one company at a time going to disappear? The modern workforce is using the internet to leverage their labor productivity to earn more while working more efficiently. It seems that the next logical step on the path for top performers is demanding flexibility from their current employers. Companies are seeing more value in adopting structures to keep fixed costs low by contracting out significant portions of their business and will welcome the flexibility of their wage expense. Skills marketplaces like Fiverr, Gigster, Upwork, and others provide a glimpse into what the future of work might increasingly look like.

The increased adoption of mobile phones and the advancement of GPS technology ushered in massive growth for the gig-economy. People were able to make a living providing their services on multiple platforms (i.e. Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, etc.). Similarly, the increased adoption of high-speed internet and the advancements I've seen in collaboration technology make me confident that we are headed towards a new migration, where people make a living working for multiple companies, from anywhere they choose.


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